Year of Mercy: Psalms of Mercy

In her excellent book, ‘Finding Your Voice in the Psalms,’ Elizabeth Canham uses selected psalms to give voice to our life’s concerns.  Pope Francis did similarly in his writing, ‘The Face of Mercy.’  He cited key psalms to make various points along the way.

I turn now to a series of meditations about mercy using the seven psalms Pope Francis referenced. In his document, ‘The Face of Mercy.’  An additional recommended resource looks at six others (see note below).  I will write meditations about them all in the coming weeks.

Today, I want to write about the psalter as-a-whole, noting that the psalms are all about mercy.  The worship life of Israel was constantly in the atmosphere of mercy.  A look at the repetition of the phrase “steadfast love” (hesed) in the psalter is sufficient to show this.

Throughout the psalms we see God providing mercy in a variety of ways.  The whole idea of a “blessed life” is based in mercy.  Even God’s warnings emerge from God’s deeper desire to show mercy and align us with it.

The point is, those who allege that in the Old Testament God is about Law and we must wait for the New Testament to see the God of Love are simply wrong.  Mercy is the pervasive disposition of God’s heart, and it is God’s universal disposition.

In deciding to make mercy the hallmark of his papacy, Pope Francis has chosen the keynote theme in Scripture.  In referencing the theme in the psalms, he has showed us that mercy is “the air we breathe” as the Wind if the Spirit blows into our lives.

(Note: ‘The Psalms of Mercy’ published by Our Sunday Visitor is a supplemental resource to the Pope’s writing)

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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