Christianity,

Surely Goodness and Mercy

John W. Peterson and Alfred B. Smith collaborated in 1958 to write the popular hym that paraphrases Psalm 23. The inspiration of this hym has humorous beginnings.

It was written after receiving a letter from one of the descendants of P. P. Bliss, telling of Bliss?s first country school teacher, Miss Murphy, whom he dearly loved. It told of her teaching the class (before they could read or write) to memorize the 23rd Psalm. When the part ?surely goodness and mercy? was reached, little Philip thought it said, ?surely good Miss Murphy shall follow me all the days of my life.? This little incident focused our thoughts on the phrase which became the heart and title of the song.

A pilgrim was I, and a wand?ring, in the cold night of sin I did roam, when Jesus the kind Shepherd found me, and now I am on my way home.
He restoreth my soul when I?m weary, He giveth me strength day by day; He leads me beside the still waters; He guards me each step of the way.
When I walk thru the dark lonesome valley, my Savior will walk with me there; and safely His great hand will lead me to the mansions He?s gone to prepare.

Chorus: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever, and I shall feast at the table spread for me. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days, all the days of my life.

Osbeck, K. W. (1990). Amazing grace : 366 inspiring hymn stories for daily devotions. Includes indexes. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications.

Psalm 23, as well as many other Psalms, are great for times of meditation and prayer. It is so satisfying to think that my Savior Jesus Christ walk with me and guide me besides still waters. I just pray that I don’t go running off in my own direction. If I hold hands with Jesus, all will be good.

Charles Spurgeon had pointed out the word “my” in the text and commented:

The sweetest word of the whole is that monosyllable, ?my.? He does not say, ?The Lord is the shepherd of the world at large, and leadeth forth the multitude as his flock.? If He is a shepherd to no one else, He is a shepherd to me. He cares for me, watches over me, and preserves me. The words are in the present tense. Whatever be the believer?s position, he is even now under the pastoral care of Jehovah.

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