Jan Mikael (23
"" The Lovingkindness of the Lord " by David Wilkerson"
'' The Lovingkindness of the Lord ''
by David Wilkerson
Throughout the Bible we hear these wonderful words spoken by many of God's
servants: "Your God is merciful, kind, gracious, anxious to forgive, full of
lovingkindness, slow to anger" (see Exodus 34:6, Deuteronomy 4:31, Jonah
4:2, Joel 2:13, Romans 2:4). These words about God's loving- kindness are
recited again and again by such men as Moses, Jonah, David, the prophets and
the apostle Paul.
Some Christians may be surprised to know Moses spoke of God's
lovingkindness. After all, Moses was known as the Lawgiver, delivering stern
admonitions about obedience to God's law. He warned the people that if they
refused to walk in righteousness they would be judged.
Yet Moses also had this great revelation about the Lord's lovingkindness.
How did he learn of this aspect of God's nature? The Lord revealed it to him
in the cloud of his presence:
"The Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed
the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The
Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and
truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and
sin" (Exodus 34:5-7, my italics).
Even as Moses preached warnings about judgment, he always remembered this
important aspect of God's character. Indeed, Moses urged the people, "When
thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in
the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient
unto his voice; (for the Lord thy God is a merciful God;) he will not
forsake thee, neither destroy thee" (Deuteronomy 4:30-31).
In the Old Testament, God's people forsook him again and again, yet each
time he restored them and blessed them incredibly.
The Lord had every right to give up on Israel, but he remained ever
faithful to them. Nehemiah sums up this wonderful truth about his nature:
"After they had rest, they did evil again before thee...yet when they
returned, and cried unto thee, thou heardest them from heaven; and many
times didst thou deliver them according to thy mercies.... For thy great
mercies' sake thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for
thou art a gracious and merciful God" (Nehemiah 9:28, 31).
Isaiah also knew this aspect of God's nature. Like Moses, Isaiah preached
about God's judgment against sin. He spoke of dark days of despair to come
upon those living in continual rebellion. Yet amid one of his most direct
messages, Isaiah stopped to make this statement:
"I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the
Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us...according to his
mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses" (Isaiah
Everywhere Isaiah turned he saw backsliding and apostasy in Israel. Yet
despite this, Isaiah looked into his heart and recalled a revelation of what
God was truly like. And he began praising God for his faithfulness: "Oh,
Lord, we have rebelled against you and turned from your Holy Spirit. Save us
again by your great mercy. Stir up your compassion toward us. You are full
The prophet Joel also gave dire warnings about days of thick darkness. He
prophesied massive earthquakes and the darkening of the sun and moon. Yet
Joel stopped suddenly in the midst of a dire warning and began to speak of
God's loving nature:
"Therefore also now, saith the Lord, Turn ye even to me with all your
heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your
heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is
gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth
him of the evil" (Joel 2:12-13).
The word "repenteth" here means God wants to overturn the judgment that
must follow sin. Simply put, he doesn't want judgment for us. His desire is
that we will mourn over our sins and turn to him to be restored.
The foundation for all victory over sin is to understand that God is tender
and full of lovingkindness.
"Thus saith the Lord...let him that glorieth glory in this, that he
understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise
lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these
things I delight, saith the Lord" (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
If you have walked with the Lord for any length of time, you have probably
encouraged others that God is gracious and forgiving. Now, let me ask you:
When you fail the Lord, is it suddenly a different matter? Do you find
yourself working through terrible feelings of guilt and shame?
You may say, "Shouldn't we experience those kinds of feelings when we sin?"
Indeed, those feelings are the natural result of sin. But as children of God
we are not supposed to continue for days and weeks thinking our Father is
mad at us. Because of Christ's provision at the cross, all guilt and
condemnation may be lifted quickly. He has made it so.
Still, even after we've repented, we may feel we have to make up our
failures to the Lord. Like the Prodigal Son, we can have the Father hugging
our neck, kissing our cheek, putting a ring on our finger and a robe on our
back. He tells us to forget the past and to come into his house and enjoy
the feast he has prepared for us.
