Psalm 86:5, 15

“For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee… But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.”

In this psalm David used seven terms to describe God. All of them are true. Because these are all true characteristics of God, they must be our starting point for thinking about Him.

David told the Lord that He is good. In all things and in every way God is good. Nahum 1:7 states, “The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.” The LORD Jesus Christ was approached by a rich young ruler, who said, “Good master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life.” Jesus’ reply was, “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.” (Matthew 19:16,17) Many other scriptures bring out this truth, and it is important that we hold tightly to it.

David said that God is ready to forgive. David himself learned this lesson the hard way. During his reign as king of Israel, he committed adultery and murder. God sent Nathan the prophet to David to confront him. After it all was revealed, in 2 Samuel 12:13 we read, “And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.” This astounding turn of events for David was a blessing. He knew he was guilty and deserved death. God’s law said this. But he was told, the LORD has put away your sin. God is ready to forgive.

David said that God is plenteous in mercy. Concerning God’s mercy Psalm 103:11 says, “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.” 1 Peter 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” The guilty are they which desire mercy. The innocent have no need. And He is plenteous, or abundant, in it.

David said that God is full of compassion. Concerning Israel, Psalm 78:37-39 says, “For their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant. But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath. For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.” Psalm 111:4 says, “The LORD is gracious and full of compassion. In the gospels, fourteen times it is said that Jesus was moved with compassion for the people in their illness or need.

David said that God is gracious. In Exodus 34 the LORD revealed Himself to Moses. Moses was given a glimpse of the glory of God. In verse 6 the LORD introduced Himself to Moses. He said, “And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth…” This verse parallels Psalm 86:15. And it was said to Moses by God that He is gracious. John 1:16,17 states, “And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Grace is getting what we don’t deserve. Since all sin is against God, only He can forgive it. And not only does He forgive, but He supplies to meet the needs of people. He sends rain and sun and winter and summer for all people. And for His own He promises eternity in His presence.

David said that God is longsuffering. Patience is not a characteristic of most people. But God is exceedingly longsuffering. It has been around 10,000 years since the fall in the garden of Eden. In the garden, God promised that He would take action that would bruise the serpent’s head. Revelation 12 reveals that great day when the enemy will be defeated. Though so long in coming, it will surely come to pass. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

David said that God is plenteous in mercy and truth. His mercy is of such note that this quality is repeated in David’s list. God is also plenteous in truth. Deuteronomy 32:4 says, “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” Psalm 33:4 says, “For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth.” Speaking to His Father, the Lord Jesus said in John 17:17, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”

The suffering, disasters, and injustices in this world might seem to put the lie to what David said about God in Psalm 86. But God is not responsible for those things. It is true that God is Almighty. But the fall of mankind was their own doing. God is simply allowing the consequences of disobeying Him to fall, just as He said. Romans 6:23 tells us, “The wages of sin is death.” When compared with today, the world was no different in David’s day. Our technology may make us more efficient at carrying out injustice, but the hearts of men are no different than they were then.

But God is still good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon Him, a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.

Great God of wonders! all Thy ways
Display Thine attributes divine;
But the bright glories of thy grace
Above Thine other wonders shine:

Who is a pardoning God like Thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?
Who is a pardoning God like Thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?

Such deep transgressions to forgive!
Such guilty sinners thus to spare!
This is Thy grand prerogative,
And in this honor none shall share:
CHORUS (Samuel Davies)

Pardon, from an offended God!
Pardon, for sins of deepest dye!
Pardon, bestowed through Jesus? blood!
Pardon, that brings the rebel nigh!