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Forgiveness: Mercy for Thousands

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Mercy for Thousands

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Let’s more fully understand how deep God’s mercy and forgiveness is for those who seek Him. By doing so, we may be more encouraged to ease the burden of guilt much sooner.

A Merciful God at Heart

Notice this passage from the book of Exodus. It’s the time when God miraculously carved out the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone. As you may recall, Moses ascended to Mount Sinai with a second set of stones, like the first ones he smashed, for God to re-do the Ten Commandments tablets.

“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Cut two tablets of stone like the first ones, and I will write on these tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you broke…’ So he cut two tablets of stone like the first ones. Then Moses rose early in the morning and went up Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him; and he took in his hand the two tablets of stone. Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him here, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin’” (Exodus 34:1, 4-7, emphasis added throughout).

This is a powerful announcement of God’s gracious mercy—forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin—extending that mercy to thousands. And, no doubt, forgiving Moses for breaking the first set of Commandments. It’s a pronouncement of who God is—His very nature. He’s a merciful God at heart.

It would seem that King David knew of God’s incredible mercy and forgiving will, if only he would turn to God. The kings of old were commanded to personally read the law of God, to study the ancient Scriptures. David would be familiar with this pronouncement at the beginning of Exodus chapter 34.

Receiving God’s Forgiveness

Notice what King David wrote in this regard:

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit” (Psalm 32:1-2).

David then contrasts the joy of being forgiven with the misery of hiding a sin. Psalm 32:3 shows that it took David a little while to reach this point—to remember that, as Exodus 34:6-7 reads, God is “…merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands.

When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was turned into the drought of summer” (Psalm 32:3-4).

David did not find joy in God’s mercy when he tried to pretend that his sin hadn’t happened. And this heaviness may have gone on for months before he finally acknowledged his sin. Many scholars believe King David wrote this psalm, along with Psalm 51, after finally acknowledging and repenting of his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah.

As The Nelson Study Bible states: His “silence was a stubborn resistance to admitting guilt, a hope that in time the sin and its penalty would go away. The more David delayed his confession, the more he suffered. David realized it was not just his conscience or his feelings that were assaulting him, but the heavy hand of God” (note on Psalm 32:3-5).

And then we see David acknowledge the solution. When David did at last confess in repentance, God forgave him.

I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin” (Psalm 32:5).

Repentance and forgiveness are the starting points of a relationship with God—or of restoring a relationship with Him.

Removing the Weight

King David came to remember the great mercy of his God. This is a great reminder for us during the Passover and Unleavened Bread season. It’s all about turning to God in repentance, receiving forgiveness, and receiving mercy—having the heavy weight of sin lifted. And none of it is possible without the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins and our new life as brothers and sisters of His.

You and I incurred a debt because of our own sinfulness. But the sacrifice of Jesus Christ makes it possible for us to be washed clean and the debt paid. We are forgiven upon repentance. Don’t let the weight of guilt stay on your shoulders, because we deeply know that “God is ‘merciful and gracious…keeping mercy for thousands.”

He is very merciful. It’s in His nature. Take on the new person and walk in newness of life—with the risen Christ living in you through the power of the Holy Spirit.