This past week my husband and I were chased down. Separately, but on the same day, the same morning in fact, we were tailed. You, too, are being pursued and followed. Did you know that? Before you shut down your social media sites and seek an attorney, let me explain.
We pursue new jobs, new promotions, new advancements, and new recognition. We pursue new restaurants, new friends, new fashions, and new technology.
Our favorite tale of pursuit is: Boy meets girl. Boy pursues girl. Boy marries girl. And they live happily ever after…
The flowers, the romance, the drama, the happy ending—love wins, and we love it.
We love the pursuit—the chase—but best of all, we love to be pursued. Typically we are the ones in hot pursuit of new things. But getting that job promotion when you least expected it feels so much better than we hounded our boss for it. It makes us feel valued, honored, and respected. Receiving “just because” flowers feels amazing. We know we are loved.
But perhaps you are experiencing a season of difficulty, loss, or grief. Grief is not a smooth and easily traveled road. Instead, it’s a road full of potholes, dark tunnels, twists, and turns, and just when you’re certain you’re near the end, you run into an unexpected detour and you have to turn back. Struggling, you could not pursue anything or anyone if you tried, and you definitely don’t feel loved.
The ancient singer and songwriter, King David, accustomed to difficulties, wrote many ballads about struggles and strife. One of his most famous compositions is Psalm 23. In this Psalm David wrote about walking through a dark valley and being surrounded by enemies (Ps. 23:4, 5). I can relate to that, can you?
The dark valley, thankfully, was not the end of David’s story. David continued, “Surely your goodness and faithfulness will pursue me all my days…” (Ps. 23:6). The New Living Translation renders verse 6, “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life…” The NASB translates it, “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life…”
David was being chased and followed—by God. Did you know that God is pursuing you? Do you understand and grasp the significance of his pursuit? Let’s look at what this really means.
The Hebrew word for pursue is radaph. Radaph means to chase, follow hard after, hunt, and pursue closely. Typically the term refers to “a man or group pursuing another for purpose of making war or taking revenge” (Harris, 834). It is typically used in a hostile sense. King Saul “hunted down” David in the wilderness (1 Sam. 23:25). Israel was “pursued” by their enemies (Deut. 28:22). In Jeremiah 29:18 God says He will “pursue” (hunt down) the wicked. In other contexts, the faithful (i.e. David) “pursued” his enemies (Ps. 18:37).
Wait a minute. Is God in hostile, angry pursuit of me? While some people may have you think so, the context tells us otherwise. Psalm 23:6 states God’s “goodness and lovingkindness will follow (pursue) me,” therefore, the meaning of radaph cannot be viewed as negative or hostile.
The Hebrew word for lovingkindess is hesed. The meaning of hesed is mercy, loyalty, forgiveness, faithfulness, covenantal love, underserved love, persistent love, insistent love, and loyal love—love that goes above and beyond the call of duty. Hesed love is kind, good, and merciful.
I want to be persistently pursued and followed hard after with that kind of committed, merciful, and underserved love. Don't you? Better than “just because” flowers, better than a surprise promotion, God’s loyal and loving pursuit will hunt you down with intensity, fervor, and zeal until the target (you!) is overtaken. God continually and lovingly pursues you.
When you are in need of comfort, His love pursues you.
When you are in need of soul rest, His love pursues you.
When you are in need of forgiveness, His love pursues you.
When nothing is going right in your world, His love pursues you.
That winding, twisting road of grief I mentioned? My husband and I are all too familiar with it as of late. It’s been challenging, difficult, and exhausting.
But one day this week I was moved to close my home office door, turn on music from Hillsong, and read scripture prayers targeted towards overcoming loss from the book, Praying God’s Word, by Beth Moore. I fell to my knees with a simple prayer, “Lord, help!” and there—on the floor in my office—God’s love overtook me. He had hunted me down until I could ignore him no longer and he surrounded me with comfort. He lovingly and committedly pursued me when, in my own strength, I could not pursue him.
Later that day when we compared notes, my husband explained he’d experienced that same simple prayer that morning, “Lord, help!” With tears in his eyes and a shake of his head in wonder and amazement of our God, my husband said to me, “He is pursuing us.”
Stop and turn around, and you’ll see that you, too, are being pursued.
You cannot outrun him.
You cannot evade him.
You cannot ignore him (forever).
He’s more insistent and persistent in his love than are you.
His love wins.
“Surely your goodness and unfailing love with pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.” (Ps. 23:6 NLT)
Botterweck, G. Johannes, Helmer Ringgren, and Heinz-Josef Fabry. Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament. Vol. 13. Downers Grove, Ill.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004.
Harris, R. Laird, editor, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., associate editor, Bruce K. Waltke, and associate editor. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2003.
Strong, James. The New Strong's Concise Dictionary of Bible Words. Logos Bible Software, 2000.
Strong, James. Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Logos Bible Software, 2001
Thomas, Robert L. New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Updated Edition. Fifth or Later Edition ed. Anaheim, CA: Foundation Publications, 1998.
Wilson, William. New Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1987.
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