Embracing Grace: The Mercy of God

A 365 Day Devotional Journal

Day 79

Scripture: 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Psalm 23; Mark 2:26-28; Exodus 25:17-22; Ezekiel 28:12-17; Mark 12:35-37; Mark 14:61-62; Acts 2:22-36; Romans 8:33-35.

Much of the Psalms is attributed to King David. For a man who endured public humiliation due to killing the husband of a woman he lusted after then being rebuked by the Prophet of God for doing so, he, more than most understands intimately the goodness of God…1

David not only experienced the Goodness of God during his lifetime, but he possessed a grasp of God’s mercy that transcended the time in which he lived. He knew God’s ways, not just His works. He knew God.

Long before God called David to be king over Israel, David called out to God. He sang to Him while he watched over his father’s sheep.

Modern day portrait of a young sheep herder in the outskirts of Cairo. It’s not unusual to see boys less than 10 yrs old tending 40-50 sheep all by themselves. Photo courtesy of Seyerce / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

He spent much of his youth in the care of these animals, a task that normally fell to younger boys. It must have been during the hours of solitude that he passed the time by talking to God as he would to a friend, with singing praises to Him by way of comforting the sheep. His heart was knit to God’s at a tender age and tested slowly by the trials of shepherding in an ofttimes dangerous wilderness.

Years later, King David said to Nathan the prophet that it was not right for the king to dwell in greatness when God’s dwelling place remained in a tent. He then shared his desire to build for God a great house for Him in which to dwell. To this God replied

“When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.”2

The Judean Mountains are a natural division between the Shephelah coastal plains in the west and the Jordan Rift Valley to the east, and rain shadow region responsible for the formation of the Judean desert is because of this mountain range. Public Domain Image.

I think David must have penned Psalm 23 long before the above incident in 2 Samuel occurred. He may have sung it as a boy while watching over his father’s sheep, or maybe it was a worship song he sang while hiding in a cave from King Saul, but I suspect he first sang this song in spontaneous worship before the meal of showbread given to him by Ahimelech the priest, when God reminded David in an instant of time the destiny He had chosen for him3 and His faithfulness to him throughout the years of his life thus far.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.4

David understood the goodness and mercy of God. He understood that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Jesus referred back to these words of David when His disciples were accused of breaking the Sabbath by plucking the heads of grain to eat.5

David’s ability to connect with the goodness and mercy of God went back to when he was a child. He would have attended the feasts that Israel celebrated each year. The tabernacle during his lifetime was a tent construction. All the people were taught about the items for the tabernacle that had been prepared by skilled men of old, men whom God anointed for the task of creating what must have been exquisitely beautiful to behold, fit for use in the service of God. And all the sons were instructed by the priests.

Photo courtesy of David Wagner. Public Domain.

Along with the rest of Israel’s sons, David would have been taught about the legendary mercy-seat and the covering angels that perpetually shielded its place with wings of gold, which contained the covenant of God and which dwelt in the Holy of Holies…

You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold; two and a half cubits shall be its length and a cubit and a half its width. And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub at one end, and the other cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim at the two ends of it of one piece with the mercy seat. And the cherubim shall stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and they shall face one another; the faces of the cherubim shall be toward the mercy seat. You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.”6

The mercy-seat, or כַּפֹּרֶת, kapporeth, [Strong’s H3727] is the place of atonement.7 The word comes from a primitive root word, כָּפַר,kaphar, [Strong’s H3722], meaning “to cover, purge, make an atonement, make reconciliation… [to] atone for sin.”8

Covered in a slab of pure gold 2 ½ by 1 ½ cubits is size, it was on the mercy-seat, or seat of atonement that the high priest sprinkled blood seven times during the Day of Atonement. It was a type and shadow of the atonement of Jesus for man’s sins. We today understand that the ark, the covering angels, and the mercy seat were earthly representations of God’s throne room in heaven. Some theologians believe and teach that the mercy-seat originally had three angels who covered with their wings, but that changed to two when Satan was cast out of heaven.

Comet Hyakutake. Photo courtesy of NASA. Public Domain.

“You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created. You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you…  and you sinned; therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, that they might gaze at you.”9

Photo courtesy of James Whitesmith / CC BY-ND 2.0

The reference above to the cherub who covers having been in the Garden of Eden is consistent with the Genesis account of the serpent and the angels acting as guardians of Eden when Adam and Eve were expelled.

What to me stands out from this entire account is that the seat from which God spoke to Israel was the mercy-seat. In other words, the way God chose to communicate to His people was from a position of mercy.

As a follower of the Biblical Jesus, I am grafted into the olive tree which according to Paul is Israel (See Romans 11.) I understand that Christians are not a replacement of God’s people but are grafted into God’s people.

This gives me great cause for rejoicing, for God still speaks to His people from the mercy-seat, the seat of atonement, and from a position of mercy which is Jesus, our Messiah.

Photo courtesy of Petr Kratochvil. Public Domain.

Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 10

Read: 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Psalm 23; Mark 2:23-28; Exodus 25:17-22; Ezekiel 28:12-17; Mark 12:35-37; Mark 14:61-62; Acts 2:22-36; Romans 8:33-35. Journal your private thoughts.

Your mercy endures forever, O God. It is because of Your mercies that I am not consumed. Your compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness. You are my portion. I hope in You, my Lord, my God, because of the sacrifice of Jesus, amen.11

_____________________

1“The Goodness of God.” Embracing Grace: A 365 Devotional Journal. Deborah J. Fischer. May 27, 2011. https://www.erinelise.com/?p=2459 (accessed May 31, 2011.)
22 Samuel 7:12-16. Emphasis mine. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.nelsonbibles.com
3 The phrase, “You anoint my head with oil,” appears to be a reference to Samuel anointing David as a youth to be king over Israel, as does the phrase “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” seem to indicate the table of showbread from which Ahimelech the priest gave to David five loaves.
4 Psalm 23. Bold emphasis mine. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.nelsonbibles.com
 5 See Mark 2:23-28.
6 Exodus 25:17-22. Bold emphasis mine. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.nelsonbibles.com
7 Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for kapporeth (Strong’s 3727)“. Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm? Strongs=H3727&t=NASB (accessed May 31, 2011.)
8 Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for kaphar (Strong’s 3722)“. Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/Lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H3722&t=NASB (accessed May 31, 2011.)
9 Ezekiel 28:12-17. Bold emphasis mine. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.nelsonbibles.com
10 Romans 8:33-35. Bold emphasis mine. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.nelsonbibles.com
11 Paraphrase of Lamentations 3:22-24.

Copyright © 2011, Érin Elise

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