Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live. —Psalm 23:6
The Twenty-third Psalm is a genius of simplicity, and this final verse has two simple points: If the Lord is our Shepherd, we have goodness and mercy behind us and our Father’s House before us.
The word goodness in this verse means “benefits, desirable realities, welfare, prosperity, happiness, blessings.” It’s an all-inclusive word that implies we have a good God who does only good things and who gives only good gifts to those who know Him.
The phrase faithful love or mercy is from a great Old Testament word for the steadfast love of God, whose nature it is to be forgiving and benevolent. He surrounds our lives with acts of kindness we don’t deserve, all because of His loyal and royal love for us.
The verb is pursue. The Hebrew term David originally used was a proactive term, meaning “to chase.” It’s as if David were saying that these two qualities—goodness and mercy—are like God’s sheepdogs. Often in sheepherding lands, you’ll see a shepherd going in front of the flock, followed by the sheep. Bringing up the rear and running along the sides are the sheepdogs that help with the herding.
It’s fascinating to read about herding dogs. They’re found all over the world in every kind of agricultural society. They’re working animals, trained to the sound of a whistle or a word, that keep the flock or herd on the trail. They typically stay behind the flock, and they use their barks and aggressive movements to keep the sheep moving in the desired directions. Goodness and mercy are God’s border collies, chasing us, following us, guiding us, surrounding us on every side, all the days of our lives.
And afterward? Afterward we will live with Him forever in His home. Here Psalm 23 comes full circle. The shepherd has led his flock into the green pastures of the spring meadows. As the summer progressed and the pastures receded, he led them through mountain passes and deep valleys to higher ground. Now as winter approaches, he brings them back down the hillsides toward home, back to the folds prepared for them, being herded by goodness and mercy.
And there, in our Father’s house, we will dwell with the Lord forever.
The King of Love my Shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never.
I nothing lack if I am His
And He is mine forever.
Where streams of living water flow,
My ransomed soul he leadeth,
And where the verdant pastures grow,
With food celestial feedeth.
Perverse and foolish oft I’ve strayed,
And yet in love He sought me,
And on His shoulders gently laid,
And home rejoice brought me.
And so through all the length of days
Thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise,
Within Thy house forever.
The totality of His grace for the totality of our lives for the duration of eternity—that’s Psalm 23:6.—Anonymous
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