The Madness of Mercy
Have you ever had one of those moments when you had been wronged in some way by someone you knew and then had to make the decision to either repay them in kindness or vengeance? Yeah I’m pretty sure we all have. Not everyone operates under the rule of treat others like you would want to be treated. Fact is people mistreat us and use us and on occasion take advantage of us. It’s easy for us to try and repay that deed with a similar one. It’s hard to enact self-control and walk away and simply do nothing as opposed to retaliating. How much harder is it to extend mercy?
Mercy is defined as ‘refraining from punishment and extending kindness in excess of what is expected.’ Now that’s hard for us to do. I thought I was doing good by just not repaying evil and being the bigger person and walking away.
In 1 Samuel 17-31 you find the account of David and Saul. Take some time and read that in one sitting to get the whole picture. After David defeats Goliath in chapter 17 David is accredited with quite a bit of fame and 18:9 says that Saul “eyed David from that day on.”
His jealousy and bitter anger lead Saul to attempt to kill David numerous times. For the majority of all the text mentioned above Saul is in pursuit of David trying to kill him. Saul even hurls his spear at his own son Jonathan at one point because his hatred for David was so strong. Saul was so bitter that he had all the priests of Nob killed along with all the women, children, infants, and livestock.
Despite all of this David shows mercy to Saul 3 times. The first time is in 1 Samuel 24 when David is in the back of the cave and cuts off the corner of Saul’s robe when he could have taken his life. Saul says he’s done pursuing David but in 1 Samuel 26 he’s back on the hunt. This time in David sneaks into the camp and takes the spear and water pot laying by Saul’s head instead of killing him.
It’s amazing to me that David showed Saul that kind of mercy while Saul was alive and while in his presence but notice 2 Samuel 1:17-27. It’s amazing that even after Saul’s death David goes beyond what is expected and speaks kindly and loving of Saul. Isn’t that amazing?
Jesus said in Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” He said twice that he desired mercy over sacrifice. He said that mercy was one of the weightier matters of the law (Matthew 23:23). Jesus taught and lived with compassion, mercy, and gentleness.
We are to show mercy to others because we’ve received mercy though not deserving. Ephesians 2:4, Hebrews 4:16, James 2:12-13. In light of Titus 3:3-7 does it really make sense to us why our Father has choose to give mercy?
With the mercy that has been bestowed on us we have a responsibility, as difficult as it may be, to pay it forward.
- Proverbs 11:13 – “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.”
- Matthew 18:15 – “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”
Showing mercy is not doing or giving what one may deserve but instead showing kindness in excess of what is expected. Not to boast in ourselves for hwo great we are but rather to boast in the Lord and the mercy He shows us each day