This theme rises to a great crescendo in Psalm 136, which repeats the expression “for his mercy endureth for ever” in all 26 verses. The Psalmist recounts some major aspects of God’s deeds and character (goodness v. 1, God of gods and Lord of lords vv. 2-3, doer of great wonders v. 4, Creator of the heavens vv. 5-9, judge of Egypt vv. 10-12, divider of the Red Sea vv. 13-15, leading Israel through the wilderness v. 16, conquerer of the Canaanite kings vv. 17-20, giver of the land to Israel vv. 21-22, protector of Israel vv. 23-24, provider of sustenance to all creatures v. 25). But in the midst of all this, and as the basis for all of this, is God’s eternal mercy, for which men should give thanks.
Consider some lessons about God’s mercy:
Mercy is one of God’s names and titles (Psa. 59:10). It is a fundamental essence of His character (Psa. 103:8). It is what motivated Him to provide redemption for His fallen creatures.
Mercy is combined with truth (Psa. 85:10). Truth is Christ (Jn. 14:6), and Christ‘s sacrifice is the basis for mercy. It was on the cross that mercy and truth met together and righteousness and peace kissed each other. Because God’s perfect righteousness was satisfied, there can be peace between God and the believing sinner. This is the meaning of “propitiation.” The demand of God’s righteous law was satisfied by the blood and death of Christ (Rom. 3:24-26).
God’s mercy is for those who keep His covenant (Psa. 25:10) and trust in Him (Psa. 32:10) and fear Him (Psa. 33:22). This is a description of the sinner who trusts in the blood of Christ.
God’s mercy is great.
- It is multitudinous (Psa. 5:7; 69:13, 16; 86:5). God’s mercy is spoken of in the plural 17 times (Psa. 6:4; 25:6).
- God’s mercy follows the believer all of his days (Psa. 23:6) and compasses him about (Psa. 32:10). He is surrounded by God’s mercy; he walks in the midst of it.
- God’s mercy is tender (Psa. 25:6). This is repeated 10 times. The Hebrew word racham, translated “tender mercies,” refers to compassion, affection. It is used for Joseph’s strong affection for his brothers that caused him to weep (Gen. 43:30) and the affection of a mother for her child (1 Ki. 3:26).
- God’s mercy is great unto the heavens (Psa. 57:10; 103:11). There is no known end to the heavens as far as man is concerned, from an earthly perspective. It is so great that it is beyond comprehension, and that is how great God’s mercy is. There is no end to it. It is infinite. This is the measure of the greatness of Christ’s atonement!
- God’s mercy is personal (Psa. 59:17). David spoke of “my mercy.” All of God’s actions toward His saints are intimate and personal. He “knows” us and deals with us according to his great knowledge. He knows exactly what each saint can bear (1 Cor. 10:13).
- The saint is crowned with mercy (Psa. 103:4). A crown is for a king, and the believer is a king as an adopted child of God and will rule and reign with Christ.
God’s mercy is obtained through prayer (Psa. 25:6, 16, etc.). It is available but it is not to be presumed. Compare Heb. 4:12.
God requires that His people show mercy to others (Psa. 18:25). Mercy is a mark of the righteous (Psa. 37:21). Compare Mat. 18:21-22; Lk. 11:4; Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:12.
God’s mercy is needed forever (Psa. 52:8) and it will be built up forever (Psa. 89:2). Thirty-six times we are told that God’s mercy is eternal (100:5; 103:17; 106:1; 107:1; 118:1, 2, 3, 4, 29; 36:1-26; 138:3). Mercy is the only basis whereby a sinner can come near to God, and there will never come a time when mercy is not needed even though the saints will no longer sin in their resurrection glory.
Mercy is the subject of the saint’s songs (Psa. 59:16) and it will be the subject of the saint’s songs forever (Psa. 89:1).
God’s mercy is based on His Word (Psa. 119:58). The one who wants to obtain God’s mercy must understand and believe His Word pertaining to Christ. Faith in God’s mercy comes by hearing God’s Word (Rom. 10:17).
The earth is filled with God’s mercy (Psa. 119:64). Even in its fallen condition, the earth is filled with evidences of God’s mercy. Every good thing is a token of God’s mercy: the laws of physics such as gravity, the resources that fill the earth for man’s benefit (e.g., minerals, trees, plants, animals, fish), the oxygen cycle, the hydrological cycle, plant-animal ecosystems, pollination, good bacteria, worms that aerate the earth, scavengers that remove dead bodies, etc.
The saint must be patient in waiting for God’s mercy (Psa. 123:2).
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