Surely, goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
As a believer, I understand and embrace the peace of this last verse. Though scholars are divided as to when this psalm was written, I surmise it must have been written with David’s lifetime of experience as both shepherd and king behind it. I see his successes and failures wrapped up in this psalm, and know he loved God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all mind and with all his strength.
David had established a relationship with God such that he knew the character of God. David believed in God’s goodness and mercy, and had faith he would spend eternity with God. And God was faithful to His chosen king.
(boldface for emphasis)
“I tell you that the Lord will build a house for you. When your days are fulfilled that you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up one of your descendants after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build for Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father and he shall be My son; and I will not take My lovingkindness away from him, as I took it from him who was before you. But I will settle him in My house and in My kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.” 1 Chronicles 17:10-14
We are also God’s heirs. None of us need be afraid of not spending eternity with Him. He saved us to set us free: from worry, from sin, from shame, from burden, from rules, from being excluded, from being orphans. We are sons and daughters of the Most High King, the Prince of Peace.
If you’re still worshiping dogma and tradition and some notion of God someone else has defined for you;
-if you don’t get it was Jesus who included the excluded and lifted up the outcasts;
-if you don’t see Jesus’ closest community was made up of invited outsiders who were unacceptable to first century religious conservatives;
-if the Jesus you’re following is not the Jesus who died on a cross to set you free;
open your heart to the true Jesus who loves you for who you are, not in spite of who you are. Open your heart to the true Jesus whose arms are open to the magnificent you who was created in His image. Open your heart to the true Jesus who offers mercy, grace and love deeper than the ocean, wider than the earth and higher than the universe.
Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began! O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.” John 17:24-26
The goodness, love, grace and mercy Jesus offered during his lifetime he still offers today. Too often, however, his message is overshadowed by those who are determined to blame, shame or interpret his words in ways he never intended. (See Stumbling Over Dogma)
Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit. John 19:28-30
Jesus came from a place of fellowship with the Father and the Spirit before the world’s creation, and returned there having provided the way for us, having conquered death to spend the rest of His days in relationship with the Spirit and the Father.
His invitation to dwell with Them includes those of us poor in spirit, who mourn, who are gentle, who hunger and thirst for Him, who are merciful, who offer love from a pure heart, who are peacemakers, and who may be persecuted for standing up for the true gospel of unconditional love and unlimited grace.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had ceased to exist, and the sea existed no more. And I saw the holy city—the new Jerusalem—descending out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Look! The residence of God is among human beings. He will live among them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any more—or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the former things have ceased to exist.” Revelation 21:1-4