You shall not make to you any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath…
I. WHAT ARE THE QUALIFICATIONS?
1. The spring of mercy which God shows is free and spontaneous. Say not then, I am unworthy; for mercy is free. If God should show mercy only to such as deserve it, He must show mercy to none at all.
2. The mercy God shows is powerful. How powerful is that mercy which softens a heart of stone! Of what sovereign power and efficacy is that mercy which subdues the pride and enmity of the heart, and beats off those chains of sin in which the soul is held!
3. The mercy which God shows is superabundant; "abundant in goodness, keeping mercy for thousands." The vial of God's wrath doth but drop; but the fountain of His mercy runs.
4. The mercy God shows is abiding (Psalm 103:17).
II. HOW MANY WAYS IS GOD SAID TO SHOW MERCY?
1. We are all living monuments of God's mercy. He shows mercy to us in daily supplying us.
2. God shows mercy in lengthening out our gospel liberties.
3. God shows mercy in preventing many evils from invading us.
4. God shows mercy in delivering us.
5. God shows mercy in restraining us from sin; lusts within, are worse than lions without.
6. God shows mercy in guiding and directing us.
7. God shows mercy in correcting us. God is angry in love; He smites that He may save. Every cross to a child of God is like Paul's cross wind, which though it broke the ship, it brought Paul to shore upon the broken pieces.
8. God shows mercy in pardoning us; "who is a God like Thee, That pardonest iniquity?" It is mercy to feed us, rich mercy to pardon us.
9. God shows His mercy in sanctifying us (Leviticus 20:8). This prepares for happiness, as the seed prepares for harvest.
10. God shows mercy in hearing our prayers. God may sometimes delay an answer, when He will not deny. You do not presently throw a musician money, because you love to hear his music: God loves the music of prayer, therefore doth not presently let us hear from Him, but in due season He will give an answer of peace.
11. God shows mercy in saving us: "according to His mercy He saved us." This is the top-stone of mercy, and it is laid in heaven. Now mercy displays itself in all its orient colours; now mercy is mercy indeed, when God shall perfectly refine us from all the lees and dregs of corruption. As an argument against despair: see what a great encouragement here is to serve God, — He shows mercy to thousands.
(1) Hope in God's mercies, "the Lord takes pleasure in them that fear Him, and hope in His mercy."(2) If God shows mercy to thousands, labour to know that His mercy is for you, "He is the God of my mercy." A man that was ready to drown saw a rainbow; said he, "What am I the better, though God will not drown the world, if I drown?" so, what are we the better God is merciful, if we perish? Let us labour to know God's special mercy is for us.
( T. Watson.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: