I mean I CAN’T EVEN WITH THESE FACES.
I don’t know much about this artist – his name is Archibald Willard, and he lived his whole life in Ohio, where he was the son of a pastor. He had a little bit of notariety as an artist in his life, and if you check out his Wikipedia entry, you’ll find an awesome photo of him (HIS FACE I CAN’T EVEN), as well as a photo of his most famous artwork, also notable for their awesome faces. I love this guy. He seems like he would have been a hoot.
So what does this have to do with goodness and mercy? Well. Let me tell you.
This verse merits a little bit of Hebrew analysis. Don’t worry – it will be painless and brief. I want to focus on what is translated INCORRECTLY in most Bibles as “shall follow me”:
Apparently, the root verb in there is actually radaph: to pursue, chase, persecute.
So, the Psalmist is not being followed by goodness and mercy so much as being relentlessly tracked, like by hound dogs. Well…goodness and mercy hound dogs, so I imagine when they catch you they just jump on you and gleefully lick your face.
Why on earth don’t we just stop and let them catch us? But then again, I am reminded of the famous (loosely translated) words of St Augustine,
“Please God, make me good, but not just yet.”
So anyway. These children will forever be “goodness and mercy” to me. Whenever I hear Psalm 23, this is what I will imagine. Goodness and mercy. Hot in pursuit.
And that poor kid tossed out of the back? That kid is Grace. Clearly.