Your mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. — Psalm 36: 5
We experience God’s goodness and mercy, and commend ourselves to His guidance.
In our Bible text the psalmist compares the goodness and mercy of God with the incomprehensible breadth of the heavens—an image that is to help us visualize the magnitude of God and emphasize the difference between us human beings and the perfection and majesty of God. God is always greater than any idea that we can ever have of Him.
In contrast to us, God is not subject to any constraints. There are no limitations for Him. God is not bound to time: to Him a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years are as a day (2 Peter 3: 8). God’s providence has already prepared the way for our present an immeasurably long time ago. He provides for us daily, and at the same time, makes use of the present in order to prepare us for our future, namely the return of Jesus Christ, our work in the kingdom of peace, and our eternal fellowship with Him. We only have a tiny inkling of the future that God has in store for us.
God’s goodness and mercy
We experience God’s goodness and mercy in His love: it is on the basis of this love that God desires to lead us into the heaven of eternal fellowship with Him. The love of God was revealed in perfection in Jesus Christ. The Lord performed miracles in order to show that He had been sent by God for the salvation of mankind. In Jesus’ actions the boundless love of God is displayed: Jesus loved Zacchaeus, the sinner (Luke 19: 1–10), the centurion of Capernaum, a Gentile (Luke 7: 1–10), and Saul, the enemy who had persecuted Him (Acts 9: 4).
Our Bible text is intended to strengthen our trust in God: now that we have experienced the immeasurable goodness and mercy of God in His love, let us commend ourselves completely to the guidance of God. God led the people of Israel out of Egypt and later out of exile from Babylon and back to Jerusalem. Each time He made use of human beings as instruments in His hand: on one occasion it was Moses, then it was the judges, then the prophets, and later the Apostles. Today too, the Apostles serve as vessels in the hand of God in order to lead human beings to “the redeeming act of God” (Catechism 7.4.1).
We trust in the guidance of God, but do not want to sit back and do nothing either! After all, God also wants to lead our neighbour into eternal fellowship with Himself. This entails that we must love the weak, those who are strange and foreign to us, and even our enemies (Matthew 5: 44) . Furthermore we must do good to our neighbour and show him the access to salvation, just as Philip once did for the treasurer from Ethiopia (Acts 8: 27–39).
In order to redeem humanity, God took roads that astonished and disconcerted many: he even granted salvation to Saul in order that he might serve Him. Today too, the ways of God are unsearchable (Romans 11: 33). Let us nevertheless always trust in Him!
* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for the divine service held on Sunday, 23 August 2015 at Midrand Congregation.