Thursday, November 3, 2022

The Mercy of God (Psalm 123)

"Have mercy on us, O LORD, have mercy on us! For we are exceedingly filled with contempt" (Ps. 123:3).

William Shakespeare described mercy as a gentle rain from heaven that drops upon the place beneath. Mercy, he said, is an attribute of God Himself, and when mercy seasons justice, earthly powers show themselves to be like God.

The Israelites looked for this gentle rain from heaven to season their lives and to give them relief and salvation from the tribulations they experienced. They knew they could look nowhere else for such divine mercy, except to the King of heaven. Psalm 123 says, “Unto You, I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens.… Have mercy on us, O LORD, have mercy on us!”

Psalm 123 shows us how and why the Israelites sought God’s mercy. Foremost, they looked to God alone. No other source brought them the kind of comfort as that which came from heaven. “God is here expressly called the God who dwelleth in the heavens, not simply to teach His people to estimate the divine power as it deserves, but also that, when no hope of aid is left for them on earth, yea, rather, when their condition is desperate, just as if they were laid in the grave, or as if they were lost in a labyrinth, they should then remember that the power of God remains in heaven in unimpaired and infinite perfection,” Calvin wrote. “Whenever it pleases Him, He calms all the agitations of the world, comes to the rescue of the desperate and the despairing, restores light by dispelling darkness, and raises up such as were cast down and laid prostrate on the ground.… Although all worldly resources fail us, we must raise our eyes upward to heaven, where God remains unchangeably the same, despite the mad impetuosity of men in turning all things here below upside down.”

The Israelites sought mercy from God when they had endured much scorn from the world. They sought His mercy not in an arrogant fashion but likening themselves to slaves and handmaidens. In humility and with lowliness of mind, they approached the throne of heaven for mercy. Those who stride proudly into God’s courts find not mercy but justice. But the poor in heart and the meek find a merciful God ready to open the floodgates of heavens to cool their aching hearts and deliver them from their struggles.

Read Micah 7:18. Have you ever been afraid to ask God for mercy? Have you ever demanded mercy from Him, instead of approaching Him with a humble spirit? What does the passage you just read say about God’s mercy? Go to Him today, with a humble heart, asking Him to show you mercy.