“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; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die.” (Genesis 19:19)
This rather presumptuous plea of Lot to the angels who had spared his life when they called down fire from heaven to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah is noteworthy because it contains the first reference in the Bible to the mercy of God. Lot was a believer and a righteous man but carnal in attitude and greedy in motivation. Yet, God not only showed grace in His dealings with Lot but even magnified mercy!
As appropriate for the principle of first mention in Scripture, this first reference to mercy lays the foundation for the dominant theme of the doctrine of mercy throughout Scripture. The key is that God’s mercy can only be described properly in superlatives, and this fact is noted repeatedly throughout Scripture.
“The mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him,” said David (Psalm 103:17). “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him” (Psalm 103:11). His mercy, therefore, is both eternal and infinite. Nothing could ever be more “magnified” than this!
No wonder, therefore, that Paul says He is “rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us” (Ephesians 2:4), and Peter tells us that “his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope” (1 Peter 1:3).
It is only “according to his mercy he saved us” (Titus 3:5), surely “not [because of any] works of righteousness which we have done.” Therefore, with David, we can say, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” (Psalm 23:6). HMM
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