Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
My Old Testament professor at seminary liked to tell us that the picture painted in Psalm 23 is almost like a sweet cartoon. God is our shepherd and we are sheep, little lambs. The cartoon closes in verse 6 with the most ridiculously beautiful scene. The sheep goes to live with the shepherd in his house forever. Sheep do not live in houses, trust me. But this one is so beloved by his shepherd that he dwells with him forever.
David is saying that he, and all those who truly know God, will live with God forever—even beyond their days here on earth. Forever we will live in God’s house. Forever we will give honor and glory to his name. Forever he will satisfy our souls. Forever we will do what we were created by him to do. Forever, that will give us joy.
Today, if you are a follower of Jesus, be comforted by the hope of eternal life with him. Hope, in a Biblical sense, is not the way that we use the word hope today. We say, “I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow,” but we do not know whether or not it will. When God talks about our hope in Christ, it is an assured hope that simply has not been fulfilled yet. It’s like saying that you have hope that the sun will rise tomorrow. Of course it will. There is no doubt. You know it will, and you plan your life in that confident assumption of truth. In the same way, Christians who know and follow God have hope that their eternity is full of blessing. That is what we live for, not the comforts and ease that this world can offer. Our hope is in eternity, and we long for the day when it will be fulfilled. So, Christians, look forward to the hope you have for eternity.
Also consider that sheep, in the Scriptures, were often used as sacrifices. They were often killed, fairly brutally, as a payment for sin. You and I actually should be those sheep. We are sinners before a holy God. We deserve to be hounded, not by goodness and loving kindness, but by God’s wrath and justice. We deserve to suffer the fury of God for every little sin that we have ever committed before him. Since his holiness is perfect and his perfection is infinite, we deserve to have to pay an infinite price for our sins. Put plainly, we all deserve hell for eternity because we have sinned before an infinitely holy God.
The only way that we are able not to be hounded by wrath and judgment is because God chose to take out that wrath and judgment on someone else. You and I deserve God’s wrath. God chose, however, to pour that wrath out on his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus died in our place. He suffered in our place. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter for our sakes. He suffered the wrath that I deserve for my sins and that you deserve for yours. Since Jesus is God the Son and our good shepherd, he was able to pay all the price for all the sins of all who come to him. Go and reread Isaiah 53 sometime, and watch the scene as it is predicted 700 years before it happened. Watch as the Son of God, the good shepherd, gives up his life as a sacrifice for the sins of many.
Today, if you want God to be your shepherd, if you want to be able to trust him in times of need, if you want to be able to rest in him during times of peace, if you want to be able to follow him toward righteousness, if you want to be comforted in the troublesome times, if you want to be able to receive his blessings with joy, if you want to look forward to eternity in his house, then you must first become his child by receiving his gift of salvation. Believe that God is and that he is perfect. Believe that you are a sinner in need of his grace. Believe that Jesus died to pay the penalty for your sin. Bring your life to Jesus, and ask him to change your heart from that of a dead sinner to a living follower of his. Place your trust in the work of Jesus and the work of Jesus alone for your salvation. Turn away from sin and sinful self-sufficiency and turn instead to Christ to be forgiven. If you do this, God will forgive you of your sin, and he will become your good shepherd.