Mercy and Truth

“Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” (Psalm 85:10)

The words “mercy” (Hebrew checed, also often translated by “kindness” or “lovingkindness”) and “truth” (Hebrew emeth) occur more often in the psalms than in any other book. In fact, “mercy” occurs more in the psalms than in all the rest of the Old Testament put together. Though at first these two concepts seem opposed to each other (for how can God’s truth, which abhors sin, be compatible with His mercy, which forgives sin?), nevertheless they are “met together,” for “his salvation,” according to the previous verse, “is nigh them that fear him” (v. 9).

“Mercy and truth” (or “lovingkindness and truth”) are brought together at least 16 times in the Old Testament, including 10 times in the psalms. And when God’s eternal truth can be united with His loving mercy, both mediated through His Holy Word, there is great blessing indeed! “All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies” (25:10). “I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name” (138:2). The first time the phrase is found in the Bible is in the prayer of Abraham’s servant, thanking God for “his mercy and his truth” (Genesis 24:27).

God’s mercy and truth, of course, are really met together only in Jesus Christ, through whom God can both “be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). He is “our peace” (Ephesians 2:14) and is “made unto us . . . righteousness” (1 Corinthians 1:30). He is “the truth” (John 14:6) and will show in the ages to come “the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). HMM

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