Monday, April 22, 2013

The Mercy of God

"Because of the LORD's great mercy we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." - Lamentations 3:22

Someone has said that GRACE is getting what you do not deserve, but MERCY is NOT getting what you do deserve.

The Hebrew word for "mercy" is "hesed" which contains the idea of the protection in the womb. God's hides us in his mercy like a mother protects her child in the womb. We all need mercy. Without it, as Jeremiah said, "except for the Lord's great mercy we would be consumed." The NIV has almost always removed the English word "Mercy" and translated it "Love." I understand the translator's effort to make it better understood, but "mercy" cannot be adequately translated by "love" though the idea of God's love is contained in the word. Mercy is redeeming love that reaches down to the unlovely, undeserving, enemy of God and rescues him in his sin, despite his sin. It is God's extreme love for the unloving and undeserving.

I find David's prayer for mercy in Psalm 51 especially helpful and comforting to my own sinful heart. David includes 21 requests for mercy expressing his cry in a variety of ways. Listen in to his plea for mercy. May it be our appeal to God when we fail.

1. Have mercy of me v1
2. Blot out my transgressions v1
3. Wash away all my iniquity v2
4. Cleanse me from my sin v2
5. Teach me wisdom deep inside v6
6. Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean v7
7. Wash me and I will be whiter than snow v7
8. Let me hear joy and gladness again v8
9. Let my broken bones rejoice v8
10. Hide your face from my sins v9
11. Blot out all my iniquity v9
12. Create in me a clean heart v10
13. Renew a right spirit within me v10
14. Cast me not away from your presence v11
15. Do not take your Holy Spirit from me v11
16. Restore to me the joy of your salvation v12
17. Grant me a willing spirit v12
18. Save me from my blood guilt v14
19. Open my lips to declare your praise v15
20. Give me the sacrifice of a broken spirit v17
21. Give me a broken and contrite heart v17

Note, none of this has anything to do with David's worthiness. It is an appeal to God's unilateral mercy. It is an appeal to God to work in him what is necessary, that David was incapable of doing for himself. It is an appeal to God's character. It is an appeal to God's name as "All Merciful" which in Hebrew is "El Molei Rachamim." Except for the Lord's mercy we all would be consumed. Let us learn that well. His mercy is His character. In Exodus 34:6-7 God reveals his glory, himself, to His servant Moses.

6 And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation."

May we ever see Him as All Merciful God whose glory it is to forgive the undeserving. Remember also that when we come to God in prayer it is before His MERCYSEAT.

I can never read this passage as a man and wonder about Bathsheba's repentance. Did she repent with the same humility and appeal to God's mercy? We are not told in Scripture, except we see the evidence of God's eternal mercy, compassion, and forgiveness when she is placed by mercy and great grace in the line of Jesus ancestry. In Matthew 1:6, we read that "Jesus Christ was the son of David… and David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife." In fact, Matthew includes two forgiven women in the genealogy of Jesus. The other is Rahab the harlot! Oh, the mercy of God! "The mercy of God is an ocean of love a boundless and fathomless flood."

May we all ever remember that we are saved by His mercy long before we are saved by His grace. "His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness."

In my devotions on this theme I have included the words to the Gateway song, "Save Me, Lord Save Me" because it reflects so well the cry of David's heart for God's mercy.

In desperate need of mercy
At the end of my own strength
I fall upon the kindness of Your grace
Lord I know that You are good
You came to rescue me
So please, hear my humble plea
Save me, Lord save me
I have nowhere else to go
Lord I trust in You alone
To save me, My Savior
I call on Your name
Jesus, save me
Lord I believe, You died to set me free
Lord I believe in You
And I believe, Your blood was shed for me
Lord I believe in You
Save me, Lord save me
I have nowhere else to go
Lord I trust in You alone
To save me, My Savior
I call on Your name
Jesus, save me