“Then she said, ‘I pray you, let the king remember the Lord your God, that the avenger of blood destroy not any more, lest they destroy my son,’ and David said, ‘As the Lord lives, there shall not one hair of your son fall to the earth.’”
II Samuel 14: 11
“A Woman’s Wisdom” Part 5
“A Wise Woman’s Mercy”
“Who will not mercy unto others show, how can he (or she) mercy ever hope to have?”
Have I been shown mercy in my life by another person?
Has God asked me to show mercy in some specific way to another person?
“The merciful man (or woman) doeth good to his (her) own soul . . . .”
Proverbs 11: 17
“Teach me to feel another’s woe,
To hide the fault I see;
That mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me.”
We find in II Samuel 14 that one of David’s most trusted allies, Joab, sought out the assistance of a “wise woman of Tekoah” whom he asked to aid him in his attempts to bring reconciliation between David and his estranged son, Absalom.
Up to this point in our studies, it is evident that this woman was called wise because she exhibited the qualities of discernment, careful speaking, compassion and responsibility. But as we continue to uncover other attributes of character displayed by the wise woman of Tekoah, we see manifested, many more heavenly traits, which make us conscious of the reason the Bible calls this daughter of God, “wise.”
As the woman of Tekoah continued her conversation with David, not only did she allow heavenly discernment to help her choose the right words to speak, but she also opened her heart to David, allowing both the compassionate nature within her own being to be displayed, but also to resonate with David’s heart of compassion, too. And then, rather than blaming another individual for the plight she found herself in, she accepted responsibility for her family’s behavior.
Today, our text opens a window into another quality of the wise woman of Tekoah’s life for we are shown that she was a merciful person. She didn’t desire revenge!
The dictionary defines mercy as “a disposition to be forgiving and kind.” I call this the “clinical” definition of mercy. Theologians, in Biblical encyclopedias, define “mercy” as “simply a disposition to spare or help another.” I call this the theological definition of mercy.
But if you want to see a definition of how mercy acts in every day living, then we need to go back to the Old Testament, to the life of one of the greatest Bible heroes who ever lived – Moses. In Exodus 32: 31, 32, there is one of the most touching exchanges recorded in Scripture. Moses came to God, bringing a report of the vile disobedience of the children of Israel. In Exodus 32: 31 (K.J.V.), Moses, we are told, “Returned to the Lord; and said, ‘Oh, these people have sinned a great sin and have made themselves gods of gold!’” What a tragic conversation this was. Unfortunately. it put Moses in the position of being the bearer of bad tidings! (Not that God didn’t already know what was going on!)
As Moses revealed the fact that God’s chosen people had thrown Him overboard for the heathen gods of gold – imagine the heartbreak he must have felt. Here was God’s servant, Moses, informing the Creator of heaven and earth, the Divine ruler of the Universe, that the individuals He had showered so much love and care upon, had said, “No thanks,” the minute God didn’t do what they thought He should. Just because God didn’t answer their call immediately and in the way they thought, His children couldn’t wait, so they made their own gods – gods of gold that they could handle and feel and see with their own eyes. What a lesson that should help us learn to wait upon our God, while He is working in His time to accomplish His purpose.
But there was more to the exchange between Moses and God than just the bad news about God’s rebellious children in the desert.
Exodus 32: 32 says that after Moses delivered the devastating message of the moral failure of Israel, he then reminded God of the forgiveness which is at the heart of our heavenly Father’s nature, even in cases of extreme disobedience. Here’s how Moses laid out the situation to God, “Yet now, if You will forgive their sin.” While there may have been a question in the mind of Moses as to whether the people of Israel had crossed the line beyond which there was no return, he approached his heavenly Father, expecting God to show mercy. Why? Because time and again, Moses had seen the tremendous mercy of God, given in heaps, not only to the children of Israel, but to Moses, himself.
And so, with boldness, Moses came to his Father, expecting the best and greatest God has to offer. I love the way the great British playwright, William Shakespeare, describes mercy in The Merchant of Venice:
“The quality of mercy is not strained,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest,
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes the
throned monarch better than his crown..
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is the attribute of God himself…”
This was Moses’ view of his Father in heaven. He believed his Father would bestow “unlimited” mercy. But here’s where this story takes a turn at showing you and me the side of mercy which applies to the lives we live every day.
Moses told God that if the people had made one mistake too many, if they had walked “off the cliff” so to speak, then, God was to, “Blot me, (Moses), I pray You, out of Your book which You have written.” The mercy of God had so inspired, influenced, and been implanted in Moses’ life, that he now offered himself up in place of the disobedient. He asked God to blot him out, rather than let one life be lost from among the disobedient. This is what the definition of mercy is from our heavenly Father’s dictionary! It isn’t something cold and clinical. It isn’t even something theological. Instead, it is something practical – it’s a mercy that applies to my life and yours right where the rubber meets the road – right in the real life experiences you and I face each day.
And this is precisely why we see the wise woman of Tekoah, a merciful woman, coming to David, and in the practical expanse of life, appealing to the knowledge that King David had been the recipient of God’s mercy, and as an individual who had been on the receiving end of the bounty of God’s mercy, she asked David to respond in kind. This wise woman of Tekoah understood that mercy was compassion in action. And she asked David, who had received such an abundant flood of mercy, to respond as he had been given. Augustine of Hippo eloquently defined the “works of mercy” when he wrote, “The two works of mercy set a man (or woman) free: forgive and you will be forgiven, and give and you will receive.”
Near the end of the Old Testament, the prophet Micah, whose name in Hebrew meant, “who is like the Lord,” in giving the people of the kingdom of Judah a message from God, gave an insight, not only to the individuals living years ago, but to you and me today, instructing us on the way God has shown us His required way to live: “What does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God (Micah 6: 8 K.J.V.).
In the words of Albert F. Bayly:
“How shall our life fulfill
God’s law so hard and high?
Let Christ endue our will
with grace to fortify.
Walk humbly with your God.”
“Almighty and merciful God,
we have sinned against You,
in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved You with all our heart.
We have not loved others
as our Saviour Christ loves us.
We are truly sorry.
In your mercy forgive what we have been,
help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be;
that we may delight in your will
and walk in your ways,
through Jesus Christ our Saviour.”
A New Zealand Prayer Book
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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