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The Scriptorium

Merciful Kindness

We need both. Psalm 119.76, 77

Psalm 119.73-80 (4)

Pray Psalm 119.75-78
I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right,
And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort,
According to Your word to Your servant.
Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live;
For Your law is my delight.
Let the proud be ashamed,
For they treated me wrongfully with falsehood;
But I will meditate on Your precepts.

Sing Psalm 119.75-78.
(Brother James’ Air: The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want)
Your judgments all are right, I know; You judge me faithfully.
Let kindness be my comfort so Your mercy I may see.
Your grace Your faithful servant show, as You have promised me.

Your tender mercies come to me that I may live in You.
Your Law I ponder joyfully, Your will to know and do.
Shame all who treat me wrongfully; Your precepts I pursue.

Read Psalm 119.73-80; meditate on verses 76, 77.


1. What was the psalmist seeking from the Lord?

2. Why did he want this?

The writer of Hebrews exhorts us to seek the Lord in prayer in all our times of need, that we may find in Him mercy and grace to carry us through (Heb. 4.16). This looks like what our psalmist was doing in verses 76 and 77. He called on God to let His “tender mercies” come to him and His “merciful kindness” to be a comfort to him. In these two verses the psalmist paralleled “lovingkindness” (v. 76) and “mercies” (v. 77). Whatever mercy is, therefore, it expresses God’s love for us – His grace. Mercy and grace thus seem like two sides of the same coin. We need them both, as the writer of Hebrews insisted, and each is grounded in our confidence in the Word of God (“According to Your word…”, “Your Law is my delight.”).

But what’s the difference? And when are our times of need?

A simple way to differentiate mercy from grace is to see grace as receiving what you don’t deserve. None of us deserves the lovingkindness of the Lord, and yet He stands ready to shower, surround, and sustain us by His grace all the livelong day. He’s just waiting for us to realize our need for grace and come to Him seeking it.

But we must seek mercy as well. If grace is getting what we don’t deserve, mercy is not getting what we do deserve. From God we deserve only wrath and condemnation. But in Jesus Christ there is no condemnation, for He has borne our sins away and opened the way to God the Father by His own righteousness (Rom. 8.1). We need the mercy of God as a reminder of the work of Jesus on our behalf. And we need the grace of God to strengthen us for all our times of need.

And when are those? All our time. Period. We could neither see nor hear nor breathe nor do anything else were it not for the grace of God. Give thanks and praise for God’s grace, and urge everyone you know to do so as well. This, after all, is the goal of grace, and a sure sign that we have received it (cf. 2 Cor. 4.15).

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
The people in our Personal Mission Field are longing for mercy and grace from the Lord. And they also need to see mercy and grace from us.

If grace is receiving what we don’t deserve, and mercy is not getting what we do deserve, then we can fulfill both of those things for others by simply loving them. It is what God did for us. He demonstrated His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, He sent Jesus Christ to die for us (Rom. 5.8). “Having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Rom. 5.9). What we don’t and do deserve summed up for us.

There was a man in the Old Testament who had the name of Jabez because his mom said, “I bore him in pain” (1 Chron. 4.9). Not really an auspicious beginning. But Jabez took his painful name to heart, and he called out to God and said, “‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested” (1 Chron. 4.10).

Here was a man who was asking God for His “merciful kindness” and for His “tender mercies” so that he would not do evil and would not cause others any pain. He must have prayed according to God’s Word and delighted in God’s Law because God saw fit to answer him in his time of need. Which is always. We are thankful to read about a person who trusted God and looked to Him for mercy and grace.

We are the recipients of God’s mercy and grace. We are now called to disperse the same:
“But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3.4-7).

And why did God pour out this abundant grace and mercy upon us? “…that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men” (Titus 3.8).

Our Personal Mission Field thus becomes blessed and enlarged territory, full of God’s mercy and grace
because we are not being evil-doers and not causing others pain; and we are actively showing love (I Chron. 4.10).

“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: ‘He has dispersed abroad…” (2 Cor. 9.8, 9)

Merciful kindness and grace. Always.

For reflection
1. In what sense are mercy and grace “two sides of the same coin”?

2. When are you especially aware of the need for God’s mercy? When are you especially aware of the need for His grace?

3. How does God intend to extend His grace and mercy to others through you today?

He implores God’s mercy, as what was essentially necessary to relieve and cure his miseries. He thus shows that nothing can remove sorrow from the faithful, until they feel that God is reconciled to them. In the Word in which God offers his mercy, there is to be found no small comfort for healing all the grief to which men are liable. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Psalm 119.76

Pray Psalm 119.73, 74.
Whom do you expect to see or talk with today who is a fellow believer? How will you encourage them? What can you say or do to help them desire more the Lord and His Word?

Sing Psalm 119.73, 74.
(Brother James’ Air: The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want)
Your hands have made and fashioned me, teach me Your Law, O Lord!
All those who fear You, when they see me will obey Your Word.
Full gladly they will hope like me, as I hope in Your Word.

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website,, and clicking the Scriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Psalm 119 by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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