Psalm 136:1, “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever
Mercy as defined by Webster’s Dictionary means: (1) compassion or forbearance shown to an offender or subject; clemency or kindness extended to someone instead of strictness or severity; (2) a blessing regarded as an act of divine favor or compassion; (3) relief of distress; compassion shown to victims of misfortune. According to Unger’s Bible Dictionary, “mercy” is defined as “a form of love determined by the state or condition of its objects. Their state is one of suffering and need, while they may be unworthy or ill-deserving. Mercy is, at once the disposition of love respecting such, and the kindly ministry of love for their relief.” In more than four hundred places in Scripture the Mercy of God is mentioned directly and is also mentioned indirectly in hundreds more, from parables to prayers. My brethren, too often we fail to acknowledge God’s enduring mercy. Sometimes this is because we are confused or depressed or because we fear our sins have placed us beyond His reach. God’s mercy reminded me of His rainbow and His cross. Let me explain what I mean.
I remember so very vividly one day in July of last year a steady rain was falling and as I looked toward the east, lightning punctuated the dark angry clouds. Towards the west, the sun was shining so brightly and set against the ominous sky in vivid living color was the most brilliant double rainbow I had ever seen! In just a few brief moments earth’s Creator was whispering through the soft glow of that spanning arch. My thoughts at that time were people really listening? Did they hear His message of mercy? That rainbow reflected God’s promise He would never again judge the wickedness of the earth by a flood.
However, there is another symbol which speaks of His mercy. It’s a rough-hewn cross, whose shadow is cast over all of history against the backdrop of human sin. It promises that God’s wrath will never fall on those who trust Christ as their Lord and Savior. Jesus Himself bore its full force in our place. The rainbow and the cross both speak so eloquently and silently of God’s precious love and enduring mercy. The question then arises; what if we reject the cross and Christ’s death? You know, God gives us that freedom; however, there will never be any other symbols of mercy, no other covenants. My friend, God has done all He can do to win our voluntary allegiance. Look to the cross of Calvary, where He Himself bore the awful consequences of our sin in the person and body of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
Like all of God’s attributes, His mercy is intrinsic to Him. He is called “the Father of mercies” and a “God of mercy” (2 Corinthian 1:3; Nehemiah 9:17). His mercy is also abundantly great and boundless, higher than the heavens and filling the earth. Scripture refers to “the multitude of his mercies” (Lamentations 3:32) because the acts stemming from this attribute are so numerous. Mercy isn’t receiving what we do deserve. We deserve to go to hell, but by His infinite mercy we shall never go there, if you have received His Son, as Savior. We don’t deserve to go to heaven either, but by His grace we’ll spend eternity there. His grace justifies and His mercy pardons. His grace admits us to heaven and His mercy saves us from hell. The only thing that will last forever is God’s mercy. In Psalm 136 we are reminded of this inspiring truth. Twenty-six times the writer gives us something for which to praise the Lord, and then he reminds us, “His mercy endures forever”. Have you ever considered what this means when:
(1) We sin and need forgiveness,
(2) Our lives seem a jumbled mess that we can’t control,
(3) We can’t find anyone to turn to for help,
(4) Each day is a struggle because of illness, despair, or conflict,
(5) Even life seems overwhelming.
My friend, we can still praise the Lord, because His mercies don’t cease or fail. They are new every morning (Lamentation 3), constantly fresh and perfect and never fading with age. His mercy endures forever.
Beginning in Exodus 34:6-7, we can see examples of how mercy is a very integral part of God’s nature, “And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” In Deuteronomy 4:31, we can see that mercy and compassion are an integral part of God’s character. They are what he is and how he behaves. “For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.” In the Psalms David speaks of the great, steadfast qualities of God in Psalms 62, loving-kindness or mercy is among them. In fact, they belong to God. Psalm 62:11-12, “God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God. Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou rendereth to every man according to his work.”
In the book of Proverbs, Solomon is imparting wisdom and experience to his son. His advice is to make mercy an integral part of your life. Proverbs 3:1-4, “My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.”
So, how do you find favor and good understanding both in the sight of God and of man? It is by not forgetting God’s commandments, and by retaining mercy and truth all your life. Solomon continues imparting wisdom to his son (and to us) in Proverbs 14:21-22, “He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he. Do they not err that devise evil? But mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good. James also emphasizes the abundance of God’s mercy. James 5:11, “Behold, we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.”
At the dedication of the first temple in Jerusalem, Solomon praised God before all the people and he spoke of God’s abundant mercy in relation to the covenant which God established with his servants. 1 Kings 8:23, “And he said, LORD God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart.” Even as God is full of mercy, so are we to be full of mercy. That is what God requires of us and that is what God stated through the prophet Micah. Micah 6:8, “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Thus, my friend the Mercy of God:
(1) Motivates (Psalm 103:4; Psalm 108:4; Galatians 2:20);
(2) Endures (Psalm 100:5; Psalm 136:1-26);
(3) Redeems (Titus 3:5; Romans 6:23; 1 John 1:9);
(4) Comforts (James 5:11); 11 Corinthians 1:4); and
(5) Yields (Galatians 5:22; John 15:5).
Our Heavenly Father I thank you for another day and another opportunity to serve and be obedient to You. Thank You for Your Son Jesus Christ, in that He gave His life and shed His blood so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. Thank You for Your enduring grace and mercy which are new each day. Thank You for Your love that can never be fathomed, for peace that can never be understood, for joy that can never be diminished, for hope that can never be disappointed, for strength that can never be overcome and for Your resources that can never be exhausted. Lord, You are the delight of my soul and You alone are my Strong Tower, my Deliverer and Redeemer in whom I trust. I wait upon You this day for Your wisdom and Your guidance. Thank You Lord for saving my soul, for it’s in Your precious name I pray, Amen.
God’s heart is always overflowing with mercy.