Reflections on the Mercy of God After the National Day of Prayer by Michael L. Brown for Ask Dr Brown
It is true that God is a righteous Judge who will one day pour out His wrath on a rebellious world. But the overwhelming emphasis of Scripture is not on the wrath of God but rather on His mercy. As the psalmist proclaimed, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” (Psalm 103:8).
Can you imagine if God’s character was the opposite of this? If He was slow to mercy and abounding in anger? We would have been wiped out many millennia ago.
As the psalmist continued, “He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:9–14).
And remember: These words were written long before the cross. Long before God displayed His love for us through His Son. Long before the perfect Savior paid for our sins. Yet the psalmist, David himself, understood the greatness of God’s mercy and kindness. And compassion and longsuffering. That is who our God is.
The prophet Micah, who had much to say about divine judgment, also said this about the Lord: “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy” (Micah 7:18).
Our God delights to show mercy.
Similarly, the prophet Ezekiel, who too prophesied about the judgment of God, said this on behalf of the Lord: “Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!” (Ezekiel 18:31–32)
Yes, our righteous God looks for opportunities to show mercy. He desires to demonstrate His compassion. And while He will not overlook our rebellion and sin – that is, if we refuse to turn away from it – He is longing to forgive.