To Take Pity

What does it mean to take pity?

Merriam-Webster defines pity as: sympathetic sorrow for one suffering, distressed, or unhappy.

The approximately six-ounce kitten in the photo above received my pity instantly back in August 2013.

My husband and I were out walking our dogs before work one morning and heard a cat crying across the road from us.

While I held the dogs, my husband crossed the road to investigate. He attempted to capture her, but she kept darting away when he reached down.

Unable to capture her, he decided to return to me and the dogs without her. Then she came out onto the sidewalk under a streetlamp for the first time.

Until that moment I was unaware how tiny she was.

My heart melted for her safety.

By the time my husband had returned to my side of the road with the dogs, I instructed him to finish the walk while I attempted to attract her on my own. I crossed the street, sat down in the bushes, and ignored her until she was curious enough to be scooped up.

I knew if we failed to rescue her, she would end up as hawk food or roadkill. I was not comfortable with either scenario.

As my husband returned with the dogs, I was able to catch this tiny little kitten that we then took into our home.

Have you ever considered that God has been moved to take pity on us?

Read Joel 2:18:

ESV  Joel 2:18 Then the LORD became jealous for his land and had pity on his people.

Starting with the word “then”, this verse signals another transition in the book of Joel.

What does the word “then”, communicate?

One definition tells us that “then” means soon after that or next in order of time.

What transpired prior to verse 18 that sheds light on the use of the word “then”?

  • The book is a message from the Lord to the Judean community.
  • The Lord spoke through the prophet Joel to get the attention of the Judeans.
  • Chapter One describes a terrible locust invasion followed by drought and fires  that destroyed every scrap of vegetation in the community.
  • Chapter One also issues a call for the community to humble themselves with the implication being that they have neglected their relationship with the Lord.
  • Chapter Two is launched with a warning trumpet blast that the Lord has sent His unstoppable heavenly forces to conquer the Judeans.
  • But in Joel 2:12 the Lord indicates there is still time to stop His announced judgment.
  • 2:14 raises the possibility that the Lord may turn and have pity
  • 2:13-16 give specific instructions of what the general populace need to do.
  • 2:17 gives specific instructions to the priests or ministers of the Lord to weep before Him in His temple on behalf of the community.
  • 2:17 also draws the reputation of the Lord in the eyes of surrounding nations under scrutiny.

Now in 2:18 it is implied that if the Judeans have responded sincerely to the previous verses then the Lord’s compassion or pity will be aroused.

What else is aroused according to 2:18?

ESV  Joel 2:18 Then the LORD became jealous for his land and had pity on his people.

What does it mean to be jealous?

Of the meanings available, the context here indicates to me that the Lord jealousy is  meant to mean that He is aroused to be vigilant in guarding a possession, specifically his land.

Other translations may use the word zealous instead of jealous.

To be zealous means to be marked by fervent partisanship for a person, a cause, or an ideal.

Both words stem from the same Latin root zelus and were considered more similar in meaning until around the 18th century. Today many of us consider jealousy to have a negative connotation while zealousness is thought of as a more positive connotation.

Both words reveal an intense response towards something else whether it be a possession, person, or situation.

Have you ever considered that the Lord is jealous or zealous for you?

Have you ever considered that the Lord wants to take pity on your behalf?

  • Have you ever been jealous or zealous?
    • What motivated that reaction in you?
    • Was it something positive or negative?
  • Have you ever been moved to take pity for another being or situation?
    • What motivated that reaction in you?
    • Was it something positive or negative?
  • What is the motivation that is implied in Joel 1-2:17 that moved the Lord to jealousy (or zealousness) for His land and to take pity on His people?
    • Was it something positive or negative?

Today, the kitten my husband and I took pity on seven years ago has grown into an adult cat that is still one to not like being picked up for any reason but does express gratitude in her own unique ways. One way is by running to rub against me and talk to me whenever I suffer from a coughing fit.

Seven years ago, she cried out for help and we were moved to take pity on her. Since adopting her we are jealously or zealously caring for her as well.

If you are in need have you cried out to the Lord and returned to Him wholeheartedly as this scripture encourages?

Trust He will indeed hear your cry and respond to you with exactly what you need.

How will you express your gratitude to the Lord when He responds?


Barbara Lynn

PS The kitten today:


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