Blessed Are The Merciful: For They Shall Obtain Mercy
The merciful.–The thought is the same as that afterwards embodied in the Lord’s Prayer. They who are pitiful towards men their brethren are ipso facto the objects of the divine pity. The negative aspect of the same truth is presented in James 2:13. In this case, the promised blessing tends to perpetuate and strengthen the grace which is thus rewarded. No motive to mercy is so constraining as the feeling that we ourselves needed it and have found it.
Verse 7. – Our Lord here turns more directly to the character of his followers in relation to men; and in the next three Beatitudes mentions particulars which might be suggested by the sixth, seventh, and ninth commandments. The merciful (οἱ ἐλεήμονες). The mercy referred to here is not so much the almost negative quality which the word usually suggests to us (not dealing harshly, not inflicting punishment when due, sparing an animal or a fellow-man some unnecessary labour), as active kindness to the destitute and to any who are in trouble (cf. Matthew 9:27; Matthew 15:22; Matthew 17:15; Mark 5:19). As compared with οἰκτίρμονες (Luke 6:36), it seems to lay more stress on the feeling of pity showing itself in action and not only existing in thought. To this statement of our Lord’s, that they who show mercy to those in need shall themselves be the objects of mercy (i.e. from God) in their time of need, many parallels have been adduced, e.g., by Wetstein. Rabbi Gamaliel (? the second, circa A.D. ), as reported by Rabbi Judah (circa A.D. ), says (Talm. Bab., ‘Sabb.,’ 151 b), on Deuteronomy 13:18, “Every one that showeth mercy to others, they show mercy to him from heaven, and every one that showeth not mercy to others, they show him not mercy from heaven;” cf. also ‘ Test. XII. Patr.:’ Zab., § 8, “In proportion as a man has compassion (σπλαγχνίζεται) on his neighbour, so has the Lord upon him;” and, probably with reference to this passage, Clem. Rom., § 13, ἐλεᾶτε ἵνα ἐλεηθῆτε. (For the converse, cf. James 2:13.) Calvin remarks, “Hoc etiam paradoxon cum humano judicio pugnat. Mundus reputat beatos, qui malorum alienorum securi quieti suae consulunt: Christus autem hic beatos dicit, qui non modo ferendis propriis malis parati sunt, sed aliena etiam in se suscipiunt, ut miseris succurrant.”
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