But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us,
Mercy is the aspect of God which the sinner first and most needs. Dare I approach His awful throne, all wretched and guilty as I am? The apostle answers, He is rich in mercy! But let us contemplate the riches of God a little more generally, and see how His bounty meets and supplies all our wants.
1. We are creatures who have test all — have nothing and need much; and to meet this God is rich in goodness (Romans 2:4). He is good — that is, He is God; for the name God is derived from His goodness. The earth and the heavens, the laws of the moral and physical worlds, are conceived and established out of pure goodness. His fulness overflows, and worlds and boundless systems of worlds arise to manifest and enjoy His goodness.
2. Are we impotent and incapable of procuring the Divine favour? Then, says Paul, He is rich in grace (Ephesians 2:7), which is the same nearly as "the rich in mercy" of my text. You need no merit — you require no preparation in coming to God.
3. But wherein is this riches of mercy seen? It is seen in the degradation and ruin from which it delivers us; it is seen in the glory and blessedness to which we are raised; it is seen in the number and heinousness of the sins which it forgives; and it is seen in the greatness of the number of the saved.
4. But there is still another aspect of the human character, which the riches of God meets. We long for power, for fame, for glory and immortality. We would be great, and the aspiration is not in itself wrong, but it is often misdirected. We find ourselves in this world bounded on every side by insurmountable barriers, baffling all our efforts of knowledge and of power. But are we satisfied? No, no; the soul longs for complete knowledge, pines for the possession of power, seeks to wing her flight through the sparkling stars and circumambient worlds, up to the empyrean throne itself, from whence proceed such manifestations of wisdom, beauty, and strength. And God meets this longing of the soul by that other word, "the riches of His glory" (Philippians 4:19). He is rich in goodness, He is rich in grace, He is rich in mercy, and He is rich in glory. Here, honourable ambition may expand itself; and the soul, enlarged and purified by the Spirit of God, may drink deeply and more deeply forever — may approach forever and for evermore, in love, wisdom, knowledge, and power, the character of Him who loved us, and whom we love.
5. Mercy is nearly allied to pain or misery, and the ideas are in most languages connected. It is not impossible that "eleos (mercy) may come from the Hebrew chil," to be in pain, as the English word is from misericordiae, the pain of the heart, the sorrow which goodness feels at the sight of wretchedness and woe. It is this feeling (if we may apply it so) in the heart of our heavenly Father which is the fountain of redemption.
(W. Graham, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,