PROTECTION FROM LONELINESS
A Merciful God
(2 Samuel 24:13–14)
Attend a prayer meeting with almost any group of Christians and before long you will hear thanks being given to God for His “mercy” and “grace.” God’s mercy and grace are two of His most familiar and defining characteristics. Psalm 86:15–16 and Nehemiah 9:31 tell us that God is both merciful and gracious. The writer to the Hebrews tells us that, through prayer, we receive God’s mercy and find grace (Heb. 4:16).
But how many people in our prayer meetings know the difference between God’s mercy and His grace? And without knowing their difference, are we truly able to appreciate their value? Perhaps the easiest way to distinguish between the two is this: God’s grace is seen when we receive things we don’t deserve, and His mercy is seen when we are spared what we do deserve. We do not deserve God’s gift of salvation, but we have received it in spite of our sin. Therefore, we are saved by grace (Eph. 2:8). On the other hand, we do deserve His judgment for our sins but have not received it. Therefore, we are saved also because of His mercy (Titus 3:4–5).
It is this latter attribute that David acknowledges in 2 Samuel 24. After he confessed his sin in counting his fighting men—either out of pride at the size of his empire or out of a self-reliant need to assess his military capability—David turned to the only One he could rely on for mercy. Although God did choose to punish His people for their disobedience in this episode, He also chose to show mercy after a time (vv. 16, 25).
God’s mercy—that attribute that spares us from what we deserve—is active not only in our ultimate salvation, but in our daily spiritual experience as well. Why? Because if we got what we deserved, we would be lonely both now and forever. With the first sinful thought or action our minds conceived, God would have been justified in forsaking us forever. Instead, mercifully, God for a time was alienated from His own Son so that we might not lose our relationship with Him (Mark 15:34). And this relationship is also the basis for our relationships with one another.
God is merciful. He does not abandon, destroy, or forget His promises to bless us in spite of our sin (Deut. 4:30–31). Because of His mercy we can live joyfully in His presence and in the presence of others who know Him, both now and through eternity.
God’s mercy keeps us from ever being separated from Him.