We now turn our attention to Psalm 86 and some selected verses in particular. As always, we need to keep in mind the foundational verse of Ephesians 4:32, "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." In verses 1 through 5, the Lord is revealed to be ready to forgive. God's readiness to forgive is expressed by the Psalmist initially as a part of God's goodness. The Lord is good in every way. He is good in His very essence and He is good in how He deals with His creation. He is also good in that He is ready to forgive. Of course, the readiness to forgive on God's part implies a necessity of forgiveness on our part. It is the Lord we have offended by sin and it is the Lord who has provided for the forgiveness needed in the giving of the Savior. When we seek forgiveness through the blood and sacrifice of Christ, the Lord does not stand aloof. Rather, the forgiveness is given graciously and freely. As soon as we plead for it it is given to us. As the Psalmist notes, the Lord does all of these things because He is abundant in mercy. Without the mercy of the Lord, the forgiveness would never be extended to sinners such as you and me. So, to sum up the first point, we know from God's word that we are to "‚Ä¶be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." (Eph. 4:32) When David pleaded for mercy, He found that the Lord did not stand aloof. Rather, the Lord was eager to forgive: so should you be eager for Christ's sake. (Please note: I know that I have been emphasizing the obligation to forgive during these first five sermons and you may be thinking that this is all there is to it. Please do not misunderstand. I do believe that the Scriptures teach that sometimes forgiveness is rightly withheld. We will get there. The reason we are spending so much time on this part is because this is, in my judgment, where the problem mainly lies in the believing, evangelical church. When you are confronted with the "opportunity" to forgive someone who has hurt you in some way, is your first inclination to decide whether or not they deserve it, or whether you can withhold forgiveness from them? Should it not rather be looking for ways to show godly mercy to them? For as we read in verses 6 through 13, the Lord has great mercy.
In verse 7, David shows that the Lord's mercy is demonstrated in the fact that He answers when we cry out to Him. Indeed, the Lord encourages us to call out to Him. Though He is great (verse 10), He hears the cries of His people when they seek deliverance and forgiveness. The fact that He is great and that He has promised to hear us ought to give us comfort and boldness in seeking from Him what we need most: forgiveness. And since the Lord has goodness and mercy in their perfections and He has showered this goodness and mercy upon us, this means that we are also obligated to Him. We are obligated to love Him, obey Him, worship Him, and to seek to emulate Him. How much mercy have you required? How much do you rely upon the goodness of the Lord? All who truly understand their state, know that we would deplete the stores of goodness and mercy if that were possible. So, to sum up this second point, did you notice how mercy appears again? This Hebrew word, chesed, can be translated a number of ways. It can mean kindness, beauty, kindness, mercy, pity, (and many other words). But the root meaning is a reference to the neck and a bowing of the neck. That is, to show this kind of mercy means that God (or you) stoop down to one who is lower. The implication being that they are lifted back up again. Christian, the Lord looked upon you with this chesed; the Lord Jesus Christ lowered Himself to take upon Himself your sins. Likewise, you are to show chesed to those who are seeking it from you.
Lastly, in verses 14 through 17, the Lord is shown to be full of compassion. We find this especially shown in verse 15. You should notice first that there is a contrast indicated with the term "but". The contrast is between those who had no compassion, grace, patience, or truth described in the immediately preceding verses. David's enemies sought his death and destruction. They had no compassion upon him and they were not looking to restore a broken fellowship with him. Yet, the Lord showed Him compassion and shows compassion upon all who seek it from Him through Christ. Where David's enemies sought his life, the Lord showed him grace. The Lord would rightly seek your life for your sins, yet He shows compassion to the sinners and rebels who have sinned against Him. Indeed, the Lord is said to be longsuffering. Has the Lord told you what His will is? Has the Lord commanded you to obey and that death is the consequence of disobedience? Is the Lord blind that He cannot see, or deaf that He cannot hear? Does He not know even the thoughts of your heart whether they are good or evil? And yet, He stays His hand of judgment and rather, He gives to those who have defied and disobeyed Him. And once again, the Lord is said to be merciful. But in this case, the Psalmist says that the Lord is abundant in both mercy and truth. This is very important. The Lord's compassion, grace, and patience is not merely a show or falsely promised. The Lord truly shows us His benefits and grants to us a path to restoration and a peace. So now, to sum up this third point, the Lord is not playing games with us. When He promises to deliver; when He promises to have mercy; when He promises to forgive ‚Äď He truly does all these things. That is, as we saw last time, the offence no longer causes a break in fellowship, though the pain and effect may continue. The offence is put behind God's back and when we forgive it should be put behind our back.
So what is your attitude and disposition toward those who seek your forgiveness? Are you ready to forgive? Are you inclined to show mercy, or do you try to justify withholding forgiveness? Your Lord has readily shown you mercy of such depth that it is a wretched thing to not show the same mercy to the one who seeks it. In your heart and in your actions, are you compassionate to the offender? For dear one, as the Prophet Nathan told King David, "you are the man!" May the compassion we seek be the compassion we give.
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