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“He Delighteth in Mercy”
I am certain that our views of God and his grace are weakest right here: — None of us have any idea how exceedingly willing the Lord God is to forgive iniquity, transgression, and sin. At this point, we all think that God is such a one as ourselves. What shameful unbelief! We forget that “he delighteth in mercy!” When we think, talk, and preach about our Lord Jesus Christ, the triune Jehovah (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost), when we think and speak of God’s mercy, love, grace, and forgiveness, let us ever throw open to guilty sinners, to the widest extent possible, the doors of mercy. Ever remember, — “He delighteth in mercy!” Let us never be guilty of restricting, in thought or in word, the great mercy of our great God, who “delighteth in mercy!”
I am sure that every attribute of God gives him pleasure in its exercise. But here mercy is singled out by divine inspiration as his favorite. Though all the divine attributes are eternal, mercy was the last to be revealed. His wisdom and power are seen in the creation of the world. His wrath is seen in the damnation of Satan and the angels who fell. His justice is seen in the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden when his law was broken. But in mercy, he spared their lives. In mercy, he promised a Redeemer. In mercy, he provided a sacrifice. In mercy, he clothed the fallen, naked, guilty pair with the garments of his salvation!
You might say that mercy is God’s Benjamin, and he delights most of all in it. It is the son of his right hand. But it might also be called the son of his sorrow, for the mercy of God came to be revealed in the sorrow, sufferings, and death of his well-beloved Son.
“Who is a God like unto thee?” — He is gloriously sovereign. He is infinitely just. He is perfectly holy. He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, incomprehensible, and eternal; and “he delighteth in mercy!”
It is the glory of God and the pleasure of God to show mercy to sinners for Christ’s sake. The Lord our God is not a cruel tyrant, or a relentless sadist. Though he is holy, just, and true, he is a God who delights in mercy.
God’s mercy is in Christ. God’s mercy in Christ is full. God’s mercy is free and unconditional. God’s mercy is forever. It is, like himself, immutable. — “Therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”
Followers of God
If God delights in mercy, how much more ought we to delight in mercy? —Not just in receiving it, but in extending it? “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us.” Forgiven sinners, living by and upon free mercy, ought to always be merciful. It is written, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy!”
I know that God’s tender mercy is over all his creatures. In merciful benevolence he sends the sunshine and the rain both upon the righteous and the wicked. I will leave it to others to argue about what to call that, and what the purpose of God in such mercy is.
However, Micah 7:18 is not talking about general benevolence. This text speaks of God’s special, sovereign, saving mercy toward his elect, that mercy of God which causes dead sinners to have eternal life in Christ. What does the Bible teach about this mercy?
Micah tells us that God delights in mercy. His hope for himself and for Israel was simply the fact that God delights to show mercy to sinful men. No man deserves mercy; but God delights to show mercy to the undeserving.
We do not need to search very far to find abundant proof that God delights in mercy. His mercy is seen everywhere. I know that God delights in mercy, because the very fact that fallen man lives upon God’s earth proves it
Often, though his anger has been hot against men, he spared them in his great mercy (Psalm 78:38-39). The sparing of Hezekiah was an act of God’s mercy. The fact that Nineveh was granted repentance and spared from his impending judgment was the work of God’s mercy. Saul of Tarsus deserved God’s wrath; but he got grace instead, because, as he put it, — “I obtained mercy!”
The fact that you and I who are born of God are alive today (spiritually alive in Christ), accepted in the Beloved, sons of God, chosen, redeemed, and saved, is abundant proof that God delights in mercy. In abundant, long-suffering mercy the Lord God preserved us in life and saved us by his grace (Ephesians 2:4-5).
God chose the vile refuse of this world as the objects of his grace, because “he delighteth in mercy.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29). He lays hold on the polluted publican instead of the proud Pharisee. He saves the wandering prodigal, and passes by the self-righteous religionist. He lifts the poor out of the dunghill and sets him among princes. He embraces the vile harlot, and rejects the good moralist. He takes the dying thief home with him to glory, and leaves the pompous ritualist to his vanities.
Though we are now saved by his grace, our conduct proves that God delights in mercy. We have been ungrateful, unbelieving, and unfaithful. But his mercy fails not (Lamentations 3:22).
The greatest possible proof that our God delights in mercy is the sacrifice of his own darling Son in our stead. If you have any doubt that the God of heaven delights in mercy, go to Calvary and read of God’s abundant mercy. In order to show mercy to us, God killed his Son in our place. Calvary’s crimson tide spells out one thing most clearly — “He delighteth in mercy!”
“Mercy there was great, and grace was free,
Pardon there was multiplied to me,
There my burdened soul found liberty, — At Calvary!”