So, we have been looking at “God’s Own Heart” over the past couple of months in an attempt to better understand the true nature of our God. Yes, we are looking at what is in the heart of God—what He desires, what He is passionate about, what is important to Him, etc. But we are studying God’s heart by looking at the man who was said to be “after God’s own heart”—King David. In other words, we are studying God’s nature by looking at David’s nature.
Now we spent the first four teachings in this series looking at how we are the biggest thing on God’s heart. Yes, those created in His likeness and image are the ones who hold the biggest place in God’s heart. We saw how He wants us to search and know Him and how He is acquainted with all of our ways. We saw how we are the apple of His eye and how His focus is on us because He loves us. We saw how His core nature is love, so love is obviously going to be a big part of His heart. But the main thing we took away from these messages is that God is crazy about us! He thinks about us all of the time! He is interested in us because He more than loves us; He actually likes us.
But most recently, we got into talking about another big part of God’s heart—and that is that He has a heart of honor. Yes, honor is very important to Him. Therefore, He knows how to value, esteem, and prize us. We saw this from the life of David: how he is our biblical “poster-boy” of what honor looks like. And, again, that is because He was exemplifying God’s heart.
So, if you have missed any of these teachings thus far, I encourage you to go back and listen to them on our website @ www.highpointmacon.com. Do not underestimate the power of renewing your mind to the truths of who our God is. I wholeheartedly believe that as the Bible teaches us that “when He appears, we will be like Him for we will see Him as He is” (see 1 John 3:2), that this process begins now—meaning, the more we begin to see His nature now, the more we become changed into the same image (2 Corinthians 3:18).
So, this week, I want us to move into looking at something else that has a big place in God’s heart—that is, the grace that He is said to be rich in and the mercy that He is said to be full of. So, let’s begin in Isaiah chapter 55.
THE SURE MERCIES OF DAVID
In Isaiah 55:1-3, we have an awesome forecast of what you and I are currently living in today! In it, the Lord said, “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you—the sure mercies of David.”
In Isaiah chapter 53, the Prophet Isaiah had just finished explaining what Christ would endure on the Cross and what His substitutionary work would accomplish for us. Then, in chapter 54, Isaiah goes on to describe in greater detail the wonderful blessings that would come upon us as a result of Jesus Christ becoming our sin and shame. So, as we come to chapter 55, we have the great invitation for all to come to this great supper.
And it is important to note that these verses are addressed to “Everyone.” This means that we can all get in on it. It is no longer just reserved for one special group of people; now everyone who thirsts and everyone who is broke can come and taste of the salvation of God! Church, that means it’s free! It is all available by the grace of God! No longer must one “spend money.” Now, we are able to drink water, milk and wine because Jesus paid the price! It is available to everyone when they get thirsty enough to turn to the only One who can provide it. Amen!
Now I see the “water” as being what we need for refreshment, the “milk” as what is needful for nourishment, and the “wine” as what is needful for enjoyment. Glory to God, Jesus describes these waters that satisfy our thirst as coming from the wells of salvation, the milk as being the good word of God that we grow thereby, and the wine as the Holy Spirit of promise—all of which are available for those who are thirsty and broke. Praise, Jesus!
And while there is a lot of good truth contained in these first three verses of Isaiah 55, I want us to look at what He promised at the end of verse 3: “and I will make an everlasting covenant with you—the sure mercies of David.”
Now by saying that this will be an “everlasting covenant” indicates that the other was not an everlasting covenant—thus, this new and better covenant would be eternally different. Amen! You see, in His covenant with Israel, it was mainly based on them; now in this new covenant, it is based on Him. And then Isaiah goes on to prophesy that this “everlasting covenant” is also to be called “the sure mercies of David!”
So, a good question then would be—what are the sure mercies of David? Why does the Lord equate this everlasting covenant we now have with God as being “the sure mercies of David”?
