Our Compassionate God

Mar 23, 2023 | Articles, by Guest Writers, Marrow Ministries Free Content

We read in Psalm 103:13, “As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear him.” The Hebrew word means to love deeply, to have tender affection, or to have compassion. This text tells us that God’s attitude toward His children is one of tender affection and compassion. He has compassion on those who fear Him. Consider briefly how this compassion of God toward his children is described in this psalm.

First of all, God, in His relationship with His children, is slow to anger, and when He is angry with us, He does not stay angry for long. Verses 8 and 9 of this 103rd Psalm say, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever.” Notice two things here about God’s anger: First, He is slow to anger. God doesn’t have a quick temper in His dealings with His children. But not only is He slow to anger, even when He is justly angry with His children and manifests that anger and disappointment, He does not stay angry for long. Verse 9, “Nor will He keep His anger forever.” Anger, in and of itself, is not always sinful. Indeed, anger is one of God’s attributes. He is angry with the wicked every day. And though His children, being justified in Christ, never again come under his judicial wrath, sometimes they do come under what the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith refers to as His fatherly displeasure. But even then, He does not retain His anger toward His children for long. Still, His underlying attitude toward us as His children is one of compassion. His fatherly displeasure is quickly removed when we confess our sin and seek His mercy. This relates to something else we see in this psalm about God’s compassion.

Secondly, God, in His compassion for His children, is eager and quick to forgive us of our sins. Verse 10 says, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities.”  Verse 12 adds, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” In verses 2-3 of this Psalm, we read, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all your iniquities.” God is ready to forgive, eager to forgive, and quick to forgive, and when He forgives, He forgives thoroughly and completely. He doesn’t keep bringing our sin up and holding it against us. Satan may do that, but our heavenly Father doesn’t do that. He removes our transgressions as far as the east is from the west. He is like the father in the parable of the prodigal son running to meet us with feet of mercy, embracing us with arms of mercy, and kissing us with kisses of mercy.

God is ready to forgive, eager to forgive, and quick to forgive, and when He forgives, He forgives thoroughly and completely. Click To Tweet

A third characteristic of God’s compassion in this psalm is God’s sensitivity to our limitations and weaknesses. Verse 14 says, “He knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust.” He will not require of us more than we can bear. Albert Barnes comments on this verse: He knows…

..our formation; of what we are made; how we are made. That is he knows that we are made of dust; that we are frail; that we are subject to decay; that we soon sink under a heavy load. This is given as a reason why he pities us—that we are so frail and easily broken down…In his dealings with us he does not forget of what frail materials he made us, and how little our frames can bear. He tempers his dealings to the weakness and frailty of our nature.

A fourth way God shows compassion to us as His children is that He comforts and encourages us. That’s what this whole psalm is about. This is God our Father in His compassion for His children seeking to encourage and comfort us. He is reminding us of His care for us, reminding us of His many mercies, and assuring us of His love. God says in Isaiah 66:13, “As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you.” There He compares himself to a tender, comforting mother. Remember when you were a child, and you would fall down and bump your head or slam a door on your finger? Remember how your mother would take you in her arms, hold you, and wipe the tears from your eyes? God says, even so, will I comfort you. God is a father who comforts His children by His word, by His Spirit, and by kind providences.

A fifth element of this compassionate climate which forms the context of God’s dealings with us as His children and that we see here in Psalm 103, is that God is a Father who both shows us and tells us that He loves us. We don’t just have to guess about it or assume that perhaps He really does. No, in passages like this and in many others, He speaks of His love for us and speaks loving, tender, affectionate, and kind words to us.

But He not only tells us, but He shows us. God in the person of the Son, Jesus Christ, came into the world to save us from our sins. He humbles Himself and takes to Himself a true human body and soul. What a tremendous and tangible token of God’s love for His children! But He not only humbled himself and assumed our nature and came into this world; He came to redeem us.  He came to suffer and bleed and die under the curse of God as He was made a curse for us. Oh, how great is the love of God the Son that He should give Himself to the death of the cross for me!!! And oh, how great is the love of the Father that He would spare Him not but deliver Him up for us all. Our heavenly Father tells us He loves in Psalm 103 and over and over in many other places in His world. But more than that, He shows us that He loves us. How could we ever doubt His love and care for us as His children? This is the compassionate God we worship, adore, and serve. Let us draw near to Him with full assurance of faith. Let us love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Let us spend and be spent pursuing His glory and seeking that others might know Him. Let us say with the angels of old, “Glory to God in the Highest!”

If you are a stranger to this love, may I plead with you to be so no longer? You are abiding under God’s wrath if you are outside of Christ. However, God extends to you His love in the gospel. Though His holy wrath and inflexible justice demand your eternal damnation and will execute it upon you if you do not repent, at the same time, He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He, in his love, pleads with you, “Turn, Turn, for why will you die?” He offers to be your compassionate Father in Christ if you will only turn from your own way and cry to Him for mercy on the basis of the atonement that Christ made upon the cross.  He says, “Come now let us reason together. Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). He says, “Come out from among them, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18).

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