It is so easy to skim right over this line, if we are not careful, and miss the beauty and the mystery and depths and the truth of what is actually being said. So often we fall into the trap of believing that we are the ones pursuing an elusive God, rather than realizing that it is actually he who is pursuing us. And this one realization can make all of the difference in the world. It can make a difference in how we see God, how we feel about him, how we think he feels about us, and, thus, how we relate to him.
If we think that we are the pursuers and God is the pursued, we are likely to live our lives in anger and frustration and despair and doubt and uncertainty, due to our perception that, no matter how hard we try, God often seems either extraordinarily distant, or absent altogether. He doesn’t often show up in the ways we want or need (or think we need) or demand. So that either means that he does not care, or that we are doing something wrong. Both of which create distance between us, rather than the intimacy both we and God long for.
But what if God is actually the pursuer, and we are the pursued? What does that tell us about his heart? And what does it tell us about our worth and value? And how does it change the way we see him and relate to him? My guess is that it makes an enormous difference. For when we truly see ourselves as the Sought After (Isaiah 62:12), it does something deep and beautiful in our hearts. It draws us and woos toward the One who made us fearfully and wonderfully, and loves us so much that he cannot possibly stay away from us, but promises to pursue us to the ends of the earth. I suppose that’s why so many saints and pilgrims of old have called him the Hound of Heaven. For he is the One relentlessly in pursuit of us. As Thomas Kelly once said: “The Hound of Heaven is on our track, the God of Love is wooing us to His Holy Life.”
Which brings us to our verse in the psalm: “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.” (Psalm 23:6) The word translated here as follow, is the Hebrew word radaph, which means to run after, chase after, or pursue earnestly. In fact, in 1 Samuel 26:20 it is translated, to hunt: “As one hunts for a partridge in the mountains.” Thus, the God of goodness and love pursues us, his beloved. He runs after us, chases after us, and tracks us down all the days of our lives. We are no longer the hunter—looking and searching all over for the elusive God—but the hunted. God is pursuing us with his unfailing, relentless love and care. And he will not stop until we have been completely captured by him—until we have been seized by the power of the Great Affection. Thanks be to God!