The judge may be full of pity for a man whom he must sentence; but he may not in any way and to any degree minimize the sentence that the law of the land requires. If he does, he is breaking the law and deserves to be punished. There is then only one explanation for the seeming contradiction which David wrote in Psalm 103:6-8. He wrote that God executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. And now in verse eight he adds, “the Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy.”
Bear in mind that although the Israelites were taken from underneath the bondage and oppression of the Egyptians, these Israelites soon showed all manner of sins and deserved to be cast into the greater oppression of hell fire. How then could the psalmist speak of the God of righteousness and judgment being gracious and plenteous in His mercy toward them?
Really there is no contradiction here. The cross of Christ stands between those two facts and truths. Yea, the cross stands between God and these sinners of Israel who are dealt with in tender mercy and in abundant grace.
Because Christ was our covenant Head, God poured out upon Him all the punishment that we deserve. Seeing us in Him God, in strictest righteousness and judgment, declared that all the punishment which we deserve was fully suffered. Not the slightest fraction of the punishment the law required was withheld. Because of this God can in righteous judgment deal with us graciously and mercifully. It is so very true that:
The Lord is ever merciful
And unto anger slow;
His loving-kindness and His grace
In rich abundance flow.
We can and must say that God’s mercy and grace are upon us, not in spite of His righteousness and judgment, or contrary to them, but due to that righteousness and judg-ment.
Bless His name then for that cross of Christ, in whom mercy and truth are met together and righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
Read: Psalm 85
Psalter versification: 277:6
This devotional was written by Rev. Heys and published by the Reformed Book Outlet.