The Tender Mercy of God

One of the great old hymns we use here for worship is “Your Mercy” by Isaac Watts.  The first part goes like this:

“Your mercy my God is the theme of my song;
The joy of my heart and the boast of my tongue!”

I love the old theological Latin for mercy, misericordia Dei, which means something like the affectionate compassion of God towards sinners.  In the words of Thomas Watson, “It is the great design of the Scripture to represent God as merciful.”  Scripture teaches that raindrops are like showers of God’s mercy, he mercifully feeds all creatures, and his tender mercies are over all his works like the touch of a painter’s hand  (Ps. 145.9, Matt. 5.45, Acts 14.17, etc.).  Watson’s other words describing God’s mercy (which I’ve summarized) are worth contemplating as we make God’s mercy the theme of our song.

 God’s mercy is “a lodestone [magnet] to draw sinners to him.”  “God is more inclinable to mercy than wrath (cf. Ex 34.6-7).  Mercy is his darling attribute, which he most delights in (Mic. 7.18).  Mercy pleases him.”  “Mercy is not the fruit of our goodness, but the fruit of God’s goodness.  Mercy is an alms that God bestows.” 

“Mercy stays [restrains] the speedy execution of God’s justice.  Mercy gets a reprieve for the sinner, and stops the speedy process of justice.  God would, by his goodness, lead sinners to repentance.”

“God’s mercy is free.  To set up merit is to destroy mercy.  Nothing can deserve mercy, because we are polluted in our blood.  We may force God to punish us, but not to love us.”  His mercy is overflowing, plentiful, and abundant.  His mercies over all are new every morning.

God is “desirous that sinners should touch the golden scepter of his mercy and live.”  He calls “sinners to come and lay hold on his mercy” (Rev. 22.17).  “Mercy woos sinners, it even kneels down to them.  God says, Poor sinner, suffer [allow] me to love thee, be willing to let me save thee.”

Why don’t you believe in God’s mercy?  Do your sins discourage you?  “God’s mercy can pardon great sins” (Ps 25.11). 

“Go to God for mercy.  Oh pray for mercy!  God has treasures of mercy; prayer is the key that opens these treasures; and in prayer, be sure to carry Christ in your arms, for all the mercy comes through Christ.”  “Though God may refuse us when we come for mercy in our own name, yet he will not when we come in Christ’s name.”

Once we realize the tenderness of God’s abundant and free mercy, another verse of the hymn makes perfect sense.

“Your mercy is more than a match for my heart;
Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart!
Dissolved by your goodness I fall to the ground;
And weep to the praise of the mercy I’ve found!”

[The above comments by Thomas Watson can be found in Part II, chapter 9 of his Body of Divinity.  UPDATE/EDIT: I also just found an entire section on “Mercy” in Watson’s treatment of the beatitudes.]

shane lems

sunnyside wa

One Reply to “The Tender Mercy of God”

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: