Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
By Pastor Vivian Ampy
Timmy was a little five-year-old boy who was love by his Mom very much and, being a worrier, she was concerned about him walking to school by himself when he started kindergarten. She walked him to school the first few days, but one day he came home and asked if he could walk by himself. He wanted to be like the "big boys."
Not wanting to disappoint him, she decided to allow him to walk without her, by recruiting a neighbor, Mrs. Goodnest, to surreptitiously follow him to school, far enough behind him that he would not likely notice he was being followed, but close enough to keep an eye on him.
Mrs. Goodnest was agreeable, since she was up early with her own toddler anyway, and it would be a good way for them to get some exercise. So, the very next school day, Mrs. Goodnest and her little girl, Marcy, set out to follow behind Timmy as he walked to school. Timmy was accompanied by another neighbor boy he knew.
As the boys walked to school each day, chatting, and kicking stones and twigs, the little friend of Timmy began to notice that a lady seemed to be following them every day.
"Have you noticed that lady following us all week? Do you know her?" he asked Timmy.
"Yea, I know who she is," Timmy replied
"Well who is she?"
"That's just Shirley Goodnest," Timmy said.
"Shirley Goodnest? Who the is she? Why is she following us?"
"Well," Timmy explained, "Every night Mom makes me say the 23rd Psalm in my prayers 'cuz she worries about me so much. And the Psalm says, 'Shirley Goodnest and Marcy shall follow me all the days of my life,' so I guess I'll just have to get used to it."
When I was a child, I had to memorize the 23 Psalm. My mom seemed so proud of me as I had to recite it for everyone who came over our house. I can’t say that at 5 or 6 I knew what it meant; I was more focused on lying down in green pastures than being concerned with goodness and mercy following me, but I knew the Psalm was important.
What does that mean, anyway, for goodness and mercy to follow me? Let’s look at King David. When he was just a youth (13-18) he fought Goliath, a giant and won. This victory made Saul, who was king, feel threatened and envious and he wanted David dead. He tried many times to kill him. When David was king he seduced Bathsheba and had her husband killed when he found out she was pregnant. Because of his irresponsibility and reckless regard for the husband’s, life, the son was still born. God then promises David “Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.” His affair with Bathsheba would be the cause of great hardship throughout the remainder of his days.
In spite of David’s troubles, whether they were of his own doing or not, David never turned his back on God. He speaks confidently in this passage of God being with him and that God will take care of him. Surely (without doubt), goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.
How many Christians actually agree with David? How many of us are convinced that no matter how badly we have behaved, no matter what happens in our lives we are being followed (or pursued as the Hebrew word for followed is sometimes translated) by goodness and mercy? Of course, it is so very easy to say this when things are going well…but what about when the bills aren’t paid, your significant other has left you, you are diagnosed with a debilitating disease, and the list goes on? Can we then say, like King David, surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of our lives?
If we are truly believers, we need to walk with confidence that goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives. We need to rest in God and stop looking at the world as if there is something better out there. Trust God! Trust God’s goodness! Trust God’s mercy!
PS The word most commonly used for shepherd is taken from the Hebrew root word ra’ah, which is also the Hebrew word for best friend. So, the first verse of the 23rd Psalm could have read, the Lord is my best friend. Cool!
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