But inside we protest. We think, "I can't go in. I'm not worthy! I've
sinned against the Lord. I've got to show him I'm sorry. I need to grieve,
to carry this guilt a while longer."
For many Christians it is easy to believe that God forgave Israel's gross
sins. We have no trouble accepting that he forgave Nineveh in the Old
Testament and the dying thief in the New Testament. But, oddly, we find it
hard to accept the same forgiveness for ourselves. For some reason, it's
for us to grasp that the moment we turn to him in repentance he quickly and
lovingly accepts us as if we had never sinned.
The Bible promises it is possible to understand the Lord's lovingkindness.
Note David's words here: "Whoso is wise, and will observe these things,
even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord" (Psalm 107:43, my
italics). David says this psalm contains the key to understanding God's
lovingkindness. What is that key? It is repeated four times in the psalm:
"Then they cried..."
David had received an awesome revelation of God's gracious, forgiving
heart. And he discovered it simply by looking at God's past record of
dealing with his beloved children. David reports to us:
"Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried unto the
Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses. And he
led them forth by the right way.... Oh that men would praise the Lord for
his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!"
When the children of Israel wandered away from the Lord, they became
hungry, thirsty and lost because of sin. What did they do? "Then they cried
unto the Lord...and he saveth them out of their distresses" (107:9).
Yet again they rebelled and backslid, falling even lower. Again we read:
"Then they cried...he sent his word, and healed them" (107:19, 20).
Finally, God's people again came to their wits' end. A storm raged and
their souls melted with trouble: "Then they cried unto the Lord in their
trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a
calm, so that the waves thereof are still" (107:28, 29).
Here is what the Lord was teaching David through this history lesson: "Take
a look at my record of dealing with my children. They have failed me time
after time. But then they cried; they reached out to me. And my heart is
touched by the tears of all my children. I am moved with compassion when
they return to me. That is my nature. I am touched by the feeling of their
David responded to this revelation, "Look how easily God's heart is moved.
Oh, how quickly he responds to the cries of his children. There is no end to
Beloved, you don't have to continue in agony and guilt. Go instead to the
Lord, cry out and confess to him. He is a tender Father who is touched by
your every cry.
A time came when David himself needed a revelation of the Lord's mercy.
It is well known that King David fell into horrible sin, committing
adultery and covering it up with murder. Moreover, we know David was full of
the Holy Spirit, so he must have been miserable. David could only go for so
long before confessing the horrible acts he had perpetrated.
The prophet Nathan confronted him, saying, "You have brought reproach on
God's name." Immediately, David confessed and repented. Even as he was still
weeping Nathan assured him,
"Your sins are forgiven."
Yet hearing that assurance wasn't enough for David. You see, it is one
thing to be forgiven and quite another to be free and clear with the Lord.
David knew that forgiveness was the easy part. Now he wanted to get things
right with God, to be able to get his joy back. So he cried, "Cast me not
from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me" (Psalm 51:11).
Psalm 51 was written as David remembered the merciful, longsuffering nature
of the Lord. In the opening verse he appeals to God's tender forgiveness:
"Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto
the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions."
David knew just what to do: He cried! "This poor man cried, and the Lord
heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles" (34:6). "The eyes of the
Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry" (34:15).
"The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all
their troubles" (34:17).
Dear saint, here is your victory over every battle. It is to possess this
confidence: No matter how grievously you have fallen, you serve a Lord who
is ready to forgive. Indeed, he is anxious to heal you. He possesses more
lovingkindness toward you than you could ever need.
So, here is your weapon: Cry! Cry out as David did, with all of your heart.
Go to the Lord and confess your sin. Appeal to his lovingkindness, saying,
"Lord, I know you love me. And I know you are ready to forgive me. I repent
before you right now."
At that very moment you are clear with God. It is futile to think you can
repay any amount for your sin. God loves you so much that he gave his Son,
Jesus, who has already made all payment. Our merciful, loving Advocate is
yearning to help and deliver you: "My little children, these things
write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate
with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1).
