A Righteous and Merciful God
A righteous God will not accept unrighteous requests. We cannot expect that God, who always does the right thing, will do the expedient thing just for our sake. In our prayers and decision-making processes, then, we ought not to ask ourselves, “What is the easy thing? What is the thing that will get me out of this difficulty the quickest?” Rather, we need to ask, “What is the right thing for me to do?” This is not to say that we will always know precisely what is right. But in our prayers and in our lives, we must remember that we call upon and walk before the face of a supremely holy and righteous God.
Thankfully, God is not only righteous but also merciful. David cries in Psalm 4:1, “Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!” Just as it is unimaginable that a mother would forget the cry of a child that she nurtured at her own breast, so it is unthinkable that God would not hear the pleas of His children (Isaiah 49:15). Such mercy is an astounding truth. We live in a world that operates on the principle that we get what we “deserve,” that we get out what we put in: This is what you’ve earned, and what you’ve earned is what you’re going to get—whether good or bad. But when we come to God, we come to the one who is by His very nature rich in mercy, who gives us what we do not deserve. From Him, we get what we have not earned.
Perhaps your heart has been fractured or your life is buffeted by serious trouble. Still you can cry out to your righteous God: “I need Your unmerited kindness today. I’ve nothing with which to commend myself. Lord, be merciful to me and hear my prayer.”
When that is our approach to God, then we will find fostered within us an attitude of seeking to do what is right, not what is easy. The path to seeking to do “righteous deeds” is to know that the Lord is merciful to His children.
This does not mean that as we come to Him for mercy and seek to live righteously, God will give immediate deliverance. Nowhere has He promised His people immediate relief. He answers us out of the righteousness of His sovereign plan—and sometimes, in His providence, He allows the thorn to continue to pain us (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Yet when the thorn remains, “though the fig tree should not blossom,” still you can “rejoice in the LORD” and “take joy in the God of [your] salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17-18). Because He is righteous, His mercy is never wrong. What may taste bitter for a time God will sweeten soon enough. And one day you will “behold his face,” not just by faith but by sight as you stand with the saints around His throne. With that day in mind, come to Him now for the mercy and strength you need to live righteously today.
13Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the Lord has comforted his people
and will have compassion on his afflicted.
14But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me.”
15“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
16Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are continually before me.
17Your builders make haste;4
your destroyers and those who laid you waste go out from you.
18Lift up your eyes around and see;
they all gather, they come to you.
As I live, declares the Lord,
you shall put them all on as an ornament;
you shall bind them on as a bride does.
19“Surely your waste and your desolate places
and your devastated land—
surely now you will be too narrow for your inhabitants,
and those who swallowed you up will be far away.
20The children of your bereavement
will yet say in your ears:
‘The place is too narrow for me;
make room for me to dwell in.’
21Then you will say in your heart:
‘Who has borne me these?
I was bereaved and barren,
exiled and put away,
but who has brought up these?
Behold, I was left alone;
from where have these come?’”
22Thus says the Lord God:
“Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations,
and raise my signal to the peoples;
and they shall bring your sons in their arms,5
and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.
23Kings shall be your foster fathers,
and their queens your nursing mothers.
With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you,
and lick the dust of your feet.
Then you will know that I am the Lord;
those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.”
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