And how shall we know God, His character, His attributes? How IS He? How is it that so many have known Him, and this revealed by the mosaic of truths concerning Him, and yet, we have grasped so little?
You would not think that Psalm 51 would reveal to us essential aspects of the character of God, but it does. The context of the psalm reveals to us the awfulness of the nature of men, all men, except Christ. That “nature” is demonstrated here by the adultery that David committed, and the killing of the husband of Bathsheba. It is in the prayer of David that the character of God is revealed in stark contrast to that of David. “Have mercy upon me, O God…” (v.1) The only appeal David is not that for the unmerited favor of God (His grace), but for the action of God to look beyond the heart of a rebel, and enemy of righteous, one who has flaunted the glory of God…i.e. deliberately went 100% in the opposite direction of all that was noble and true, and then to respond in His lovingkindess. David had no merit before God, only his declared sin. His only appeal was to the benevolent lovingkindness, and tender of mercies of God. The same attitude was true for the Publican who stood up and beat his breast, crying unto God, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” The only way a guilty, rebellious, unrighteous enemy of God can be forgiven, is first in knowing that there is a benevolent and merciful God who acts for His own name’s sake. And this He will do when He hears the heart’s cry of the sinner.
Once when David was faced with three choices of punishment from God because of sin, he chose the only one that did not involve “falling into the hands of men.” Why? Because He knew the nature of man was unmerciful. There would be no basis for appealing to any favor whatsoever, if he fell into the hands of sinful men. Not so with God. The truth of the knowledge of God, as it pertains to His mercy, is liberating, life-giving, for it gives us hope, and that, not because of anything in and of ourselves, but for His name’s sake.
When all seems lost, and we certainly do not feel as if we can approach God, we must always remember…He is merciful. Indeed, He meets us as He did those believers who sought Him in the Tent of Meeting, or the Tabernacle. Also, as He met those who sought Him in the temple. There was on the top of the ark of the covenant, a “mercy-seat.” This is where He said, “And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy-seat.” (Ex. 25:22) The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews wrote, “…Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain MERCY, and find grace to help in time of need.” The theme is consistent throughout Scripture. This God we profess to serve is a God of mercy…and He meets us only on this basis.
So, let us use this blessed truth in this mosaic of the knowledge of God, and let us humbly come before Him, knowing that He receives “sinners such as we.” Jesus said, “…him that cometh to me, I will in NO wise cast out.” (Jn. 6:37) Why? Because He is merciful. Let us not forget this blessed reality, and let us use it well. God the Father will receive us for Jesus’s sake…every day…and all through the day. And let us grasp the import of the Psalmist’s wonderful words: “…The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion: slow to anger, and of GREAT MERCY.” (Psalm 145:9)