Phillip Keller on Psalm 23:6

From “A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23”. This classic book is a must read for all Christians, and especially for those in ministry. Whether you are a truck driver, pastor, (or his wife), a children’s ministry teacher, home group leader or housewife, you will learn much about ministry and the Christian life from this excellent book. I excerpted this from chapter eleven, bear with the long post, it’s worth it.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

This to me is the supreme portrait of my Shepherd. Continually there flows out to me His goodness and His mercy, which, even though I do not deserve them, come unremittingly from their source of supply-His own great heart of love.

Herein is the essence of all that has gone before in this Psalm. All the care, all the work, all the alert watchfulness, all the skill, all the concern, all the self sacrifice are born of His love-the love of One who loves His sheep, loves His work, loves His role as a Shepherd.

Just as God’s goodness and mercy flow to me all the days of my life, so goodness and mercy should follow me, should be left behind me, as a legacy to others, wherever I may go.

It is worth reiterating at this point that sheep can, under mismanagement, be the most destructive livestock. In short order they can ruin and ravage land almost beyond remedy. But in bold contrast they can, on the other hand, be the most beneficial of all livestock if properly managed.

Their manure is the best balanced of any produced by domestic stock. When scattered efficiently over the pastures it proves of enormous benefit to the soil. The sheep’s habit of seeking the highest rise of ground on which to rest ensures that the fertility from the rich low land is redepostied on the less productive higher ground. No other livestock will consume as wide a variety of herbage. Sheep eat all sorts of weeds and other undesirable plants which might otherwise invade a field….In a few years a flock of well-managed sheep will clean up and restore a piece of ravaged land as no other creature can do.

In my own experience as a sheep rancher I have, in just a few years, seen two derelict ranches restored to high productivity and usefulness….Where previously there had been only poverty and pathetic waste, there now followed flourishing fields and rich abundance. In other words, goodness and mercy had followed my flocks. They left behind them something worthwhile, productive, beautiful and beneficial to both themselves, others and me.

The question now comes to me pointedly, is this true of my life? Do I leave a blessing and benediction behind me? Is my memory, in other people’s minds, entwined with mercy and goodness, or would they rather forget me altogether?

Sometimes it is profitable to ask ourselves such simple questions as-
“Do I leave behind peace in lives-or turmoil?”
“Do I leave behind forgiveness-or bitterness?”
“Do I leave behind contentment-or conflict?”
“Do I leave behind flowers of joy-or frustration?”
“Do I leave behind love-or rancor?”

Some people leave such a sorry mess behind them that they prefer to cover their tracks.

For the true child of God, the one under the Shepherds care, there should never be any sense of shame of fear in going back to where they have lived or been before. Why? Because there they left a legacy of uplift, encouragement and inspiration to others.


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