To answer these questions, we need to look back to God’s promise to David in First Chronicles chapter 17. You see, after David had on his heart to build God a house, the Lord turns around and makes promises to Him. And one of the promises He makes is to build him a house, which included the Son of David Himself. He said, “And it shall be, when your days are fulfilled, when you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up your seed after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever. (First Chronicles 17:11-12).
Now as one casually reads this, they might assume that this was referring to Solomon, but it is rather obvious that we are talking about more than David’s immediate children; we are talking about the Messiah, the promised Son of David. Therefore, the house being built here would be the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, the true temple of God. This becomes even more obvious as we look at what the Lord went on to tell David in verses 13-14— “I will be his Father, and he shall be My son; and I will not take My mercy away from him, as I took it from him who was before you. And I will establish him in My house and in My kingdom forever; and his throne shall be established forever.” (First Chronicles 17:13-14).
Wow! What a grand promise this was to David seeing that the last king of Israel, Saul, was cut off due to his failures (See First Samuel 15:22-23). I can just imagine that a concern David might have had would be: “What if my son makes the same mistake that Saul did? Will he be cut off like Saul was?” So, the Lord promised David that his son would sit on the throne forever, and He would not take His “mercy” away from him as He did with Saul, who was before him. Therefore, you could say that David was guaranteed mercy. No sin or shortcoming would undermine God’s unconditional promise of an eternal house from David. It was for this reason that Isaiah called this everlasting covenant, the “sure mercies of David.”
You see, the word “sure” here denotes that these are faithful, concrete, stable promises of God’s mercy, not the kind of mercies that one might ask of God, not knowing whether or not He will grant them the mercy they are requesting. No, the mercies of David are “sure mercies”—that is, they are established and we can be sure of them in our own lives. Amen!
I’ll tell you, saints, this mercy we are now basking in is a done deal. It is established forever, just as God promised that the Son of David’s throne would be established forever! Glory! No wonder we can now boldly approach the throne of grace to obtain mercy and find grace in our times of need (Hebrews 4:16).
But the fact is, David was ahead of the curve. This revelation of God’s grace and mercy was not a common revelation amongst the people of the Old Covenant. But David had gotten a glimpse into the covenant that you and I are living in today.
BLESSED IS THIS MAN
On this note, he said in Psalm 32:1-2: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.”
Now we have a divine commentary given to us about this particular passage of Scripture, found in Romans 4:1-8: The apostle Paul, in giving us God’s “road to righteousness,” said, “What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.’”
What the apostle Paul began doing here in Romans chapter 4 is using the example of Abraham to establish the truth that righteousness by faith was even taught in the Old Testament. So, beginning in verse 5, Paul describes the one whose faith is accounted for righteousness—the ungodly! Wow! What a statement! Here, Paul countered the erroneous thinking that doing righteous things could ever make people righteous. He dropped the bombshell that God justifies the ungodly! But the fact is, church, this is the only kind of people whom He justifies. The reason is because He doesn’t have any other kind of people to justify. Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (see Romans 3:23)! Therefore, we were all ungodly and in need of grace. So, Romans 4:5 should forever dispel the delusions that we can ever earn God’s favor by our performance.
Then, in verse 6, Paul brings up David as another example of this basic “spiritual math” he was teaching: Grace + Faith = Righteousness. By quoting David’s words from the 32nd Psalm, he explains that David was describing the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works (see verse 6).
Now in quoting David’s 32nd Psalm, Paul used some strong language that we need to look at: In Romans 4:8, David said, “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.” But in the original Greek, the words translated “shall not” are what some call a double negative, which strongly conveys that the Lord “never, not at all, and by no means” shall impute sin to this blessed man or woman.
Another very important term that is used here is the word “impute.” This is what the Lord will never and by no means will ever do—impute sin to us. In order to understand the meaning of “impute”, we should compare it with the word “accounted” used to describe how righteousness came to Abraham because this is the context of Paul’s teaching. In fact, both of these words come from the same Greek word, logizomai, which is an accounting term, meaning “to count, calculate, count over, to make an account of.” And I love how this is the terminology Paul used because, again, it’s basic math and spiritually logical.
