“Mercy and Truth have met together; Righteousness and Peace have kissed each other.” Psalm 85:10
No two things are more at odds for fallen man than mercy and truth or righteousness and peace. “Mercy” is not getting what we deserve. The “truth” is that we deserve an eternity in Hell! God’s “righteousness” requires perfect righteousness from us that we can’t supply. “Peace” is that last thing a sinful human should expect to hear after the word “righteousness”.
But the psalmist at this point is looking ahead with the eye of faith some 500 years to an event that we look back on 2,000 years by faith. Because on that dark day on Calvary’s Hill, for the only time in human history: Mercy and Truth met together and Righteousness and Peace kissed each other! What a beautiful thought!
Do you know what was happening on the cross that day? The sun was darkened as God turned His back on His own Son for the first time in all eternity because of my and your sins. Do you know what was happening? Mercy and Truth were meeting together! God’s mercy toward a lost, hell-bound, hell-deserving world was being shown as God’s truth declared “I value my holiness, and I hate sin this much!” Do you know what was happening on the cross that day? As we hear God’s only begotten Son cry, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?” Do you know what was happening? Righteousness and Peace were kissing each other. God’s holy, righteousness that not only would not, but could not overlook our sin was being vindicated as Christ died for our sin, while at the same time God was making peace with His enemies.
Paul puts it this way in Colossians 1:20-22,
And having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
The following story which I read several years ago in John MacArthur’s book First Love: The Joy and Simplicity of Life in Christ illustrates this point well:
Tribes once roamed the Russian expanse much the same as Native Americans roamed the plains of North America. The story is told of one such tribe that was led by a very wise leader who had established and enforced very fair laws.
One day it was reported that someone in the tribe was stealing. The leader issued a proclamation that the thief, when captured would receive 10 lashes from the tribal whip master. Despite this warning, the thievery continued, even as the punishment level was increased. Eventually, he stopped raising that level when it reached 40 lashes, knowing that only he had the strength to survive such a severe lashing. Finally, the thief was caught, and to everyone’s horror, it was the chief’s own aged mother.
As the day of judgment approached people began to speculate about what the leader would do. One of his laws required children to love and honor their parents, yet another demanded the public whipping of thieves. Great arguments arose as the day of judgment approached: “Would he satisfy his love and spare his mother?” or, “Would he satisfy his law and watch his mother die under the whip?” Finally the day came. The tribe gathered around a large compound, in the center of which stood a large post. The leader soon entered and sat down on His throne. Then two towering warriors led his frail mother to the center of the compound and tied her to the post. Finally, the tribal whip master, a powerful man with bulging muscles, entered carrying a long, leather whip. As he approached the little woman, the warriors ripped off her garment, exposing her frail back.
The whip master took his stance, his great arm cracked the whip in the air as he prepared to bring the first lash upon her. Just then the leader held up his hand to halt the punishment. A sigh of relief went up from the tribe. His love would be satisfied, but what about his law?
But before anyone could bring a voice to their concerns, the leader rose from his throne and strode toward his mother. As he walked he removed his own shirt, tossing it aside. He then wrapped his great arms around her, exposing his own huge muscular back to the whip master. Breaking the heavy silence he commanded, “Proceed with the punishment!”
Adapted from John MacArthur, Jr., First Love: The Joy and Simplicity of Life in Christ, 66-67.
“Mercy and truth are met together, Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” O what love of our Lord, that He would take our punishment. Our Saviour stepped from His royal throne, cast aside His royal garments, stepped into time through the crimson womb of the virgin Mary, marched to Calvary and became sin for us! God has satisfied both His law and His love!
The songwriter’s words are appropriate here:
O Glorious love of Christ my Lord Divine.
That made Him stoop to save a soul like mine.
Through all my days on earth and then in heaven above.
My song will silence never. I’ll worship Him forever and
Praise Him for His glorious love.