Bible Reading Blog
“The Purpose of His Kindness”Categories: Congregational Bible Reading
BIBLE READING: Psalm 145
“The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. (Psalm 145.8-9)
Grace. Mercy. Longsuffering. Covenantal faithfulness. This is the language God has always used towards his people. Especially in the days of the prophets, God reiterated these behaviors and the purpose of his kindness. “...Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.” (Joel 2.13)
In this time, God’s people had strayed from him; but his desire was for mercy and restoration. This message was given as a consistent reminder of God’s hope for his people to return and be healed (ex. Jeremiah 15.19; Hosea 14.1, 3). But this language is not unique to Israel: God offered the same message to even the most wicked people. Jonah was sent to the to call the murderous Assyrians (Nahum 3.1-3) to repentance. But he didn’t want to go because, “I know that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. (Jonah 4.2). God’s mercy and kindness has always been impartial, even to those who Jonah saw as the most unworthy. That’s exactly the point of God’s kindness.
The consistency of God‘s language reminds us that God's nature has not changed. He made promises and he intends to keep them. He will bless those who obey and bring judgment on those who do not. Paul would expound on this to the Romans:
"Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? ... He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury... For God shows no partiality." (See Romans 2.4-11)
God's greatest desire is for mercy to triumph over judgment (James 2.13) but that does not negate our need to respond. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3.9)
Ultimately God recognizes everyone’s need for mercy and has made provisions through his kindness for that to be possible (Romans 11.30-32). But all must respond in self-denial and repentance. His promises, both for good and bad, remain. Will we see his kindness and continue unchanged or will we turn and come to him?