So, let me explain it this way: Many of us are familiar with how we are all born into this world with a sin nature and are, therefore, deemed “sinners.” Well, the reason we are born with this corrupt nature is because of the sin of the first Adam. He, through his one disobedient act in the Garden of Eden, sent a curse upon all those born through his lineage to where every man and woman is born into this world a “sinner”—that is, with a sin nature. We all were just born this way—before we even chose to disobey God ourselves. So, you could say that we were made “sinners” by grace—that is, by a free gift from the first Adam and completely independent of our works, right?
Now you know where I am going with this, don’t you? Just as we were made sinners by the “grace” of the first Adam, likewise we were made righteous by the grace of the last Adam—the Lord Jesus Christ! The Apostle Paul used this same example in Romans 5:12-19 of the similarities between the first Adam and the last Adam. In these Scriptures, he compared how what we inherited through Adam in the Garden was a type of what we inherited through Jesus on the Cross. When we were physically born, we inherited a sinful nature; when we were spiritually born-again, we inherited a righteous nature. It is that simple. Thank you, Jesus!
So no, the essential “free gift” of Adam—what his deed provided to each of our accounts, completely independent of any good that we had done—has made us all unrighteous. But the “free gift” of the last Adam has provided to each of our accounts the opportunity for complete justification, completely independent of any evil that we have done! So, this example of Adam should make us think on what we believe about what Jesus truly provided for us.
Let me explain this by asking you a question: Do you believe that there was any righteous act or any amount of good works that you could have done to make you in right standing with God before you became a Christian? Of course, you don’t! To believe otherwise would completely violate our core beliefs that we are saved solely by grace and not by any good works we have done. So, let’s turn this question around then: How can we believe that any unrighteous or sinful act we commit can make us a sinner after we have been made the righteousness of God in Christ during our born-again experience? Let me say it this way: If we do not believe that any amount of righteous deeds can make someone “in Adam” righteous, how can we believe that any amount of unrighteous deeds can make someone “in Christ” unrighteous? If we believe one, we have to believe the other! For they are types of one another, as Paul said.
Now let me say this: I do understand that there are people who abuse this gospel of grace, and use it as an opportunity for the flesh. Perhaps this is why Solomon got so goofy in his life: He heard this promise that God’s mercies would never be removed from him, so his belief in “greasy grace” caused him to get a little loose in operating in the wisdom God gave him in his latter days. And, church, let me assure you—there will always be those who will pervert the true grace of God and use it as a cloak for vice. It happened throughout the apostle Paul’s ministry and it is sure to happen still today. But don’t let that throw you, to where you throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are flaky people who rely heavily on the gifts of the Spirit; does that mean we throw out spiritual gifts altogether. No, other’s faithlessness does not nullify God’s faithfulness. Church, there is a reality to this gospel of grace. So, think it not strange if the enemy tries to counterfeit the genuine article. Amen?
SOWING DAVID’S MERCIES
And we have not deviated from our subject either—for these sure mercies of David and God’s grace that does not impute sin to our account any longer is God’s heart. No, He has not made this everlasting covenant available to us because He felt some sense of responsibility as our Creator; He has bestowed this grace & mercy on us because He purposed in His heart to do so.
For example, in Ephesians 1:3-14, where the apostle Paul simply breezes through all of these exceedingly great and precious promises of what Christ has done for us and all we have in Him, he says that He did it “according to the good pleasure of His will” (vs. 5) and “according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself” (vs. 9). This teaches us that all that the Father sent Christ to accomplish was done because it was His good pleasure to do so. Yes, He wanted to do it! Basically, with this very long run-on sentence (in the original Greek), you are sentenced to love! Glory to God!
