Less than the least of all God’s mercies.” This was the motto 17th-century English poet and clergyman George Herbert engraved on his signet ring, and it was the phrase with which he signed his letters and books. Jacob had spoken these words when he pondered God’s goodness despite his own sin and shame: “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant” (Gen. 32:10).
The word “mercies” is from the Hebrew word chesed, meaning “God’s enduring love.” I think it is significant that it rose from the heart of one who saw himself as utterly unworthy.
Relying solely on God’s faithful love, Jacob cries out: “Deliver me!” What an odd combination of thoughts: “I am not worthy . . . . Deliver me” (vv.10-11). Unlike some who seem to have it all together, Jacob knew that everything he brought to God had been ruined by sin. He thought of himself as a man undeserving of God’s grace. But his hope lay not in his worth but in the promise of God to look with favor on those who throw themselves on His mercy. Humility and contrition are the keys that open the heart of God.
As He did with Jacob, God hears us when we humbly cry out to Him for mercy. — David H. Roper