Way of Mercy – Study of 3 Psalms
A great deal of confusion exists in our society of “have it your way” believers. The philosophy that everyone is right, might be good for Burger King, but in real life, not every path is the right one. God is the ultimate authority on what is right and what is wrong. He clearly shows through Psalm 136, Psalm 138, and Psalm 139 that the right path is His, the Way of Mercy.
These three Psalms work together to paint a beautiful picture of just how wonderful and loving, God’s mercy is toward us. If we study the truths found in these Scriptures, we find the correct path, and move ahead in the right direction.
Who is God? Psalm 136
Psalm 136 is a unique in its original use. Often called the Psalm of Ascension, this passage was recited when Jewish believers ascended the hill, to the temple of Jerusalem. A leader or priest, would often recite or call out the first half of the verses, to which the audience would answer with the last half. The phrases repeated by the crowd would signify their agreement to the former statements by the Priest. In addition, the repetition focused particular truths in their minds as they prepared themselves to enter the house of the Lord.
In the case of Psalm 136, the repeated phrase “for His mercy endureth for ever” emphasizes the eternal nature of God’s, Way of Mercy.
Psalm 136 describes God by detailing the different facets of His being.
- Verses 1-3 establish His preeminence as the only God and God alone. “…the LORD…the God of gods…the Lord of lords…”
- Verses 4-9 establish His role as Creator God, showcasing His power in creation. “…doeth great wonders…by wisdom made the heavens…stretched the earth above the waters…made great lights…”
- Verses 10-22 establish His role as eternal Leader and Protector of His people Israel. “And brought out Israel from among them…which led His people through the wilderness…”
- Verses 23-25 establish His role as our Redeemer and Provider. “…remembered us in our low estate…redeemed us from our enemies…”
- Verse 26 again established His place of authority in heaven above us. “the God of heaven…”
Through it all, the cord of His unending mercy is never broken but enhanced by all He is and all He does for us. His Way of Mercy never changes, just like He never changes. Mercy endures forever as does the God Who gives it. An understanding of who He truly is, beautifies the picture of His mercy towards us.
Seeing God Requires a Response – Psalm 138
Psalm 138 shows us that, in light of or knowing who God is, an appropriate response is required. By rights, He deserves both our praise and glory.
“I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee. I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” Psalm 138:1-2
“In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul. All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O Lord, when they hear the words of thy mouth. Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the Lord: for great is the glory of the Lord. Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.” Psalm 138:3-8
Verses 1 and 2 show that praise and proper worship are correct responses toward God. Verses 3 thru 8 tell of what He does for me individually and for what He has done for others.
- “…I cried Thou answerest me, and strengthenest me…”
- “…yet hath He respect unto the lowly…”
- “…Thou wilt revive me…”
- “…and Thy right hand shall save me…”
- “The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me…”
The Way of Mercy is Eternal
Not only is His mercy alive, well, and working in my heart; but, God positions Himself to be intricately involved in my life. He is a personal God. That means He is intimately concerned with my path and He divinely directs my steps. I can trust His eternal Way of Mercy. We find once more in verse 8, “thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever.” I am the work of His hand. He will not forsake me before He is done working in my life. He has taken it upon Himself to make sure that I become who He desires me to be. The good Potter will not leave or forsake the clay while it is still wet and yet unfinished.
His Ways Have Purpose – Psalm 139
Psalm 139 is one of the most beautiful and comforting Psalms in the Scriptures. It paints a lovely portrait of the relationship between our Creator and us, as His creation. I am never out of His thoughts or out of His hands.
Verse 17 reminds us, “How precious also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!”
The good Potter only forms goodly vessels. He has masterfully formed me and will not leave me in the refining process. The Bible records in verse 14: “for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Thy works.” God is the Author to whom credit is due. He will lead in the way which is best for me.
As Creator, He has authority to see where His vessel has been blemished by sin and to restore it in His mercy. His ways are intentional and not haphazard. His ways are merciful and cleansing.
He refines out our wicked ways. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me…” Psalm 139:23-24a
He leads us in everlasting ways: “…and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:24b
The Everlasting Way of Mercy
If Psalm 139:23-24 truly is our prayer, then we will ask for His guidance in the right way. The Bible calls it the “way everlasting.” If you recall, there is something else that also endures forever: “His mercy endureth forever.” We see that truth told to us over and over in Psalm 136, Psalm 138, and Psalm 139. The way everlasting is the Way of Mercy.
It is His mercy that spares you and me from the way of destruction. Jesus provided all of mankind another way; a way of life, away from eternal condemnation. In fact, He embodied mercy itself when He said:
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” John 14:6
Two Applications and Two Ways
For the unsaved, this way of mercy involves accepting Christ’s redemption on your behalf for your sin. You currently are in the way of destruction, and apart from outside help you will perish for eternity in your own sinful efforts. I implore you not to waste another day on the wrong path.
Matthew 7:13-14 says:
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
For the believer, the Way of Mercy is evidenced in your life by God’s divine leading. He orders your steps and perfects your path. Psalm 36:23 encourages us that “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in His way.” Pray that you do not try to superimpose your own way instead of the path God wants to use to refine you. I’ve heard it said that God is not an arsonist, but a Refiner. His path has purpose and everlasting results.
About the Author
Hannah and her husband Cameron are currently on deputation, raising support so they can begin full-time missionary work in Mongolia. She juggles the demands of traveling with those of a toddler and keeps a sweet spirit through it all. Hannah has authored two books in addition to her writing for the Submissive Spirit. She also blesses us with her beautiful voice.