So, no, His heart is not to judge and condemn. Although He certainly has to be the Judge and all sin must be judged, that is not because He enjoys doing it. It is simply that He has the responsibility of doing it. But God’s heart is to abundantly pardon, to show mercy and forgive. That is what He would rather do. Yes, being gracious and merciful is a big part of who our God is.
Like we see in the life of David, God’s heart is a heart of mercy. Even though David certainly brought God’s judgment to certain individuals, it is obvious that David did not prefer to be this way. He liked to honor, love and show mercy. And this is God’s nature.
Yes, we can certainly find these mercies in the life of David. We can certainly see God’s heart regarding this subject of mercy & grace in some of the things David did in his life. In fact, we saw some of these examples last week, like when David showed mercy to his king, Saul, when conventional wisdom would tell one that they had every reason to take his life. We also looked at the example of David having on his heart to show kindness and honor to Hanun for the death of his father. Then finally, we saw in the story of Mephibosheth a beautiful picture of God’s mercy and covenant love in how David treated him when it was common in their day for the former king’s sons to be put to death.
So, David was certainly living a life of “sowing mercy.” And do you think it is of any coincidence that just a chapter or two later, after sowing some of these sure mercies, that he reaped mercy in his major mistake with Bathsheba & Uriah? I think not! No, David reaped unusual mercy from God under the Old Covenant—where people were put to death for much less things than what David did in this situation. And I believe the reason why is because he was operating by the principle of God’s kingdom that says “mercy triumphs over judgment” (see James 2:13)!
You see, David Himself said in his 18th Psalm, that with the merciful, the Lord will show Himself merciful. (Psalm 18:25), did He not? So, he understood this principle well. I bet David was glad that he showed mercy to Saul after he became the very murderer that Saul was trying to be. Don’t you?
This is why I call this the wisdom of mercy—because wisdom invests in its future. In other words, it will sow towards its future because it is not just considering what it wants in the present. It also considers what it will need in the future.
The Prophet Hosea said, “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy.” (Hosea 10:12) And in Proverbs 21:21 we are also told-- “He who follows righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness and honor.”
Someone will say, “Well, they don’t deserve it! They’ve done this, this, this and that!” That doesn’t matter. Their guilt is not what is on trial today. What is on trial is your willingness to show mercy and sow mercy, the very same mercy that we ourselves have been shown by God! Will you give the Lord what He desires and what He requires today? Will you sow mercy into that person today because you are grateful for the plentitude of mercy you reaped in the past and also because of the amount of mercy you will need to reap in the future?
We are called to this, saints: to be merciful to one another as Christ has been merciful to us, to forgive others who have hurt and betrayed us, and to be gracious to those who are not so gracious. And the bottom line is this: one does not have a revelation of grace unless they themselves are gracious. Likewise, one does not have a revelation of the sure mercies of David unless they are themselves merciful to others.
It is easy for one to say that they believe in God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. What I mean is that if you believe in something, then the proof of your faith is, that truth you say you believe in will be demonstrated through your life. For example, if you say you believe in God’s forgiveness, then what should be the fruit of your faith? Well, the fruit should be that you practice that same forgiveness towards others. It seems to me that the Lord thought this as well with all the references He gives us in His Word to forgiving even as we have been forgiven.
You see, this is why it is so important to understand all the wonderful dimensions of God’s heart. Why? Because when you truly see God’s heart to you, the by-product is it will reflect in His heart flowing through you. Glory to God!
So, showing mercy and sowing mercy is God’s good pleasure! His heart is to both extend these sure mercies of David in our lives, but also to see us turn around and extend the same mercy into others. Yes, He loves giving us grace, but He also loves when those whom He has been gracious to are gracious to others! If we get closer to God, mercy just rubs off on us, because it is His nature. Church, grace and mercy is a big part of God’s heart: Receive it from Him today—and then begin sowing it, so you can reap even more of it! Amen!