And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. Acts 13:34 (KJV)
One of the most remarkable characters in the Scripture is king David. He lived aeons ahead of the days in which he lived. He operated some New Testament principles right under the Old Testament even before Jesus Christ came, died, was buried and resurrected. The resurrection, ascension and enthronement of the Lord Jesus Christ ushered in a new economy of God’s dealings with humankind as well as set in motion the New Testament economy.
To be sure, under the Old Testament, God dispensed His mercy to different people and nations as He deemed fit in His sovereignty and magnanimity. And at different times, many people and nations received God’s bountiful mercies while others did not (Exodus 33:19).
Exodus 33:19 (KJV)
..and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.
But David in his walk with God, entered into a dimension of God’s mercies that wasn’t just dispensed only by God’s sovereignty as He willed, but it was one in which there was an assurance given to him by God that mercy will always be available to him and his seed. This is because he will always have bountiful deposits of mercy to draw from for himself and his descendants in “God’s mercy bank” so to speak whenever they needed it.
A careful reading through the account of the life of kings Saul and David in the Scriptures reveal some profound truths about God’s mercy and the “varying degrees of the economy of God’s mercy” to these two great Bible characters. Although, on the surface when one looks at the lives of these two characters, David seemed to have more character deficiencies and moral failings than Saul, but he also seemed to have had more access to mercy than Saul did! Whereas, God mercy was taken away from Saul, but it was never taken away from David (2 Samuel 7:15).
2 Samuel 7:15 (KJV)
but my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.
David seemed to always have deposits of mercy to draw from in “God’s mercy bank”, but Saul seemed to have had “an overdrawn mercy account”. It is instructive to note that God does not see as men see. Whereas, men look at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
1 Samuel 16:7 (KJV)
…for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
Why was this so? Is God partial? Is God a respecter of persons? Why did David have sure mercies and Saul did not? These are pertinent questions that we must answer. Providing answers to these questions is the punchline of this discourse.
For instance, in the apostle Paul’s defence of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in Antioch, he makes a remark about the “sure mercies of David”. He was referring to “the sure mercies of David” that the prophet Isaiah spoke about (Isaiah 55:3).
Isaiah 55:3 (KJV)
Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.
However, it is crucial to note that prophet Isaiah in the preceding Scripture, admonishes that we should pay close attention to God’s warnings and instructions, come near to Him, and our souls shall live. And consequently, He will cut a covenant with us even the sure mercies of David.
What did the apostle Paul mean by the phrase: the sure mercies of David? What does the Scripture have to say about the sure mercies of David? And what is the relevance of the sure mercies of David to those of us who live in this culture?
The phrase “the sure mercies of David” in the original Greek lexicon read as “the holy, pious and righteous things of David”. This meaning is so profound because it reveals why David had access to “sure mercies” even at those times when he really hurt God’s heart and failed Him. The reason David had access to “sure mercies” was because in his daily life, he deliberately made up his mind that no matter what, he will make “holy, pious and righteous choices” in order to please God. And as he did these on a daily basis, he made “great deposits of righteousness” into “God’s mercy bank”, and he was being credited with mercy on a daily basis.
Similarly, the prophet Hosea re-echoes this thought, and brings it out very beautifully. He remarks in the twelfth chapter of the book of Hosea: “that when we sow to the Lord in righteousness, we will reap in mercy” (Hosea 10:12).
Hosea 10:12 (KJV)
Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.
Hence, “each righteous and holy choice you make on a daily basis will have great implications on the day you’ll need mercy from God”. Conversely, “each choice you make on a daily basis to follow the path of unrighteousness, and as you make choices in unrighteousness, disobedience and wickedness, it will also have great implications in the days to come”. What kind of choices are you making in your daily living as an individual?
Because of the right heart disposition David had towards God’s holy word and instructions, he always made “righteous and holy choices” that made huge deposits to his mercy account in God’s eyes. Hence, he could draw from there in the times of need. Thus, his right heart disposition had a great, lasting and even trans-generational effect on his descendants.
For instance, the eighty ninth chapter of the book of Psalm brings out this profound thought about God’s covenant with David and his descendants. Therein, the God of heaven and earth who does not like to swear, but in order to show David how serious and committed he was to him, “He swore, and even confirmed it by an oath that He will establish His covenant with him and his descendants forever” (Psalm 89:34-36).
Psalm 89:34-36 (KJV)
My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, And his throne as the sun before me.
God did this because of David’s heart disposition and commitment to making righteous choices. He even extended the sure mercies he enjoyed to his children, and He promised him that He will ensure that his children follow His ways even long after he was gone. And that even when they veer off the path of righteousness, He will in His mercy discipline them, and bring them back in line until they come into alignment with His righteousness. He promised never to utterly take away His mercy and loving kindness from David’s children (Psalm 89:30-33).
Psalm 89:30-33 (KJV)
If his children forsake my law, And walk not in my judgments; If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, Nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.
What a life David led! And what a heritage he bequeathed to his descendants after him! Indeed, a good father leaves an inheritance for his children and children’s children (Proverbs 13:22).
Proverbs 13:22 (KJV)
A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: And the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.
In the same way, because God is no respecter of persons, “you can as well prepare for the evil days ahead by making righteous and holy choices in the present”. This is so that when the time comes to draw from your mercy bank, you won’t have an overdrawn account like Saul had. And your righteous and holy choices in the present time will also have great implications for your seed after you (both biological and spiritual offsprings).
Additionally, the Bible account of the prophet Jonah gives more insight into these thoughts. He remarked while he was in the belly of a fish that: “they which observe lying vanities, forsake their mercy” (Jonah 2:8).
Jonah 2:8 (New Living Translation)
Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God’s mercies.
In essence, he was saying that “it is lying vanity and sheer self-deception to think that you can always make unrighteous choices, walk in disobedience, live without the fear of God, and expect to draw from God’s mercy anytime you need it”. Similarly, “each day you make choices that are outside of God’s righteousness, holiness, and the truth revealed in Holy Scriptures, you’re mortgaging your security in God, and bargaining away God’s mercy in your life”.
The pertinent questions to ask yourself are: what choices are you making in your life in the present? Are you making choices in obedience to God’s word? Are you making righteous and holy choices? Or you’re making choices that will edge out of the regions of God’s mercy?
Even until this present time, the sure mercies of David are still available to “anyone who is willing to develop a David’s heart: a heart that is willing to perfect the love of God” by doing all His will in their heart and life.
You should ponder on these solemn and searching thoughts!