But the Lord was gracious to them and had compassion on them, and he turned toward them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, nor has he cast them from his presence until now.
2 Kings 13:23
God honored two covenants during the darkest years of Israel and Judah. With Judah he kept covenant with David to have a descendent on the throne. With Israel, He kept the Abrahamic Covenant. Here in 2 Kings the author reminds us that despite the wickedness in Israel, the Northern Ten Tribes were spared the worst of the Syrian threat because God wanted to honor His covenant with the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God is remarkably gracious and compassionate as His people repeatedly turn from Him despite prophetic warnings. The covenant is the grounds for the grace. The nation did not earn it. God chose to be gracious because He had chosen this people long ago in Abraham to display His grace to the world.
Reading the stories of God's compassion in the history of Israel and Judah is instructive. It helps me to understand just why God is so merciful to sinners today. Jesus is the mercy and grace of God for us. He died so that God's mercy might spare me from my guilt's punishment. He was raised from the dead so that God's grace might raise me up to abundant and eternal life.
Like Israel, I did not deserve this. I struggle with heart idolatries and unfaithfulness to my Lord. And yet He has compassion despite my many failings. And I must rejoice and receive His merciful forgiveness. The Orthodox tradition has an emphasis on God's mercy that I remember as I see this reminder from ancient Israel. My prayer today is "Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy." Kyrie eleison. Christe eleison.