Psalm 23:6 – Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
In his book The Shepherd Psalm, F.B. Meyer refers to "goodness and lovingkindness" as our "celestial escort". Charles Swindoll suggests that these are "God's sheepdogs", ever near His flock, nipping at our heels to keep us in line, on guard for predators, and always available. A fitting analogy, as I remember times of aimless wandering when God's love nudged me where He wanted me to be, even though it might have resulted in a bloody heel or two.
On the subject of sheepdogs, Paula Simmons, author of Raising Sheep the Modern Way, writes: "Why the great interest, and recent popularity, of the guardian dog as a protector of sheep? Because sheep owners are becoming desperate, with poisons and traps now barred in so many states." A parallel can be made: "Why the great emphasis on God's goodness and mercy? Because a focus on bitterness and revenge does not express the character of God." It is God's enduring love, represented by "goodness and mercy", which draws back the prodigals and softens hearts of stone.
The psalm ends with an affirmation of our life's goal: I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever — a face-to-face relationship with our Lord and Saviour forever.
Prayer: Shepherd me, O Lord, beyond my wants, beyond the poisons and traps which confront me. May Your goodness and mercy stay with me always, all the way Home. Amen.