“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.”
Psalm 51: 1
King James Version
“Why God Loved David” Part II
“Among the attributes of God, although they are all equal, mercy shines with even more brilliance than justice.”
Miguel de Cervantes
What does the word ‘mercy’ mean to me?
In my own life, how have I been the beneficiary of God’s mercy?
“Whoever falls from God’s right hand is caught in His left.”
“Those are the best prepared for the greatest mercies that see themselves unworthy of the least.”
There are some texts in the Bible that I find are best read in the King James Version, for they contain the beauty of the written word which reflects the time in which the translation of the King James Bible was done.
Psalm 51 happens to be one of those portions of Scripture which radiate a phenomenal eloquence in the King James Bible. So I want to take a look today at Psalm 51: 1 as it reads in the King James Version.
As we begin our verse-by-verse study of Psalm 51, I want to bring to our remembrance the setting which surrounds this Psalm.
First of all, the author of Psalm 51 is David, the king of Israel and Judah. This Psalm is a response. And we need to be aware of the fact that the words in Psalm 51 are a reflection of David’s recognition of God’s direct intervention in his life.
As we studied in the past, after the sordid events that transpired in David’s life involving Bathsheba and the subsequent murder of her husband Uriah, God sent a messenger to confront David. Let me be clear, this was no ordinary person God chose for this critical task. Instead, God asked a well-known friend to go to the throne-room and let David know that God not only saw all he had done, but God knew all David had done. It was the God-ordained mission of Nathan the prophet, a close spiritual advisor and confidant, who faced David and laid out before him God’s displeasure with his behavior when he called out, in no uncertain terms to David, “Thou art the man.” What David’s personal pastor was saying to David was this: “You, David, are the adulterer. You, David, are the liar. You, David, are the murderer.”
This was a brave act on the part of Nathan, for David could easily have ordered his soldiers to make quick work of Nathan. Indeed, David held Nathan’s life in his hands.
But instead of calling for the demise of the bearer of the truth about himself, we find in the first verse of Psalm 51 that David appealed to the greatest quality in the God he knew – he asked God for mercy. Don’t you just love this? Rather than making excuses for what he had done; rather than trying to blame someone else; or rather than even trying to point out to Nathan and to God all the great things he had done in his life, David accepted God’s call to admit what was wrong in his life. And when in humility David came before his Father, our merciful God, whose entire being is permeated with the quality of mercy that the Hebrew translation tells us means to “bend over and stoop down to lift up one who is inferior,” God did not turn away from David, His child.
At the moment of the greatest failure in David’s life, he understood and acknowledged that his Father was someone who would not reject His own son, no matter how deeply he had fallen or how far away he had strayed. Instead, the Father David knew was someone whom the prophet Isaiah so lovingly describes to us in this manner: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened at all, that it cannot save, nor His ear dull with deafness, that it cannot hear” (Isaiah 59: 1, Amplified Bible).
And so it was this God that David asked to, “Have mercy on me.” But David didn’t stop with this one request. He then went on by telling God that His mercy was only a reflection of God’s loving kindness, or as the Hebrew calls it, God’s kindly favor. However, there’s even more about God that David appealed to and it is found in the phrase, “multitude of Thy tender mercies.” I want to take apart this phrase and look at three words:
First, the word “multitude” as used in Psalm 51:1 means: abundance, increase, plenty. Second, the word “tender” used in this same text means: gentle and solicitous. And finally the word “mercies” used in this passage means: compassionate, cherishing like a mother who lovingly adores the child she has borne.
Now let’s look at the phrase again, “According unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies.” If we add what we have learned about the words David wrote, he asked God, his Father, to have mercy upon him because of the characteristics that match-up to the way David knew God to be. And what did David know God was like? He tells us when he writes that God is abundantly compassionate and is gentle and cherishing like a mother toward her children. Interestingly, in Psalm 51: 1 the second time David uses the word “mercy,” he uses a Hebrew form of the word meaning protecting and adoring a child.
This is absolutely essential for us to understand, especially as we attempt to comprehend why God loved David so much. The key is found in Psalm 51: 1, and it is this – God loved David because he was God’s child. It’s as simple as that. And God loves you and me because we are His children. Even when David acted contemptibly, God still loved him because David was God’s offspring. And this is something we must never forget. No matter where we wander or how far away we run, we belong to our Father. And because our Father’s heart is a merciful heart, His love will continually be extended toward us to bring us within the fold of His protective care.
As with David, even when our Father comes to us to correct our waywardness, He does so with His tender mercy that gives us a glimpse into the gentleness of His love. As John of the Cross so touchingly expressed: “O gentle hand! O delicate touch! This hand is the merciful and omnipotent Father…O merciful hand of the Father, is the delicate touch by which You touched me.”
No wonder God loved David. While David was a flawed man, he recognized that his Father’s love was plenteous enough to abundantly rain down a multitude of mercies on His precious child. And please never forget, if God would mercifully shower David with His mercy, He’ll do the same for you and me.
“Keep watch in your heart; and with watchfulness say in your mind with awe and trembling: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me.’”
“Like the thief I cry to thee,
Like Peter I weep bitterly,
Like the publican I call out,
‘Forgive me, Saviour’.
Like the harlot, I shed tears.
Accept my lamentation,
as once thou hast accepted
the entreaties of the woman of Canaan.
Have mercy on me, O God,
Have mercy on me.”
Andrew of Crete
Born in Damascus
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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