"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:" Psalm 23:6a
While studying Psalm 23, we have learned a lot about sheep and their character. We also have seen how much their character reflects our own character at times which is humbling when we realize that. In this passage of Scripture, David reminds us of our Great Shepherd’s character. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,…”
I looked up what “goodness” and “mercy” mean in the dictionary. GOODNESS means VIRTUE and MERCY means COMPASSION. These are excellent descriptions of our Great Shepherd’s character. Being God, He is holy, perfect and good. He showed His great mercy when He came to earth to die for our sins on that despicable, beautiful cross. He showed His great compassion for us as He took upon Himself ALL our sin that was ever committed, past, present and future. That’s where the beauty comes from the cross as He became our Redeemer. The fact that our Great Shepherd is God, Himself in the flesh, showed His virtue when He humbled Himself to be our Redeemer. He showed His compassion by the same act of dying on that cross for our sins, NOT His as He has NO sin.
We say that God is good all the time, but do we say that when we are going through trying times. Do we say that when we are standing at the graveside of our child. Is God still good? What about when you have lost everything and you think you can go on no longer? Is He still good when you watch a love one die as their body is ravaged by cancer or because of the negligence of someone else? YES, He is still good. Romans 8:28 reminds us of this, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” This is why we can have the confidence that He truly does care for us.
As I think of all the times the LORD led me down paths that seemed dreary or confusing, it was during those times that I have seen His true character of goodness and mercy. There were great benefits of drawing closer to Him. Of course, there were times, I wondered if He truly did care for me or if He had forgotten me. I am so thankful that He does not give up on us. He is so patient, another wonderful character trait of Him. He picks me up and His goodness and mercy are right there for the journey. No matter what chaos has come into my life, I have learned that He still carries me through them and I eventually see His goodness and mercy shine through. Every day finds His goodness and compassion new. They never get old. What a comfort to know that He will never leave us or forsake us and will guide us in the right direction.
The sheep know when they have a good shepherd or not. When sheep are left to their own devices, they can cause havoc to the property, but when they have a good, caring shepherd, that shepherd will lead them to where they need to feed and guide them throughout their journey in life. These sheep are very beneficial if they are managed well. Their manure is the best balanced than any other domestic livestock and are one of the few livestock that will feed on a wide variety of vegetation. The fact that their shepherd manages them in a loving, caring way, they in turn follow their shepherd as he leads them in the right direction also leaving behind great fertilization for the pasture.
Do I leave behind me His goodness and mercy? Do people see virtue and compassion or do they see selfishness and pride in my life? Do I leave peace or chaos? Do I leave contentment or worry? Do I show forgiveness or bitterness? Do I have joy or frustration? Do I show love or discord? Isaiah 52:7 says, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!”
In the painting, I have the Great Shepherd carrying a small lamb on His shoulders which represents those of us who have put our faith and trust in Him. On the lamb’s ear, you will see a small cross to represent that we belong to Him, His marking. There are two larger sheep following the Great Shepherd in the shadow of the cross and they represent “Goodness” and “Mercy”. I want so much to have His goodness and mercy following me. I want my legacy to reflect His virtue and compassion. I want to “Follow the Shepherd’s Character”! What are you following?
In this special blog series, I painted Psalm 23 verse by verse, personalizing the verses from a sheep's devotion to their Great Shepherd. Each picture is painted on a roof slate with acrylic paint. There are a total of 12 blogs when completed.