“Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:” (Proverbs 3:3). The combination of the words “mercy” and “truth” is not unique to this passage. It is actually a very common theme particularly of Psalms and Proverbs, often used to describe God’s dealings with man. His mercy is described as “everlasting” and His truth as enduring to “all generations” (Psalms 100:5).
This combination is foreign however to the New Testament, not being used even once. The closest that we get is 2 John 1:3, when the Apostle John uses the two words in the same verse, but not in connection with one another. The New Testament equivalent of this phrase is found in John’s writing as well, this time in his gospel:
“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
Notice that instead of truth coupled with mercy, it is now joined with “grace”, and the method of this combination coming to us is not given through a doctrine, but is brought by the man, Jesus Christ. We know that Jesus is truth, for He told us as much in John 14:6, but why the change from “mercy” to “grace”?
In the Old Testament, man was judged by his keeping or breaking of God’s law. This is the same law that our previous verse told us was “given by Moses”. This law was so holy, just and good that men could not possibly keep it, so they were constantly seeking God for forgiveness by the offering of sacrifices. If not for the mercy of God, man would have gotten what he deserved many times over. God never ceased to be “true” to His holy nature, even though He was merciful to mankind.
When Christ met all of the demands of the law, He offered Himself as a sacrifice for the sin of the whole world, satisfying the anger of His Father (1 John 2:2). While mercy is us not getting what we deserve, grace is us getting what we could never deserve. The cross is what we deserved, for it was death for sin, but God’s mercy killed Jesus instead of us. God’s unconditional love and favor is what we can never deserve, but the cross brought us those things and God calls it grace. With no law to keep in order to please God, we now walk in His grace and truth, thus the New Testament preaches these concepts for the believer.
When you function under His grace, you are giving Him your whole heart, and not leaning to your own understanding (Psalm 3:5). The more we learn this dependency, or “learn to lean”, the clearer that His path will become, leading us to even more of His glory and grace.
Thank the Lord today for His mercy which has spared you from judgment. Thank Him as well for His grace and truth, which has given you all things and blessed you with joy unspeakable.