Psalm 91:1-4 & 14-15 NIV
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart…
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
The psalmist reflects the deep sense of security he finds in his relationship with God. He is basking in the shadow of God’s grace and mercy. Though both gifts are authored by God, each of us is called upon to share them with others – family, neighbor, stranger.
In college, I played the part of Antonio in a production of Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice.” In the play, Antonio has foolishly signed and is about to default on a note with the play’s villain, Shylock, who now demands his “pound of flesh.” Enter Antonio’s friend and lawyer, Portia, who pleads with Shylock to show mercy. Shylock asks her why he should and Portia responds with these memorable lines:
The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
She’s saying that no one shows mercy because they have to. It just flows naturally, the way gentle rain drops on the ground. And mercy is a double blessing, for the one who gives it and the one who receives it. “God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matt. 5:7). Isn’t this how we all feel any time we have a chance to show grace or mercy to friend, neighbor, stranger? Later in her speech, Portia says about mercy:
It is an attribute of God himself
And earthly power dost then become likest God’s
Where mercy seasons justice
Yes, it is God’s power in us that makes it possible for us to seek and receive a heart of mercy, act justly, and walk humbly with Him.
Gracious Lord, it is written in Your Word that the love of God has been poured forth into my heart by the Holy Spirit. May that love pour through me to others in need and pain and want. May I, by showing grace and mercy to others, bless them in Your name, receive a blessing in return and be able to say, as David, “Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is in me! In the name of our greatest blessing. Amen.
Note: Portia’s entire mercy speech: https://youtu.be/Un7iA-7aRcc