3. The Compassion of God

By John Thiel, The Power of the Cross Conference, Study 3, mp3 

Scripture Reading: 1 John 2:1-2 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:  And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world. 

The message that we are meditating upon is entitled God’s compassion. As we study this characteristic of God, we will see once again the power of the cross.

Psalm 78:37-39 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. 

He remembered that they were flesh; therefore He was full of compassion although in verse 37, they were not stedfast in His covenant. To appreciate the compassion in relation to the covenant that God makes with His people, we want to appreciate the application of compassion in such a circumstance that they were not stedfast in His covenant. To demonstrate His compassion towards humanity, man’s depravity and sin, that depravity, that sinful nature makes promises but doesn’t keep them. That kind of compassion is demonstrated in the life of King David.

This is our study focusing upon God’s compassion towards humanity that is illustrated in the experience of King David.

Isaiah 55:3-4 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, [even] the sure mercies of David.  Behold, I have given him [for] a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. 

There are two aspects that are mentioned. He will make an everlasting covenant with us; what is that everlasting covenant? The other aspect is the sure mercies of David. If we listen carefully to the sure mercies of David, then God says you are listening to him that I have given for a witness, a leader and a commander.

God made King David a witness to the people of God’s compassion. Behold, I have given him [for] a witness. That compassion is to do with the covenant that is broken.  I will make an everlasting covenant with you, [even] the sure mercies of David.

King David

The story of David when He had removed King Saul.

Acts 13:22-23 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the [son] of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.  Of this man’s seed hath God according to [his] promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: 

David is declared by God as a man after His own heart. Let us observe what calibre of a man David was to be a man after God’s own heart and to be someone whom God could use as a witness to the people of God’s compassion.

1 Samuel 16:1 And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons. 

1 Samuel 16:3 And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show thee what thou shalt do: and thou shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto thee.

God was finished with King Saul. King Saul had disproved himself as being a faithful king but while he was still alive, God said to Samuel stop mourning over him, I have rejected him. Although he is still king I have rejected him to reign; I will send you to Jesse. I have provided me a king among his sons.

Can you see here God is actually preparing the mind of Samuel? I am going to choose somebody that is My choice to be a king. The story goes on how he comes to Jesse and there are seven sons. Each son comes up before Samuel and Samuel says no, not this one because God does not indicate this is the one. He goes through all of the sons and they are all rejected. He came to one person where Samuel thought this must be the one.

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for [the LORD seeth] not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. 

There was this stately looking young man and God said no, you think he has a kingly demeanour, but sorry, don’t judge with the seeing of the eyes. Don’t judge with what he looks like on the outside, I judge according to the heart. He is not the one. It came to the point where Samuel asked; have you got any other sons? The father said yes, the young fellow that is looking after the sheep, I didn’t think about him. Please get him.

Sure enough, as David was called and came this strapping young youth and the Lord said that is the one. He was a man after God’s own heart because God read his heart. David was carefully selected by God, a man not on the outward appearance but according to the heart. God saw in David a heart that was according to His own heart.

David is talking to King Saul when the Philistine giant Goliath was to be dealt with.

1Samuel 17:37 David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee. 

Did you notice something about David’s heart and David’s understanding of God? He trusted God. When he was looking after the sheep, he trusted God so much that when the lion came to the sheep, he took care of the lion himself and dealt with him but while he dealt with the lion and the bear, he said it was God that delivered him out of the paw of the lion.

David was a man who knew personally his God. He walked with God. When he was brought after those years to a position where he was soon to become the king, notice how David related with God.

1 Samuel 23:1 Then they told David, saying, Behold, the Philistines fight against Keilah, and they rob the threshingfloors. 

Here is David with his men, he was ostracised from Saul and was roving the countryside with his men and here is the report. David trusting His Father in heaven comes to God.

