(Part 33)


March 29, 2016

Today’s psalm: Psalm 33:4-22

We have repeatedly seen that mercy and justice are intimately related. “He loves justice and right. The earth is full of the mercy of the Lord.” (v.5). Justice is giving to the other what is his due. This can be the bad or the good, that is, it can be punishment for transgression (such “bad” is ultimately intended for good), or it can be a blessing that God extends. Now mercy is when the punishment that is due is withheld, for the purpose of inviting one to repentance. Thus, punishing one for transgression is intended to make that person change, and withholding punishment for transgression is also intended to help that person change. Both are merciful.

How do we know what action is best? To inflict due and just punishment, or to withhold due punishment? Here is where spiritual discernment is important. As far as God is concerned, He is perfect wisdom and knows what is best. “From his dwelling place he surveys all who dwell on earth. The One who fashioned together their hearts is the One who knows all their works.” (v.14-15). But for us who are also called to be merciful, it would be much more challenging to discern the right way.

This is why we need to more and more take on the mind and heart of God. We know that His ways are not our ways. Our ways are often in direct contradiction to His ways. “The Lord foils the plan of nations, frustrates the designs of peoples.” (v.10). How do we become more like God? We stand in awe of Him, we give Him honor and worship, we accept Him as Lord of our lives, we live out our covenant. “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all who dwell in the world show him reverence. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people chosen as his inheritance.” (v.8,12).

It is in our awe of God that we look to His mercy. It is in wisely realizing that apart from God we are nothing. “A king is not saved by a great army, nor a warrior delivered by great strength.” (v.16). With this, knowing our lives are totally and completely in His hands, we are ready to experience the mercy of God. “Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon those who fear him, upon those who count on his mercy” (v.18).

Because God is merciful, we can, even in the midst of darkness and suffering, look to a future full of hope. “May your mercy, Lord, be upon us; as we put our hope in you.” (v.22).

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