Who Needs Mercy?

     We believe that David wrote these words as he contemplated the challenges of his life: “Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Have mercy on me and hear my prayer.” Within the word translated “mercy” is the idea of God inclining His ear to David as the troubled king prayed. Also in the word is the concept of graciousness. David knew that God would not only hear him but be open to granting his request.

     David knew he needed mercy. When we turn to the New Testament we see the same sort of thing in Matthew 9:27-31. Two blind men were following the Lord. As we might imagine blindness in the ancient world was a much more desperate circumstance than it is today. These men had evidently heard of the healing work of the Lord so they cried out to Him: “Son of David, have mercy on us!” The word for “mercy” here has in it the idea of being kind and beneficial. Jesus was certainly that. He healed them.

     In his letter to the Romans Paul speaks of mercy in the context of the common salvation offered to Gentile and Jew. He quoted Moses (from Exodus 33:19): “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I have compassion” (Romans 9:15). The word for compassion here has in it the idea of pity. Thus mercy is in some sense the beginning of our own salvation. We can see from these passages that we should certainly be thankful for God’s mercy toward us.

     Paul certainly was. He knew he had received mercy (1 Timothy 1:12-17). When Paul (then Saul of Tarsus) received mercy (Acts 22:16) a number of things happened in his life. Mercy put him into service for God (1 Timothy 1:12). Mercy changed him from a “blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man” to a servant of God (1 Timothy 1:3). Mercy was involved in and coincident with his access to grace, faith and love (1 Timothy 1:14). Mercy saved him even though he was chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). Mercy placed Paul where he belonged, as an integral part of God’s revelation of the plan of salvation to man (1 Timothy 1:16). Mercy resulted in this horrible man (for what other word can we use to describe Saul of Tarsus) into a man who praised God with all his being (1 Timothy 1:17).

     As it was with Paul, so it can be with us. God is rich in mercy because of His great love for us (Ephesians 2:4). We just have to take advantage of the great blessing of His mercy. Who needs mercy? We all do.