“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)
What is the basis of the unquenchable faith of David? What gives him the assurance that all the blessings he has described (in Psalm 23) will be experienced all the days of his life and forever?
The word Selah, found frequently in the Psalms of David, can be interpreted: “Pause and calmly think about that.” If we pause and calmly think about it, we realize that all through Psalm 23, David presents his Shepherd as the great Initiator of their relationship.
It is the Shepherd Who gets David’s attention, then makes him lie down and say, “baa,” confessing that he is a sheep and the Lord is his Shepherd. It is his Shepherd Who makes David lie down where the green pastures are and then leads him beside still waters. It is David’s Shepherd Who uses His staff when David strays from Him, and drives him into the paths of righteousness that restore his soul. It is God, the Good Shepherd Who initiates these interventions in David’s life.
As David walks through the valley of the shadow of death, his confidence is not in his own extraordinary ability as a warrior to see himself through that valley. His confidence is clearly in his Shepherd. As David walks through this dark and scary valley, he is looking to God for protection and provision. He knows his Shepherd will personally anoint him with oil and keep that cup running over within him.
The source of David’s confident faith is clearly seen in the way the New Jerusalem Bible translates this verse: “Kindness and faithful love pursue me every day of my life.” It is also expressed in these words from the hymn, “I Sought the Lord,” written by George McDonald.
“I find, I walk, I love, but Oh the whole of love
Is but my answer, Lord to Thee.
For You were long beforehand with my soul.
Always, you have loved me.”
Dick Woodward, from Psalm 23 Sheep Talk