Mercy: thoughts & a song based on Psalm 23

Update: I wrote this post over two weeks ago.  Little did I know within minutes of hitting 'publish', the mercy of God would chase me down in a very specific way. In a way I knew I desperately needed but didn't know how to ask for. The mercy of God through Jesus is real, unrelenting and good. Always.

Psalm 23 is probably one of most well known passages in Scripture both by the believing world and secular alike. But it's also one that has brought intense comfort to the same respectively, over the ages. At first glance it makes sense's a beautiful image drawn by the Psalmist David, using the metaphor of sheep and their shepherd as mankind with God. 

But what's more is that this brief passage, only six verses, contains the scope of a man's life.  Periods of dark, near-death experiences, even being disciplined and trained by the Shepherd, are sandwiched between the proclamation of this same Shepherd's gentle hand of restoration, and His provisional hand of abundance. And yet somehow it doesn't come across as reductionist, but profound, (which by the way is a huge statement to the utterly gifted artistic nature of the Scripture writers - Psalms in particular!)

The past couple years I've been most struck by the little phrase that David exclaims near the end in verse 6: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life". However, the word follow here, is not the nice follow-the-leader kind of meaning. It's not like your little one toddling behind you in the store, forcing you to keep saying, "come on now, keep following me".  Nope, this is just the opposite. 

The Hebrew word for follow here is 'radaph', and every other time it is used in the Old Testament, it is in reference to an intense, passionate chase or pursuit (sometimes used in terms of battle). What we can surmise is that David chose to communicate that the goodness and mercy of God will pursue, chase, and unrelentingly follow His sheep all the days of their lives. 

His love is not timid or accidental. His mercy is not shy.  His goodness has focus and intent. It doesn't wait for our instruction or until we fall in line.  No, God's mercy and goodness are motivated and activated by His character alone. It always has a plan, and is never surprised. I can trust this truth even when I'm not feeling or understanding His love, mercy or goodness.  I can trust it is still chasing me.

I've been working on a song all summer surrounding this idea of being chased by the mercy of God.  I used the life of someone close to me as a backdrop story to display just how one person's life was chased by mercy and found. But the fact is, it's happening in you and in me. It's happening with the cashier at the grocery store.  It's happening with the teacher you don't see eye-to-eye with.  It's chasing down the co-worker you can't stand to be around. It's chasing down your child who just slammed their door on you again.  And it's chasing down the corners of our heart...the ones where darkness still lurks and the ones already bathed in light.  Mercy is always chasing us down....the question is, will we be found?

I see a little boy with a vulnerable soul
And a cloud rainin’ nothing but pain
The damage was done, the unravelling begun
No one showed him the way, no one showed him the way

Oh, Oh, the heart just wants to be found
Oh, Oh mercy will chase it down
In the dark of the night
And in the corners of light
Mercy’s chasing down

I see a young man, turned family man
Still broken, far from whole
A mirage promised life, and it took him to flight
The only way he saw was own, his way he did go


I see a man with his head in his hands
When he sees what ruin rained down
You can’t run back and you can’t run ahead
So you bend your knees to the ground, on holy ground

Now you’re a man with a vision in hand
Of a life that’s freely whole
What once was lost
Has now been found cause
Mercy caught your soul

And you were found, Oh Oh Oh

Found, Oh Oh Oh (repeat)