The Unrestrained Mercy of God

Read: Psalm 40

Behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord. (v. 9)

At the age of 39, a politically hopeful New York lawyer fell ill, struck with fever, nausea, and pain. Eventually, the affliction deepened, paralyzing him from the waist down. He nearly died, and likely felt like the psalmist, in “the pit of destruction,” in a “miry bog” (v. 2). His name was Franklin D. Roosevelt, and though he recovered in part and went on to serve as the 32nd president of the United States, he was never cured of his paralysis.

Like Roosevelt, David was a leader who knew what it is like to be in the pit. In this psalm, he spoke as Israel’s king who was repeatedly on the run for his life. Yet, David was also confident that a greater King would hear his cry. David brought heartache and lament, as well as joy and thanksgiving to the Lord, whose name he praised among his people.

Likewise, we can approach our heavenly Father with confidence since we belong to Jesus Christ. The King of the universe wants to hear our griefs and joys. Our King of kings cried out to the Father in the garden of Gethsemane. His heartfelt prayer parallels this psalm’s sentiment, “Behold, I have not restrained my lips.” Similarly, we don’t need to restrain our lips—our joys, our sorrows, our longings, and our hope. We need not restrain our lips because God doesn’t restrain his mercy. —J. Todd Billings and Katlyn DeVries

As you pray, bring your burdens and joys before the Lord. Rejoice that he is full of mercy and delights in hearing our prayers.

About the Author

Katlyn DeVries

Katlyn DeVries is a student at Western Seminary, and holds the position of Girod Assistant.  

Dr. J. Todd Billings is the Gordon H. Girod Research Professor of Reformed Theology at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI. An ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America, he received his M.Div. from Fuller Seminary and his Th.D. from Harvard. Dr. Billings approaches the discipline of theology with a commitment to the ministry of the church. His varied experience in Christian ministry includes work in community development in Uganda, teaching theology in Ethiopia, working on staff at a Boston-area homeless shelter, and serving his local church in various leadership roles. He is an ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America.

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