examples of mercy in the Bible

10 Examples of Mercy in the Bible Plus Verses

Mercy is a concept that is sometimes difficult for us to wrap our brains around which is exactly why I want to write about examples of mercy in the Bible. We have strong feelings of anger, injustice, bitterness, and jealousy. While the opposite feelings of love, joy, peace, and gratitude are just as strong, we tend to hold onto the negative.

I’m not sure why and that is not the point of this post, but it does seem to influence our ability or desire to show mercy. Expressions such as, “he got what he had coming to him” and “what goes around comes around” show a lack of mercy on our part. I don’t think anyone says “an eye for an eye” anymore, but again the same lack of sympathy.

In this post, we are going to discuss what mercy is according to the Bible, why it is important in our lives, and then dig deep into examples of mercy found in scripture. I hope this speaks to you and encourages you to seek out what mercy means for you.

What is Mercy in the Bible?

Let’s jump right into this study of examples of mercy in the Bible with the meaning of mercy.  I am going to quote from a post on the Compassion.com website because they do a wonderful job of explaining the points I want to go over today.  Be sure to click the link and read their entire post.  It’s very good.

Mercy is the compassionate treatment of those in distress, especially when it is within one’s power to punish or harm them.

The word “mercy” derives from the medieval Latin merced or merces, which means “price paid.” It has the connotation of forgiveness, benevolence and kindness. Mercy is often used in a religious context of giving alms, caring for the sick or the poor.

Mercy appears in the Bible as it relates to forgiveness or withholding punishment. For example, God the Father showed mercy on us when he sacrificed his son, Christ Jesus, on the Cross to pay the price for our sins.

But the Bible also defines mercy beyond forgiveness and withholding punishment.

The idea of having mercy emphasizes the aspect of mercy concerning disparity in power, as opposed to emphasizing the motivation for having mercy (e.g., compassion or lenity). It doesn’t exclude kindness. It simply draws attention to the relationship between having the choice to show mercy and strictly executing justice.

Thanks to the character of our creator, we have a living hope, a faithful God full of unfailing love for us with which He touches our everyday life and call us unto Himself.

examples of mercy in the Bible

Types of Mercy in the Bible

While we go over examples of mercy in the Old Testament in a minute, while I was thinking of types of mercy, all New Testament examples flooded my brain.  The father of our Lord Jesus Christ was the same here as He was at the beginning of time, yet we see Him more personally.

Mercy triumphs in the Son of God as we see him touched by the suffering of others.

May the Holy Spirit help us to be merciful to others in their time of need, whether they require our forgiveness or the love of God or our compassion.

Jesus’ mercy gives us an example and confidence to fulfill God’s word.

The Prodigal Son

One of Jesus’ most beautiful parables is that of great compassion seen in the Prodigal son.  The grace of God is seen in the understanding way that Jesus related to the large crowd that followed him.

The story goes that a man had two sons.  The younger son wanted his inheritance early and ran away from his father as quickly as possible.  Living a perfect life in obedience to the word of God was clearly not in his plan as he spent his money on drinking and partying, women, and who knows what else.  Before long, his money runs out and he finds himself living in a strange land so badly in need of money that he takes a job taking care of pigs (remember, pigs are unclean animals at this time).  

At some point, he comes to his senses and wants to return home.  He recognizes his sin and how he hurt his father.  He knows that he can never restore their relationship or make things the way they once were, but he decides to humble himself and return to his father.  He is prepared to ask forgiveness and request that he might work as a servant.

And here is where this story of Jesus hits a climax and we see God’s merciful character.  The young man is on the road still a distance away when his father hears he is coming.  What does he do?  Sit in judgment and wait for his son to arrive?  No.  He runs out to meet him, hugging and kissing him, wrapping his own robe around him, and rejoicing that his son has returned.

See also: “Parables and Stories of Forgiveness in the Bible”

The Faithful High Priest

​The high priest was very close to God.  He sacrificed for the people, asking God’s forgiveness.  He alone could enter the holiest place in the temple, sprinkling blood on the mercy seat.  

The Apostle Paul tells us that Jesus is the final high priest.  He is our living sacrifice, making atonement for our sins once and for all and bringing us into right standing with a God of justice.  Because of Jesus’ work on the cross, we are allowed to come before God’s throne and receive forgiveness and salvation.  O God, we praise thee!

Parable of the Good Samaritan

Another act of mercy is seen in the parable of the good Samaritan. Jesus tells this parable because he is making a point to a self-righteous man who is trying to justify his unmerciful behavior.

While a man travels he is attacked by robbers, beaten, and left for dead on the side of the road. Two religious men are traveling, see him lying there injured, and pass around him without stopping to help. A third man, a Samaritan, who was hated by the Jewish people come upon him.

This Samaritan shows mercy, picks the man up, bandages him, and pays for him to rest at an inn. Most likely the Samaritan had been judged and ridiculed by his Jewish neighbors his entire life. He had every reason to allow the man to lie dying on the side of the road.

But he didn’t. This is mercy in action.

God’s Mercy

Throughout history, Satan has competed with God, trying to gather people to worship him.  This is how we get all of the false gods that have existed almost since the beginning of time.  One attribute that set apart the one true God is that He is a compassionate God.  

He is not asking us to perform wicked deeds or burn our children at the altar.  We do not need to run from God’s wrath or fear His judgment.  We do not need to “appease” Him out of fear.  He only requires that we sacrifice our human will, with all of its sinful pride, and come have a relationship with Him.  May we turn our own hearts to Him in repentance and acceptance.

