Mercy is one of the foremost attributes of God and one of the most highly sought after blessings in Scripture. Sadly, it is not highly valued in a society that praises strength, confidence, assertiveness, and independence. Crying out to God for mercy involves acknowledging our sinfulness and our absolute dependence upon Him to freely offer His forgiveness and sustaining grace. One of the fascinating truths in Scripture is that everyone who ever cried out to God for mercy was heard. But today’s psalm is not just an example of how we can pray—-it is an encouragement to all who call on the God of mercy.
The psalmist was often crying out to God in the midst of exceedingly difficult situations in which he found himself—situations that were sometimes caused by his own sin, and others that were brought about by the attacks of his enemies. Whenever he felt overwhelmed by the pressures of life or by the danger of a particular circumstance, the psalmist looked upward to the God who rules and reigns over all to deliver and rescue.
What is most interesting about David’s prayers for mercy is that there is a mysterious conjunction of his sense of desperation and his confidence in God’s deliverance. Taken at face value, these two realities seem antithetical. However, we must remember that David knew God’s covenant promises and pleaded with Him for mercy on the basis of those promises. David knew that everyone who cried out to God on the basis of His mercy would receive the mercy for which he cried out. He knew the Lord heard his plea for help, that He accepted it, and would be faithful to answer him (Psalm 6:9).
We, too, must turn to God whenever we recognize that we have sinned against Him, as well as at those times when we feel overwhelmed by the difficult circumstances of life. We must acknowledge our weakness, fears, struggles, and doubts while hoping in the God who reveals Himself as being “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in loving-kindness” (Psalm 103:8).
We can rest assured that God will be merciful to those who cry out to Him for mercy, because He withheld that mercy from His Son as Jesus cried out on the cross, in our place, “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46; Psalm 22:1). It is only in Christ that all of the mercy of God is extended to us. If we are looking to Him alone for mercy, we can be confident that He “is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:19).
Written by Nick Batzig