Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Surely Goodness and Mercy Shall Follow Me

A Christian friend on Facebook has a quotation that I like; she chose a section from the Psalms:
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. (Psalms 16:5-6 ESV)
I like that; don't you?  And from what I can tell about my friend and her lovely family, it is an accurate description of their lives.  They are blessed and I am blessed to know them.

Recently the Holy Spirit stirred my heart to consider a verse so well-known that I dare say it is often ignored.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalms 23:6 ESV)
It is said that familiarity breeds contempt and I am afraid this has happened in my life.  Consider how monumental these promises are for the child of God!

The Hebrew word for "goodness" is טוב and its semantic range is rich, depending on context. By Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Definitions:
1) good, pleasant, agreeable (adjective)
1a) pleasant, agreeable (to the senses)
1b) pleasant (to the higher nature)
1c) good, excellent (of its kind)
1d) good, rich, valuable in estimation
1e) good, appropriate, becoming
1f) better (comparative)
1g) glad, happy, prosperous (of man’s sensuous nature)
1h) good understanding (of man’s intellectual nature)
1i) good, kind, benign
1j) good, right (ethical)
2) a good thing, benefit, welfare (noun masculine)
2a) welfare, prosperity, happiness
2b) good things (collective)
2c) good, benefit
2d) moral good
3) welfare, benefit, good things (noun feminine)
3a) welfare, prosperity, happiness
3b) good things (collective)
That's quite a list!  God's goodness is for me!

The Hebrew word for "mercy" is חסד and is translated by BDB as:
 1) goodness, kindness, faithfulness
This is a difficult word to translate.  Different English versions may have "mercy" or "kindness" or "lovingkindness."  In a nutshell, chêsêd means the "covenant love" or the "covenant faithfulness" of God.

David said that Yahweh gives his children beneficial goodness, favor and blessing.  What I find even more fascinating is how the Shepherd King describes these gifts coming to us.  The Hebrew verb which has been translated as "shall follow" is a Qal Imperfect.  BDB translates it as:
1a) (Qal)
1a1) to pursue, put to flight, chase, dog, attend closely upon
1a2) to persecute, harass (figuratively)
1a3) to follow after, aim to secure (figuratively)
1a4) to run after (a bribe) (figuratively)
A Hebrew Imperfect verb means the action has yet to be completed; the action isn't finished.  God's blessings continue to chase his children!  The blessings keep coming!  I like how the Emphasized Bible renders the verse:
 Surely, goodness and lovingkindness, will pursue me, all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of Yahweh, evermore. (Psalms 23:6)
Appropriate this by faith!