Twins, Mercy & Truth, Peace & Righteousness do you know them?
- Have the twins Mercy and Truth, been birthed in your soul?
- Do you walk hand in hand with Peace and Righteousness?
I am a very visual person, my head runs in 3D like a Steven Spielberg movie. As a child I had two imaginary friends. Shirley Goodness and Mercy. I was always a little annoyed because for some reason I never knew Mercy’s surname. These two little girls followed me wherever I went. The three of us were inseparable. I would often practise walking down the street, every so nonchalantly and then quickly spin around to see if I could catch a glimpse of them. Shirley had wispy blonde hair and Mercy had a brunette bob. They walked hand in hand always. I was never alone because they were always with me.
Of course it wasn’t until I was a very grown up 8 year old that I realised that these two little girls grew in my imagination out of a bible reading that I had been told in Sunday School. Psalm 23:6 “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever”. Never-the-less for all of my life I continue to picture these two as twin sisters that have continued to keep me and watch over me. I must have prayed this scripture a thousand times over my life.
This brings me to our reading today of Psalm 85 which paints a beautiful word picture of how we are to walk in this world. It speaks of four important attributes of Christ which are to characterise us his followers.
It paints a picture of mercy and truth meeting along the way, they walk together on the journey, hand in hand.
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other, they are inseparable like twins.
There are several versions. This is a version of Psalm 85:10 from the Message bible:
Love and Truth meet in the street,
Right Living and Whole Living embrace and kiss!
Truth sprouts green from the ground,
Right Living pours down from the skies!
Oh yes! God gives Goodness and Beauty;
our land responds with Bounty and Blessing.
Right Living strides out before him,
and clears a path for his passage.
This is a remarkable text, and much has been said on it: but there is a beauty in it which, I think, has not been noticed.
Mercy and peace are on one side; truth and righteousness on the other. Truth requires righteousness; mercy calls for peace.
They meet together on the way; one going to make inquisition for sin, the other to plead for reconciliation. Where did they meet? They met in Christ. ‘Having met…their mutual claims are blended together in one common interest; on which peace and righteousness immediately embrace. Thus, righteousness is given to truth, and peace is given to mercy’ (Clarke). This is the right way that we are to live.
This is a poetic way to describe the divine aspects of the character of Jesus. Also describing the characteristics of the new community of followers who were to come after him. True reconciliation always involves a delicate balance of peace with justice, and mercy with truth.
“All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.” (Psalm 25:10.)
‘Truth, like justice, can be harsh and unforgiving when not tempered with mercy. But when truth is magnified by mercy or rectified by righteousness’ peace and reconciliation are achieved.(Nelson). Righteousness in the Hebrew is not so much the abstract idea of justice or virtue, but more as right standing and consequent right behaviour, within a community.
When I look at social media and the news today and hear harsh and often condemning outpouring of people, often Christians, about topics like abortion, homosexuality, feminism, gender equality. I think, why is it so fuelled by fear and uncompromising rhetoric. Where is the mercy? Where is the peace?
We need to approach these issues with a balance and with love. Do we forget that the God that we serve came to the marginalised, the rejected, the poor and the oppressed. He came with love, he walked in peace, he brought freedom and mercy along with truth and justice. No wonder those looking on at the behaviour of many church goers today shake their heads and wonder at the hypocrisy of it all.
I appeal to us all to walk hand in hand with mercy and truth. To embrace and to kiss peace and righteousness and to remember that grace and forgiveness has been shown to every man, woman and child through the love of Jesus Christ. We in turn need to offer that same grace and mercy to our own neighbors, brothers and sisters along the way.
I would love for you to spend a few minutes in reflection this morning about what this looks like in your own life.
Read this verse again in another version. Ponder and visualise the imagery of the Psalm.
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Clarkes Commentary: http://www.godvine.com/bible/psalms/85-10
Russell Nelson: http://scottwoodward.org/truth_temperedbyothervirtues.html