God's mercy is a monumental theme in Scripture, the English word appearing some 341 times in the Bible. The four Hebrew and three Greek words associated with this term appear a total of 454 times and are also translated as "kindness," "lovingkindness," "goodness," "favor," "compassion," and "pity." Of the sixty-six books of the Bible, only sixteen do not use one of these words for mercy. Even though "mercy" is an important concept, it is somewhat difficult to prescribe a definition, especially since "grace" is occasionally closely coupled with it.
However similar they may appear to be, these words are not synonyms. "Grace" is most often associated with the sovereign dispensing of totally undeserved favor, and is specifically connected to salvation. "Mercy" is more often connected to the withholding of judgment: "For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment" (James 2:13).
Psalm 136 repeats the theme "for His mercy endureth forever," each of the 26 verses listing incomparable aspects of God's kindness to us. As all of us begin the season of thanksgiving and celebration of God's bounty and provision (both physical and spiritual), join with me in refreshing our knowledge of His mercy.
God is good!
"It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23).
"The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works" (Psalm 145:9).
"Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart" (Psalm 37:4).
God is above all and sovereign!
"Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity...because he delighteth in mercy.... He will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea" (Micah 7:18-19).
"The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children" (Psalm 103:17).
Because He is the "King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God" (1 Timothy 1:17) and He is "the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords" (1 Timothy 6:15), we should therefore "give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever" (Psalm 136:3).
God does great wonders!
The creation of the universe stands out among all of the religions of the world as unique to the God of the Bible. It distinguishes all of the principalities and powers of this universe from the One who created the heavens and the earth (1 Corinthians 8:5-6). We cannot even understand the triune nature of God apart from what He has revealed of Himself in the creation (Romans 1:20). The very gospel of God has its everlasting foundation in the creation (Revelation 14:6-7). God's "signature" is written throughout the universe, so much so that He used the evidence of His design and authority integrated into the ecosystems of the earth to prove His deity to His servant Job (Job 39-40). We do well to honor "him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever" (Psalm 136:4).
God is a great deliverer!
The exodus of the nation of Israel from Egypt still stands as one of the most intriguing and awe-inspiring events of history. Nothing in the annals of human events comes close to the intervention of the "I AM THAT I AM" in the affairs of nations. God came "down to deliver" (Exodus 3:8) and to display His "signs and wonders" (Exodus 7:3) "against all the gods of Egypt" (Exodus 12:12). Never before or since has God taken "him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors" (Deuteronomy 4:34).
In the context of New Testament Christianity, our God has delivered us from "the power of Satan" (Acts 26:18) and "darkness" (Colossians 1:13) into "his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9). We have been set free from "the law of sin" (Romans 8:2) and from "this present evil world" (Galatians 1:4) to the "glorious liberty of the children of God" (Romans 8:21). The same God who "overthrew Pharaoh" is the Savior who will "deliver the godly out of temptations" (2 Peter 2:9) and "from every evil work" (2 Timothy 4:18) and has "given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Peter 1:4).
God is a great provider!
There are three specific examples given in Psalm 136 of God's sovereign provision. He protects and shelters during the "wilderness." He makes possible victories over great "enemies." And He gives "food to all flesh" The details of God's provision and the many examples in the Scripture are inexhaustible. Yet in these three areas, we find hope for any situation "in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).
Were it not for the promises of deliverance from our enemies so replete throughout the Scriptures, were it not for the hope that we would see deliverance "in the land of the living" (Psalm 27:13), and were it not for the confident knowledge that "evildoers shall be cut off" (Psalm 37:9), we could be in constant fear and torment. God does promise to bring us victory! We are told that He will fight for us! We are not left to our own devices! Jesus said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.... and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:18-20).
Finally, while we are never to take God's provision for granted--"give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11)--we need to be reminded that the mercy of God extends far beyond the care of His own. "He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45). God is "the God of the whole earth" (Isaiah 54:5). We often get caught up in trying to make provisions for a "rainy day" in a future that is unknowable and unsecured, but God knows that we "have need of all these things" (Matthew 6:32). Whatever our circumstances may be, God knows, understands, and will make sure that "his mercy endureth for ever"
Heavenly Father, we would give Thee thanks and praise for Thy great mercies to us this day. We acknowledge that our words are not sufficient to honor Thy majesty or our minds capable of understanding how to express our thanks. Yet we would offer them to Thee as all that our heart, our soul, and our mind can speak. Please accept them as offerings of a sweet smell before Thy throne.
* Dr. Morris is Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Morris III, H. 2007. God's Everlasting Mercy. Acts & Facts. 36 (11): 4.