The Mark of Mercy

Thursday, March 14th, 2024

Mercy is one of those words that we know is often connected to God, but perhaps we don’t fully understand this characteristic of His. It’s also one of those things we cannot really begin to understand until we have had some personal experience with it. On paper, it sounds wonderful and promising, but the impact it has on our lives and our hearts is where it becomes tangible. First, let’s look at the definition of mercy. Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines mercy as: that benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant. Isn’t that our God?

Let’s look at a few passages of scripture from 2 Samuel 24. In this chapter, David had ordered a census of the Israelites, which was a sin. Here are a few verses from that chapter:

13 So Gad came to David and told him; and he said to him, “Shall seven years of famine come to you in your land? Or shall you flee three months before your enemies, while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ plague in your land? Now consider and see what answer I should take back to Him who sent me.”

14 And David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.”

16 And when the angel stretched out His hand over Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the destruction, and said to the angel who was destroying the people, “It is enough; now restrain your hand.”

When I recently read this chapter, that phrase, “for His mercies are great”, tugged at my heart. David didn’t want his punishment to be left in the hands of other people. He knew that most humans do not tend to show mercy. While three days of plague would certainly cost his kingdom greatly, he knew there was a chance that God would be merciful, even amidst the punishment.

I just keep thinking that when David verbalized this characteristic of God, he opened the door to allow God to be what David needed Him to be. When we are sick, we need to call on the God who heals. When we have a financial need, we need to call on the God who provides. When we are afraid, we need to call on the God who is love. When we are lonely, we need to call on the God who never leaves. It’s not so much that we are making God do what we want, it’s more about us professing our faith in who He is, and making a way for us to experience that part of His nature.

Finally, in verse 16 of that chapter we see that when the angel stretched out his hand over Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the destruction. The mercy of God that David spoke of had become experiential.

Final Thoughts…

If we stop and look back on our lives for even just a few moments, we can all find times where we have experienced the mercy of God. For me, I first experienced the mercy of God while in my mother’s womb. And there have been countless times since where God saved my life, didn’t give me the full punishment I deserved, overlooked the times I injured Him and forgave me when I didn’t deserve it. When the enemy tries to tell us that God isn’t good, that He doesn’t love us or that He will leave us, let’s call to remembrance these tangible mercy-markers. His mercy is what shows us that He loves us. His mercy is what leads us to show mercy to others. Mercy is the gift that frees us to be all that God created us to be.