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Isaiah 42:3

Hand of Mercy

Nowhere in the Old or New Testament do we find an excuse to kick a man when he is down. Rather, we are encouraged to extend the hand of mercy to anyone who is in trouble.

British author John Hunter points out how the mention of a “smoking flax” in Isaiah 42:3 illustrates this truth. Though the verse applies to Christ, it has a lesson for all believers. According to Hunter, Middle Easterners used a simple oil lamp to light their homes. It was a small clay vessel with the front end pinched together to form an opening. A piece of flax, serving as the wick, was inserted through the small hole until part of it was submerged in the oil. When the flax was saturated, it could be lighted. It would then burn with a soft, warm glow. But when the oil in the lamp was consumed, the flax would dry out. If it was ignited again, it would give off an acrid, dirty smoke, making the vessel offensive and useless. Now, you might think that the only thing to do would be to crush and discard the wick. But that would accomplish nothing. If you simply refill the lamp, the wick could burn brightly again.

Occasionally God’s people temporarily “run out of oil.” They become like the smoking flax because they are ill-tempered and offensive. But fellow believers should not abandon them or become angry and impatient with them. Rather, they should seek to restore them by being merciful and understanding. By supporting them with prayer and expressions of concern, they can help them burn again with the soft, warm glow of Christian love. - D.C.E.

Our Daily Bread, August 9