22 And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’ 23 From this man’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior—Jesus— (Acts 13:22–23, NKJV)
God gave Israel Saul when they wanted a king to be like the nations around them (Acts 13:21; 1 Sam. 8-9). Saul’s inadequacies as king became apparent as he did not keep God’s will and led Israel into rebellious disobedience (1 Sam. 13:8-14; 15:1-23). Therefore, God raised up David to be king of Israel, a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14). Unlike Saul (who disobeyed God’s commands), David would accomplish God’s purposes; He would “do all My will” (Acts 13:22). But David was but a type of his descendant – Jesus – whom God raised up to be Israel’s Savior-King. God made a covenant with David to his seed upon his throne (2 Sam. 7:13-14; Psa. 89:3-4, 35-37; 132:10-11). Paul declared God kept His promise to David by resurrecting and exalting Jesus (Lk. 1:32-33; Acts 2:29-31). From Christ’s throne goes forth salvation – the “sure mercies of David” – to Israel and the whole world (Acts 13:24-26, 32-38, 46). We do not look for a reign of Jesus on earth for a thousand years. That is the stuff of misplaced hope from misunderstanding the Scriptures. David’s seed is on His throne now, sending the sure mercies of David to all who come to Him for eternal life (Isa. 55:1-5; Matt. 11:28-30).
7 Will the Lord cast off forever? And will He be favorable no more? 8 Has His mercy ceased forever? Has His promise failed forevermore? 9 Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? Selah (Psalm 77:7–9, NKJV)
In the moment of trial it may seem that God does not hear our cries, but He does (Psa. 22:1-2, 19-21). It may appear in a time of judgment that God is not merciful, but He is. In wrath, He remembers mercy (Hab. 3:2). God offers the “sure mercies of David” to all who will believe and obey God’s Son (Acts 13:34; Isa. 55:3-5). Isaiah’s call to Israel is now Christ’s gospel call to the nations: “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isa. 55:6-7). God offers us mercy when we seek Him through the gospel of His Son. The gospel teaches us to forsake our ways and call on God for His gracious pardon from sin. For example, see God’s mercy to those who killed the Son of God (Acts 2:21, 36-41). Or see how the persecutor Saul obtained God’s mercy (Acts 22:10-16; 1 Tim. 1:13). He will be merciful to us, in the same way. Truly, His mercy “reaches unto the heavens” (Psa. 57:10).
59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:59–60, NKJV)
The heart of Stephen is revealed as his life is taken by cruel men and horrible means. Accused by false witnesses, he spoke the truth to people who were “stiff-necked uncircumcised in heart and ears,” who resisted the Holy Spirit by refusing the word He gave them through the prophets (Acts 7:51-52). As they rushed upon him in hatred and hurled stones at him in anger, Stephen sought God’s mercy for them. When someone sins against you, how do you react? With anger? With hatred? Do you try to harm them in some way? The way of the righteous is different. When wronged, the righteous trust in God, as Stephen did. He had the heart of compassion that each Christian must develop (Colossians 3:12). Even in the face of great injustice, rise above the fray. Keep your trust in the Lord Jesus. Keep your heart pure. Keep your conduct righteous. And, thank God for men like Stephen, who set such a worthy example to follow.
41 Let Your mercies come also to me, O Lord— Your salvation according to Your word. 42 So shall I have an answer for him who reproaches me, for I trust in Your word. (Psalm 119:41–42)
The psalmist understood what is easily forgotten; God’s mercy is inseparably attached to God’s word. The mercy and grace of God that saves sinners is available to us all (Hebrews 2:9). Yet, God’s gracious mercy is only received by sinners according to the word of God. Sinners are saved “by grace, through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). Grace is God’s part; faith is our part. Salvation by God’s grace is given to the person who dies to sin, not to the person who continues to sin in violation of God’s word (Romans 6:1-2). Like the psalmist, we trust in God’s word to answer those who reproach us for relying on the mercies of God. We trust in God’s word to establish and secure our faith. It leads us to God’s mercies and assures our trust in Him to save us by His grace as we walk by faith, doing His word. Thank God for His merciful salvation and the word of His grace in which we put our truth (Acts 20:32).
I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies, according to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses. (Isaiah 63:7, NKJV)
Isaiah breaks forth in praise of Jehovah as he remembers His dealings with Israel. Three reasons for giving Him abundant praise are offered. First, Jehovah is praised for His acts of loyal love (lovingkindnesses) which were richly given to Israel. Second, His goodness is great, and had been mercifully shown to them time after time after time. Third, the Lord is praised because His lovingkindnesses were not sparse, but plentiful. They are counted as a “multitude.” These same reasons continue to form the basis for our praise of Jehovah. His great goodness, abiding mercy and steadfast love is abundantly bestowed on “the Israel of God” today, the church of Christ (Gal. 6:16). Our praise ascends because of His great love, mercy and grace, bestowed on us in the Beloved (Eph. 1:6).
41 Let Your mercies come also to me, O LORD—Your salvation according to Your word. 42 So shall I have an answer for him who reproaches me, for I trust in Your word. (Psalm 119:41-42)
The mercies of God are not ours to dispense as we see fit. The salvation of God is available to all, but only “according to Your word”. God’s word reveals salvation – not our feelings, opinions and desires. It is the height of presumption to expect God to save sinners in some way other than how His word teaches (Matt. 7:21-23). Trust God’s word to answer every reproach. Be faithful according to His word and the mercies of God will come to you (see Rom. 12:1).