Pity




God’s pity.

God pities men as a father pities his children because He knows their weakness (Ps 103:13). Though God pities man for his weakness, yet He does not extend pity to those openly rebellious (Jer 13:14; 15:5; 21:7; Lam 2:17; 3:43).

Man’s pity.

David judged the rich man in Nathan’s parable to be worthy of death because he had no pity on the poor man (2 Sam 12:6). To show pity on the poor, the Bible says, is to lend to God who repays (Prov 28:27; cf. Matt 10:42).

When pity is excluded.

Pity was withheld in the OT from: (a) the nations possessing the Promised Land when Israel conquered it (Deut 7:17, 24); (b) from other Israelites if they turned and served other gods (Deut 13:6-11); (c) from those who gave false witness (Deut 19:18-21).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

"Pity," probably contracted from "piety," is tender feeling for others in misery or distress. It is allied to compassion (which see), but differs in respect of the object that causes the distress (or feeling). The feeling of pity is excited chiefly by the weakness, miserable or degraded condition of the object; compassion by his uncontrollable and inevitable misfortunes: "We pity a man of weak understanding who exposes his weakness; we compassionate the man who is reduced to a state of beggary and want" (Crabb, English Synonyms). Pity often becomes allied to contempt; "a pity" is something to be regretted. See Pitiful. In the Old Testament "pity" is closely akin to "mercy." It is most frequently the translation of chamal, "to pity," "to spare," e.g. in Nathan’s parable of the poor man’s one lamb, it is said that the rich man was worthy to die because he had "no pity" (2Sa 12:6).


The Revised Version (British and American) has "pity" for "mercy" (Pr 14:21); "have pity on" for "spare" (Ps 72:13); for "favour" (Ps 109:12; 102:13,14), "Have pity upon her dust."

See Mercy; Compassion.