Psalm 118 starts with an invitation to give thanks to God – inviting everyone to give thanks, but to thank God alone. Why should we give thanks? Yes, we can thank Him for many things, but here specifically, the reason given is that He is good. It is a statement of who He is. God not only does good, but He is good. The verse then carries on to give a reason for His goodness – ‘for His mercy endures forever’ (NKJV). The Hebrew word used here for ‘mercy’ is translated as: love, lovingkindness, faithful love, steadfast love, loyal love. The word used in Greek is compassion. He is good because his mercy remains and does not change; it is without end. Millard Erickson describes God’s mercy as “… his tenderhearted, loving compassion for his people. It is his tenderness of heart toward the needy. If grace contemplates humans as sinful, guilty, and condemned, mercy sees them as miserable and needy.”
The mercy of God is most clearly seen in the life and work of our Lord Jesus Christ – summed up beautifully in the reading from Philippians 2:5-11. Charles Spurgeon calls Jesus the grand incarnation of God’s mercy.
In verses 2 to 4 different groups of people are called upon to repeat this declaration of His enduring mercy. They are to say it, and say it now. It is to be spoken out, proclaimed, declared; in the present.
This is the real challenge – to declare to ourselves especially, and to others, that He is good, His mercy endures; regardless or notwithstanding our feelings, experience and circumstances. Let us take courage and remind ourselves, in whatever we may be facing, that He is good; His compassion remains.
Charles Spurgeon sums it up well:
“Facts about God are the best praise of God. … We believe in His goodness, and so honor him by our faith; we admire that goodness, and so glorify him by our love; we declare that goodness, and so magnify him by our testimony.”
We will therefore give thanks to Him, because He is good and His love endures!
To think about: What aspect or fact of who God is do you need to express and declare in the situation you find yourself in?
Written By: Hannes Mentz, part-time consultant with Ethembeni HIV & TB Ministry and missionary of Howick Community Church and trained ‘Churches, Channel of Hope’ Facilitator.