The Book of Psalms

Friday: An Appeal to the Compassionate God

Psalm 86:1-17 In this week’s lessons, we learn that David bases his prayers for mercy on the character of God.
Four Applications

The mercy of God is such a tremendous and all-embracing theme that it applies to virtually every area of life. There are four applications that we cannot afford to miss.

1. We need mercy if we are to be saved. This can never be said enough, simply because we do not think this way naturally. We think in terms of justice, supposing ourselves to be deserving. But we are not deserving. If we are to be saved, we must not plead what we think we somehow deserve, but God’s mercy. Israel needed mercy. Moses and David needed mercy. We need mercy. Apart from mercy we will perish.

2. God is a God of mercy. Here is the good news. God is a God of mercy. True, he is also a God of justice and wrath. Sin will be punished. The wrath of God will be made known along with his other great attributes. But God emphasizes mercy. He offers mercy. To find mercy we must come to him on the basis of the shed blood of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who died to be our Savior. The mercy of God is seen at the cross of the Savior more than at any other place. It is the ultimate expression of mercy and the means by which God saves.

3. We can appeal to mercy. The mercy of God is not compelled in any way. Otherwise it would not be mercy. But that does not suggest that we cannot appeal to it. We can; indeed, the Scriptures are full of such appeals, and our psalm is one example. The Scriptures even tell us that it is through appeals to mercy that mercy may be found.

Remember the tax collector in Jesus’ story. He knew he was a sinner. So he did not come to God to remind God of his ethical attainments, as the Pharisee did. He stood at a distance and would not even look up to heaven. Instead he beat his breast, a sign of genuine remorse or repentance, and prayed, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Jesus’ judgment was that “this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:13, 14). Who are those who receive mercy? They are those who ask God for it. They are those who turn from their own self-sufficiency and trust Jesus. This is the only way the children of God are made known.

4. We can proclaim God’s mercy to others. God is sovereign in salvation. He has mercy on whom he wills to have mercy and has compassion on whom he wills to have compassion. But God is also a merciful God, and there is nothing in the Bible to hinder us from saying this as forcefully as we can. His very name is Mercy. Because his name is Mercy, we can assure others that if they will come to him through faith in Jesus Christ, which is how he has made his mercy possible as well as made it known, they will find it. God has never turned a deaf ear to one who has truly asked for mercy. He has never rejected anyone who has believed on Jesus Christ. As the hymn expresses it:

Come, every soul by sin oppressed,
There’s mercy with the Lord,
And he will surely give you rest,
By trusting in his Word.
Only trust him, only trust him,
Only trust him now.
He will save you, he will save you,
He will save you now.1

If a person believes that and comes to Jesus, he will find God to be exactly what the Bible declares him to be: the merciful God who has reached out to save many through his Son. He will hear and save you.
1Taken from the hymn “Only Trust Him,” by John H. Stockton, 1874

Study Questions
  1. What would we receive if we received justice from God?
  2. Why do we need God’s mercy? How do we receive it?

Prayer: Praise God for the mercy he has shown you through your salvation and the blessings you have received. Pray that an unbelieving family member or friend might realize the need for God’s mercy.
Application: What can you do to make God’s mercy known to those who need it?
For Further Study: To learn more about the theme of God’s mercy, download and listen for free to Philip Ryken’s message, “Objects of His Mercy.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

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