Characteristic and action that comes from the very nature of God. On the human level it is best described as one’s consideration of the condition and needs of his fellowman. It is an essential disposition of a covenant people, especially Israel and the church. In the OT God’s
mercy was not primarily given to people outside His covenant community but was expressed mainly toward His people Israel. It also became the expected attitude and action of the people of Israel toward one another. This expectation was passed on the church and became a chief tenet in the lifestyle of believers. Jesus made it an essential part of His Christian manifesto in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:7). In both OT and NT mercy is an action taken by the strong toward the weak, the rich toward the poor, the insider toward the outside, those who have toward those who have not.
Mercy as given by God is the foundation of for giveness. It is His faithfulness and steadfast love. God is not seen as displaying an emotion called mercy but as taking merciful action. This action was taken as Israel was in need: provision such as manna in the wilderness (Exod 13:31-35), protection such as the Shepherd who keeps Israel and doe not sleep (Ps 121), and deliverance (Psa 56:12-23; 107) as Yahweh who delivered His people from Egypt (1 Sam 10:18). Mercy has never been the benefit of God’s people because of their merit but is always the gift of God. “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth; who keeps loving kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave (the guilty) unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations” (Exod 34:6-7 NASB).