“Let thy mercies come also unto me, O Lord, even thy salvation, according to thy word.” Psalm 119:41
Every child of God lives in constant need of Jehovah’s mercies.
We may all expect difficulties and hardship in our pilgrimage. It is through much tribulation that we enter into the kingdom of God. Whether single or married, young or old, in the work place or in the home, we are bound to experience turmoil. Circumstances make our spiritual walk difficult, so much so that at times we might wonder if we are able to continue.
How we need God’s mercies!
Mercy is not something we need only at one point in our lives in order to be saved; the psalmist teaches that each and every one of us stands in constant need of God’s mercy. That is why he prays, “Let thy mercies come also unto me, O Lord, even thy salvation.”
The fact that we pray for God’s mercies is an indication that God has already shown us mercy. God is always first. And yet, as children of God, regenerated by the Spirit of God, we continue to stand in need of God’s mercy each moment of every day.
Mercy is God’s everlasting and sovereign affection for us, according to which He wills us to be perfectly blessed in Him, to taste His own blessedness, and according to which He leads us through death to the highest possible life of covenant friendship. Mercy is thus revealed when God delivers us from the greatest evil of sin and its punishment and brings us into the greatest good of covenant fellowship with Himself. Included in His mercy is the destruction of all His and our enemies.
When God led Israel across the Red Sea and destroyed Pharaoh and his army, Israel sang about God’s mercy. Significantly, they understood that mercy could only come to them as they were a redeemed people: “Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation” (Ex. 15:13). Mercy is based upon their redemption by Jesus Christ as that redemption was pictured in the Passover lamb.
According to His mercy God delivered Israel from a great evil and guided them to the greatest good: the place of His holy habitation. The mercy pictured in their deliverance from Egypt was, as it were, a beginning of His mercy towards His people. Even after that deliverance, Israel needed God’s continued mercy to guide them through the wilderness to His holy habitation. They needed God’s mercy to protect them from their enemies.
Israel needed God’s mercy to give them, not merely a picture of covenant fellowship but the reality of it. Israel needed deliverance not merely from Egypt but from their slavery to sin. And they needed God’s mercy from day to day as they battled against their spiritual enemies.
So too every one of us stands in constant need of God’s mercy. We need God’s mercies that deliver us from the greatest evil of sin and the punishment that we deserve. And we constantly need His mercies that bring to us the greatest good of fellowship with God Himself.
Therefore, salvation is not only God showing us one mercy; salvation consists of His many mercies to us. According to the Hebrew parallelism in this text, God’s salvation and His mercies are inseparable. “Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word. Salvation is a multifaceted blessing consisting of many mercies bestowed. Therefore, the psalmist prays for God’s mercies in the plural.
The implication is that when God mercifully grants salvation, He does not merely redeem us and then leave us to accomplish the rest of our salvation in our own strength. God did not merely redeem His people Israel with the blood of the Passover lamb, but in His mercy He also broke the power of Pharaoh and his army. In His mercy, He led His people through the wilderness with the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. In His mercy, He fed them with manna along the way and gave them water from the rock. In His mercy, He protected them from their enemies and finally brought them into the promised land. God’s mercies to Israel are the multitude of gracious acts by which He delivered them from bondage and brought them to the promised land.
So too, when God saves us, He not only begins a good work in us, but also He performs it until the day of Jesus Christ. When God begets us, it is unto a lively hope of the glory to come. He will perfect that which concerns us; He will never forsake the work of His hands. Our salvation is a matter of many mercies.
His mercies began already in eternity when He loved us with an everlasting love. He performed the mercy promised to our fathers in the sending of His only begotten Son to redeem us. In His great mercy, He quickened us together with Christ, even when we were dead in sins. Even now, God calls us to come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. We are vessels of mercy, which He has afore prepared unto glory. His mercies are new every morning.
In whatever circumstances we find ourselves, we need God’s continued mercies. We need Him to forgive us and blot out the guilt of our sin on a daily basis. We need Him to lead us through the wilderness of this world. We need Him to teach us the way in which we should walk. We need Him to protect us from our deadly enemies—the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh. We need Him to preserve us in the way. We need Him to apply salvation to us every step of the way until He brings us to glory.
