The Beatitudes:  The Merciful

November 12, 2019

By Barry Fike

    If you look in a concordance under the word “mercy”, you won’t find the concept of man giving mercy in the Old Testament.  Many times it says he does not have mercy, but it does talk about man receiving mercy.  What does it mean to receive mercy?  We think mercy is receiving comfort or being sensitive to one’s needs and ministering to them and holding their hand when they’re sick or visiting in the hospital. 


Prov. 28:13- “He who covers his transgressions will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes his sins shall obtain mercy.”  (Ps. 32:3, 5; 1 Jn. 1:8-10) Amplified Bible


     From this verse is it implied that man receives mercy when one visits the hospital, holds someone's hand, listens to their sorrows, etc.? No!  In this instance mercy is described as He who forsakes and confesses his sin.  

     Remember the poor in spirit?  It was those sorry for sin, repentant, those who turned to God, who love his word and keep his commandments.  In this beatitude Jesus says, “He who confesses his sins and forsakes his sins will obtain................”  What’s a euphemism for mercy?  Forgiveness. 

     There are several ideas attached to God’s deep, tender love...his mercy and forgiveness toward his people in the face of deserved judgment and upon the condition of their repentance (Deut. 13:17,18).

     The Greek root form of the word used in Matthew 5.7 (for poor) is eleos which is found nearly 400 times in the LXX.  It normally represents the Hebrew word hesed.  Hesed means proper covenant behavior, the solidarity which the partners in the covenant owe one another.  The covenant may be between equals, or it may be made by one who is stronger than his partner in it.  In either case it may result in one giving help to the other in his need.

     Because of Yahweh’s superiority as the partner in the covenant who remains faithful, his eleos was understood for the most part as a gracious gift.  He promised it at the making of the covenant, and he constantly renewed it.  Hence, Israel might request eleos from him including the mercy of forgiveness, when it had broken the covenant (e.g. Ex. 34:9; Num. 14:19; Jeremiah 3:12).  When God acts like this, and also when man acts similarly, the stress is not on the basic attitude of eleos but on its manifestation in acts. 

     Mercy from man to man is expressed by eleeo or eleemon only twice in the teachings in Matthew (5:7; 18:33), but in each case the motivation is clearly God’s mercy. 


They shall obtain mercy- To correctly interpret this scripture one must read it, “Blessed are those who are forgiving for they shall be forgiven.” 


     The most practical question here is, “How do I forgive?”   It’s a well-known fact that many people are bound with the spirits of bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness!  Something happened 20 years ago, and I won’t forgive or forget.  Yet, Jesus says, “If you don’t forgive, you won’t be forgiven.”  How do I know that it isn’t just saying that I forgive someone but not really doing it?  Whatever painful situation we’re talking about significant movement toward forgiving begins as we bring to an end the blaming and move toward a realization of joint participation.  Blaming wants to finger the culprit, assign the role of villain, and proceed to exact a proper punishment.  Instead of decreasing the distance between the two people it increases it.   To recognize self as a joint participant in the problem will help alleviate a whole layer of fantasies.  Ending blame is the best step!  Taking sole responsibility for my part in clearly expressed words and respecting the other’s full responsibility for his or her part allows both to see the wrongdoing for what it truly is without it getting unmanageable.  Wrongdoing not we are in this together.  We will need help, concern and caring from each other. 

     In the end be honest with God.  “You know my feelings and know I don’t want to forgive but because I love you and want to keep your commandments I want to forgive.  My confession is “I forgive, I forgive, I forgive.”  If you permeate your mind with such thoughts then you will because God will get your feelings in line with the confession of your mouth.  Then you can receive from God what he wants you to have.

     Who is going to receive mercy?  Whoever forsakes his sin and confesses it.  If you don’t forgive your Heavenly Father isn’t going to forgive you.