I must admit that I’m not always the most merciful person in the room (not even close) – so this study had some really convicting things for me to work through. We’ll progress through the nature of God’s mercy, the actions of His mercy, and our response to mercy – all from Psalm 103.
God is everything mercy ever hoped to be. He isn’t just part mercy – He IS mercy. God has NEVER been unmerciful. It’s who God is; mercy is His very nature. Mercy can be simply defined as ‘Love in Action‘ (Eph. 2:4). It is living compassion (Ps. 116:5, 145:8). Theologically, mercy is what withholds that which is deserved. I always represent mercy with a “<” symbol. Mercy is getting less than I should, while grace is getting more than I should (“>”).
Mercy is What God Does
God’s mercy is our Provision (Heb. 4:16). Notice the action words of Ps. 103:2-5. He is acting on your behalf – because of His mercy. He provides forgiveness, healing, salvation, and so much more. Why? It’s God’s nature to be merciful and gracious. God’s mercy is His Patience toward us (1 Pet. 3:20). Water boils at 212, olive oil at 570, and mercury at 675, but Ps. 103:8-9 teaches that our God has a much higher boiling point. Thank God that He’s slow to anger! His mercy affects His Punishment of sin (v10; Lam. 3:22). He knows what we deserve, yet He Pardons us (v11-12) according to His abundant mercy and grace (Isa. 55:7, Rom. 5:20). We were in bondage to sin, but Christ set us free. Our sins are forgiven, the stain is washed away! And finally, His mercy grants us a Father’s Pity (v13-14). God’s mercy deals with people where they are – not with where they should be or will be someday. He deals with children differently than with adults, with new converts differently than with seasoned saints, with the disabled differently than with the gifted; yet He deals with each very mercifully. God is my Father, a good father, even though I am His prodigal son.
Our Response to God’s Mercy
The Psalms are full of instructions about how to react to the overwhelming mercy of God:
First, we should Praise Him with thanksgiving, song and a grateful heart (86:12-13)
Then, it should lead us to Pray with greater faith and hope (69:13-16)
Next, we will Bear Witness to those around us (89:1-2)
If we have received mercy, we should Be Merciful to those who least deserve it (Matt. 5:7)
Last, His mercy lead me to Surrender – to cut the strings of this world and give in to Him (Rom. 12:1-2)