Proverbs 20:28 “Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy.”
Mercy and truth are two words that appear linked together ten times in scripture. They are joined for a purpose.
If we are all truth, we will be seen as unloving, dogmatic, and even legalistic.
If we are all mercy, we fall prey to compromise, enabling, and apathy.
These two; mercy and truth, join together to give us the ability to forgive, recover, and restore. All of the verses involve one man, David. They first appear in 2 Samuel.
2 Samuel 15:20 “Whereas thou camest but yesterday, should I this day make thee go up and down with us? seeing I go whither I may, return thou, and take back thy brethren: mercy and truth be with thee.”
David had just fled Absalom as he took over the kingdom. He bids Ittai, the Gittite, to go back to Jerusalem in mercy and truth. Ittai declares his fealty and obeys his king.
The other nine verses are found in Psalms and Proverbs.
Psalm 25:10 “All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.”
David declares to us that he has found that God operates in mercy and truth to those who follow Him.
Proverbs 3:3-4 “Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.”
As David passes the mantle to Solomon, we read the wisdom of what David found throughout his life. God couples mercy and truth together to carry out His will. God knew that one without the other would not accomplish what they can together.
Proverbs 16:6 “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.”
To forgive, we must have both mercy and truth. So what happens when we are lacking in one of these?
A person who is all truth will appear harsh, critical, and uncaring.
A person who is all mercy will first come across as loving, caring, and empathetic. But without truth, there will be no lasting fruit to forgiveness or correction.
In any given situation, we can swing from mercy to truth and back. Yet to correctly balance them, it takes the wisdom of God to apply them properly.
When a parent corrects a child, the truth needs to be made plain. It reveals the violation of a command, or disobedience. Without mercy, a child will grow stiff-necked and rebel. Without truth, the child will see no consequences to wrongdoing and grow bolder in their disobedience and rebellion.
When a balance exists, it can reveal God’s love when truth that could be applied is replaced with mercy. God is merciful.
When faced with the consequences of our sin, we beg for mercy. When we are wounded or offended we want truth applied to the offender.
Placing the application of these twins in the hand of God, we can see His heart revealed in a miraculous way.
Lastly, these twins are present when grace comes on the scene. Grace can mean Great Riches At Christ’s Expense, or unmerited favor. Mercy and truth are witnesses to God’s grace. They stand at the ready for God to apply as He will.
God’s people need to have these twins ready to apply to all those who wound, offend, and abuse us. To obtain them, we need a fresh awareness of God in our lives.
When we have received God’s truth and mercy in our lives, we can accurately communicate to others the wonderful blessings bestowed on such unworthy sinners like us!