Some years ago, a man walked about a block ahead of me. I could clearly see his arms were full of packages. All of a sudden, he tripped, dropping everything. A couple of people helped him to his feet, assisting him in collecting what he’d dropped. But they missed something—his wallet. I picked it up and took off in hot pursuit of the stranger, hoping to return that important item. I yelled “Sir, sir!” and finally got his attention. He turned just as I reached him. As I held out the wallet, I’ll never forget his look of surprised relief and immense gratitude.
What began as following along after that man turned into something quite different. Most English translations use the word follow in the final verse of the familiar Psalm 23—“Surely your goodness and love will follow me” (v. 6). And while “follow” fits, the actual Hebrew word used is more forceful, aggressive even. The word literally means “to pursue or chase,” much like a predator pursues his prey (think of a wolf pursuing sheep).
God’s goodness and love don’t merely follow along after us at a casual pace, in no real hurry, like a pet might leisurely follow you home. No, “surely” we are being pursued—chased even—with intention. Much like pursuing a man to return his wallet, we’re pursued by the Good Shepherd who loves us with an everlasting love (v. 1).