Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“But He laid His right hand on me and said, ‘Do not be afraid! I am the First and the Last.’”
Revelation 1: 17
“Seek the clasp of Christ’s hand before every bit of work, every hard task, every battle, every good deed. Bend your head in the dewy freshness of every morning, ‘ere you go forth to meet the day’s duties and perils, and wait for the benediction of Christ as He lays His hands upon you. They are hands of blessing. Their touch will inspire you for courage and strength and all beautiful and noble living.”
J. R. Miller
Today’s Study Text:
“If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray and gets lost, will he not leave the ninety-nine out the mountain and go in search of the one that is lost?”
Matthew 18: 12
“Surely goodness, mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life.”
Psalm 23: 6
Psalm 23 Part 26
“God’s Sheepdogs – Goodness and Mercy”
“We need goodness and mercy. Not goodness alone, for we are sinners needing forgiveness; not mercy alone, for we need many things besides forgiveness. But each with the other linked. Goodness to supply every want, mercy to forgive every sin; goodness to provide, mercy to pardon.”
F. B. Meyer
The Shepherd Psalm
How have goodness and mercy worked together in my journey through life?
Do I speak a language which contains faith in my Father’s guiding hand?
“The whole of Psalm 23 breathes a note of confidence and assurance, but nowhere as clearly as in verse 6. David declares, ‘Surely goodness and love (mercy) will follow me all the days of my life.’ Everything (David) knows about God as shepherd and host comes together in this bold assertion of continuing care and provision…It is the language of faith, born out of the repeated experience of God’s faithfulness.”
Song of the Shepherd
“Though (our) journey is filled with potholes, detours, roadblocks, dead ends, and missed turns, the God we affirm a shepherd and table setter is also the God who promises directions along the way, a kind of ‘global positioning system’ called ‘goodness and mercy’ which follows us always.”
John Wilkinson, Pastor
Many years ago, in the Arizona high country, Jim and I were able to witness a shepherd watching over a large flock of sheep. What caught my eye was not just the attention the shepherd gave to all the sheep, but also I noticed several “sheep” dogs that followed behind, keeping stray sheep from taking off and leaving the protective care provided by “belonging” to a group.
In his book, Song of the Shepherd, author Tony Horsfall makes reference to the fact that the goodness and mercy which David refers to are as he observes, “the sheepdogs who round up the flock and keep them on track.” He then continues with this insightful thought, “The shepherd goes before, but the dogs come after, following the sheep and ensuring that they don’t stray.” As I have studied what other Bible scholars perceive David was referring to when he penned the passage, ”Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me,” I came upon the thoughts of pastor and author F. B. Meyer who likened goodness and mercy to guardian angels. As he points out, “We are well escorted with a shepherd in front and twin angels behind.” Then he continued by saying, “Some call them watchdogs, but I prefer to think of them as angels.”
As I pondered the way goodness and mercy follow us, I thought back to the way God led His children out of Egypt. In Exodus 13: 21, 22, we are told that, “The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.” With their Shepherd leading, there was light at all times, there was protection at all times; and there was guidance at all times. No wonder David could say with resounding surety, “The Lord is my Light and my Salvation, whom shall I fear or dread? The Lord is the refuge and Stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27: 1, Amplified Bible).
The words penned by Henry W. Baker, in 1868, now part of an old-time hymn, so wonderfully convey the blessing you and I have in our lives with goodness and mercy following us forever:
“The King of love my Shepherd is
Whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am His,
And He is mine forever.
Where streams of living water flow,
My ransomed soul He leadeth,
And, where the verdant pastures grow,
With food celestial feedeth.
In deaths dark vale I fear no ill
With thee, dear Lord, beside me,
Thy rod and staff my comfort still,
Thy cross before to guide me.
And so through all the length of days,
Thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise
Within Thy house forever.”
“Be merciful and gracious to me, O God, be merciful and gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge and finds shelter and confidence in You; yes, in the shadow of Your wings will I take refuge and be confident until calamities and destructive storms are passed. I will cry to God Most High…who brings to pass His purposes for me and surely completes them.”
Psalm 57: 1, 2
“All things are possible to Thee,
Oh, Lord, we know it’s true;
The little things we cannot see,
The things we cannot do,
Oh, praise Your Name, are easily done
With little pain or fret.
You help us gain, the battles won,
You have not failed us yet.
It’s we who fail to do our best –
It’s we who do not meet the test.
We look at things and groan and say,
“I can’t go through, I’ll fall,”
but oh, You help us to obey –
Help us to conquer all.
You give us strength in time of need,
Encouragement in grief;
And sometimes, You from Heaven feed
Our hungry souls, and bring relief.
It’s we who take our hand from Thine,
We cannot blame Your Name Divine.
You take us over rocky roads,
You pull us from the mire;
But oh, You take away the load
And help us to go higher.
We thank You for each task, each tear,
For things we thought we couldn’t do,
Because the times we seemed to fear,
Are just the times You took us through.
We thank You, Lord, for victories won.
But oh, we know You’ve just begun!”
J. Allen Blair
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. During the coming weeks, gifts which are sent to Transformation Garden will help us honor requests for God’s Word, as shared through our bookmarks, with God’s children in India, Russia, Pakistan, Australia and here in the United States in women’s prisons and for Domestic Abuse Shelters. I thank you so much for the gifts you have chosen to send – Praise God! Your generosity is helping us share God’s Word in countries where the bookmarks are accepted as beautiful artwork but they carry the message of God’s saving grace. Thank you again!!
My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, and www.Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You may also call Transformation Garden at 480-349-8619.
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For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.