A Severe Mercy

When you have been swallowed into a whale of trouble, is your first reaction to write good poetry?

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Matthew 7:1-14

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

James 5:13-20

13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faithwill make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

Jonah Chapter 2

From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said:

“In my distress I called to the Lord,
    and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
    and you listened to my cry.
You hurled me into the depths,
    into the very heart of the seas,
    and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
    swept over me.
I said, ‘I have been banished
    from your sight;
yet I will look again
    toward your holy temple.’
The engulfing waters threatened me,[b]
    the deep surrounded me;
    seaweed was wrapped around my head.
To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
    the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
    brought my life up from the pit.

“When my life was ebbing away,
    I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
    to your holy temple.

“Those who cling to worthless idols
    turn away from God’s love for them.
But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
    will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
    I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”

10 And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

A Severe Mercy

Jonah was a prophet. By Prophet we mean he was a personification of all the prophets

Hosea 8:8

7“They sow the wind
    and reap the whirlwind.
The stalk has no head;
    it will produce no flour.
Were it to yield grain,
    foreigners would swallow it up.
8 Israel is swallowed up;
    now she is among the nations
    like something no one wants.

For they have gone up to Assyria
    like a wild donkey wandering alone.
    Ephraim has sold herself to lovers.
10 Although they have sold themselves among the nations,
    I will now gather them together.
They will begin to waste away
    under the oppression of the mighty king.

Jeremiah 51:34

33 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel:

“The daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor
At the time [al]it is stamped firm;
Yet in a little while the time of harvest will come for her.”

34 “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has devoured me and crushed me,
He has set me down like an empty vessel;
He has swallowed me like a monster,
He has filled his stomach with my delicacies;
He has washed me away.

35 “May the violence done to me and to my flesh be upon Babylon,”
The [am]inhabitant of Zion will say;
And, “May my blood be upon the inhabitants of Chaldea,”
Jerusalem will say.

36 Therefore thus says the Lord,

“Behold, I am going to plead your case
And exact full vengeance for you;
And I will dry up her [an]sea
And make her fountain dry.
37 “Babylon will become a heap of ruins, a haunt of jackals,
An object of horror and hissing, without inhabitants.
38 “They will roar together like young lions,
They will growl like lions’ cubs.
39 “When they become heated up, I will serve them their banquet
And make them drunk, that they may become jubilant
And may sleep a perpetual sleep
And not wake up,” declares the Lord.

The Child Immanuel
Isaiah 7:14

10 Then the Lord spoke again to Ahaz, saying, 11 “Ask a sign for yourself from the Lordyour God; [j]make it deep as Sheol or high as [k]heaven.” 12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord!” 13 Then he said, “Listen now, O house of David! Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well?
14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a [l]virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name [m]Immanuel. 
15 He will eat curds and honey [n]at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. 16 For before the boy will knowenough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.

Jonah Cries Out
Jonah 2

[a]Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the stomach of the fish, 2 and he said,

“I called out of my distress to the Lord,
And He answered me.
I cried for help from the [b]depth of Sheol;
You heard my voice.
3 “For You had cast me into the deep,
Into the heart of the seas,
And the current [c]engulfed me.
All Your breakers and billows passed over me.
4 “So I said, ‘I have been expelled from [d]Your sight.
Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.’
5 “Water encompassed me to the [e]point of death.
The great deep [f]engulfed me,
Weeds were wrapped around my head.
6 “I descended to the roots of the mountains.
The earth with its bars was around me forever,
But You have brought up my life from [g]the pit, O Lord my God.
7 “While [h]I was fainting away,
I remembered the Lord,
And my prayer came to You,
Into Your holy temple.
8 “Those who regard [i]vain idols
Forsake their faithfulness,
9 But I will sacrifice to You
With the voice of thanksgiving.
That which I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation is from the Lord.”

10 Then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.


Saul Throws Sharp Things at David

1 Samuel 18:10

10 Now it came about on the next day that an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul, and he raved in the midst of the house, while David was playing the harp with his hand, [e]as usual; and [f]a spear was in Saul’s hand. 11 Saul hurled the spear for he thought, “I will [g]pin David to the wall.” But David [h]escaped from his presence twice.
12 Now Saul was afraid of David, for the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul.

1 Samuel 19:10

8 When there was war again, David went out and fought with the Philistines and[c]defeated them with great slaughter, so that they fled before him. 9 Now there was an evil spirit from the Lord on Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand,and David was playing the harp with his hand. 10 Saul tried to [d]pin David to the wall with the spear, but he slipped away out of Saul’s presence, so that he [e]stuck the spear into the wall. And David fled and escaped that night.

1 Samuel 20:33

30 Then Saul’s anger burned against Jonathan and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you are choosing the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? 31 For [n]as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Therefore now, send and bring him to me, for he [o]must surely die.” 32 But Jonathan answered Saul his father and said to him, “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” 33 Then Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him down; so Jonathan knew that his father had decided to put David to death. 34 Then Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and did not eat food on the second day of the new moon, for he was grieved over David because his father had dishonored him.


Acts 16:27
Paul and Silas in Prison

22 The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their [j]robes off them and proceeded to order [k]them to be beaten with rods. 23 When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; 24 [l]and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the [m]stocks.

25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; 26 and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27 When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” 29 And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs,what must I do to be saved?”

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