There has probably been some time in your life when you felt like you were living under a cloud of despair. Regardless of what you did, there seemed to be a trail of worries and problems that followed you where ever you went.
A stark contrast to this kind of situation is found in the words of David in Psalm 23:6: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.
I think it is important to note that David did not say that every waking moment of a person’s life will be filled with good moments and happy days. He did say, however, that the goodness of God and His mercy can be experienced each day of our lives.
Unless a person has given some consideration to the meaning of mercy and its close cousin, grace, he may think that the words have the same meaning. Let me distinguish one from the other:
- Grace is when God gives you something you do not deserve. Salvation is a good example of this. I do not know of anyone who really deserves it.
- Mercy is when God does not give a person what he deserves. When a righteous God judges sinful man, He can either punish him or extend His goodness and mercy.
I have heard people say: I just want what I deserve and what I have coming to me. Not me, I want the mercy of God.
David said the mercy of God is a given, and we see this in the word surely. It isn’t a hope so or maybe so proposition, it is a guarantee from God. In the Lamentations of Jeremiah, the prophet said: It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed; they are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness!
In the shepherd/sheep analogy of Psalm 23, we have the Good Shepherd who leads us, and guarding the back of the flock are His two sheep dogs. One is named Goodness and the other is called Mercy.
Remember the promise of this verse: Surely goodness and mercy will follow one all the days of my life. Think about it, Goodness and Mercy are the lap-dogs who are just a whistle away.