“Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight.” – Psalm 119:77 (ESV)
The biblical meaning of mercy is exceedingly rich and complicated, in fact several Hebrew and Greek words are needed to understand the depth of this attribute. There are many synonyms used in our various Bible translations to express the dimensions of meaning involved. Our favorites might be “lovingkindness,” and “steadfast love.” Well-known in the concept of mercy is the compassionate nature to forgive an offender or adversary and to help or spare him in his sorry plight. Many other words in the Bible describe the character of our Lord. Perhaps we can say God’s mercy is the foremost attribute revealed. In revealing Himself to Moses, the Lord declared His great mercy (Exod. 34:6–7). The prophets likewise take great pains to remind Israel of this facet of God’s divine love. Micah 7:18 in particular provides a challenging statement: “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.” The Lord our God is not merely merciful, but delights in the opportunity to grant mercy. God’s very nature is to show continual and everlasting mercy without limit.
“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.” – Psalm 1:1-2 (NASB)
Perhaps this passage from Psalm 1 is familiar to you? Even if so, let’s look at it again and find the promises God has given us in this word. It’s a matter of choice – everything is pretty much. Even when circumstances are forced upon us against our will, we have a choice how to respond to it. These first three verses of this Psalm reveal the blessings of choosing to avoid wicked influences. Avoiding advice from those who are practicing lawlessness and living in wickedness. Getting out of their way and staying away from where they go – even avoiding “bumping into” to them if possible. Not being mistaken for being in alliance with mockers and scoffers of God’s commandments. Instead, spending each day thinking on what God teaches us in His word. In verse 3 are the blessings of following a path of the righteous.
We will be:
“Firmly planted” = Solid footing;
“Yielding fruit each season” = Righteous productivity;
“Remaining viable” = Sustainable growth.
“Prospering” = God’s abundant rewards for faithfulness.
These blessings come to us from God our Father. The last verses (Psalm 1:4-6) compare the life of wickedness – perishes.
“Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands.” Psalm 112:1 (NIV)
“They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” Psalm 112:7 (NIV)
There is a positive result seen in the promises of these two verses from Psalm 112. With no title to this Psalm, it is evidently a companion to Psalm 111. We consider the promises in these verses. The exhortation at the beginning of 112:1 is never given too often; our Lord is the LORD God and He always deserves praise. The exhortation is for all thoughtful persons who observe the way and manner of life that appropriately fears the Lord. God’s favor towards the God-fearing is a display of His character and encourages gracious feelings in others. We study the divine precepts while we endeavor to observe them, and we rejoice doing so. Our promises are: We will have no dread that evil tidings will come, and we will not be alarmed when they do come. If our hearts are fixed in our reliance upon God, any change in circumstances will barely affects us; our faith makes our conviction steadfast. When the worst should come to worst we rest and remain quiet, patiently, waiting for God.
Compare line by line Psalms 111 & 112 and see the greatness of God and its reflection.
“Praise the Lord! How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, Who greatly delights in His commandments.” Psalm 112:1 (NASB)
“He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.” Psalm 112:7 (ESV)
The act of fearing the LORD is an emphasis throughout the Old Testament. The concept “fear of the Lord” occurs most prominently in the Old Testament’s Wisdom Literature such as our selected verse today. It is defined as the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10) or, as the responsible attitude of all humanity toward God (Ecclesiastes12:13). When it is used it conveys either devotion or dread of consequential punishment. Such a devotional attitude is both fitting and pleasing to our Lord God. We can and should fear God in both ways. When faith believers are walking in the fear of the Lord, they are also in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Such and attitude actually give us courage from our faith so that we are not afraid when bad tidings come our way. No one likes bad news but true Christians have no need to fear any news we receive. We have been given steadfast hearts, firm and trusting in the LORD. We can actually say, if we fear the Lord God, we really have no need to fear anything else in this world ⸺we are blessed because we fear only the Lord.
“Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there. But the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.” – Psalm 37:10-11 (NASB)
We continue with the promises in Psalm 37 ⸺there are many. Fretting, as we learned yesterday in the previous verses, is nothing more than being sorely irritated. We used to say an irritated person was ‘vexed,’ but like ‘fret’ we don’t use these good words much anymore. Today we have further reasons for avoiding irritation from worry. Summed up, they amount to a twofold assertion: the wicked or evil doers will be gone. The verse says ‘yet a little while.’ We might think otherwise but we’re on God’s time which is not bound by earth time. There is a point in time when all evildoers shall be no more. They simply will not be here. If we were to look for them, they would not be found. No detective will be able to expose what is not. This may be long after we are gone from this earth but it is a promise from God that we can take and believe as absolute truth. Those who humbly trust God’s words and obey His instructions have a different outcome ⸺abundant prosperity. It is part of our “reserved in heaven” inheritance. It is a promise that will bring us Godly delight.