When We Are Tempted to Slam on the Brakes at the Fuller Revelation of God’s Mercy

May 17, 2013 at 11:40 am | Posted in Selected Psalms | 6 Comments
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All 26 verses in Psalm 136 end the same way: “his [God’s] mercy endureth for ever.” When we see the great and wonderful and awe-inspiring things that God has done for His people in creation, in blessings, in salvation, and in deliverance, we become enthusiastic worshipers, and joyfully repeat the mantra, “His mercy endureth for ever,” over and over again.

He is the God of gods and Lord of lords! (vv. 2-3)
Yes! His mercy endureth for ever!

He made the earth and the whole universe! (vv. 5-6)
Hallelujah! His mercy endureth for ever!

He made all the lights in the sky and the heavenly bodies! (vv. 7-9)
Amen! His mercy endureth for ever!

He killed all the firstborn sons of all the Egyptian moms and dads! (v. 10)
Praise His name! His mercy endur… Wait… Hold on a minute… Suddenly, we’re not so enthusiastic, are we?

To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for his mercy endureth for ever:

Psalm 136:10

And what about verse 15? “But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever.” How many families lost their loved ones in the watery grave of the Red Sea when the Egyptian army followed the Israelites into the parted waters? How many 15 and 16 and 17 year old Egyptian little brothers lost their lives, adding to the grief of their mothers and grandparents who had already lost their sons and grandsons and husbands by the hand of the Lord? This doesn’t sound like forever-enduring mercy to us.

See, in Christian ministry, our primary goal is to teach and to learn God’s Word so that we can apply it to our lives. But doing this often means doing the difficult task of staring straight into God’s revealed truth without dressing it up or watering it down. When we get happy about the truth of God’s mercy, we need to remember that God’s mercy toward some can at the same time be His judgment and vengeance toward others. God does not offer a smorgasbord of His attributes for us to sample. We don’t get to pick and choose what we happen to like about Him, or what is easy to understand about Him, and leave the rest.

Here is a Bible truth about God’s mercy: No one deserves it. It wouldn’t be mercy if it was deserved.

Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever:

Psalm 136:23

And God’s mercy never needs to be reconciled with His righteousness, holiness, justice, or wrath, because, in God, His attributes are never at odds with each other. They simply flow from His divine nature in perfect sovereign harmony.

Shew us thy mercy, O LORD, and grant us thy salvation. I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly. Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Psalm 85:7-10

We did not cause God’s mercy; we were not the source of God’s mercy; and we do not get to dictate the terms of God’s mercy. It endures forever, because God endures forever. He is immutable, and all His attributes are likewise. He is the Redeemer. We are the redeemed. This makes us sing and shout, not dispute and doubt.

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  1. […] the Word 45. The Word for Sinners 46. The Bible on Trial 47. Quick Quiz Quietens Questioning Qualms 48. When We Are Tempted to Slam on the Brakes at the Fuller Revelation of God’s Mercy 49. A Closer Walk with Thee 50. Healing for Truly Broken […]

  2. […] of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt […]

  3. […] Exodus 15 features a song about what God did in the great miracle of the parting of the Red Sea and the drowning of the Egyptian army, and this is not the only song in the Bible that mentions this event. Psalm 136 tells us how the Israelites in later years felt about it, and how we’re supposed to think about it. […]

  4. […] is an attribute of God. From our point of view – when we are thinking correctly – it is one of His most glorious attributes. We love mercy. Throughout the ages, God’s people […]

  5. […] D’s” (when God does something we find confusing or distressing, we’re supposed to “sing and shout”, not “dispute and doubt”), they found themselves without water for a second time. They were being tested, but they kept […]

  6. […] revealed so that we can subject it to human scrutiny or criticism. It is revealed so that we can rejoice and glorify God for […]


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