The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He will not constantly accuse us,
nor remain angry forever.
He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west.
Certain phrases or musical lyrics carry great symbolic weight. For instance, most Americans love the last line of our national anthem, “The land of the free and the home of the brave.” It resonates patriotically in our hearts, reminding us of fireworks and baseball and all things good in our land. Or there’s Dorothy’s refrain, “There’s no place like home.” It may just be a line of dialogue from an old movie, but it expresses a feeling we can all relate to. Phrases like these convey truth and carry meaning far greater than the words themselves. They stand for something we feel deep in our hearts, and they bind us together with others who share the same emotional, or even spiritual, response. The Bible is filled with verses that resonate in our hearts.
There is perhaps no more stirring and profound statement in the Old Testament than the line repeated here by David: “The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.” These words are echoed several times in the Psalms and the Prophets. For the Israelites, they were like a creedal abbreviation or a short-hand statement of faith that reminded them of who God is. What is God like? He is compassionate and merciful. He is slow to get angry and full of unfailing love. These words were not coined by David or one of the prophets. They were given to us by the Lord himself. When God met with Moses on Mt. Sinai, He spoke his holy name, declaring, “Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness (Exodus 34:6).”
The first and most essential reason that we read the Bible is to get to know God. Scripture is God’s self-revelation, his own word about himself. It’s tempting for us to define God according to our ideas or to shape him into an image we can control or manipulate, like a craftsman carving an idol from the imaginings of his own mind. For some irrational reason, we think our man-made conceptions of God could be better than the reality. How foolish and unnecessary. The one true God is in reality more glorious and pleasing to our hearts than anything we could invent. God has told us that He is compassionate, merciful, loving and faithful. We cherish these words and find comfort in their truth.Lord, thank You for Your compassion and mercy. I love that You love me. I rejoice in all that You are and all that You do, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian