walk in the word
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. —Psalm 23:6
Are you experiencing a season of defeat and discouragement? At times like these, God can seem far off and distant from your life. But if you are one of His children—if you have turned from your sin and embraced Christ by faith as the only basis for your forgiveness—you have this Psalm 23 promise in your pocket: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”
Look at the two key words in this phrase. Goodness means bounty or blessing. Mercy can also be translated loving-kindness, favor, or steadfast love. It comes from the Hebrew word hesed, used 246 times in the Old Testament. Half of those occurrences are found in the Book of Psalms. Hesed was David’s favorite word to describe the attitude of God toward His children.
In Psalm 33:5, David observed, “The earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.” In Psalm 86:13, “For great is your steadfast love toward me.” In Psalm 98:3, “He (the Lord) has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness.”
The loving-kindness of God—His goodness and mercy—is eternal. It’s persistent. It’s a stubborn love God has for His children. He won’t turn His back on us. And He won’t give up on us or let us go.
God’s hesed love brings Jonah to mind. Jonah could run, but he couldn’t hide or get away from God. The Lord used a storm to get Jonah’s attention and a very large fish to transport Jonah back to the shore where he had made his wrong turn. Even the hardship of Jonah’s experience was God’s loving-kindness. He could have wiped out the wayward prophet in a heartbeat. But, determined to show His loving-kindness to the huge city of Nineveh through Jonah, God kept him alive.
Likewise, God is relentless in His pursuit of you. No matter what choice you make or where you go, He will come after you. God has a plan for your life, and He will go to great lengths to complete the work He has begun (Philippians 1:6).
If you have become a follower of Jesus Christ, God is all over you and your situation. He is pursuing you—relentlessly. That’s the meaning of the phrase, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me.” It also means your very best days are ahead. As a child of God, it doesn’t matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done—your greatest days of usefulness and service to His kingdom can be in the future, followed always by His goodness and mercy!
Father, Your goodness and mercy have already followed me to this place in my life. I am humbled and grateful that You have expressed Your grace to me in these ways. Your persistence is so evident. Forgive me for all the times I’ve thought about giving up, and yet You have revived my faith when I was consumed with hopelessness. I want to spend my life and eternity thanking You for all You have done. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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