Therefore David inquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines? In other words, he didn’t just say I’m going to go over there with my men and deal with these Philistines. He said, God shall I go? You talk with me, you tell me what to do.

1 Samuel 23:2 And the LORD said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah. 

Here is David directed by God. David enquired of the Lord, David walked closely with God. After he had fought the battle and he thought maybe Keilah will now receive me as their helper. He comes to God again.

1Samuel 23:10-12 Then said David, O LORD God of Israel, thy servant hath certainly heard that Saul seeketh to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake….  After David successfully protected Keilah from the Philistines Saul is seeking to come to Keilah to destroy the city for David’s sake.

Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? Will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard? O LORD God of Israel, I beseech thee, tell thy servant. And the LORD said, He will come down. Then said David, will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul? And the LORD said, They will deliver [thee] up.

Whatever was to happen, God knew already. David was walking with God and God directed every step in his life. Here David is walking with God. This is very important material to meditate upon as we go through the experience of King David and how God is his personal helper and how David continues thereafter.

He was daily coming into a more intimate communion with God. His mind was constantly penetrating into new depths for fresh themes to inspire his song and to wake the music of his harp. The rich melody of his voice poured out upon the air, echoed from the hills as if responsive to the rejoicing of the angels’ songs in heaven.  {PP 641.3} 

Who can measure the results of those years of toil and wandering among the lonely hills? The communion with nature and with God, {PP 642.1} 

What sort of a precious relationship was David in? He had a beautiful relationship in nature with God. Who can measure the results of this?

The care of his flocks, the perils and deliverances, the griefs and joys, of his lowly lot, were not only to mold the character of David and to influence his future life, but through the psalms of Israel’s sweet singer they were in all coming ages to kindle love and faith in the hearts of God’s people, bringing them nearer to the ever-loving heart of Him in whom all His creatures live.  {PP 642.1} 

We read here of a relationship that David had that prepared him for what God had chosen him for. What was that?

David, in the beauty and vigor of his young manhood, was preparing to take a high position with the noblest of the earth. His talents, as precious gifts from God, were employed to extol the glory of the divine Giver. His opportunities of contemplation and meditation served to enrich him with that wisdom and piety that made him beloved of God and angels. As he contemplated the perfections of his Creator, clearer conceptions of God opened before his soul. {PP 642.2} 

David was being prepared for a high and noble position. Indeed he was lifted until he became a king. We follow the history of David through and as he was lifted loftier in honour his responsibility became greater. If he made mistakes ,it became more serious.

We see a development in King David where he was so close to God in such precious communion with Him enjoying His closeness with God and God loving him and lifting him up. What did the prosperity as a king begin to affect upon him?

But his prosperity had an influence to lead him from God. His temptations were many and strong. He finally fell into the common practice of other kings around him, of having a plurality of wives, and his life was imbittered by the evil results of polygamy. His first wrong was in taking more than one wife, thus departing from God’s wise arrangement. This departure from right, prepared the way for greater errors. The kingly idolatrous nations considered it an addition to their honor and dignity to have many wives, and David regarded it an honor to his throne to possess several wives.  {4aSG 86.1} 

He was affected by society around him in his position as a king and he was slowly deteriorating in his position toward God.

But he was made to see the wretched evil of such a course by the unhappy discord, rivalry and jealousy among his numerous wives and children.  {4aSG 86.1} 

His crime in the case of Uriah and Bath-sheba was heinous in the sight of God. A just and impartial God did not sanction or excuse these sins in David, but sends a reproof, and heavy denunciation by Nathan, his prophet, which portrays in living colors his grievous offense. {4aSG 86.2}

What did David finally do thinking that he was king over the people he could do what he chose to do? He was so affected by the corruptions around him that when he saw the woman Bath-sheba in a bathing position he called her over. Then she was pregnant to him and he killed her husband placing him on the front line of the war. Here we see a description of David. David had been walking with God and now he was blinded by his departure from God.

