Tag Archives: mercy

The Everlasting Mercy of God

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“O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” (Psalm 136:1)

God’s mercy is a monumental theme in Scripture. The English word appears some 341 times in the Bible. The four Hebrew and three Greek words appear a total of 454 times and are also translated by “kindness,” “lovingkindness,” “goodness,” “favor,” “compassion,” and “pity.” Of the 66 books of the Bible, only 16 do not use one of the words for mercy.

Even though “mercy” is an important concept, it is somewhat difficult to prescribe a definition for it, especially since “grace” is occasionally coupled with it.

In the first reference where “mercy” is used, Lot has just been expelled from Sodom by the angels of judgment. In spite of the command by the angels that Lot and his daughters “escape to the mountain,” Lot begs: “Oh, not so, my Lord: Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life, . . . this city is near . . . Oh, let me escape thither” (Genesis 19:17-20). And later, the New Testament saints are told to “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). In these and other such passages, the two terms appear to address similar subjects.

However similar they may appear to be, these words are not synonyms. “Grace” is most often associated with the sovereign dispensation of totally undeserved favor, and it is specifically connected to salvation. “Mercy” is more often connected to the withholding of judgment: “For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment” (James 2:13).

Set aside some time today to read and meditate on this psalm. You will find the day less wearisome if you do. HMM III

Living in the Land of Mercy

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“The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.” (Psalm 145:8)

Not one of us deserves God’s mercy, for “we have turned every one to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6), and “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). What we deserve is death and eternal separation from the God who made us. Nevertheless, “it is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not” (Lamentations 3:22). “He hath not dealt with us after our sins. . . . For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him” (Psalm 103:10-11).

It is by His mercy, not our merit, that we are saved. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us” (Titus 3:5). “God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” (Ephesians 2:4-5). It is “according to his abundant mercy” that He has “begotten us again unto a lively hope” (1 Peter 1:3).

In fact, one of the very titles of God is “the Father of mercies” (2 Corinthians 1:3). Over and over the psalmist assures us that “his mercy endureth for ever” (26 times in Psalm 136:1-26; also Psalm 106:1; 107:1; 118:1; etc.).

His mercy is not only infinite, but eternal.

How can one possibly reject His mercy? “Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering?” (Romans 2:4). Sadly, most do. Instead, the divine challenge is:

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1-2). T

his is our logical response to God’s great mercy! HMM

Praise the Lord

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“O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.” (Psalm 117:1-2)

Psalm 117 is especially noteworthy for two reasons: First, it is the middle chapter of the Bible, and, secondly, it is the shortest chapter in the Bible, consisting of only the two verses cited above. Thus, it is significant and appropriate that its theme be that of universal and everlasting praise.

The very purpose of human language is that God might communicate His word to us and that we might respond in praise to Him.

The word “nations” in verse 1 refers specifically to Gentiles, while “people” seems to refer to all tribes of people. Two different Hebrew words for praise are used, so that the verse could be read: “Praise the LORD, all ye Gentile nations; extol him all ye peoples of every tribe.”

In any case, the sense of the exhortation is to urge everyone to praise His name.

The Hebrew word translated “merciful kindness” is also rendered as “loving kindness,” or simply “mercy” or “kindness.” Whichever is preferred, the significant point is that it has been great toward us. This word (Hebrew gabar) is not the usual word for “great” but is a very strong word meaning to “triumph” or “prevail.”

An example of its use is in the story of the great Flood. “And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth” (Genesis 7:19). In fact, it is used four times in this account of the “overwhelmingly mighty” waters of the Flood (Genesis 7:18-20, 24).

In other words, God’s merciful kindness has prevailed over our sin and the awful judgment we deserve in a manner and degree analogous to the way in which the deluge waters prevailed over the ancient evil world.

God’s mercy and truth are eternal, and this will be the great theme of our praise throughout all the ages to come. HMM

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