At Calvary

A Song of Mercy and Grace

David wrote, This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. Psalm 34:6

If you asked me to name a righteous man in Genesis, I’d say Abraham or Joseph. I wouldn’t mention Lot, yet “righteous” is the adjective used in 2 Peter 2:7—God “rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men.” Lot was Abraham’s nephew. He made some poor choices in life, but God still loved him and rescued him.

When the angels arrived at Sodom’s city gates in Genesis 19, Lot was a broken man, beaten down by a lifetime of unwise decisions and their consequences. As Lot left the doomed city he said, “I have found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified mercy” (Genesis 19:19 KJV). His words indicate that he knew about God’s grace and mercy, but his actions demonstrate that he did not understand them very well.

We pair those two words so often that we may think they are synonyms, but they aren’t. Mercy is a pardon: God withholds the punishment we do deserve. To be spared from the penalty of death and eternal torment in hell is mercy. Grace is a gift: God provides what we could never earn. To be adopted as God’s children and given eternal life is grace.

William Newell also knew about God’s grace and mercy, but as a young man he wandered far from his parents’ Christian beliefs. Then Dr. R. A. Torrey gave him the opportunity to attend Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. The more Newell learned about salvation, the more convicted he became. He expressed his appreciation for God’s grace and mercy in these words:

Years I spent in vanity and pride
Caring not my Lord was crucified
Knowing not it was for me He died – At Calvary.

Mercy there was great and grace was free
Pardon there was multiplied to me
There my burdened soul found liberty—At Calvary.

Newell concluded, “Now my raptured soul can only sing of Calvary.”  Both Lot and Newell thanked God for His grace and mercy, but only Newell responded in humility and obedience. Am I more like Lot or Newell?


What poor choices did Lot make in Genesis 13:1-13 and in Genesis 19:15-22? What were the consequences of those decisions? What can we learn from Lot’s mistakes?

Genesis 19:1 says that “Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city” which meant that he held a position of authority in Sodom. What do you think that indicates about Lot? (Consider the psalmist’s words in Psalm 1:1)

When you read about the grace and mercy God extended to Lot in Genesis 19, how do you feel?  Surprised? Indignant? Grateful?  Consider the reactions of the prodigal son’s brother and father in Luke 15:28-31.

Have you wandered from the faith you once had? To read more about Newell and his hymn “At Calvary” go to

  Denise K. Loock


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