Mercy and truth are met together - That is, in the divine dealings referred to in the psalm. There has been a blending of mercy and truth in those dealings; or, both have been manifested; truth, in the divine statements, threatenings, and promises; and mercy, in forgiving sin, and in sparing the people. There is no necessary contradiction between truth and mercy; that is, the one does not necessarily conflict with the other, though the one seems to conflict with the other when punishment is threatened for crime, and yet mercy is shown to the offender - that is, where the punishment is not inflicted, and the offender is treated as if he had not sinned. In this respect, the great difficulty in all human governments has been to maintain both; to be true to the threatening of the law, and at the same time to pardon the guilty. Human governments have never been able to reconcile the two.
If punishment is inflicted up to the full measure of the threatening, there is no manifestation of mercy; if mercy is shown, there is a departure from justice, or a declaration that the threatenings of the law are not, in all cases, to be inflicted: that is, there is, to that extent, an abandonment of justice. Human governments have always felt the need, in their practical operations, of some device like an atonement, by which the two might be blended, and both secured. Such a method of reconciliation or of securing both objects - truth, in the fulfillment of the threat, and mercy toward the offender - has never been (and could not be) acted on in a human administration. It is only in the divine government that this has been accomplished, where a true and perfect regard has been paid to truth in the threatening, and to mercy toward the guilty by an atonement. It is true, indeed, that this passage does not refer to the atonement made by the Redeemer, but there can scarcely be found a better illustration of that work than occurs in the language used here. Compare the notes at Romans 3:26. See also my work on the “atonement,” chapters ii., iii.
Righteousness - In the maintenance of law, or the manifestation of justice. That is, in this case, God had shown his justice in bringing these calamities on the people for their sins. In the work of the Redeemer this was done by his being “wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities;” by the fact that “the chastisement of our peace was upon him,” and that “the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:5-6. “And peace.” Pardon; mercy; restoration to favor. In the case of the Hebrew people this was done by his removing the calamities which their sins had brought upon them, and by his returning favor. In the work of redemption, it was done by the pardon of sin, and by reconciliation to God.
Have kissed each other - As friends and lovers do; as they do who have been long separated; as they do who, after having been alienated and estranged, are made friends again. In like manner, there seemed to be an alienation - an estrangement - a state of hostility - between righteousness and mercy, between justice and pardon, but they have been now united as separated and alienated friends are, and have embraced each other as such friends do; that is, they blend together in beautiful harmony.
Mercy and truth are met together - It would be more simple to translate the original: -
נפגשונ ואמת חסד
נשקו ושלום צדק
Chesed veemeth niphgashu ;
Tsedek veshalom nashaku, - "
Mercy and truth have met on the way
Righteousness and peace have embraced."
This is a remarkable text, and much has been said on it: but there is a beauty in it which, I think, has not been noticed.
Mercy and peace are on one side; truth and righteousness on the other. Truth requires righteousness; mercy calls for peace.
They meet together on the way; one going to make inquisition for sin, the other to plead for reconciliation. Having met, their differences on certain considerations, not here particularly mentioned are adjusted; and their mutual claims are blended together in one common interest; on which peace and righteousness immediately embrace. Thus, righteousness is given to truth, and peace is given to mercy.
Now, Where did these meet? In Christ Jesus.
When were they reconciled? When he poured out his life on Calvary.
Christ was “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:3-5). 1SM 349.1
The grace of Christ and the law of God are inseparable. In Jesus mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other. In His life and character He not only reveals the character of God, but the possibility of man. He was the representative of God and the exemplar of humanity. He presented to the world what humanity might become when united by faith with divinity. The only-begotten Son of God took upon Him the nature of man, and established His cross between earth and heaven. Through the cross, man was drawn to God, and God to man. Justice moved from its high and awful position, and the heavenly hosts, the armies of holiness, drew near to the cross, bowing with reverence; for at the cross justice was satisfied. Through the cross the sinner was drawn from the stronghold of sin, from the confederacy of evil, and at every approach to the cross his heart relents and in penitence he cries, “It was my sins that crucified the Son of God.” At the cross he leaves his sins, and through the grace of Christ his character is transformed. The Redeemer raises the sinner from the dust, and places him under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As the sinner looks upon the Redeemer, he finds hope, assurance, and joy. Faith takes hold of Christ in love. Faith works by love, and purifies the soul. 1SM 349.2Read in context »
In the love of God has been opened the most marvelous vein of precious truth, and the treasures of the grace of Christ are laid open before the church and the world. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). What love is this—what marvelous, unfathomable love—that would lead Christ to die for us while we were yet sinners! What a loss it is to the soul who understands the strong claims of the law, and who yet fails to understand the grace of Christ which doth much more abound! It is true that the law of God reveals the love of God when it is preached as the truth in Jesus; for the gift of Christ to this guilty world must be largely dwelt upon in every discourse. It is no wonder that hearts have not been melted by the truth, when it has been presented in a cold and lifeless manner. No wonder faith has staggered at the promises of God, when ministers and workers have failed to present Jesus in His relation to the law of God. How often should they have assured the people that “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). 1SM 384.1
Satan is determined that men shall not see the love of God, which led Him to give His only-begotten Son to save the lost race; for it is the goodness of God that leads men to repentance. Oh, how shall we succeed in setting forth before the world the deep, precious love of God? In no other way can we compass it than by exclaiming, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1)! Let us say to sinners, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)! By presenting Jesus as the representative of the Father, we shall be able to dispel the shadow that Satan has cast upon our pathway, in order that we shall not see the mercy and love of God's inexpressible love as manifested in Jesus Christ. 1SM 384.2Read in context »
A Sign to the World—Justification by faith in Christ will be made manifest in transformation of character. This is the sign to the world of the truth of the doctrines we profess. The daily evidence that we are a living church is seen in the fact that we are practicing the Word. A living testimony goes forth to the world in consistent Christian action. 6BC 1071.1
It declares to a world apostatized that there is a people who believe that our safety is in clinging to the Bible. This testimony is in unmistakable distinction from that of the great apostate church, which adopts human wisdom and authority in place of the wisdom and authority of God (Letter 83, 1896). 6BC 1071.2Read in context »
Through Jesus, God's mercy was manifested to men; but mercy does not set aside justice. The law reveals the attributes of God's character, and not a jot or tittle of it could be changed to meet man in his fallen condition. God did not change His law, but He sacrificed Himself, in Christ, for man's redemption. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.” 2 Corinthians 5:19. DA 762.1
The law requires righteousness,—a righteous life, a perfect character; and this man has not to give. He cannot meet the claims of God's holy law. But Christ, coming to the earth as man, lived a holy life, and developed a perfect character. These He offers as a free gift to all who will receive them. His life stands for the life of men. Thus they have remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. More than this, Christ imbues men with the attributes of God. He builds up the human character after the similitude of the divine character, a goodly fabric of spiritual strength and beauty. Thus the very righteousness of the law is fulfilled in the believer in Christ. God can “be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Romans 3:26. DA 762.2
God's love has been expressed in His justice no less than in His mercy. Justice is the foundation of His throne, and the fruit of His love. It had been Satan's purpose to divorce mercy from truth and justice. He sought to prove that the righteousness of God's law is an enemy to peace. But Christ shows that in God's plan they are indissolubly joined together; the one cannot exist without the other. “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Psalm 85:10. DA 762.3Read in context »