Jaw-Dropping, Shake-Your-Head-in-Wonder Mercy


Nevertheless, he looked upon their distress, when he heard their cry.
For their sake he remembered his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love. ?(Psalm 106:44-45)

If you read this verse alone, it doesn?t seem so amazing. ?But read it in context and it?s jaw-dropping, head-shaking amazing.

Psalm 106 is a devastating record of human failure and sin. ?Here?s a synopsis: God pours out blessing on Israel. ?Israel punches God in the face. ?Israel gets desperate, cries to God. ?Incredibly, God has mercy and pours out blessing. ?Repeat.

Israel sees God send unbelievable plagues on Egypt. ?Then he compels the Egyptians to heap treasures upon Israel as they leave Egypt. ?But as soon as they get to the Red Sea they forget it all and rebel against him. ?God rescues them anyway, splits the Red Sea, drowns the Egyptian army. ?The light?s on for a brief moment: ?Then they believed his words; they sang his praise.? ?The next line says: ?But they soon forgot his works.?

They crave meat in the wilderness, put God to the test, are jealous of Moses and Aaron, worship a golden calf. ?God rescues them, and they forget him again and again. They murmur against him, join themselves to Baal, eat sacrifices offered to the dead, mix with the inhabitants of the promised land, serve their idols, and even sacrifice their children to demons.

If I were God, I?d have wiped Israel out early on. ?I?d have said ?That?s it. ?You?ve crossed the line for the last time. ?I?m done with you.? ?I mean they sacrificed their children to demons. ?How much more could they have spit in God?s face? ?Yet after all their sin we read:

Nevertheless, he looked upon their distress, when he heard their cry.
For their sake he remembered his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love.

What? ?God, are you kidding? ?Are you crazy? ?What kind of God are you?

An astoundingly patient, longsuffering and merciful God. ?A jaw-dropping, shake-your-head-in-wonder merciful God.

Psalm 106 isn’t just about Israel.? It’s about us too. ?After all our rebellion, rejection and spitting in his face, God had immeasurable compassion on us and sent his Son Jesus to save us and bring us to himself.

What hope this gives me to know my Father?s so compassionate and forbearing with me. ?And what patience this inspires in me toward others. ?God has been long-suffering with me. ?How can I not be so with others?

Forbear with your children.? Even if your children are grown and have rejected you and all you taught them.? Be compassionate toward your fellow believers too. ?Keep a tender heart toward them, and keep praying for them, even if they reject you. ?Remember how God loved you and gave his Son for you. ?And remember how patient God has been with you even since you?ve been a Christian.

I want to be like my God, and hope others might experience his compassion and long-suffering patience from me.

photo by arbyreed


  • suzanne b. says:

    This is great. Yesterday in my Sunday school class we looked at Colossians 3:12-17 (we've been slowly going through the whole book) and what you've posted here is a great OT example of what that NT passage is talking about. I am happy to read it. :)

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Thanks Suzanne! What a great passage in Colossians!

  • Caroline says:

    I have always been amazed by God's patience, love and long suffering… I am so thankful unto the Lord for these passages..Such a humble reminder of our sinfulness…Every time I want to give up on others I am reminded of his unending love and patience towards me..Thank you for the post:)

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    You're welcome, Caroline – thank you for adding your comments! May we never give up on others!

  • Jason says:

    Patience. What a great reminder for me as a parent! While some days it's so difficult passages and blogs like this are a great reminder. Thank you.

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