524: For His Mercy Endures… Uh, How Long?
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Does God’s Mercy Really Endure Forever?
Several times in Scripture, we get a glimpse into the personal agony of sin. We see the pain and inner turmoil of sin’s conviction when it is revealed by a holy God, and then the joy of repentance and forgiveness freely given by the same holy and merciful God. It is a wondrous cycle from death to life, guilt to freedom, and from utter despair to joyous jubilation.
For example, in 2 Samuel 11, we have a front-row seat to David’s sin with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah the Hittite. And for a time, it seemed like David might have actually gotten away with it. But in walked Nathan the prophet, with his bony finger pointed at the guilt-ridden David, speaking those chilling words, “You are the man!” (2 Sam. 12:7).
And David’s response? You can read all about it in Psalm 51. It is a gut-wrenching admission of guilt and cry for mercy and forgiveness. Let me give you a taste by looking at the first few verses.
“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight— that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge” (Psalm 51:1-4).
Can you feel David’s torment and the questioning in his heart? It was like he was saying, “Can God forgive me for this great sin? Or have I exhausted the great reservoir of His mercy? Is there enough mercy with God for me to be forgiven just one more time? Or have I come to the end of His grace?”
Have you ever felt what David was feeling when you sinned, in that old, familiar way, after vowing to God you would never sin that way again if He would just forgive you this one last time? If so, then you somewhat know what David was feeling and may have had the same questions He did about the limits of God’s mercy.
Or, is There a Limit to the Mercy of God?
We find the answer to this question in Psalm 136. In this Psalm, which was sung at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple (2 Chron. 7:3,6), we see the perfect picture of the magnitude of God’s mercy. It recounts the ways God redeemed and provided for His people from creation until they entered the Promise Land. And despite their many failures, each of the 26 stanzas end with this encouraging phrase, “His mercy endures forever.”
“His mercy endures forever.”
But there is more. As you will note, in your Bibles, the word endures is italicized. This means it was added by our translators for clarity and not included in the original text. So now, the statement looks more like a question and an answer. Instead of a statement, “His mercy endures forever.” We have an implied question, “His mercy?” And then and answer, “Forever!”
Question: What about the mercy of God? How long will it last? Until I sin again?
Answer: No, forever!
Join us as we experience God’s great mercy by looking at the implied question and answer found in Psalm 136, as we learn how to Leave Laodicea behind.