Surrounded by God’s Lovingkindness

Surrounded by God’s Lovingkindness

Surrounded by God’s Lovingkindness.

“Mercy and loving-kindness (hesed) shall completely surround all those who confidently lean on the Lord. God-seekers will find that they are encircled by God’s mercy, enfolded in His faithful love, and compassed about with the Lord’s wrap-around love.” (Psalm 32:10, a combination of many versions). 

Mercy: Eager love-in-action; steadfast kindness; loyal compassion; faithful favor; the ardent desire to do good for someone; the deep love reserved for someone in an intimate relationship, and if there is no prior relationship, the strong desire to treat someone as if that relationship existed.

What does the word mercy look like in Scripture? If we want to at least get a glimpse of the fullness of Biblical mercy, we need to look at three Hebrew words:

  1. Rachem – the Hebrew word most often translated as compassion in the Jewish Old Testament, the Tanakh. Many translations also use the word mercy for that word. It is related to the Hebrew word for womb, and so rachem is a tender, protected place where life develops and springs forth. To live in God’s rachem is to live in God’s mercy-womb.
  2. Hesed – This Hebrew word has been called by many scholars the most important word in the Old Testament. It is used over 100 times in the Psalms alone, and over 250 times in the OT. It is not easily defined in one word or phrase, but it is most often translated as either loving-kindness or mercy. Hesed is a relationship word for love-in-action, steadfast loyalty out of love, and covenantal faithfulness.
  3. Chanan – the Hebrew word translated as mercy in the context of forgiveness, pity and grace. It is usually used when considering relations that involve superior to inferior in status, such as king to subject or parent to child.

A Scriptural example would be Psalm 86:15, “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful (rachem) and gracious (chanan), slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness (hesed) and truth.”

Can we ever get to the bottom of that magnificent word hesed used in Ps. 32:10 above? Can we ever fully understand the meaning and significance of God’s mercy? Will we ever be able to fully appreciate the fact that God will surround with mercy all those who trust in Him? No, not until we dance through the pearly gates. But maybe this will help us in the meantime:


1. “Without the word ‘mercy,’ the Bible is a dead book in which there is no revelation of God at all.” (Brother Rex Andrews, What the Bible Teaches About Mercy).

“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”  (Micah 7:18-19)

2. “The root of all of God’s activity in this world, beginning even with the world’s creation, is Mercy.” (Patrick Henry Reardon, Christ in the Psalms).

“The Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world… For a child has been born to us, and authority has settled on his shoulders. He has been named ‘The Mighty God is Planning Grace; The Eternal Father, a Peaceable Ruler.’ O LORD, You are my God; I will extol you, I will praise Your Name. For You planned graciousness of old, counsels of steadfast faithfulness.” (Rev. 13:8; Isaiah 9:5 and 25:1; Tanakh version)

3. “Mercy is the cause and reason of all that God does. God does nothing, absolutely nothing, except as an expression of His Mercy.” (Patrick Henry Reardon, Christ in the Psalms).

“I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my Name… ‘The LORD! The LORD! A God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and faithfulness, extending kindness to the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin.” (Exodus 33:19, 34:6-7)

4. “His Mercy stretches out to both extremes of infinity. All we will ever discover of God will be the deepening levels of His great, abundant, overflowing, rich, endless Mercy.” (Patrick Henry Reardon, Christ in the Psalms).

“I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and let your glory be over all the earth.” (Psalm 108:3-5)

5. “When we deal with God, everything is Mercy. Everything else that can be said of God is but an aspect of His Mercy.” (Patrick Henry Reardon, Christ in the Psalms).

“Though he was in the form of God, he did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at. Rather, he emptied himself and took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men. He was known to be of human estate, and it was thus that he humbled himself, obediently accepting even death, death on a cross! (Philippians 2:6-8)

6. “‘For His Mercy endures forever’ lies under each line of Holy Scripture, and is the eternal song of the saints.” (Patrick Henry Reardon, Christ in the Psalms). 

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and call upon His Name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting; His faithfulness endures from age to age.” (Psalm 100:3-4)

7. “It is better to limit belief in God’s power than to dampen faith in God’s mercy. Between mercy and power, mercy takes precedence – and to the mercy of Heaven there is no limit.” (Abraham Joshua Heschel, Heavenly Torah).

“The Lord’s mercies never cease, His compassions never fail. They are renewed every morning. Great is your faithfulness! The Lord is my portion, He is all I have, therefore I have hope in Him.” (Lamentations 3:21-24)

8. “Mercy is the defining explanation of everything that God has revealed of Himself. Mercy is the explanation of every single thought that God has with respect to us.” (Patrick Henry Reardon, Christ in the Psalms). 

“‘I beseech you, Lord,’ he prayed, ‘is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? This is why I fled at first to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, rich in kindness, loathe to punish.” (Jonah 4:2)

9. “Mercy rather than justice is regarded as the outstanding attribute of God.” (Abraham Joshua Heschel, A Passion for Truth). 

“Rend your hearts rather than your garments, and turn back to the Lord your God. For He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in kindness, and renouncing punishment.” (Joel 2:13)

10. “Beyond all mystery is the mercy of God. It is a love, a mercy that transcends the world, its value and merit. To live by such a love, to reflect it, however humbly, is the test of religious existence.” (Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search for Man). 

“We are only on the outer fringes of Your works! How faint the whisper we hear of You! I am unworthy – How can I reply to You? I put my hand over my mouth. Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” (Job 26:14, 40:4, 42:36)

11. “The encounter with God’s Mercy, a celebration of God’s sustained and abundant Mercy, is the root of all Christian worship.” (Patrick Henry Reardon, Christ in the Psalms). 

“The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: ‘He is good; His mercy endures forever.’ Then the temple of the Lord was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.” (2 Chron. 5:13-14; see also 2 Chron.7:3, and Ezra 3:11)