our God is compassionate in HIS nature – one of HIS attributes


this is the word I hear this morning

Prayer for Mercy

15 Look down from heaven and see,
from your holy and beautiful habitation.
Where are your zeal and your might?
The stirring of your inner parts and your compassion
are held back from me.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Is 63:15). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.



15 Look down from your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless your people Israel and the ground that you have given us, as you swore to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.’

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Dt 26:15). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ps 33:14). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

17 He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
and a helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on garments of vengeance for clothing,
and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Is 59:17). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

14 So the angel who talked with me said to me, ‘Cry out, Thus says the LORD of hosts: I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Zec 1:14). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

the Spirit of TRUTH

2146 רָחַם (rāḥam) I, love deeply; have mercy, be compassionate. Denominative verb.

Parent Noun

2146a רֶחֶם (reḥem), רַחַם (raḥam) womb.
2146b רַחֲמִים (raḥămîm) tender mercy.
2146c רַחוּם (raḥûm) compassionate.
2146d רַחֲמָנִי (raḥămānî) compassionate women (Lam 4:10).

This root refers to deep love (usually of a “superior” for an “inferior”) rooted in some “natural” bond. In the Piel it is used for the deep inward feeling we know variously as compassion, pity, mercy. Probably rāḥam is related to Akkadian rêmu (cf. Ugaritic rḥm, G. Schmuttermayr, “RHM—Eine lexikalische Studie,” Bib 51:499ff.). This root is to be distinguished in emphasis from ḥûs and ḥāmal. Sometimes ḥānēn is rendered “mercy” with emphasis on the graciousness with which such is extended. This verb and its derivatives occur 133 times.

rāḥam is used infrequently (twelve of forty-seven times) of men. It is used only once in the Qal when the Psalmist confesses his love for Jehovah (18:1 [H 2]). The depth of this love is shown by the connection of this word with reḥem/raḥam. Compare. Isaiah (49:15) who uses it of a mother’s love toward her nursing baby. It can also refer to a father’s love (Ps 103:13). Apparently. this verb connotes the feeling of mercy which men have for each other by virtue of the fact that they are human beings (Jer 50:42) and which is most easily prompted by small babies (Isa 13:18) or other helpless people. It is this natural mercy for the helpless that Israel’s and Babylon’s enemies will lack in their cruelty (Isa 13:18; Jer 6:23), although God may give Israel’s enemies such feeling (compassion) (I Kgs 8:50; Jer 42:12). Indeed, the prophets (Isa 13:18) conjoin ḥûs (the feeling which flows from one to another), ḥāmal (the strength of feeling which leads one to action in behalf of another, i.e. to spare them some difficulty), and rāḥam (the deep inner feeling based on some “natural” bond) when describing what Babylon (Jer 21:7) and God (Jer 13:14) will lack toward Israel.
This root is frequently used of God. It incorporates two concepts: first, the strong tie God has with those whom he has called as his children (Ps 103:13). God looks upon his own as a father looks upon his children; he has pity on them (cf. Mic 7:17). The second concept is that of God’s unconditioned choice (ḥānēn, grace). God tells Moses that he is gracious and merciful to whomever he chooses (Ex 33:19).

There are several ideas attached to God’s deep, tender love: first, the unconditional election of God (Ex 33:19); next, his mercy and forgiveness toward his people in the face of deserved judgment and upon the condition of their repentance (Deut 13:17 [H 18]); also, God’s continuing mercy and grace in preserving his unrepentant people from judgment (II Kgs 13:23). Thus this attribute becomes the basis in part of an eschatological hope (cf. Isa 14:1; 49:13; 54:7; Jer 12:15; 33:26; Ezk 34:25; Mic 7:19; Zech 1:16). It is noteworthy that Deuteronomy (30:3) prophesies the exile because of Israel’s sin, stipulating that repentance will meet with God’s tender compassion. So we read of the withdrawal of God’s mercy resulting in harsh judgment at the hands of Babylon (Isa 9:17 [H 16]; 27:11; Hos 2:4 [H 6]). During the exile Israel’s leaders encouraged the people with God’s electing love and tender-mercy (Lam 3:32), and led them in humbling themselves in repentance, calling upon God to reinstate his fatherlike compassion (Zech 1:12). The restitution of the father-son relationship and the return from the exile witnesses this accompanying loving care (Hos 2:23 [H 25]). Scripture makes it certain that the exile was brought by God and terminated by God (Ezk 39:25) according to his sovereign providence (Isa 30:18; cf. E. J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, II, p. 353f.). Finally, the prophets’ message regarding the return from the exile opens onto a permanent state where the father-son relationship will never be broken (Hos 2:23 [H 25]; Isa 54:8, 10).

(raḥămîm). Tender mercy, compassion. This word shows the link between rāḥam, “to have compassion” (Piel) and reḥem/raḥam, “womb,” for raḥămîm can refer to the seat of one’s emotions (Gen 43:30) or the expression of one’s deep emotion (I Kgs 3:26); cf. J. Pedersen, Israel, 1936, pp. 309, 525).
raḥămîm recalls in various situations that God’s tender-mercy is rooted in his free love and grace. Hence, God’s punishment is more desirable than man’s wrath (II Sam 24:14). God’s mercy is often combined with his ḥesed “love,” “kindness” and ḥēn “grace,” “unmerited favor.” God’s anger and wrath are the opposite of his loving mercy (Deut 13:18; Zech 1:12; Ps 77:9). In times of captivity (esp. the exile, Dan 9:18) Israel is summoned to repentance on the grounds of God’s fatherlike compassion (II Chr 30:9), and God responds (Isa 54:7). The Psalmist often beseeches God for expressions of his tendermercies to relieve his distress (Ps 51:1 [H 3]) or confesses that undeserved relief is due to God’s tendermercies and grace (Ps 103:4). The eschaton is to witness God’s unconditional and unbroken love and care (Hos 2:19 [H 21]); when Israel repents (Deut 30:3; Isa 55:7; Zech 12:10).

(raḥûm). Compassionate, merciful. This adjective is used only of God (with the possible exception of Ps 112:4) setting forth one of his attributes, i.e. what God gives forth in rāḥam he has in raḥûm.

רַחֲמָנִי (raḥămānî). Compassionate. This adjective describes the depth of feeling a mother’s love can reach. Women who so loved their children boiled them for food during the siege by the Babylonians (Lam 4:10).

Bibliography: Dahood, M., “Denominative riḥḥam, ‘to conceive, enwomb’,” Bib 44:204–205. THAT, II, pp. 761–67.

Coppes, L. J. (1999). 2146 רָחַם. (R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer Jr., & B. K. Waltke, Eds.)Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Chicago: Moody Press


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