With the Good Shepherd attending every step of our way, Psalm 23 has briskly progressed to its beautiful crescendo of the last verse – the promise of God’s eternal presence in our lives.
“Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
The sheep’s journey, David’s journey, our journey has been described thus far as one with the Good Shepherd always close at hand.
The Lord is at the helm leading his sheep from the front while his attending measures of favor ensure success. God’s “goodness and his lovingkindness,” his grace and his mercy have been bringing up the rear, for on this pilgrimage we are as much in need of his graces as we are of his forgiveness. These agencies of grace assure we will find our way home.
Many of our Bible translations simply use the word “follow” to describe their actions in our journey, but in all truth, that word would communicate too passive a role. In fact, that word would be better communicated as “chased” or even better, “pursued.” The provision of God’s goodness and mercy is very intentional and engaged, to keep us moving in obedience in the correct direction – right on the heels of the Savior. So, what are these magnificent agents of grace?
Though they are not revealed specifically in these brief words, may I suggest that they are divinely appointed acolytes for our benefit? First and foremost, I would submit that the Holy Spirit is the primary person of that grace and mercy. The Silent Shepherd pursues, convicting, assuring, guiding, calming, always in faithful bearing. Also, the Word of God influences and informs our every step. Fellow sheep in the flock of God encourage us. And even nature, God’s revealed power reminds us of the amazing Shepherd we follow.
“Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life!”
To those whose Shepherd is Christ, this pursuit takes place in the here and now as we navigate our earthly quest, our paths of righteousness. These blessed agents are commissioned to care for and see us to the end wherein the promise of presence, the promise in the presence of God will be enjoyed forever.