The Lord is Kind and Merciful

Psalm 103:1-3, 8, 10-12

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits – who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.

While there are plenty of passages in the Hebrew Scriptures where God is portrayed as vengeful, full of righteous indignation and wrath, there are those places where God is also pictured as full of mercy and compassion. This Psalm is one of those places. God is described as “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” God is seen as the One who casts ours sins so far away, that the distance cannot be measured.

When I was a newly ordained priest there was a woman who came to confession every day, and every day she confessed the same sin. It was something she had done over twenty-five years earlier. After two weeks, I decided I needed to do more than simply offer her a penance and absolution. So I confronted her with this simple truth. The sin she committed long ago had been forgiven long ago. However, the sin she was committing could not be forgiven until she believed it was a sin. The sin I was talking about was her unbelief in the power of God to forgive. If she had believed in God’s mercy, she would not need to confess the same sin over and over again. It was forgiven the first time, not because she was sufficiently penitent, but because God was more than sufficiently merciful.

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