This word is entirely synonymous with compassion both in OT and NT, except, perhaps, in 1Pe 3:8, where 'sympathetic' would better express the meaning of the original word (see Revised Version margin). Pity was regarded by OT writers as holding an essential place in the relations of God and His people (see Ps 78:38; 86:15; 103:13; 111:4; 112:4; 145:8; Isa 63:8; cf. Jas 5:11). One of the ways in which this Divine feeling became active on their behalf reveals an incipient belief in the dealings of Jehovah with nations other than Israel; for He is often represented as infusing compassion for His chosen into the hearts of their enemies (cf. 1Ki 8:50; 2Ch 30:9; Ps 106:46; Ezr 9:9; Ne 1:11; Jer 42:12). An objective manifestation of the feeling of pity in the heart of God was recognized in the preservation of His people from destruction (La 3:22 f.), and in the numerous instances which were regarded as the interventions of mercy on their behalf (cf. Ex 15:13; Nu 14:19; De 13:17; 30:3; 2Ki 13:23; 2Ch 36:15). The direct result of this belief was that Israelites were expected to display a similar disposition towards their brethren (cf. Mic 6:8; Isa 1:17; Jer 21:12; Pr 19:17). They were not required, however, to look beyond the limits of their own race (De 7:16, See De 7:9) except in the case of individual aliens who might at any time be living within their borders (see Ex 22:21; 23:9; De 10:18 f. etc.).
In the parable of the Unmerciful Servant, Jesus inculcates the exercise of pity in men's dealings with each other, and teaches the sacredness of its character by emphasizing its identity with God's compassion for sinners (Mt 18:33; cf. Lu 6:36; Mt 5:7; 9:18). The teaching of Jesus, moreover, broadened its conception in the human mind by insisting that henceforth it could never be confined to the members of the Jewish nation (cf. the parable of the Good Samaritan, Lu 10:25-37). At the same time His own attitude to the thronging multitudes surrounding Him was characterized by profound pity for their weaknesses (Mt 15:32 = Mr 8:2; cf. Mt 9:36; 14:14). Under His guidance, too, Divine pity for the world was transmuted into that Eternal Love which resulted in the Incarnation (Joh 3:16). Side by side with this development, and in exact correspondence with it, Jesus evolves out of human pity for frailty the more fundamental, because it is the more living, quality of love, which He insists will be active even in the face of enmity (Mt 5:43 f., Lu 6:27 ff.).
J. R. Willis.
You in your mercy have led forth the people whom you have redeemed: you have guided them in your strength unto your holy habitation.
You shall neither wrong a stranger, nor oppress him: for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Also you shall not oppress a stranger: for you know the heart of a stranger, seeing you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Pardon, I beseech you, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of your mercy, and as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.
Know therefore that the LORD your God, he is God, the faithful God, who keeps covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;
And you shall consume all the people whom the LORD your God shall deliver you; your eye shall have no pity upon them: neither shall you serve their gods; for that will be a snare unto you.
He executes justice for the fatherless and widow, and loves the stranger, in giving him food and clothing.
And there shall cleave none of the accursed thing to your hand: that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of his anger, and show you mercy, and have compassion upon you, and multiply you, as he has sworn unto your fathers;
That then the LORD your God will return you from captivity, and have compassion upon you, and will return and gather you from all the nations, where the LORD your God has scattered you.
And forgive your people that have sinned against you, and all their transgressions in which they have transgressed against you, and give them compassion before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them:
For we were slaves; yet our God has not forsaken us in our bondage, but has extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to rebuild the house of our God, and to repair its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem.
O Lord, I beseech you, let now your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants, who desire to fear your name: and prosper, I pray you, your servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king's cupbearer.
But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.
But you, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in mercy and truth.
Like as a father pities his children, so the LORD pities them that fear him.
He made them also to be pitied of all those that carried them captives.
He has made his wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.
Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.
The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.
He that has pity upon the poor lends unto the LORD; and that which he has given will he pay him again.
Learn to do good; seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Savior.
O house of David, thus says the LORD; Execute justice in the morning, and deliver him that is plundered out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury go out like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.
And I will show mercies unto you, that he may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return to your own land.
It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.
While he spoke these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshiped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay your hand upon her, and she shall live.
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away without food, lest they faint in the way.
Should not you also have had compassion on your fellow servant, even as I had pity on you?
I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat:
But I say unto you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to them who hate you,
Be you therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tested him, saying, Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how read you? read more. And he answering said, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. And he said unto him, You have answered right: this do, and you shall live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the next day when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the innkeeper, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever you spend more, when I come again, I will repay you. Which now of these three, think you, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do you likewise.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Behold, we count them happy who endure. You have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very compassionate, and of tender mercy.
Finally, be all of one mind, having compassion one with another, love as brethren, be tender hearted, be courteous: