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Pursued by goodness

I’ve recently had the chance to learn some Hebrew and I’m very excited about making lots of new discoveries in the Bible.

The word רדפ (radaph) means pursue. It’s sometimes translated as ‘chase’ or ‘persecute’ and is almost always used about something unpleasant like enemies pursuing you or bees swarming after you. For example:

the Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh's horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army Exodus 14:9

chased you as bees do Deuteronomy 1:44

Our pursuers are at our necks; we are weary; we are given no rest. Lamentations 5:5

 

But here’s a contrast; in Psalm 23:6 radaph is used in a positive way and translated as follow:

5You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy
shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Taking into account the way it is usually used, it would seem appropriate to translate it:

Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me
    all the days of my life

I love the image of God’s goodness and mercy pursuing us as tirelessly as an enemy pursues their foe or a swarm of bees chase someone who has disturbed them.

The psalm begins ‘The Lord is my shepherd’ and I have heard Goodness and Mercy described as two sheepdogs doing all they can to keep us from harm, round us up, and chase us back into the fold. God’s goodness and mercy won’t leave us alone.

Perhaps radaph is used here to contrast goodness and mercy with the enemies in the previous verse who would usually be the ones pursuing us!

What an awesome God we have! He is determined to pursue us, every day, with his goodness and mercy.

 

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