Be Thankful That Your Good Shepherd Chases After You! (May 12, 2019)

Sermon Text:  Psalm 23:6

Pastor Daniel Schmidt 

A young child is walking across the yard toward a very busy road.  Suddenly, you see her mom chasing after her, to stop her from going out on to the very busy street.  Why would a mother do that?  The answer is obvious.  The mother loves her child and doesn’t want to see her get hurt.

This is the picture we have of our Good Shepherd, Jesus, found in Psalm 23.  Today, we will spend some time looking at the final verse of the Good Shepherd Psalm. As we do, BE THANKFUL THAT YOUR GOOD SHEPHERD CHASES AFTER YOU! We read verse 6 of Psalm 23:

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Led by God the Holy Spirit, David begins with the word “surely”.  David writes that he is 100% confident that the goodness and love of his Good Shepherd will “follow me all the days of my life”.  In the Hebrew, the word that is translated “follow” literally means “pursue”; or “chase after”.  It is a word that is used to describe an army chasing after an enemy it wants to catch. Here in Psalm 23 David expresses his confidence that even though he may be hunted down by his enemies, his loving Good Shepherd is never resting.

The Lord will not only walk in front of David, leading him where he wants him to go until that day he calls him home to his side in heaven, but the gracious Lord is behind David as well, guarding, protecting and providing for him day after day.  As a young boy, the Lord in his goodness kept David safe from the wild animals who attacked the sheep he was watching over.  As David served in the household of King Saul, the Lord in his goodness protected him, even though there were many times that Saul tried to kill him.  As a warrior-king, David was chased by enemies whose only goal was to catch him and put him to death.  But as the Good Shepherd chased after David with his goodness, he spared David’s life and blessed his military efforts so that the kingdom of Israel expanded under his rule.

The fact that our gracious Good Shepherd chases after you and me in his goodness is an amazing thing.  Too often you and I ignore the Lord’s will in our lives and walk (maybe even run) in areas of life where he tells us not to go.  In sinful stubbornness, you and I at times refuse to let the Lord lead us according to his will, thinking that we know what is better for us.  And what you and I deserve for this sin is to have the Lord turn away from us and leave us to fall off the cliff into the pit of hell.

But instead, what does our forgiving Lord do?  He chases after you and me in his goodness.  Our Lord’s goodness sent the world a Savior.  Through the forgiving blood of our Savior, the Lord chases after you and me in his goodness, and promises to watch over us each and every day. In his goodness the Lord makes you and me the promise in Romans chapter 8, “We know that all in things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

And God’s Word continues in Romans 8, “What then shall we say in response to this?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”  Finally, Romans chapter 8 concludes with the promise that “nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  How could King David and the Apostle Paul be so sure about this promise from the Lord?  How are you and I able to have that same confidence as David and Paul?  Because the Good Shepherd chases after us in his goodness.

There is another word in this verse that I would like us to spend some time talking about today.  We read from Psalm 23, Surely goodness and lovewill follow me all the days of my life…”  The Hebrew word that is used here is better translated “faithful love”.  It is the word that is used in the Old Testament when the Lord talks about the covenant, the promise, he made with his people; the promise that he would send a Savior to win forgiveness for all sin.

This is the love that chased after David each day of his life.  One of the saddest moments in the life of King David was when he committed adultery with Bathsheba.  After giving into his sinful lust and committing the sin of adultery, rather than turning to the Lord for forgiveness, David continued to sin.  He tried to cover up his first sin of adultery by committing the sin of murder, as he had Bathsheba’s husband Uriah killed. And David continued to live in his sin for some time, refusing to repent of it.

What did the Good Shepherd do for David?  Did he leave him alone to walk forever through the darkness of his sin?  No, the Good Shepherd chased after David in his faithful love.  Out of great love for David the Lord sent the prophet Nathan who proclaimed God’s Word to him.  Nathan used the Law of God to point out David’s sin.  After he confessed his sin, Nathan shared the message of God’s faithful love when he said to David, “The LORD has taken away your sin.  You are not going to die.”

How many times haven’t you and I been just like David?  Maybe we haven’t committed adultery or murder, but perhaps we have committed another sin and refused to repent of it.  Or maybe we have become far too comfortable in a lifestyle that is sinful in the eyes of the Lord.  What does the Lord do with you and me?  Does he turn away from us?  Does he condemn you and me to an eternity suffering forever in the fires of hell? No!  Rather he chases after us in his faithful love.

In his faithful love, the Lord chases after you and me with his Law to show you and me our sin and our great need for a Savior.  In his faithful love, the Good Shepherd chases after you and me with his Gospel to proclaim the Good News of the forgiveness for all your sins and mine through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

When you and I see how tolerant of sin our world and our country has become, we may find ourselves wondering, “Why doesn’t the almighty God, in his anger over sin, simply rain down fire from heaven and destroy everything and everyone that is evil in this world?”  Or, “How much longer will the Lord allow us as a nation to exist, until he carries out his judgment against us as he did against the Children of Israel?”  The answer to these questions goes back to the faithful love of our Good Shepherd. The Lord is chasing after all sinners in our country and around the world with his faithful love.  It is his desire that all people would repent of their sins and come to a knowledge of Jesus Christ as their one and only Savior from sin.  And the Good Shepherd wants to use you and me to share the message of his faithful love with others.

There is one more point we can make as we look at this one verse of the Good Shepherd Psalm.  What is the ultimate goal of the Good Shepherd chasing after you and me in his goodness and in his faithful love?  It is not to set up a “heaven on earth”, rather as God’s Word says, “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  Just as David is 100% confident that, in this life, the Lord will chase after him in his goodness and faithful love, so David is 100% confident that he will live forever at the side of his Good Shepherd in heaven.

Those of us who by the grace of God enjoy his goodness and know his faithful love join with David in looking forward to the day when we will live at the side of our Good Shepherd forever in heaven.  Because of Jesus Christ our Savior, you and I are able to be sure that we will “dwell in the house of the Lord forever”.  One author has written about this part of verse 6, “Heaven is a house, not a tent that we live in on a temporary basis.  Heaven is a home, not a hotel that we go to visit.  Heaven is a homefor the people of God and a housein the presence of God.”

Last week, we talked about all the earthly, material blessings that you and I enjoy from the hands of our gracious Lord.  From the marvels of medicine and science, to friends and family and cupboards in our homes filled with food, the Lord certainly does greatly bless you and me.  Of course, the greatest blessing that you and I enjoy from our Good Shepherd is the forgiveness of all our sins and the sure promise of our place at his side in heaven.  Why does the one and only true God treat you and me this way?  It all comes back to who the Lord is and how he feels toward you and me.  Together, we join our voices in thanks and praise that the Good Shepherd chases after you and me in his goodness and in his faithful love.  Amen.