“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” —Proverbs 19:11
To hide one’s own sin from God is his shame. It’s useless, debilitating, hurtful, destructive. To confess and forsake one’s sin is the guaranteed pathway to mercy (28:13). And once you know His mercy—once you have received the abundance of grace, the eternal redemption, the complete forgiveness of Christ—you are all the more equipped, and all the more obligated, to be merciful to others. How can we justify harboring anger for others, continually recounting their sin, when God so brutally appeased His own holy wrath in order to forget ours?
Oh give thanks to the Lord because He is good. His love, which never changes, lasts forever! Let those whom He has set free say so, those whom He has set free from trouble and brought back from faraway lands.
Some people wandered around in the desert. They were looking for a road that would take them to a city to live in, but they could not find any. They were so hungry and thirsty that their souls became weak and nearly fainted. But then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble. They prayed, and God snatched them up out of their distress! He walked with them, leading them on a straight road that brought them to a city to live in! Let them thank the Lord for His love which never changes, and for the wonderful things He does for people! He fills up the empty soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
Some people sat in the dark, in the shadow of death. They were prisoners, they were depressed, and in shackles of iron. This happened to them because they did not listen to God and because they rejected His advice—the advice of the Most High God. Because of this, God made their hearts sink low with weariness, and they fell down and had no one to help them. But then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble. They prayed, and God snatched them up out of their distress! He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death and broke into pieces the chains that were holding them captive. Let them thank the Lord for His love which never changes, and for the wonderful things He does for people! He breaks through steel doors and splits iron bars in two!
Some people were foolish because they did bad things, and because of their sins were miserable. They couldn’t stomach food anymore and were drawing near to death. But then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble. They prayed, and God snatched them up out of their distress! He spoke, and they were healed! God saved them from being destroyed! Let them thank the Lord for His love which never changes, and for the wonderful things He does for people! Let them thank the Lord and sing about all the good things He does!
Some people got in ships and did business in the sea. They saw the God’s wonderful work in the deep ocean. God commanded the stormy wind and made giant waves. The waves were so high they seemed to rise up to heaven and then drop down to the bottom of the ocean. The people in the ships lost all their courage, staggered all around, and had no idea what to do. But then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble. They prayed, and God snatched them up out of their distress! He made the storm be still and He made the sea be quiet. They were glad when the waters were quiet and that God brought them to the place they wanted to go. Let them thank the Lord for His love which never changes, and for the wonderful things He does for people! Let them worship Him in the congregation and sing praise to Him with all the leaders!
God makes rivers turn into a desert. He also makes springs of water into dry ground. He makes a land that could grow lots of food to be useless because those who live there do evil things. But He also turns a desert into pools of water, and dry lands into springs of water. He lets the hungry live there and make a city to live in so that they can plant fields and grow food. Because of His blessing they have abundant crops and lots of livestock.
When people are in trouble because they are doing harm to each other, God causes their leaders to be disrespected and despised and to wander around aimlessly. But He raises up the needy and blesses their families. Those who do right see this and are glad, but those who do bad have nothing to say.
Whoever is wise, let him pay attention to these things and let him think about the love of the Lord which never changes.
1 Kings 20:15, 29
“…He mustered all the people of Israel, seven thousand. …And the people of Israel struck down of the Syrians 100,000 foot soldiers in one day.”
The Lord makes it clear to us why He chose to work in such a miraculous way on behalf of Israel in this particular battle. Verse 28: “Because the Syrians have said, ‘The LORD is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys,’ therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”
Because the Syrians have not recognized Me as God and because you haven’t either, I am going to prove Myself to both of you.
It is typical of the Lord to intervene in the matters of men, not for the sake of the righteousness of men, but for the sake of His righteousness and for His name’s sake. Remember what the Lord told the people of Israel when they first came into the promise land:
- Deuteronomy 9:3-7; “Know therefore today that he who goes over before you as a consuming fire is the LORD your God. He will destroy them and subdue them before you. So you shall drive them out and make them perish quickly, as the LORD has promised you. Do not say in your heart, after the LORD your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out before you. Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Know, therefore, that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people. Remember and do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the LORD.”
This correlates directly with the Gentile’s inclusion in the body of Christ. Listen to Paul’s words in Romans chapter 11:
- Romans 11:15-24; “For if [Israel’s] rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.’ That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.”
The Lord has not saved us because we were deserving. If that were the case it would not be “saving” at all. God saved us because He decided to. He purposed to bring us to Him. He set His love on us even though we had spit in His face and rejected Him. Our inclusion in His family, our stake in the inheritance of eternal life, is only based on His mercy and grace which we receive through faith.
The overriding theme of Paul’s thought is “Do not become proud, but fear.” You do not support God, but God supports you. You did not initiate a relationship with God, He did. And just as He did not act on behalf of Israel in the Old Testament because of their righteousness, so He has not saved you because of yours.
- Titus 3:3-7; “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
- 2 Timothy 1:9; “[God] saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began….”
- Ephesians 2:1-9; “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience–among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved– and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
The Lord made it clear to Israel that He set His love on them and chose to help them just because that’s what He wanted to do. His mercy directs His actions. His grace constrains Him to act on behalf of man. It is also true of us that He has saved us based on His mercy, His grace, and His love alone.
Every man, woman, or child is included in His sphere of love “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life;” John 3:16. And this He has done not because the world first loved Him but because He loves the world and “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth;” 1 Timothy 2:4.