Read: Psalm 86:3-17
You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. Hear my prayer, LORD; listen to my cry for mercy. (vv. 5-6 NIV)
Jesus says there are two ways of trying to approach God. One, like the Pharisee, who tells God about his goodness, thinking God will surely bless such a wonderful person as he. Or like the publican, who cries out, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13).
Jesus says it is the latter and not the former who goes home justified, that is, right with God. Like the Pharisee so many people think they have earned the right to God’s blessing, but Isaiah says that our best works are as filthy rags in the sight of God. All we do is tainted by imperfect motives.
The psalmist knows that he needs God’s mercy, and so, when he prays, that is what he asks for. He uses the word mercy three times in this psalm.
God is a God of justice. But we need more than justice; we need mercy. On the cross, God’s justice and mercy meet. May we see our sin clearly. As a result, may we see our need for mercy. Let us ask for it. We will surely receive it.
May we see that God is merciful, welcoming home the wayward Son who has the words “I am not worthy” on his lips. —Harry Buis
As you pray, ask God to give you an undivided heart. Confess and ask for his mercy, knowing that he loves to give it.
About the Author
The Rev. Harry Buis served as a Reformed Church in America pastor for 41 years, serving six congregations. He had a consuming passion for the Word of God, preached and written, and would take up his pen to share that passion at a moment’s notice. His enthusiasm for God and the Bible was his signature. Rev. Buis edited the Words of Hope daily devotional for twenty years, and wrote several books and numerous articles. He also taught as an adjunct at Hope College, Western Theological Seminary, and Kuyper College. He served the church in many capacities, and was elected President of General Synod of the RCA in 1980. Rev. Buis died of cancer in 2001.