“Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt” (Psalm 123:3). I don’t know about you, but this is a prayer I could pray every day of my life! I need the mercy of God every day, multiple times a day! That last word, “contempt” literally means shame. I cannot count the times I have gone to God in prayer … not with pleasure or excitement, but with shame, dragging my sin with me.
I remember playing baseball with my friends in an empty lot next to the duplex (an old word meaning two homes connected in the middle). I remember like it was yesterday … there I was up to bat … bottom of the ninth … two outs … full count … runners on the corners … we are down two runs. The pitch came … I swung the bat with all my might, and I nailed that pitch. I mean I didn’t slice it, or nip it … I nailed it! It cleared the fence! Right into my neighbor’s yard, and through their kitchen window! There I stood with the bat still in my hand.
I remember a few things vividly about that day. First, I remember the scattering of all my “friends.” Second, I remember the long walk down my neighbor’s walkway to their back door. Third, I remember my neighbor’s mother meeting me at the door. But the last thing I remember is the best memory … she offered me mercy! I deserved a strict talking to, but instead I received mercy.
I cannot tell you how many times I have dragged my “bat” before the Lord, expecting judgment … and seeing Him come to the “back door” with mercy! It still thrills my soul every time it happens! I love how the psalmist repeated the need for mercy. I know that every person reading this devotional has had to do the same with God. I think about Peter sitting beside the sea with Jesus after he had denied Christ three times. I think of Samson begging God for strength, just one more time. I think of David after Nathan said, “Thou art the man.” I think of the repentant thief hanging beside Jesus. I think of the prodigal son of Luke 15. I think of Adam and Eve …
You see, we all need the mercy of God. We are not asking for His justice, or none of us would ever even dream of touching Heaven. We all should come crawling to God for His mercy. If you have been strutting up to Heaven’s door to demand God help you recently, you need to spend some time of honest reflection on what you really are, and where you really stand before our holy God! Ask for mercy and enjoy the blessings of forgiveness!