The Goodness of God Follows You
Earlier this year, Pastor Zach preached a sermon series on joy with the key verse “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!” Psalm 34:8. The praise team introduced a new song to our congregation to emphasize this series called “The Goodness of God.” The bridge lyrics of this song go like this:
“Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me.”
When I first heard these words, I thought that was a strange way of putting it. Your goodness is running after me? Then I recalled that Psalm 23:6 says, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…”
The Hebrew word for “follow” in that verse means “to be behind, follow after, pursue, persecute, or to run after.” This explains why the writers of the song “The Goodness of God” worded the bridge as they did.
Why would God, through the writer David, say that goodness and mercy would follow? As we remember the context of Psalm 23, we know that this is about the shepherd, the sheep, and their journey. David is drawing from his experience as a shepherd himself. Sometimes the shepherd leads the sheep from behind. I asked my shepherdess friend, Laci, about how they lead sheep. She said, “Depending on the situation you either need to drive them somewhere from behind (usually somewhere they don’t want to go) or head them from the front (usually when it’s somewhere they really want to go but need to slow down and wait for you).”
And doesn’t that sound just like us and our walk with God?
God leads us where we don’t want to go, and His goodness, His presence, follows us down that road. He Himself is Goodness and He gives goodness. (Matthew 7:11) We obey the Shepherd because the Shepherd knows best and promises His presence and goodness will be behind us.
God often has to drive us, push and prod us, to go down the path we would rather not tread. Yet when we do, not only does He Himself follow us (“Goodness” with a capital “G”) but “goodness” follows; that is, good results follow our obedience. Sometimes we see those good results and count our blessings, but often times we wait in faith, knowing that our Shepherd will reward our obedience one day and is pleased with our trust in Him.
The Scriptures don’t sugar coat life. The stories in the Bible are real and raw. Think of Naomi in the book of Ruth. Life and the Lord (if we believe in the sovereignty of God) had dealt her a tough hand to play. She lived in Israel in the times of the judges when “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25). She lived through a famine, a move to a foreign country, the death of her husband, and the death of her two sons so that she was left in a strange land with two daughters-in-law that were not “her people.” When she returns to her home country of Israel, she tells the people there to call her “Mara” which means “bitter” because she said, “the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.” (Ruth 1:20) The Bible also gives us stories like Job, Joseph, Esther, and Daniel. They were people just like us, and the Lord allowed them to go through the valley of the shadow of death. And yet at the end of their stories, they saw the goodness of God. (Ruth 4:14-16; Job 42:12-17; Genesis 41:52, Genesis 50:20; Esther 9:22; Daniel 6:28).
Brothers and sisters, as we walk down the path of God’s leading even when we don’t want to, take joy and peace in knowing that surely goodness is following after you; in fact, it is running after you. Not just sometimes, but all the days of your life. One day, we will say “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him….let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” (Isaiah 25:9)
And we can say together, “We have lived in the goodness of God.”