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Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Psalm 23:6

An old curse invokes, “May you live in interesting times!” These certainly are interesting times, don’t you think? Wars and rumors of war, pandemic variants, woeful politics, bridges falling down, shortages, and inflation! Our children will likely tell their children about our interesting times. Interesting times like these leave us wondering about the future: what lies ahead for us?

Today’s scripture is a marvelous line from king and psalmist, David, that encourages me in those times I worry and fret about the future. They are the time-tested, experienced words of a man who has lived much and done much, has greatly sinned and been greatly forgiven. Scripture hails him both as “A man after God’s own heart”(1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22), and who “served the purpose of God in his own generation” (Acts 13:36). Today’s words of David come at the conclusion of Psalm 23 in which David remembers and praises the Lord for being his shepherd through all of life. He thankfully recalls how the Lord has always cared for him, led him in right paths, restored him, and picked him up when he was down.

If you think back over David’s storied life you will see that he is no armchair dreamer, naïve about the rigors of life. David knows trouble and hardship, yet can confidently say to God, “I fear no evil; for you are with me.” It is what David knows about life, but most importantly what he knows about God, that he can complete this psalm with the assurance, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.”

The Hebrew word translated “goodness” is tov, meaning “pleasant”, “beautiful”, and “beneficial”. If you have attended a Jewish wedding, you have likely heard the cheering good wish for the couple’s future, mazel tov, that is, “good luck”, “good fortune”, good future”. David strides through life knowing that tov, a good life, follows him.

Significantly, the Hebrew word translated “mercy” is the powerful word hesed, meaning “covenant love”. It is love based on a covenant, a commitment to always love and be faithful. It is a love that keeps on keeping on, a love that never quits. God has sworn an oath to His people, “I will be your God and you will be my people.” Nothing can stop God’s covenant love.

The Hebrew word, radaph, translated “follow”, is bold as it is most often translated as “chase”, “hunt down”, and “pursue”. For instance, radaph is used of Pharoah’s army in “pursuit” of the Israelites (Exodus 14:4), and of King Saul’s army “hunting down” David in the wilderness (1 Samuel 23:25). At the very time David knows that King Saul pursues him, he knows that God’s goodness and mercy hunt him down. Some Bible commentators suggest that we read God’s goodness and covenant love as two sheep dogs chasing after the Shepherd’s sheep. David can never escape, can never get away from God’s grace and goodness.

Yes, we do live in interesting times, and the future can seem uncertain. But this is certain: God’s goodness and covenant love will pursue and chase us all the way home. Whatever our health, the economy, politics, or wars, we can say with confidence: God’s goodness and mercy chases us on the way Home!

A fellow traveler,

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