Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. [ESV]
Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. [NAS]
Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. [NKJV]
Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security. [NRSV]
Little agreement in an English scriptural phrase is an indicator that the Hebrew language is revealing a larger picture than the English can capture. The word preceding faithfulness is a pastoral verb. It has shepherd and friendship overtones drawing from deep roots of consistent provision and relationship in a pasture setting. Uniquely, it’s a two way relationship enjoying the benefits and intimacy of the other party.
God beckons us to feast on his role as our good shepherd while encouraging faithfulness in stewardship of the pasture he has entrusted to us; our love for him motivating our role as friend and companion. Apart from that, one form of this Hebrew word means being the best man of the groom. It’s a trust that keeps, protects and cherishes the heart and interests of our friend. Likewise our friend is committed to our well-being. It’s a weighty relationship that increases in depth with time.
The larger definition of the Hebrew includes trustworthiness, consistency, integrity and the love of truth; attributes of faithfulness. It is not surprising that various English translations would disagree. It is consistent with the Hebrew text that we should feed on the pasture of goodness he provides. It is enormously secure and life-giving. His love for us leads us to the pasture of eternal life.
Psalm 23 reveals a portion of this feast. There’s always more than enough. He provides a resting place in his love. He takes us to an oasis of peace. He restores and revives our life. He shows us the pathways to what pleases him. He has conquered fear for us so we can face the deepest valleys with love as our guide. We will never be without his presence. Goodness and unfailing love will pursue us. We will dwell in his house forever.
This is a good land and these are amazing promises. Believe!