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Study Guide #5b—Merciful God

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By Kay Smith and Ruth Wood

Thou art a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness. ~ Psalm 145:8

We bow in awe and admiration of the God who is holy and executes justice, and we praise Him because He is truly righteous. But, though our hope in an unjust world is that He will someday execute justice, our personal prayer is more likely to be, “Lord, be merciful to me, the sinner.”

Often people think of God’s gracious acts beginning with Jesus Christ, but this week we’ll look at how Old Testament writers experienced and perceived God’s grace and mercy.

1. In Nehemiah 9, the Levites are talking to God in front of all the Israelites, and recounting God’s involvement in their nation’s history. Read verses 16-31. How did God show His compassion, grace, and mercy to Israel throughout the years?

2. How did God manage to be just and merciful at the same time in the various situations mentioned? (Along with Nehemiah 9:18-19, read Exodus 32:19-35; with Nehemiah 9:21, read Numbers 14:1-25.) What were God’s acts of mercy and grace dependent upon?

3. Read Psalm 103

In verses 1-5, what benefits does the Lord give? Why? (It’s implied more than stated.)

Verses 6-14: How was God’s graciousness known even to Old Testament believers?

Verses 15-19: What other characteristics of the Lord are mentioned?

Verses 20-22: What is David’s response as he meditates on God?

4. Read Psalm 86. What is the situation here in which the psalmist (David) is asking for help?

In vs. 6-10, why does David think God can help him?

In verses 14-17, what contrast is shown between people (at least certain people) and God? Why does that make David think God will help him?

Why is saying “God, be gracious to me” different than saying “God, You owe me one” or “God, I deserve your help”?

5. Considering what you’ve read, how would you describe God’s graciousness? In other words, what does it mean that “God is gracious”?

6. Name some ways that God has been merciful or gracious to you.

©2013 Kay Smith and Ruth Wood. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Published by www.Comfort-Cafe.net. Contact info: ruthywood@gmail.com

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