David had been blinded to his wonderful departure from God. He had excused his own sinful course to himself, until his ways seemed passable in his own eyes. {4aSG 86.2}

He looked like he was doing the right thing to himself.

One wrong step had prepared the way for another, until his sins called for the rebuke from Jehovah through Nathan. David awakens as from a dream. He feels the sense of his sin. He does not seek to excuse his course, or palliate his sin, as did Saul; {4aSG 86.2}

Let’s behold the heinous sin and observe how God used David as a witness for the people. When Nathan the prophet came to him and showed him his sin something awakened in David.

The prophet Nathan’s parable of the ewe lamb, given to King David, may be studied by all. The light was flashed sharply upon the king, while he was in utter darkness as to what was thought of his actions in regard to Uriah. While he was following his course of self-indulgence and commandment breaking, the parable of a rich man who took from a poor man his one ewe lamb, was presented before him. But the king was so completely wrapped in his garments of sin, that he did not see that he was the sinner. He fell into the trap, and with great indignation, he passed his sentence upon another man, as he supposed, condemning him to death. When the application was made, and the facts brought home to him, when Nathan said, Thou art the man; unknowingly thou hast condemned thyself, David was overwhelmed. He had not one word to say in defence of his course of action.  {2BC 1023.2} 

This experience was most painful to David, but it was most beneficial. But for the mirror which Nathan held up before him, in which he so clearly recognized his own likeness, he would have gone on unconvicted of his heinous sin, and would have been ruined. The conviction of his guilt was the saving of his soul. He saw himself in another light, as the Lord saw him, and as long as he lived he repented of his sin (Letter 57, 1897).  {2BC 1023.3} 

David we are told here recognised that his sin was heinous, like Judas; Judas repented; he said I have betrayed innocent blood but those words were only words which the heart did not reveal. David says something similar. It is only God who knows the expression of the heart that He can judge correctly.

2 Samuel 12:13 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. 

What did David say? I have sinned against the LORD. Why did God turn around and say, I have forgiven you? If you want to know what David meant when he said I have sinned against the LORD, you have to read Psalm 51 because there his true heart recognition was expounded.

Psalm 51:1-4 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.  For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin [is] ever before me. 

Notice what he is saying, he is talking about sin and iniquity which is terrible, he is not saying please save me from death. He is saying save me from my sin, I don’t like what I have done.

Psalm 51:4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done [this] evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, [and] be clear when thou judgest. 

He actually expresses to God; God you are just and I want you to be clear because I have sinned against you. I am not trying to recover my position with you; I am not trying to make myself feel better it is you I have sinned against.

He is expressing the sincerity of his guilt before God and what that guilt was. He appeals to God’s compassion. Did you notice that? Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

What is he appealing to? He is appealing to God’s compassion and that is what our study is. We want to see God’s compassion. God says I have chosen David and the sure mercies of David as a witness to the people. David is giving God here in this statement the right to judge him. God’s compassion is being appealed to and what does God do in response? God’s compassion is stirred. The God-fearing heart of David responded when the seriousness of his heinous sin came to him. He woke up as out of a dream.

Herein we observe the calibre of King David. He had sinned, he had fallen away from God, he had violated God’s wonderful relationship with him, but his heart responded to the seriousness of sin. He woke up and he confessed his sin. In this he demonstrated what God had said I want him to be a witness. He is a man after my own heart. He wasn’t a man after His heart for having committed the sin, but he was a man after God’s own heart for waking up out of a dream and seeing the enormity of his sin and expressing it to God and appealing to His mercy. This is the man after God’s own heart.

David awakens as from a dream. He feels the sense of his sin. He does not seek to excuse his course, or palliate his sin, as did Saul; but with remorse and sincere grief, he bows his head before the prophet of God, and acknowledges his guilt.   {2BC 1023.5} 

David does not manifest the spirit of an unconverted man. {2BC 1023.6} 

How can a converted man fall so far from God? When his sin is identified he still does not reveal the spirit of an unconverted man even though he had lost his hold with God for that time.

