The Berean Expositor
Volume 40 - Page 229 of 254
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The word is translated `goodness' in Exod. 34: 6 and `mercy' in Exod. 34: 7.
While `mercy' is the word used in translating this word more frequently than any other,
the particular shade of mercy is indicated by the many passages where `kindness',
`merciful kindness' and `lovingkindness' have been chosen because of their fulness.
This idea of exuberance and overflowing abundance, gives one translation which if
judged by English standards seems at first impossible. The word translated `goodness' in
Exod. 34: 6 occurs but once in Leviticus, where it is actually translated `wicked'
(Lev. 20: 17). If, however, we keep in mind the basic idea of exuberance or abundance,
we shall perceive that the word is much like the Greek word epithumeo, which means:
Desire in a good sense (I Tim. 3: 1 and Phil. 1: 23).
Lust in an evil sense (I Tim. 6: 9 and Eph. 2: 3).
David might have stayed here, for here indeed is enough and to spare. His sin was
great, but the grace that awaited him was greater. Knowing the nature of the God to
Whom he prayed, he adds one more Divine attribute to his plea, namely `tender mercy'
rachamim. The figurative use of the `heart' as the seat and centre of affection is of such
frequent and common use in ordinary everyday speech as to pass without much notice. If
and when other organs of the body are similarly employed, it immediately raises the
question of good taste, and in this we have departed very far from the intensely human
language of the original Scriptures. "The reins" which are associated in the Hebrew
Scriptures with intense feeling (Job 19: 27, etc.) refer to the `kidneys'. When the
Psalmist said "Awake up, my glory" (Psa. 57: 8), he referred probably to `the liver'. The
healthful effect of the `marrow' of the bones is referred to in Job 21: 24 and applied
figuratively in such passages as Prov. 3: 8, etc. We are therefore prepared to find that
the literal meaning of rachamim `tender mercies' is the `bowels'. In Gen. 43: 30 we
"And Joseph made haste; for his bowels did yearn upon his brother";
while in the fourteenth verse of the same chapter we read:
"And God Almighty give you mercy before the man."