Mercy is such a commonplace word that it might have lost meaning over time. For instance, when you hear someone exclaim, “Lord have mercy!” there is a good chance neither you nor the speaker appreciate the real meaning of the word Mercy. But mercy is one of the most important words in the Bible that carries special meaning and significance.
There are two main Hebrew words for mercy – Raham and Hanan. Raham denotes an expression of love from a superior being to an inferior one. This kind of love pushes the superior to Inverne for the sake of the inferior. Hanan describes the way a person responds to another person in need. Just like Raham, the implication is that one person is moved to help and the one being helped doesn’t necessarily have a right to expect it.
By and large, mercy has to do with extravagant love that reaches out to solve a problem in the life of someone irrespective of whether they deserve it or not. Even though person-to-person mercy is demonstrated in various passages in scripture, the most important display of mercy is between God and man. We may even state that mercy is the central theme of the Bible because it is by God’s mercy that God sent his only begotten son to die for mankind.
What the Bible says about Mercy
1. God is plenteous in mercy
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. Psa. 103:8
The mercy between human beings is conditional and fleeting. But God’s mercy is not only unconditional but plenteous. Ever since the creation of the World, God has been demonstrating his mercy and it has not been depleted. Jeremiah reckons that God’s mercies cannot be depleted because they are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).
2. God chooses whom to show mercy
For He saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. Rom. 9:15
It is human to feel like some people do not deserve mercy. For instance, it is human to think that the worst of criminals on death row had it coming. But God, who is plentiful in mercy, often demonstrates mercy to the most unlikely of recipients. Apostle Paul understood this when he wrote how Christ came to save sinners of whom he was chief (1 Timothy 1:15). God is sovereign and he can use his prerogative to show mercy on whoever he elects.
3. Everyone is a candidate for God’s Mercy
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Prov. 28:13
The best demonstration of God’s mercy was the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross. As John 3:16 explains, God was moved by his love for mankind so much that he decided to act by sending his only son to pay the ultimate price on the cross. John then states that henceforth, anyone who believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life. This means that anyone and everyone can be a candidate for God’s mercy. That’s because God does not play favorites with his mercy. In the words of scripture, “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34)
4. God’s Mercy results in healing
For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.” Philippians. 2:27
Healing is one of the effects of God’s mercy. Whenever his children are sick, God’s mercy often pushes him to respond by releasing his healing power. In Jeremiah 8:21, the prophet gives us a preview of the inner workings of God’s heart. In a nutshell, God was grieved because of the sickness of his people. It reveals a God that is moved by sickness. Blind Bartimaeus must have understood this when he cried out, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Luke 18:38). And just has he had wished, God’s mercy was revealed and he was healed.
God’s Mercy is a defense
But I will sing of Thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of Thy mercy in the morning: for Thou hast been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble. Psalms. 59:16
In the above scripture, the Psalmist was praising God because of his mercy. God’s mercy was demonstrated when God became a defense and a refuge in his time of trouble. In another Pslam, we see God as an ever-present help in times of need (Psalms 46:1). This means that whenever his people get in trouble, they can always count on God to come through for them. For the most part, people get in trouble out of their own doing. In such a case, they do not deserve to be helped. For instance, Psalms 107 describes how Israel got in trouble because of their foolishness (vs. 17-18). However, when they cried to God for mercy, he heard them and sent them help (vs 19-20). Suffice it to say that God’s mercy can provide refuge when things go haywire.
God reveals his mercy to the helpless
Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted His people, and will have mercy upon His afflicted. Isaiah. 49:13
God hates injustice. In fact, he is described as the righteous Judge (Psalm 18:20-27) who rules in righteousness and truth (Psalms 85:10-13). One of the ways he demonstrates his righteous judgment is by showing mercy to the oppressed. No wonder he is also referred to as a father to the fatherless and a judge and protector to the widows (Psalms 68:5-6 ).
To sum it up, Mercy is the main theme in the Bible. It is through God’s mercy that His son died on the cross and it is through his mercy that we are saved. It is through the same mercy that we obtain help when in need – e.g. if in trouble, if sick, etc. Mercy is indeed a profound topic that is predominant throughout all the books of the Bible.