“Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6 NIV)
Sometimes we can gain much from the words of scripture, reading them as we do. But often there are insights lurking in the verses, waiting for us to read or hear them as those who read or heard them first would do. This psalm, famous as it is, is no different.
The first readers/hearers of this psalm would have heard “the house of the Lord” and thought of either the temple or the tabernacle. They would not have thought of living with God in a place like heaven in a life after death. They simply did not have the same concept of life after death that developed in later Judaism and in early Christianity, or that we have today.
This is important for us to know in order to hear in the psalm something we might miss otherwise.
When we understand that to “dwell in the house of the Lord forever” meant for David enthusiasm about returning to the tabernacle (or for later generations, the temple) to worship the Lord for his “goodness and love” and for all the Lord’s blessings to which this psalm points so beautifully–provision, protection, presence, guidance, strength, etc.
Contemplating the many ways the Lord has blessed us–as David does throughout this psalm–quite naturally leads to praise and worship. It isn’t hard to imagine David, awed and humbled by the Lord’s generosity and faithfulness to him, breaking out in a desire to worship God with no real end in sight.
Prayer: God, remind me of when and how you’re been so good to me. Rekindle those memories in my heart and mind, that I may overflow with praise and worship for you! Amen.