Is Grace Deceitful? Is Mercy Shame?

What is grace and mercy? Translations often can be misleading and sometimes misses out the rich meaning found in the original language. In this post, we will explore the two words – grace and mercy. This is very important because, the word ‘grace’ was not once used by Jesus Christ, but always taught to be merciful. Grace means favor, not undeserved favor. Mercy is disgrace and shame and showing mercy is to remove the reproach of others.


Grace means favor, not undeserved favor.

Gen 6:8-9 But Noah found grace [H2580 חֵן chen (chane)] in the eyes of the LORD. This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.

Nah 3:4 Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the wellfavoured [H2580 חֵן chen (chane)] harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts.

Prov 31:30 Charm [H2580 חֵן chen (chane)] is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.

Prov 17:8 A bribe is a charm [H2580 חֵן chen (chane)] in the sight of its owner; Wherever he turns, he prospers.

Noah was a righteous man and he found grace in the eyes of the Lord. It is the same word ‘grace’ used to describe how a harlot wins favor using her harlotry and whoredoms. It is also the same word ‘grace’ which proverbs says as deceitful and used to refer bribes. The point of this section is to simply show that ‘grace’ means ‘favor’ and refers to both positive and negative meaning. It certainly does not mean ‘undeserved favor’.

Asking mercy is disgrace and shame

Ps 109:16 Because he did not remember to show mercy [H2617 חֵסֵד checed ], But persecuted the poor and needy man, That he might even slay the broken in heart.

Exod 20:6 but showing mercy [H2617 חֵסֵד checed (cheh’-sed)] to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

Prov 14:34 Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach [H2617 חֵסֵד checed ] to any people.

Lev 20:17 ‘If there is a man who takes his sister, his father’s daughter or his mother’s daughter, so that he sees her nakedness and she sees his nakedness, it is a disgrace [H2617 חֵסֵד checed ]; and they shall be cut off in the sight of the sons of their people. He has uncovered his sister’s nakedness; he bears his guilt. (MASB)

We all know mercy in English is being kind and compassionate but in ancient Hebrew, it has a richer meaning. Mercy actually means reproach, shame or disgrace. To ask or beg for mercy is a disgrace, shame or reproach as in Luke 16:3 where the steward is ashamed to ‘beg’. This is exactly what mercy means. But to show mercy is to remove the reproach or shame of the person asking for mercy and satisfying the person’s need. In English, the word ‘mercy’ is from the perspective of the person showing mercy, thus it is not considered as a shame. But in ancient Hebrew, the word ‘mercy’ is from the perspective of the person receiving mercy, this it is considered as a shame and reproach.

Receiving grace and mercy from God

Ps 145:8 The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy.

The Lord is gracious and great in mercy. But His favor in showing mercy to us is ‘not to be taken for granted’.

Prov 28:13 He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.

Prov 3:34 Surely He scorns the scornful, But gives grace to the humble.

God will not remove the shame and disgrace, or in Daniel’s words, the everlasting contempt because of wickedness and sins (Dan 12:2) if we don’t confess and forsaking them. No one can receive favor from God if they are not humble before Him.

Matt 9:13 “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

Prov 28:13 He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.

Compare the above verse to Proverbs 28:13. Without true repentance, which includes not just confessing our sins but also forsaking them, no one can receive mercy from God.

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