Mercy, Justice and Righteousness
Jeremiah 9:23-24 NKJV: Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; 24 But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, exercising loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the LORD.
Here, God tells us that He wants us to understand and know Him properly by understanding mercy, justice and righteousness.
Most Christians only have a childish understanding of God (1 Cor. 13.11-12). Like a 2 or 3 year old child facially knows the parents but does not know or understand the character of the parents.
So in this 3rd. day God wants the church to have a mature knowledge and understanding of God.
To know and understand God you have to know and understand His mercy, righteousness and justice.
The mercy of God is His compassion that causes Him to release a measure of His life through the air upon our lives to preserve and help us even when we do not deserve it.
The justice of God is His reward for right-doing and His punishment for wrong-doing.
Now the mercy of God has to be balanced by His righteousness and justice.
So God cannot show so much mercy to one person and in so doing be unjust to another.
For instance, God cannot show mercy to men who have rebelled with Satan and gone to hell by releasing them from hell. To do so would be unjust to those who suffered for righteousness sake and will put them in the danger of another rebellion in eternity. Furthermore, if God does so, in order to be just, God would also have to release Satan and His fallen angels (Mt. 25.41) from hell.
So the degree of the mercy God can show to men depends on the degree of the integrity of their hearts: the more honest your heart the more mercy God can show you.
To understand these things better let us consider some examples:
Saul and David
2 Samuel 7:15 NKJV: But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you.
Isaiah 55:3 NKJV: And I will make an everlasting covenant with you– the sure mercies of David.
Why did God take His mercy from Saul whereas David’s mercies were sure?
David had a heart that was willing to do all of the will of God; whereas Saul had a stubborn and rebellious heart that was not willing to do the will of God that was not convenient for his pride or flesh:
Acts 13:22 NKJV: And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.‘
1 Samuel 15:17-29 NIV: Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the LORD? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD?” 20 “But I did obey the LORD,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.” 22 But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.” 24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the LORD’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the people and so I gave in to them. 25 Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD.” 26 But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you as king over Israel!” 27 As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. 28 Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors-to one better than you. 29 He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind.”
Saul was stubborn and rebellious because he did not use the Word of God to develop his heart in humility and love, like David did.
David sowed in righteousness (Hos. 10.12) by not killing Saul when he had the opportunity to do so (1 Sam. 24; 26) and so take the short cut to the throne; and so later on David reaped mercy by overcoming the rebellion of His son Absalom (2 Sam. 19.10).
Absalom’s rebellion was a consequence of God’s judgement on David’s sin of adultery and murder (1 Sam. 12.10-12), but God’s mercy because of the integrity of David’s heart, reduced the judgement so that David was not killed or destroyed (1 Sam. 12.13).
In our article next week, we will look at more examples to help us understand God’s mercy, righteousness and justice.