“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).
“The verse means that God will dwell with me all my life,” says Devon, age 10. “It also means that God will stay with me in my house.”
Devon, God stays at my house, too. But as King David recalled his days as a shepherd boy, I think he had something greater in mind.
First, let’s consider what Collin, 6, says about being shadowed by goodness and mercy: “God will follow us wherever we go.”
Do you ever sense that someone is following you? Sheep always have this sense because sheepdogs constantly follow them. Dogs keep sheep from straying and ward off predators with their loud barking.
After Francis Thompson read this psalm, he wrote his celebrated poem, “The Hound of Heaven.” Like a faithful sheepdog, God pursues us with his love. Some let God catch them, and others just keep running.
At times, our awareness of God’s pursuit and presence is more acute, says Jordan, 11: “Sometimes when I am scared, like when I have to go outside in the dark, I pray. And I feel God with me. He’s there. I know He is because after I pray, I don’t feel as scared anymore.”
We have a natural tendency to fear and worry because we sense that many things in our lives are beyond our control. A simple trip to the grocery store could result in a fatal car accident. Sheep under the care of a good shepherd don’t always have to know “Why?” They can rest in the care of the shepherd.
Under the care of a wise shepherd, sheep graze on weeds and naturally fertilize barren, scrubby areas so that they become lush pastures. Similarly, those who receive God’s grace transform barren deserts into fields of goodness and mercy.
Now, we come back to the house, as in “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Brook, 10, says, “This means to be dwelling under the love of the Lord.”
“The house of the Lord” is not a physical building. Solomon’s temple didn’t exist when David wrote this psalm and has long since been destroyed. Originally, the word “church” meant a gathering of Christians, not a building of stained glass and pews. Early Christians met in homes, under trees in open fields and even underground in catacombs when hiding from Roman soldiers.
Adrianna, 8, explains it this way: “We will live in his kingdom forever.”
Amazingly, Adrianna has captured the sense of dwelling in the Lord’s house. It’s in the same sense that we say the House of Windsor or the House of Stuart. It doesn’t refer to a literal house but to a royal family or kingdom. Just as the sheep belong to the shepherd’s house, God’s people belong to the house or kingdom of the Lord Jesus.
As with every royal house, one must be born into it. Jesus told a Jewish ruler that he couldn’t even see God’s kingdom unless he was born by God’s Spirit. Today, God dwells in living temples -- in the hearts of people who have trusted the Good Shepherd as the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world.
Think About This: Receive Jesus by faith into your temple, and he will welcome you into his royal house.
Memorize This Truth: Psalm 23:6 as quoted earlier.
Ask This Question: Do goodness and mercy increase wherever you go?