I remember strolling alongside my young granddaughter, Tiffany, as she
walked atop a low concrete wall. I held her from behind to keep her from
falling, but she tried to knock my hand away. Eventually I let go, and she
toppled over, though without hurting herself. When she fell, I did not
desert her, of course. I didn't say, "Look at what you did. You're not mine
anymore!" No loving grandparent would do that.
The Lord showed me through that experience, "David, you allow yourself such
love for this child. But at times you don't allow me to love you in the same
way. You swell with pride over your children, but at times you won't allow
me to take pride in you."
Not long after that day, I heard the Lord speak a tender word to my heart.
He said, "Son, you bless me. You bless my heart!" No one has ever said
anything better to me in my life. And I know that particular word to me is
true. The Bible says God takes pleasure in his children.
God's lovingkindness is to be enjoyed.
Jonah was a prophet who fully understood the lovingkindness of the Lord.
But he was a man who could not enjoy or appropriate it. Instead, Jonah
turned God's lovingkindness into a burden for himself.
You see, the Ninevites were enemies of Israel. Now God was commanding Jonah
to go to the wicked city Nineveh and prophesy its quick destruction. But
Jonah ran away in haste. Why? It was because of the lovingkindness of the
Lord. Jonah explained to the Lord, "For I knew that thou art a gracious
God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee
of the evil" (Jonah 4:2).
In other words: "God, you've commanded me to tell Nineveh they have only
forty days before destruction comes. But I can't do that because I know you.
You are easily touched. Tears and repentance soften your heart. I know what
will happen. When you see the Ninevites crying, you'll change your mind.
Instead of sending judgment you'll stir their hearts toward you. I'll end up
looking like a fool!"
Finally, Jonah did go to Nineveh, but only by way of the belly of a giant
fish, who spit him onto dry ground. Jonah proclaimed God's judgment to
Nineveh, and, sure enough, the people did repent. The sin-hardened Ninevites
wept, fasted, mourned and put on sackcloth, even on their animals. It was
one of the most sweeping revivals ever recorded in the Bible.
Yet in the midst of all this Jonah became angry. He actually sulked because
God spared Nineveh rather than rejoicing that they were made righteous. In
short, Jonah didn't enjoy God's loving- kindness. Beloved, as the people of
God, we dare not make the same mistake. We need to thank him for his
merciful lovingkindness to us, his church, and to our nation.
God's lovingkindness must be proclaimed.
We are to preach about the Lord's lovingkindness to all of humankind. David
testified, "I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not
concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation"
David didn't just appropriate this wonderful message for himself. He knew
it was also sorely needed by the whole congregation, by the entire nation as
well, and by a hurting world. He was grateful to God for such great love,
because he was sorely aware of his own failings: "Mine iniquities have taken
hold upon me" (40:12).
It doesn't matter how badly those around us have sinned. God still loves
all. That is why he sent his Son. And we should be preaching it to the
world. Can you say with David, "I have not concealed thy
lovingkindness...from the great congregation"? That is his desire for all of
Here is one of the most quoted and sung verses in all of God's Word:
"Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee"
(Psalm 63:3). You may ask, "What does it mean, 'His lovingkindness is better
The truth is life is short. It fades like the grass, which is here one
season and gone the next. Yet God's
lovingkindness endures forever. A million years from now Jesus will be as
tender and loving to us as he is now. Others can take your life away from
you, but they can't take away God's lovingkindness.
Consider for a moment: God is not mad at you anymore for your failure. If
you're ready to forsake your sin you can be forgiven and restored at this
very moment. The Word says nothing can come between our Lord and us - no
sin, no guilt, no condemning thought. You can say, "My life is a blessing to
the Lord. And I am able to rejoice and praise him. I am clean, free,
forgiven, justified, sanctified, redeemed."
You have a loving, tender Father who cares about you. He has bottled every
tear you've ever shed. He has seen your every need, known your every
thought. And he loves you! If you could only grasp how tender he is toward
you - how patient, caring, ready to forgive and bless you - you wouldn't be
able to contain yourself. You would shout and praise until you had no voice
left: "His lovingkindness is better than life!" Amen.
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