It seems like an unusual question to ask a Christian, but as we have travelled through Psalm 23 I came across an interesting word in Verse 6: 'Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me. . . . . . . . .'
When I started to look at this word FOLLOW I discovered that it was much more intense than the translation allows.
FOLLOW in the Hebrew is the word Radaph and means: To be pursued; To be chased ardently; To hunt and over-run or to track down with the aim to secure.
King David as he wrote this Psalm was looking back at his life and recognised that the goodness and mercy of God had been his constant watchdog. The manifestation of God's goodness and his mercy was unmistakeable in his life and David had a confidence that this manifestation would continue all the days of his life as he was obedient to the word of the Lord.
In Exodus 34:6 we see goodness and mercy introduced to Moses as two of the characteristics of Jehovah, God Almighty.
'The Lord passed before Moses and proclaimed "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering (patient), and abounding in goodness and truth"'
God's desire for His children is so great He wants to overwhelm them with His goodness and His mercy. These two watchdogs follow every child of God. They are there for two purposes. The first is to encourage His children to live in a close and intimate relationship with God. (What parent doesn't show favour to an obedient loving child) and secondly to demonstrate His love to the disobedient and unrepentant.
Psalm 100:5 ' For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.
The goodness of God is in pursuit of those who live in relationship with Him. It is not just a matter of confessing we believe in Jesus as Lord but it is essential that we are obedient (living by the Word of God). It is not enough to have faith alone; faith is only proven to be faith by our supportive actions. James the Apostle tells us that 'faith without works is dead, being alone.'
Romans 2:4 'Do you show contempt for the riches of kindness, forbearance (tolerance) and longsuffering (patience), not realizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?'
The watchdog of God's goodness is there, following His children, intent on restoring that which the devil has stolen. His role is to neutralise the consequences of our former foolish and reckless behaviour. There are always consequences or outcomes of sin and disobedience, but when genuine repentance takes place, God sets about neutralising the impact of those actions as we walk with the shepherd. Please understand God's true children do not habitually sin and God does not remove the consequences of consistent and deliberate sin or disobedience and ignorance born of rebellion.
God's goodness, His grace is given to us through knowing Jesus Christ and that grace is God's divine power that gives us everything we need to live in a godly manner. That goodness, that grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly passions and live a self-controlled righteous life.
2. MERCY / LOVINGKINDNESS
God has made an unconditional commitment to us - to be merciful, and forgiving.
Romans 5:8 'God demonstates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.'
We were all sinners deserving the penalty of everlasting separation from God...... Today we have so soften the gospel that people struggle to understand what sin is. Sin is anything and everything that does not conform to God's will.
1 John 1:8-9 'If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.'
God has taken the initiative. . . . . .'while we were still sinners, Christ died for us'. . . .He sent His Son to die for us. We are saved by the blood (the sacrifice) of Jesus Christ on the cross. We do nothing, everything happens because of God's mercy, His undying love for us that pursues us constantly. It is His undeserved mercy and grace that rescues me from destruction.
Romans 5:1 'Standing then acquitted as the result of faith, let us enjoy peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.'
God's mercy doesn't end with acquittal. . . . . the WATCHDOG called MERCY continues to pursue us all the days of our life, so if and when we mess up (as we surely will) God's mercy is there to OVERWHELM those who seek Him and are obedient to His word.
3. ALL MY LIFE
God's two faithful watchdogs are there as long as I am on this earth. . . .What an amazing promise! God is not passive in His desire to bless; He blesses all who walk with the Shepherd, following His lead, being directed, being transformed, changed by His word. With all He has promised, why would you not want 'to dwell in the house of the Lord' It is in His house, in relationship with Him that His goodness and mercy overwhelm His children.