Bible Notes: God the Only Cause and Creator

Originally appeared on

This is a beautifully structured verse of Hebrew poetry, and the colon in the middle is a hint about how to understand its full message. The first half of the verse states the truth that the LORD is good to all; and the second half clarifies what goodness is and then makes it clear that the LORD is God. As we have learned in the past, racham, here translated tender mercies, is one of the divine attributes from Ex. 34:6, which Psalm 145:8 quoted. In verse 9, the psalmist elaborates. Goodness in the LORD means that he is merciful, compassionate. Furthermore, the LORD is not merely good to all—as a human might be unfailingly kind—but he is good to (all his creatures). His goodness is the basis of life. If we think for a moment of the LORD as the immortal Principle of what he creates, it is a great mercy that he governs all his works.

Greek: Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

One of the best ways to understand how intertwined the Old and New Testaments are is to follow those divine attributes from Ex. 34:6. Our Greek word for mercies is oiktirmos (oyk-tir-mose), which is used to translate Hebrew racham. Paul was familiar with the ancient Exodus tradition, and in common with all New Testament authors, he founded the precious gospel of resurrection on what was already tried and true because he wanted it to be revered. One method of learning about how the Christian concept of mercy evolved is to see how the word was used in different contexts. So, for example James 5:11 interpreted the story of Job as evidence of the tender mercy of the Lord, and in II Corinthians 1:3 the God and Father of Jesus Christ is the Father of mercies as well as the God of all comfort. But in Luke 6:36 mercy is not only a divine attribute, but should also be reflected in humanity.

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