Open Eyes, Open Hands
Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, And I shall dwell forever [throughout all my days] in the house and in the presence of the Lord.
God’s goodness is His predisposition to show favor and His energy to bring about blessing. It is not just a static characteristic; God’s goodness actively flows from Him to us. God’s mercy has a different tone. His standard is perfection, but we fall short every day. Although we deserve punishment, God’s mercy means that we don’t get what we deserve. What a relief!
In his most beloved poem, David is overwhelmed with God’s love, and he remarks that His goodness and mercy will be his companions every day of his life- not just on the days David goes to the Temple, and not just on days that he is thankful and obedient. No, in this psalm, he’s counting on God’s goodness all day, every day, even when he’ll blow it and desperately need to experience God’s mercy again,
David had tasted God’s goodness and mercy, and he wanted to experience God’s presence as much as possible. Before the coming of Christ, the presence of God dwelled in the Holy of Holies in the Temple. Today, instead of in the Holy of Holies, God’s Spirit actually lives in each believer, so we are never alone. If our spiritual eyes are open, we’ll notice God’s goodness and mercy all around us, and we’ll grasp His blessings with both hands. They’re there, we just need to see them.
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; our helper He amid the flood of mortal life prevailing.
Sometimes in the midst of adversity it’s hard to see the goodness and mercy of God. Many times adversity will persuade some to give up their faith and walk with God. I have friends who were in places such as Viet Nam and Iraq who experienced such horrible things that they could no longer believe in a good God. They reasoned that if God existed and that He was good, He would intervene in the suffering and the horrible acts of humanity. Others have watched a loved one, a good person suffer with some disease, often in excruciating pain and they too have wondered about the goodness of God. The devil often gives the impression that God is the root source of tragedy and trouble. His accusation against God is no different than it was with Eve in the Garden. With Eve, and with us, the devil pressures us to believe that God doesn’t fully love us and that He is withholding blessings from us. Many believe that catastrophe befalls those who do not please God in some way and are being punished.
David in the familiar words of Psalm 23 writes these words: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” David’s life was not trouble free and he was often overlooked even by his family. For example, when Samuel visited his father’s house David wasn’t even invited to the dinner. It was only after that Samuel had met David’s brothers and through the prompting of God that David’s father admitted there was another son who was out tending sheep. Could you imagine the family getting together and every child was invited except you? What would you feel? Unimportant, unnoticed, unloved? Yet David wrote, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Later when David slew Goliath the oppressor of Israel when even King Saul would not face him, he was first praised and then Saul became jealous and tried several times to kill him. He became a fugitive from the very king and nation he had served through no fault of his own. Have you suffered even at the hands of those you were trying to help? Maybe you went above and beyond and instead of gratitude and thankfulness, you received attitude, ungratefulness and even unkindness. Sing with David, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”
As we read David’s story we find a man who had incredible peaks of success and colossal failures. In his successes, he attributed his accomplishments to the goodness of God and in his failures he relied on the mercies of God. From the depths of his sin, he cried out for God to be merciful and to “restore the joy of his salvation.” As David walked every day in both the goodness and mercy of God, he realized the great love and compassion God has for His children. As you read through the psalms quite often you will find David pouring out the bitterness of his heart as he describes his adversities. Often he begins by asking God to punish the wrongdoers and to make their lives miserable. Other times you can read of the darkness of despair and defeat and depression. But if you read to the end, you will find that David begins to focus on the greatness, the kindness, the goodness and the mercy of God and his complaint turns to praise and worship.
What’s our lesson? In every situation, every day, at all times, we are to open our eyes to see the goodness and mercy of God. We are to see His open heart and open hands stretched toward us not with punishment but with blessing. Paul captured the essence of this thought when he wrote Romans 8:28; “For we know that all things work together for the good of them who love God and are called according to His purposes.”
If you’re in a pit of despair facing the giant of adversity and despair, lift up your eyes to Him who sits on the throne of heaven and trust that His goodness and mercy is following you and will follow you all the days of your life. The 23rd Psalm concludes with, “And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” You see after all the goodness and mercy that God gives us in this life, He crowns it with an invitation to dwell in His house forever. What love is this. John says it this way:
“See what an incredible quality of love the Father has shown to us, that we would [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, we are [even here and] now children of God, and it is not yet made clear what we will be [after His coming]. We know that when He comes and is revealed, we will [as His children] be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is [in all His glory].”
1 John 3:1-2
What a day, glorious day that will be!
Dr. John Thompson