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As we seek to hide this gem in our heart this week, let's set our minds on these fabulous characteristics of God.
The LORD is merciful and gracious
If you have tasted and seen the Lord is good, (Psalm 34:8) then you probably have no shortage of examples of God's abundant mercy and grace in your life. Not a day goes by that I don't receive God's incredible mercy and amazing grace. They are new every morning!
So what does the Bible exactly mean when it identifies God as merciful and gracious?
Mercy means not getting what my sins deserve
Grace means getting what my sins don't deserve
Note that the Bible proclaims, in Psalm 103:8 that God is merci-ful (emphasis mine) or put another way, God is FULL of mercy!
Psalm 103:10, just two verses away, is just one phenomenal example of how the Lord is merciful and gracious to us: "He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities." Truly, “The LORD is merciful and gracious"!
Slow to anger
Chuck Smith explains Psalm 103:8 this way, "Now you have heard people say, "Well, there is the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. The God of the Old Testament is vengeful and wrathful and murderous and so forth. And the God of the New Testament is love, mercy, and grace." Now wait a minute. This is Old Testament. And he declares, "Jehovah is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, plenteous in mercy." And you better perhaps read the fourteenth chapter of the book of Revelation, when the cup of the indignation of the wrath of God is overflowing and He pours out His judgment upon this Christ-rejecting earth. And you'll find that the same God is revealed in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, who is a God of love, a God of mercy, a God of patience, but also a righteous, holy God who is absolutely just."
And abounding in mercy
Psalm 86:15 puts the truth of Psalm 103:8 another way, "But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth." I love this!
Though the Ninevites were so wicked that God was going to destroy their city in forty days if they continued in their wicked ways, Jonah was not expecting the Ninevites to respond to his "turn or burn" message by quickly turning from their evil ways and begging God's forgiveness.
Having hated the Ninevites so passionately Jonah’s hatred must have blinded him to the fact that God is not willing that any should perish. Of course God would forgive them if they repented. (2 Chronicles 7:14) But Jon
ah wanted God to pour out His wrath on Nineveh, not His mercy.
David Guzik explains, “Jonah was angry because God granted repentance to the Ninevites, and the Assyrians were enemies of Judah and Israel. Jonah wanted God to bring judgment upon these people he hated.”
So he [Jonah] prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. Jonah 4:2
David Guzik goes on to say, “Jonah himself called on the mercy of God and enjoyed the mercy of God when it was extended to Jonah. Now he resents it when it is extended to others.” Wow!
Though Jonah despised God’s mercy when it was not bent in his favor, but graciously extended to the people of Nineveh, the Ninevites understood firsthand what the Psalmist meant in Psalm 130:7, “Hope in the Lord; For with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is abundant redemption.”
How blessed we are that our Lord and Savior is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy! How great is our God!
Question for you: Of all the characteristics of God we’ve explored today in Psalm 103:8 which is your favorite?
Psalm 103 Memory Challenge Quick LinksFor tips and helps in memorizing your verses this week, check out the previous posts for the Psalm 103 Memory Challenge:
Introduction to Memorizing Psalm 103
Week 1: Psalm 103:1-2 Remembering God’s Faithfulness.
Week 2 (Part 1): Psalm 103:3 There's No god Like Our God!
Week 2 (Part 2) Psalm 103:4 Oh, How He Loves Us!
Week 3 (Part 1) Psalm 103:5 Strength For The Weary
Week 3 (Part 2) Psalm 103:6 God Will Give You Justice!
Week 4 (Part 1) Psalm 103:7 God Makes Himself Known!
Week 4 (Part 2) Psalm 103:8 Mercy in Abundance!
Week 5: Psalm 103:9-10 Better Than I Deserve!
Week 6: Psalm 103:11-12 How High and Wide is God's Mercy For Us!
Week 7: Psalm 103:13-14 God's Loving Compassion For Us!
Week 8: Psalm 103:15-16 Soon and Very Soon, We are Going to See the King!
Week 9: Psalm 103:17-18 God's Mercy is from Everlasting to Everlasting!
Week 10: Psalm 103:19-20 God Rules Over All!
Week 11: Psalm 103:21-22 Bless the Lord!
Week 12: My Plan for Keeping Psalm 103 Hidden In My Heart!
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Copyright © 2012 Brooke Espinoza.