Goodness and Mercy

“Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life” (Psalm 23:6).

Because the LORD is our Shepherd, God’s goodness and love will follow us all the days of our lives.

To properly understand what the psalmist meant, I want us to pay attention to three words: goodness, love, follow.


  • The Hebrew word is towb – pronounced as tove
  • This word means good, pleasant. But this word has a heaviness to it that the English word “good” cannot communicate. This isn’t just being happy. The good that this word refers to is a good that is not shaken for it is rooted down, it is heavy, it has substance
  • This is a goodness that is unshakable


  • The Hebrew word is hesed
  • This word means goodness, kindness
  • When we learned this psalm as a young person we would have memorized it as mercy
  • Hesed is one of the most important words in the Hebrew Bible. It refers to God’s goodness and love
  • Unlike human love, God’s love is not finicky. God’s love is constant and consistent
  • We call it steadfast love for there is nothing that can shake God’s hesed, love, goodness, kindness.


  • The Hebrew word is radaph
  • The English translation is way too tepid. The Hebrew word literally means to chase after, to pursue
  • Follow is so weak compared to chase after or pursue

Putting it all together. The psalmist tells us because the LORD is our Shepherd God’s unshakable goodness and God’s steadfast and never-ending love will chase after and pursue us all the days of our lives. As long as the LORD is our shepherd, we will live in God’s unshakable goodness because God’s steadfast love for us. Our Shepherd will chase after us and pursue us to make sure this is our reality.

Wow! That’s great news! Don’t you just love God’s word?!?! It reveals God’s character and nature. And it’s awesome!

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