If he had possessed the spirit of the rulers of the nations around him, he would not have borne, from Nathan, the picture of his crime before him in its truly abominable colors, but would have taken the life of the faithful reprover. But notwithstanding the loftiness of his throne, and his unlimited power, his humble acknowledgement of all with which he was charged, is evidence that he still feared and trembled at the word of the Lord (1SP 378, 381).  {2BC 1023.6} 

He still feared and trembled at the word of the Lord; a man after God’s own heart. Do your recall what we read in 2 Samuel 13 when David said those words I have sinned against God, and He said you will not die, you are forgiven? This is God’s response because God’s heart was reached by David’s God-fearing heart. In this we see a witness of what we read in Isaiah 55.

The glorious childhood with God then the indulgence shutting out the past relationship with God, a person who walked with God, who fell so deeply into heinous crime and here lies the sure mercies of David, the everlasting covenant which we read in Isaiah 55.

Those who break this precious relationship that they made with God have a witness in David; he broke that, yet this degree of breaking a covenant with God; (there is no degree of disgrace for which God’s compassion cannot atone) is demonstrated in David. Let us read the covenant identity of Isaiah 55 with the sure mercies of David.

Hebrews 8:6-10 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.  For if that first [covenant] had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.  For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:  Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.  For this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 

Here is the description of the two covenants. The covenant that they broke and the covenant that God would make with them after they had broken that covenant. David is a witness of this. He had a close relationship with God. He had made his connection with God in the first covenant concept but then, like the Hebrews the demonstration of his breaking of that covenant is very heinous. The terrible sin that he had committed and the terrible way in which the Hebrews broke the covenant is then followed up.

Isaiah 55:3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, [even] the sure mercies of David.

Listen to me, no matter how far you have failed I will make an everlasting covenant with you even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given him as a witness, etc.

God said the sure mercies of David that I have extended to him, is parallel to the everlasting covenant. It is the same thing. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, [even] the sure mercies of David.

The mercy of God. After walking with God as David did as a young man asking Him for guidance, there was this beautiful relationship and he was singing beautiful psalms, all these godly things that David had; he walked with God and then he fell into heinous sinfulness. But lo God restored him again showing him the mercy which He extended to Israel. Here is a very detailed description of how God would deal with somebody who had broken a deep relationship with Him.

Let us read what God would do for His people who may feel that they have known Him, have walked with Him, loved Him and yet they have failed Him, they have broken their promise with God. How does God deal with that as with David?

Hebrews 9:13-15 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:  How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions [that were] under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. 

Many people read this and they don’t really know what this is saying, especially verse 15. God wants to purge our consciences by showing what He did for David, that Jesus was sent to this earth to be a mediator of the new testament for a people who had broken their relationship with Him, not for a people who were in black darkness and who came to Him. No; for a people who were used to walking with God like David did, having precious fellowship with God then fell into sin.

As you and I discover after I loved God so much and  I want to give my life for Him, I want to live with Him and I do and I have deep fellowship with Him, then I discover I am such a depraved sinful person that like David I have fallen. Maybe not as seriously as David, but one sin is as serious with God as another.

God would still receive me even though I am so heinous in His sight. Here it says very plainly that Jesus came to die for the sins that were done such as David’s after he had walked with God and for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions [that were] under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

Let’s apply this statement to the experience of David.

Jesus came as a mediator that by means of death for the sin that David committed to redeem that transgression that was under the first testament, that was under the relationship with God that he used to have. He broke that relationship and now Jesus died for that, and is a  mediator to redeem from that transgression so that he can say to all who witness that consciously when He said to David, thou shalt not die, your sin is forgiven. Jesus died for that, that is what He died for. This is the everlasting covenant.

Hebrews 13:20-21 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom [be] glory for ever and ever. Amen. 