Throne of Grace

Paul talks about the throne of grace in Hebrews (as mentioned above) but I think it is important to include more verses here about grace.

Examples of Mercy in the Bible

All of these examples of Mercy are from the Old Testament.  I believe we see the character and mercy of God the best here because it is before we have the full concept of grace brought about by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Of course, everything in the Old Testament leads us to the great love and sacrifice we see in His son.  Our merciful God made a way for us to have eternal life when we were in a state of sin.  

The steadfast love of the Lord brings about the very definition of mercy in several different ways.  After all, mercy is one of the attributes of God, it is part of His character and being.

God Shows Mercy at the Tower of Babel

Satan had been having a field day with God’s creation and man had become so sinful that God decided it needed a reset. Enter the well known story of Noah and the ark where God destroys the world with a flood, saving the animals and mankind by keeping a select few safe on a big boat.

As man began to repopulate the earth, sinful nature was seen once again and the people gave into their wicked thoughts.

This is when they decide to build a tower, one so large that it could reach up to heaven preventing God from ever destroying them again. This pride and disobedience were just the beginning and God knew that.

Should He destroy mankind completely and start over? His own creation was turning against Him-again. He had already sent a strict warning with the flood that should’ve lasted many generations, but mankind was stubborn and arrogant and listening to satan rather than the one true God.

We see God’s mercy in that He does not destroy man, although He certainly had reason to. Rather he confounds their languages so they have trouble communicating. This ceases work on the heaven-reaching tower as they organize themselves into common groups and go their separate ways.

See also: “Psalms for Forgiveness and Repentance: A Testament to God’s Mercy”

Examples of Mercy in the Bible: the Children of Israel

The story of God interacting with His chosen people, Israel, is a beautiful example of God’s mercy. He chose the descendants of Abraham to consecrate and honor with the task of giving the law and revealing Himself to them. He taught them what sin was, who He was, and what was expected of them.

Their example would be a shining light to the heathen nations. His power and glory would be revealed repeatedly.

This didn’t go exactly how it should have but God knew that anyway. The chosen people fell into idolatry repeatedly. It became an ugly cycle. Believe, fall into idolatry, get into trouble, call out to God, be delivered from their enemies and repeat. This happens over and over and over again.

No matter how often they fell into sin and turned their backs on the one who called them the apple of His eye, He forgave them and loved them.

learning to pursue peace

Examples of Mercy in the Bible: Nineveh

The Assyrians were wicked people and their blood thirsty war tactics are enough to make you cringe (think skinning people alive and poking their eyes out!). They were ruthless in their conquests and were determined to rule as large an area as possible. They were feared by everyone.

They were also heathen, worshipping many false gods, rejecting the true God as well as attacking Israel and Judah. Israel fell to them while Judah’s King Hezekiah begged God’s intervention. God, in His mercy, delivers Judah.

Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire, founded by a wicked man named Nimrod (See Genesis 10:11) and grew to a very large size. It boasted beautiful temples to their false gods, 100 foot walls with towers at 1500 feet.

God tells his prophet, Jonah, to preach in Nineveh. He wants them to recognize the one true God. Jonah doesn’t want to. Not only did he face a cruel and painful death, but what if they actually obeyed and listened to God’s words? They didn’t deserve mercy.

After a series of mishaps and a lesson in disobedience while in the belly of a large fish, Jonah finally goes to Nineveh, walks the streets, and preaches the coming judgment.

And Nineveh repents. Just like that.

What does God do?

He shows mercy and doesn’t destroy them. Jonah gets angry at God. Those people deserved to die. He was ready and waiting to watch their destruction. We see God’s answer in Jonah chapter 4.

Examples of Mercy in the Bible: a Fallen World

How God shows mercy to a fallen world is kind of the meat and potatoes of this post on examples of mercy in the Bible. Truthfully, it is pretty much the point of mercy.

God had created a perfect world, an expression of Himself, beautiful and flawless. Before long, man messed it up. Not only did sin destroy our relationship with our creator and bring the world into a state of pain and disease, but all of creation suffered as well.

When man sinned, God declared right away that He would send a savior. He had a plan and although it took thousands of years to execute that plan, it was perfect and acceptable and very much needed.

God is holy and sin cannot be in His presence.

We cannot be in God’s presence because we are sinful.

To “fix” the fallen world situation, God sends His son, Jesus, to provide the ultimate sacrifice. The shedding of blood makes atonement for our sins and brings us into reconciliation with God.

Examples of Mercy in the Bible: Eternity

Last in our examples of mercy in the Bible is eternity.

God’s children are waiting, the earth is waiting, and God is patiently waiting for all to be restored to the perfection God had created.

God did not give up on His creation. In the end, we will live with Him in perfect harmony for all eternity.

Scripture gives us a glimpse into this beautiful “ending”.

This got a little long, but I hope I’ve given you a resource with which to understand how God’s mercy is seen throughout the Bible. I’d love for you to share your thoughts on these examples of mercy in the Bible in the comments below.

Check out these posts before you go!

7 Bible Stories About Anxiety

5 Inspiring Bible Stories About Healing Body, Mind, and Heart

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Hi, I am Heather! I am a mom of five, homeschooler, homesteader, and lover of all things chocolate. I am excited to share your faith and parenting journeys with you. Whether you are here looking to grow your faith, heal from loss, find homeschool resources, or hope to find inspiration in raising godly children, you are in the right place. So, grab your favorite hot beverage, curl up in your comfy chair, and stay awhile.

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