We are nearing the end of the year and without even realising it, our thoughts and plans have left Christmas behind and we are already working on the coming year. We haven’t even said “Happy New Year” but we have already set some goals, considered a few plans and even booked a few dates.  All good and well, but for some of us who have just experienced a very difficult year, the prospect of the pattern of the last year being repeated is pretty scary.  What if the difficulties come like baggage into the new year?  What if things go wrong?  What does the new year hold?

Can I be confident about the new year?

I believe we can.  Psalm 23 is probably the most self-disclosing psalm of David describing his close relationship with the Lord.  He writes a total of seventeen personal references in only six verses making this psalm a deep and personal declaration of trust.  He also makes use of many of the names of God, declaring the character of God as if to remind himself.

He starts off by declaring that the Lord IS his shepherd and as a result he will not want anything in life.  The Lord’s provision and physical care extends to his day to day needs and David knows that when it comes to his soul the Lord will restore him also.  He trusts in his Shepherds guidance and care knowing the character of his Shepherd.  Even when trouble or dark days come, he is confident that he will not have to fear evil and that the Lord will be present with Him, guide him, teach him and comfort him during this time.  His is aware of the Lords overflowing provision and anointing in the presence of his enemies and knows himself to be generously provided for, stating “my cup overflows.”

David knows WHO he trusts

David then makes a statement, starting with the word “surely”.  This word could be translated as “indeed,” “absolutely,” or “beyond any doubt.”

David is deeply persuaded about what he is about to declare as his conviction.

Psalm23:6Psalm 23:6  “Surely goodness and mercy (and unfailing love) shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell forever [throughout all my days] in the house and in the presence of the Lord.

David says that “goodness” will follow him. This word speaks of the abundant blessings and lavish benefits God has bestowed upon him. He has already spoken about his spiritual wealth and the provision of all that he has needed and from his experience concludes that God’s goodness will be something that chases him all his life.

David also confesses that the “mercy” (also translated lovingkindness) of the LORD has followed him. This is the Lord’s unconditional, loyal love for David.  God has given him His steadfast, covenantal love for His people that never wavers even in the darkest of days.

“Follow” means to ‘pursue after, chase after, run after’ and David knows that God’s mercy and grace IS in close pursuit of his life.  No matter where he goes, or what happens, He knows that he cannot get away from these attributes of God, that are chasing him.  It is actually the favor of God that is personified in goodness and mercy (loving kindness) and God’s loyal love does not depend on David, but on God Himself.  God who never wavers or weakens, never takes a day off, never rests, never sleeps, never stops in His care for David. (Psalm 121).

A paraphrase might be, “Because You, Lord, are good, pleasing, and valuable, and because You love me so faithfully, I am certain You will be with me all my life.”

Goodness and Mercy will Follow Me

Psalm 23:6Imagine if we entered the new year with this attitude that “goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.”  Imagine the confidence we would have, the courage, the contentment and assurance that we would experience.  How different would our lives be if we carried the same convictions about our Shepherd as David did in the first five verses of Psalm 23?

Don’t read on.  Stop and think about it. Say it to yourself: “God’s goodness and mercy will follow me into the new year.”

The last line of the Psalm, begins with the word “and,” which indicates that what follows is, in David’s mind, bound up in what he has just said. With great certainty, David knows that he will “dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  “Dwell” means ‘to sit down and stay.’ It conveys the idea of making one’s own home. David considers the Lord’s presence his home, always in a personal relationship with Him, no matter where he goes in life.

It is one of the greatest blessings of our salvation, that for the rest of our lives, the presence of God is always with us, whether we feel it or not. God is always available in relationship. But this confidence of David also extends to the life hereafter, being confident that he will never leave the presence of God and dwell with Him forever (John 14:2).

This goodness and mercy of God being ALWAYS constant in my life.  For ALL the days of my life.

Psalm 23:6What would our lives look like if we woke up each day in the coming year, ready and expectant to experience God’s favor as He expresses His goodness and mercy in our lives? (Lamentations 3:22-23)

God, you are a good, loving and faithful Father who does not change and is present with me all the days of my life.  Please help me to know you as David did, to be able to declare confidently that You are my shepherd, that I shall not want.  Help me to know and understand Your character so well that I am convinced of your goodness and mercy in my life. Thank you for your never-ending presence in my life. Thank you Lord that in the coming year I can remember this promise; that your goodness and mercy will follow me each day of the year, and into eternity.  Amen

The Lord is My Shepherd

Why Tell the Shepherds?