So we pray and confidently expect an answer because He has promised mercy in His word; “Let thy mercies come also unto me, O Lord, even thy salvation, according to thy word.”
We must never think we could earn God’s mercies. The only basis for His mercies is the work of Jesus Christ.
As He represented the living God, bearing witness to the truth, His enemies heaped reproach on Him. They called Him a deceiver and said He cast out devils by the prince of devils. They called Him a destroyer of the temple. They said He was trying to usurp Caesar’s throne. When Jesus finally confessed the truth that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God, they called Him a blasphemer, and nailed Him to the cross.
On the cross, they continued their reproaches: “He saved others, himself he cannot save.” “If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.”
To their cruel reproaches, Jesus gave an answer. Not the answer they wanted, but the answer that glorified God: He stayed on the cross as King of the Jews to redeem us. At last, He cried out, “It is finished; Father into thy hands, I commend my Spirit.”
God did not leave Him in the grave but, His justice being fully satisfied, He owned Jesus as His beloved Son.
Now Jesus rules in heaven over all to give us grace, mercy, and peace. God’s mercies towards us all have their fountain in Jesus Christ.
In that confidence we pray for continued mercies!
Why do we pray for God’s mercies? Because we want to show our thankfulness to God with a bold confession of His name. So the psalmist declares, “So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me” (v. 42a).
How difficult for us to give a bold answer to the wicked! If we seek to be bold in our own strength, how often we end up like Peter: “I know not this man of whom you speak!” We are so easily ashamed of the name of God when a right confession would bring us into difficulty. How we need to watch and pray, “Let thy mercies come also unto me, O Lord…” or else we fail.
When the adversary accuses us as unworthy of God’s favor, we need mercy to strengthen us so that we answer, “I trust in thy word” (v. 42). We need God’s mercy to show us that our worthiness is in Jesus Christ.
When the world says there is joy in the way of wickedness, we need God’s mercy to strengthen us so that we answer, “I trust in thy word.”
The psalmist does not merely want God’s word of truth in his head; he wants to confess it with his mouth: “And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth” (v. 43). If we are ashamed for a time to confess the truth, we pray “Father, do not take that word utterly out of my mouth. Give me grace that I may speak Thy word of truth. Give me the confidence to know that one day Thou wilt execute judgment and prove that my trust in Thee is not in vain.”
Not only do we seek God’s mercies in order to make a bold confession, we also pray for His mercies because we desire a godly walk by which to show our thankfulness to Him for mercies past.
The psalmist expresses his thankfulness to God in five ways.
In the first place, he has a regard for God’s holy will: “So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever” (v. 44b). Thankfulness desires the glory of God in whatever we do, even in our eating and drinking.
Secondly, he desires a godly walk of thankfulness: “And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts” (v. 45). Not that we abuse our liberty, pretending that we are free from God’s precepts. That is evident from the second half of the verse; our liberty is rather freedom to seek God’s precepts, according to which He instructs us in the way to glorify Him.
Third, the psalmist expresses his desire for a godly walk of thankfulness in the use of his tongue: “I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed” (v. 46). That overlaps with his purpose of being a bold witness. He wants to be faithful, so that he would even speak God’s testimonies before hateful and persecuting kings.
Fourth, the psalmist expresses his desire for a godly walk of thankfulness as regards the affections of his heart: “And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved” (v. 47). Only when God shows us mercy do we begin to love Him and delight in His commandments.
Then lastly, the psalmist expresses His desire for a godly walk of thankfulness by the actions of his hands. “My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes” (v. 48). The hand is the chief instrument of doing. So when the psalmist says, “I will lift up my hands,” he shows his sincere desire to do what God commands.
With the psalmist, we want our hearts, tongues, feet, and hands all to be joined in praise and thanksgiving to our merciful God.
In every circumstance—in times of joy and times of sadness, in singleness or marriage, as young people or elderly saints, in the work place, in the school, or in the home—what a privilege to pray with confidence: “Let thy mercies come also unto me.”