Sentences from the Psalter: Mercy…Music…Majesty

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever” (Psa 89:1). At the portal of Psalm 89 emphasis is laid on a notable Hebrew word – mercy. The Psalmist opens with the declaration, “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever.” Mercy occurs seven times in this psalm and provides the inspiration for this meditation.

Mercy’s Song (89:1)

From Moses’ song on the banks of the Red Sea to the martyred saints on the sea of glass who sing the song of Moses (Rev 15:3), the Bible is undoubtedly and uniquely a song of mercy. Its author is a God Who is “rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4). What has been your song today? The mercy and loving-kindness of the Lord or the empty themes of the world? The Lord has put a new song in the mouths of His redeemed. “We’ll sing of such subjects alone; none other our tongues shall employ, till fully His love becomes known, in yonder bright regions of joy.” Let us sing of the mercies of the Lord, fervently, frequently, and forever.

Mercy’s Strength (89:2)

The mercy of the Lord is established and strong. Without His mercy we were and are without strength. Augustus Toplady, the author of Rock of Ages, commented: “The house of mercy is a solid building that can never be taken down and will never fall down. Fire cannot injure it, storms cannot overthrow it, age cannot impair it. It stands on a rock and is as immovable as the rock on which it stands.” In an unstable and unpredictable world how comforting it is to know that the Christian has eternal links with the unshakeable mercy of God!

Mercy’s Supremacy (89:14-15)

Elsewhere in the Psalter we learn that mercy and truth have met together (Ps 85:10), but here, mercy and truth run togetherahead of the Lord God of hosts. What forerunners and heralds they are! God employs mercy and truth to advertise His coming as an army does a banner. “Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity…He retaineth not His anger for ever, because He delighteth in mercy” (Mic 7:18). Are we not blessed indeed who know the joyful sound of the praise of such a God?

Mercy’s Salvation (89:23-26)

God’s mercy to the house of David is contrasted with His judgment on David’s foes. Such mercy led David to cry, ‘‘Thou art my Father…and the rock of my salvation.” Do we really appreciate the mercy of the Lord that has brought us into a filial relationship with God as our Father? The mercy experienced by David led him to express mercy to others: “Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness (Heb: mercy)of God unto him?” (2 Sam 9:3).

The undeserved mercy showered on Mephibosheth by David is but a faint reflection of the mercy shown to us: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercyHe saved us” (Titus 3:5).

Mercy’s Steadfastness (89:28)

The mercy of the Lord never wavers. We change but He changes not. In a more well-known Psalm we read: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (Ps 23:6). All the days – bright and dark, short and long, joyful and sad.

Mercy’s Succor (89:30-33)

Despite failures in David’s family the Lord promised not to remove His mercy and loving-kindness from him. With Jacob we can say, “I am not worthy of the least of all [Thy] mercies” (Gen 32:10). With Jeremiah we can exult, “His mercies are new every morning – great is Thy faithfulness” (Lam 3:22). Oh, the amazing mercy of God, even to succor failing saints such as we are! Kathleen Wheeler wrote:

He came to my desk with quivering lip, the lesson was done.
“Dear Teacher I want a new leaf,” he said, “I have spoiled this one.”
I took the old leaf, stained and blotted, and gave him a new one all unspotted,
And into his sad eyes I smiled, “Do better now, my child.”

I went to the throne with a quivering soul the old year was done.
“Dear Father, hast Thou a new leaf for me? I have spoiled this one.”
He took the old leaf, stained and blotted, and gave me a new one all unspotted,
And into my sad heart He smiled, “Do better now, My child.”

Perhaps a reader is thinking, all of this is very wonderful but I feel like the Lord has abandoned me – I could use some of His mercy and loving-kindness any time. Well, Psalm 89 divides in two. Up to verse 37 the Psalmist rejoices in God’s mercies and faithful promises to David, but the rest of the Psalm is taken up in mourning the fact that despite all of God’s promises, the kingdom is in deep trouble and its enemies are rejoicing. The question is wrung from the agonized soul of the writer, “Lord, where are Thy former mercies?” Which brings us to mercy’s situation.

Mercy’s Situation (v46-49)

Oft times when disaster strikes, we despair. We lose our bearings. We begin to imagine all kinds of things. Where is God? Where is His mercy? It’s tempting sometimes to think that the relief and happiness we seek is to be found in a new job, a new house, a new relationship, or a new opportunity – but mercy and loving-kindness for our every need are located where they have always been – at the throne, where sits our sympathetic and compassionate High Priest.

In the words of Hebrews: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16).