The Perfect Balance of Mercy and Justice

Mercy and Justice

The Perfect Balance of Mercy and Justice

“I will sing of your love and justice, Lord. I will praise you with songs.”

Psalm 101:1

Dear Kids,
When describing Who God is many people would use the phrase, “God is love.” This is a true statement and the Bible constantly reminds us of this truth. The idea of a loving God creates a comfortable and safe feeling. But the Bible also makes clear that God is a God of justice. This attribute doesn’t always sit so well and many try to ignore the fact. When faced with our own sin it can be terrifying. Yet mercy and justice are both important. They are like two weights on the ends of a seesaw. I don’t believe anyone would want to serve a God who had only mercy and didn’t care about justice.

The Need for Balance

When I was a child I loved to play at a couple of parks near our home. One Saturday morning our local Bible Club had a picnic at the playground at the bottom of our street. I ran from the swings to the jungle gym and finally to the seesaw where a good friend and I mounted each end. I enjoyed the thrill of riding up and down balanced out by each other’s weight, but after a few minutes things suddenly changed.

My friend decided to try something else and jumped off without telling me. Immediately my side crashed to the ground. Unfortunately my knee went under the board and suffered the consequences of my friend’s change of mind. Along with the initial pain of the unfortunate event I carried a huge swelling on that knee for many weeks. I learned a valuable lesson that day. Without balance people get hurt!

Mercy and Justice

Psalm 101, written by David, extols the complementary virtues of mercy and justice. David, although an imperfect king, recognized the importance of these qualities. In setting up his own kingdom he strove to do what was right. He desired to be blameless and walk in the integrity of his heart. He sought to keep his own eyes pure and require the same standards in his magistrates. Evil and perversity should have no place in his court. Slander and pride must also be eradicated.

Instead David preferred to keep his eyes on the faithful of the land, but to banish those who practiced deceit and spoke falsehoods. These standards were his goals and although he wasn’t able to follow through, he wanted to live and rule by them.

In setting these guidelines for his own kingdom David was seeking to emulate God’s perfect kingdom. While no human government, David’s included, can perfectly attain these standards, the need to strive for a balance of mercy and justice is so important. Without both of these, the seesaw will fall and people will get hurt. James Montgomery Boice, in his commentary on Psalm 101, states, “Mercy and justice operate as checks on one another. Justice checks love that might otherwise be wrongfully indulgent and therefore harmful. Love checks judgment that might otherwise be unduly harsh and therefore also harmful.”

 God Perfectly Embodies Love and Justice

Any good parent understands the necessity of a balance of mercy and justice. Allowing children to get away with anything and everything only breeds irresponsible adults. Yet harshly punishing every wrong can crush the spirit and ruin the soul. Wisdom is the fulcrum that balances the two sides of the board.

We, along with David, can sing of the love and justice of the Lord because He perfectly and fully embodies both attributes.  He holds us responsible for our sin, yet in mercy He sent His perfect Son, Jesus to stand in our place and bear the punishment we deserved. This act of mercy satisfied God’s required justice as it freed those who believe from the penalty of sin.

While it might seem more pleasant to dwell on the truth that “God is love” and ignore the fact that He is also just, don’t be fooled. Both attributes are necessary. It is painful to have an unbalanced teeter-totter. But praise be to God that He exhibits and has provided for all we need – the perfect balance of complete love and complete justice.



Psalm 101

Other Posts on God’s Love and Mercy:

God’s Love on an Ordinary Day

A Strong and Merciful God



  1. Larry K Bromagem on May 6, 2022 at 8:54 AM

    Thanks Sandy! Have a blessed day and a blessed life. May each member of your family be blessed.

    • Sandy on May 6, 2022 at 9:51 AM

      Thank you, Larry!

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Hi, I'm Sandy! 

I write inspirational letters based on the Bible that share words of hope, encouragement, truth, and healing to my children and anyone else who longs for a mama's touch.


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