The Hebrew word "hesed" which is translated as mercy in the NIV is a term which refers to God’s covenant faithfulness. Covenant is another word for contract, but specifically involves a weaker party who is utterly dependent on the stronger party to meet his or her needs. The stronger party accepts freely the responsibility of providing deliverance and protection to the weaker party, even though he has every right not to.
That’s why "hesed" can be translated as mercy because within the protective boundaries of God’s covenant faithfulness, we can have confidence to throw ourselves at the mercy of God again and again, and find forgiveness. To those who don’t know God, they are not aware that they are in need of mercy or to whom they can turn to for mercy. They are completely on their own. Their guilt, shame, sins are theirr reponsibility and they carry these things as heavy burdens thorughout their lives.
To love mercy – there is a personal and relational aspect to that phrase. I love mercy because I certainly need it. And because God has shown mercy to me, I can strive to be merciful to others.
What is the connection between "act justly" and "love mercy?"
To Christians who try their best to love mercy, we soon realize our limitations. We fall miserably short in our attempts to act justly toward others. That’s when God’s mercy and covenant faithfulness kick in. Instead of being judged as our sins deserve when we fail, we are protected under God’s covenant faithfulness. This is grace, that God would show mercy even when he would be totally justified to punish us unto death.
We need to live as debtors of God’s mercy.