I will give you the everlasting covenant. What is that? It is the sure mercies of David. How? The God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, that He can make you perfect. Your conscience becomes so purged as David said, I condemned myself to death and God still has compassion for me! Do you wonder why people like that will have their conscience so purged that they will just keep on submitting and let God them make perfect in every good work? This is the story of David being a commander to God’s people.

The power of the blood, the power of the cross. This is a power that overwhelms a person who feels he is so unworthy he cannot live, he must die. God says I brought Jesus for that very purpose. You used to walk and talk with me, we had a wonderful relationship and now you broke it? Jesus died for that. If any man sin we have an advocate.

David who sinned grievously would be able to live forever with Jesus because he relied upon the mercy of God in his terrible sin; a man after God’s own heart.

1John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.

It was wrong for David to sin. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 

The power of the cross brings Jesus as a mediator who died for the sins that were done when we were in a covenant relationship with God. He is an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

How careful is the Lord Jesus to give no occasion for a soul to despair. How He fences about the soul from Satan’s fierce attacks. If through manifold temptations we are surprised or deceived into sin, {7BC 948.2} 

Are we not living in a time of manifold temptations just like David was? He was surrounded by manifold temptations. Temptations are so numerous that at one stage or another we fall. As we fall, we don’t really conscientiously say, I am going to do the opposite of what God wants me to do, it says we are surprised or deceived into sin.

He does not turn from us and leave us to perish. No, no, that is not our Saviour. Christ prayed for us. He was tempted in all points like as we are; and having been tempted, He knows how to succor those who are tempted.  {7BC 948.2}…..  He was even tempted at the cross to feel his sin was too great when he received all our sins. His temptations were as wide and broad as every one of us and here we are told David’s mercies are for us….Our crucified Lord is pleading for us in the presence of the Father at the throne of grace. His atoning sacrifice we may plead for our pardon, our justification, and our sanctification. The Lamb slain is our only hope. Our faith looks up to Him, grasps Him as the One who can save to the uttermost, and the fragrance of the all-sufficient offering is accepted of the Father. Unto Christ is committed all power in heaven and in earth, {7BC 948.2}

Unto Christ is committed all power in heaven and in earth, and all things are possible to him that believeth. Christ’s glory is concerned in our success. He has a common interest in all humanity. He is our sympathizing Saviour (Letter 33, 1895).  {7BC 948.3} 

This is the beautiful reality of God‘s mercy.

Let us remember that our great High Priest is pleading before the mercy seat in behalf of His ransomed people. He ever liveth to make intercession for us. “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”  {7BC 948.4} 

The blood of Jesus is pleading with power and efficacy for those who are back-slidden, for those who are rebellious, for those who sin against great light and love. {7BC 948.5} 

When I read this, I meditate upon the great light that has been given to us as Adventist people and yet there are Adventist people who sin against great light. They know what is meant to be done but they sin. Through manifold temptations they have been brought to do what David did. David found compassion with God.

Satan stands at our right hand to accuse us, and our Advocate stands at God’s right hand to plead for us. He has never lost a case that has been committed to Him. We may trust in our Advocate; for He pleads His own merits in our behalf. Hear His prayer before His betrayal and trial. Listen to His prayer for us; for He had us in remembrance.  {7BC 948.5} 

This is the power of the cross that pleads for sinners that committed heinous sins such as David. They knew better but they were deceived and surprised into sin by the inroads of the perils that are around us. The power of the cross reveals the compassion that was made vivid in David’s life. David was a witness of that compassion, and considering this how can I go with impunity and carelessness hereafter?

What a God! How can I go and say I don’t care when God has such compassion? In David hope is manifest and it is my prayer that those of us who feel overwhelmed with our own depravity, with a sinner’s condition, that after knowing God we still fail Him; that we will reach out for God as David did after his sin was revealed. God help us to remain sensitive to God’s great love as King David was.


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