Throughout Psalm 23, David reveals the personal nature of his close relationship with the Lord. David has said “me” a total of six times, “I” four times, and “my” seven times. In this beloved psalm, David writes a total of seventeen personal references in only six verses, making this song of trust intensely self-disclosing.
We expect this emphasis, because walking with the LORD by faith involves, first and foremost, a close fellowship with Him. At its essence, true spirituality is not about going through the empty motions of bare religion. Nor is it about the mere external activities of longstanding rituals. Rather, a life with God is about knowing Him and loving His Son, Jesus Christ, in intimate, personal communion.
As we approach the last verse, Psalm 23 builds to this closing crescendo. David writes, “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (verse 6). Here, he builds upon the vivid analogy that he used in the previous verse. In this context, he sees himself as a special guest in a grand banquet hall, where he is being served a feast by the LORD Himself.
However, this dining hall is located in a very special place. It is found in a royal palace—but not merely a worldly ruler’s palace. It is found in the dwelling place of the highest of nobility—in “the house of the LORD.”
“Surely Goodness and Lovingkindness”
David begins with this emphatic word, “Surely” (ak). This word could be translated as “indeed,” “absolutely,” “beyond any doubt,” or even “only.” There is no place for any equivocation in David’s mind about what he says next. He is deeply persuaded of what he is about to affirm. This steadfast conviction should mark every believer.
David says that “goodness” (lob) will follow him. This word speaks of the abundant blessings and lavish benefits God has bestowed upon him. In this word is evidenced the spiritual prosperity that he has experienced in following the Lord. All that he has needed, God has always provided.
David also confesses that the “lovingkindness” (hesed) of the LORD has followed him. This is the Lord’s unconditional, loyal love for David—and for all who put their trust in Him. This word comes from the Hebrew root (hasad) that means ‘to bend down, to bow down.’ This describes God’s condescending love as He reaches all the way down to where David is.
Could there be anything greater given to David’s life than the “goodness and lovingkindness” of the LORD? God has given him the very best portion in His great love. His steadfast, covenantal love for His own people never wavers, even in the furnace of affliction.
“Will Follow Me”
David adds that the Lord’s goodness and lovingkindness “will follow me.” “Follow” (radap) means ‘to pursue after, to chase after, to run after.’ He knows that God’s mercy and grace are in close pursuit of his life. No matter wherever he goes, he cannot get away from these ever-following assurances. Regardless of whatever he does, he cannot escape them. They will never let him go, even when circumstances seem to deny their reality.
These two attributes of God—“goodness and lovingkindness”—actually represent God Himself, who is continually pursuing David. It is the figure of speech known as personification, which assigns humanlike qualities to inanimate objects. To be sure, these two attributes represent God, who is personally following David and caring for his every need.
By this testimony, David states that God is relentless in His love toward him. David is assured that though he will falter and fail, God will never give up on him. Regardless of how he may disappoint the LORD, he is persuaded that God will never stop pursuing and caring for him. Even if he trips and falls, he knows that God will never distance Himself from him.
Instead, God will pick up His servant and continue to walk with him. David will testify elsewhere, “The steps of a man or established by the LORD, and He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the LORD is the One who holds his hand” (Psalm 37:23-24). This is an irrevocable promise that is firmly established in God’s own faithfulness.
“All the Days of My Life”
God’s love for David will follow him “all the days of my life.” This tender affection and unchanging allegiance of God will be a never-ending pursuit of David to the end of his days. His devotion toward God will surely fluctuate. There will be times when it will strengthen or subside. But God’s love for him is ever strong and steadfast. God’s loyal love for David does not depend upon his love in return. God’s love for David depends upon God Himself, who never weakens or wavers.
This is why God’s lovingkindness is always chasing after David. Likewise, this same love of God is always in hot pursuit of every believer. This divine love never takes a day off. It never rests, never sleeps, never stops (Psalm 121:4). Even in the midst of trying times, the love of God never goes on sabbatical, never takes a vacation. It is ever strong toward us, ever sure.
“And I Will Dwell in the House of the Lord”
The last line begins with the word “and,” which indicates that what follows is inseparably connected with what preceded it. With great certainty, David knows that he will “dwell in the house of the Lord.” “Dwell” (yasab) means ‘to sit down and stay.’ It conveys the idea of making one’s own abode or home. This is to say, David will always be at home in the Lord’s presence, always in personal relationship with Him, no matter where he goes.
David pictures this meal in which God serves him as taking place “in the house of the Lord.” Of course, the temple in Jerusalem has not yet been built. Instead, this “house” represents the intimate fellowship that David enjoys with the Lord as he lives in the very presence of God each day. David is pointing to the close communion and interaction that he has with the Lord.
The relationship between David and the Lord will last “forever.” What starts in this lifetime will never come to an end. The word “forever” means literally ‘for the length of days, for prolonged, never-ending days.’ Once David began this relationship with the Lord, he knew it would never be severed.
In the words of this analogy, once David moves into the house of the Lord, he will never move out. This is the eternal security of every believer. The Lord Himself is their dwelling place. Once they dwell in the house of the Lord, they will always be living in the fullness of His love and grace.
David wants us to know that the Lord who pursues us with lovingkindness is He who keeps us forever. The Lord who is ever chasing us is ever keeping us. Once God begins His pursuit of us, He will never let us go. No believer can be separated from the love of God, our great Shepherd, Host, and King.