Monday, July 18, 2022

Depth of Mercy (Psalm 85)

"You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people; You have covered all their sin" (Ps. 85:2).

Grasping God’s forgiveness can be difficult even for the most mature Christian. As we daily engage in the battle against our flesh, we often ask how God can be so merciful to such depraved creatures. Sadly, many fail to grasp God’s mercy and so come to despair over heinous sins. Satan dupes them into thinking that God is unwilling to forgive them, that their sins are so black God could never wash them clean. Yet God has promised that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

In Psalm 85 the people of Israel put their hope in the immutable promises and forgiveness of God. When affliction swept through the nation, when sin manifested itself among the people, they reflected on the previous mercies God had shown. Instead of sinking into despair, the people in Psalm 85 reflected on God’s forgiveness and prayed that God might restore His people and show them His mercy as He had done in the past. Because the people knew God’s love was free and not dependent on anything they had done, they knew they could approach Him in times of difficulty and ask for restoration. “The cause of their deliverance from captivity they attribute to the free love with which God had embraced the land which He had chosen for Himself,” Calvin wrote. “When it follows, that the course of His favor was unintermitted; and the faithful also were inspired with confidence in prayer, by the reflection that, mindful of His choice, He had shown Himself merciful to His own land. We have elsewhere had occasion to remark, that nothing contributes more effectually to encourage us to come to the throne of grace, than the remembrance of God’s former benefits. Our faith would immediately succumb under adversity, and sorrow would choke our hearts, were we not taught to believe from the experience of the past, that He is inclined compassionately to hear the prayers of His servants.” Nothing can stand between God and His people, no affliction and no sin can separate us from His love, and the river of forgiveness always flows from the wellspring of grace, ready for us to drink and find strength and peace.

What does God say in the passages below about your responsibility to forgive others? What should your attitude be towards those who sin against you? Examine your heart—are you willing to forgive as God has forgiven you? Ask God to help you show mercy to others as He has shown to you.