Jottings About the Bible: The Tenderness and Mercy of the Bible

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 6
THE Bible tells us that God’s tender mercy is over all His works. But the tenderness of the Bible does not depend for its proof upon a statement—IT IS THE VERY SPIRIT OF THE SCRIPTURE: it belongs to it, as light belongs to the sun. Its opening words tell how every living thing is God’s creation. It was, first of all, a thought in the Divine mind, a purpose in the Divine heart. God planned it, its structure, and its environment. He gave it its power, implanted its instincts, and in its very needs opened gateways by which the world’s fulness might flow in upon its life.
Science, which shows us the wonders of animal lire and of its adaptations to the external world, is only emphasizing a tale already told us by the Bible. God’s hand has made everything, and how can it fail to be wondrous? And as we drink into the Scripture, this truth grows brighter yet.
God’s tender mercy is over and around us and everything that lives, like the air we breathe. In Him we live and move and have our being. He clothes the lilies of the field with their splendor. He opens His hand and satisfies the desire of every living thing. Not a sparrow falls to the ground till God has said that its time has come to die.
The nations that have forgotten God are not forgotten by Him. Though they knew it not, He guided them in their wanderings and appointed the bounds of their habitation. Though trust reposed upon and praise ascended to them that were no gods, He still did good, giving rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filling men’s hearts with food and gladness: and on those who seek God’s face all Heaven waits. He gives His angels charge concerning us. The mightiest of the spirits who behold God’s face are sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.
This tender mercy is, in short, the very soul and purpose of the Book. The Bible is for the poor and the sorrowing. It is the book of the weak, the downtrodden, the despairing. It dries the tears of those that weep, and stills their sighs. WE OPEN THE GATE OF NEED, AND, LO! GOD, IN ALL HIS CREATOR-MIGHT, IS THERE. “He executeth judgment for the oppressed: He giveth food to the hungry. The Lord looseth the prisoners: the Lord openeth the eyes of the blind; the Lord raiseth them that are bowed down: the Lord preserveth the strangers: He relieveth the fatherless and the widow.”
And even that is not all. There is a still deeper depth of compassion in the Book. It is found— where we least expect it—in the face of sin. The very object and purpose of the Book is redemption —a plan of unimaginable mercy. It glories in forgiveness. Its biggest trophies are those plucked from the lowest depths. There is one that is saved from the doom of Jericho. It is Rahab the harlot. There are two foremost men in the apostolate: who are they? Peter that denied his Master, and Paul that destroyed the Church of God! Can you think of any other book of which tender mercy is thus from first to last the very breath and life? We grow hard in our righteousness: we do not reinstate broken men and treat them as if they had never sinned. No: the fallen are trampled down into the mire, and those who struggle out and rise again have a wide berth given them, as if the foul odor of the past clung to them. We break the bruised reed, and quench the smoking flax. This tender mercy, deep as creation’s want and as man’s necessity, is not in us. How, then, is it here, and here from the first page to the last?
Can that grand, consistent testimony, that jubilee trumpet note that sounds on, clear, sustained, waking hope in every age and clime—can it be of man? If it cannot be, then whence is it? Shall we say, “We cannot tell?” or shall we let the heart’s cry leap forth and say, “IT IS, AND MUST BE, OF GOD ALONE?”