What does it mean that God’s mercies are new every morning?

Question: "What does it mean that God’s mercies are new every morning?"

Answer:
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.”
The ESV and KJV use the word mercies instead of compassions. God’s mercy and compassion are “new every morning,” yet another reason to praise Him.

The prophet Jeremiah wrote Lamentations in a time of grief and national mourning, after the once great city of Jerusalem fell to Babylon, circa 586 BC. The book describes great anguish—and great hope—in poetic form. The main theme of the book is God’s judgment on Judah’s sin as well as His compassion for His people. Lamentations contains “laments” or “loud cries” for Jerusalem and many expressions of anguish and pain, but in chapter 3, right in the middle of the book, there is a beautiful passage of confidence and hope.

Jeremiah’s tone changes from despair to hope in Lamentations 3:21: “Yet this I call to mind / and therefore I have hope.” From this and ensuing verses, we know that, even in the darkest times, God is faithful and will not cast off His people forever. Every day, every morning, God shows His mercy and compassion.

Taking a closer look at Lamentations 3:22–23, we notice a couple important themes. First, the Lord’s “great love” (“steadfast love” in some translations) abides even in times of trouble and divine judgment. God never stopped loving Israel, despite His discipline of them. The Hebrew word translated “great love” is used about 250 times in the Old Testament; it refers to love, of course, but it also encompasses elements of grace, mercy, goodness, forgiveness, compassion, and faithfulness. It is because of God’s “great love” for His people that spared them from being utterly wiped out by Babylon. As we know from history, God later restored His people to their land and blessed them again.

A second theme is God’s unfailing compassion or mercy. Mercy in the Bible is God’s withholding of a just punishment. The particular Hebrew word used in Lamentations 3:22 has to do with tender love, great and tender mercy, or pity. The same word is used in Isaiah 63:7 and translated “compassion”: “I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us—yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses.” The Lord has pity on His suffering children; in fact, His mercies are new every morning.

Jeremiah’s statement that God’s mercies are “new every morning” is related to the statement that follows: “Great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:23). God is unchanging, and His mercies toward Israel were unfaltering. His covenant with Abraham’s descendants would be kept (see Jeremiah 31:35–37). This was the bright ray of hope that shone through the smoke of Jerusalem’s ruins.

The dawning of every new day could be seen as a symbol of God’s light breaking through the darkness and His mercy overcoming our troubles. Every morning demonstrates God’s grace, a new beginning in which gloom must flee. We need look no further than the breath in our lungs, the sun that shines upon us, or the rain that falls to nourish the soil. The mercies of God continue to come to us via a multitude of manifestations.

There is no expiration date on God’s mercy toward us. His mercies are new every morning in that they are perpetual and always available to those in need. We have our ups and downs, and “even youths grow tired and weary” (Isaiah 40:30), but God is faithful through it all. With the dawn of each day comes a new batch of compassion made freshly available to us. God’s compassion is poured out from an infinite store; His mercies will never run out. Some mornings we get up on the wrong side of the bed, but even there we find God’s mercies awaiting us.

Believers still sin and grieve the Holy Spirit, but forgiveness is always available (1 John 1:8–9). God’s mercy is ready to forgive our sins, as they are atoned for by the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. We serve a great, loving, and merciful God, and because of His great love we are not consumed. Our God is for us, not against us.

In Jesus Christ we have the fullest expression of God’s mercy and compassion (see Matthew 14:14), and He is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Jesus’ mercy is indeed “new every morning.”

Recommended Resources: NIV Application Commentary Jeremiah / Lamentations by J. Andrew Dearman

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