I woke up thinking of Ps 23:6 “Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life.”
A few hours later a text arrived on my mobile phone; Psalm 23:6. Now it really captured my attention. It seems to me that it is not unlike two metaphorical war horses called, goodness and mercy – not trotting aimlessly and dispassionately behind me in protest at my undeserving and bewildering character issues – but galloping alongside me with deliberate intent.
At least, that’s how I saw it and felt it, and possibly, how King David, experienced it as he worshiped His ever-faithful God. I wonder what went through Jesus’ mind as He recited Psalm 23 in prayer. It’s a remarkable psalm that has bought comfort, consolation and encouragement to multitudes down the ages, and definitely appropriate for us in this chaotic century.
Know and experience God’s blessing
Some things are there in the scripture not just for you to muse over but to encounter, experience, feel; so much so that it transforms you, inspires, humbles and empowers. We are pursued by goodness. We are pursued by mercy. We are not merely followed. John Piper agrees, “the word (יִ֭רְדְּפוּנִי) really does mean pursue and keep up with me, rather than merely tag along behind never able to catch up”.
I make mistakes every day. But every day, I’m thankful for goodness and mercy.
David’s song is tenacious, he knows it is as an experiential fact of his life. God, having inspired David to compose this song in scripture invites us to unambiguously declare the same thing, “surely, absolutely, without shadow of doubt, irrevocably so” in the song of our lives will God’s goodness and mercy follow us. The apostle Paul urges us “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Rom 8:28)
Not just goodness
These two life-imparting characteristics of goodness and mercy are there to rip the tentacles of hells’ discouragements clean out of your heart and mind. That goodness is first mentioned in Genesis as God closely inspects His creation and says it was good. Whatever that goodness was, it is now following you, accompanying you, overtaking and overwhelming you. But it is not alone and not sufficient.
It is not enough to know that God’s goodness is there with me day after day. I am hand-crafted for a relationship with God, but I need something that only the death of Christ could bring, something that could reconcile me to God forever, remove my sin, shame and justify me before God and that is the thing that surely follows me relentlessly, day after day. Mercy. Bags of it. In abundance. (Psalm 103:1; Rom 8:1)
Life long blessing
David ends this short observation by praising God that goodness and mercy will follow him “all the days of his life?”Can you relate to that? You should do. I started by saying two words had gripped my thoughts. A week ago, something similar happened, and it was two words in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6-8; Matthew 28:20) Perhaps we could rephrase this verse as “without shadow of doubt, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, never left alone and never forsaken.”
Only God knows what is around the corner for us as a Church, a nation and as individuals., For certain, we will all experience difficulty and heartache at some point in life, but the comfort is that God is with us, and for us in those times of struggle. Nothing will take Him by surprise and God can be trusted with our lives. We are in good hands and we do well to learn to trust Him now, rather than learn to do so in the frantic moment of chaos.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
As for me, I’m certainly not perfect. I make mistakes every day. But every day, I’m thankful for goodness and mercy. Not just because it says so in Psalm 23, but because
I’ve experienced it. I’ve experienced it in the form of friendship. I’ve experienced it in the form of family. I’ve experienced it in the form of Gods grace. It’s an everyday thing. Every day I see goodness and mercy. I don’t always recognize it, but it’s there. It’s real.