Holman Bible Dictionary


Sympathetic sorrow toward one facing suffering or distress. Pity was expected of friends (Job 19:21), kin (Amos 1:11), and God (Psalms 90:13). Enemies lacked pity (Psalms 17:10; Psalms 69:20; Isaiah 13:18; Jeremiah 21:7). Those guilty of idolatry, murder, or false witness were to be denied pity (Deuteronomy 7:16; Deuteronomy 13:8; Deuteronomy 19:13). The images of the father and shepherd illustrate God's pity (Psalms 103:13; Isaiah 49:10). God pities the penitent (Judges 2:18), the weak and needy (Psalms 72:13), Jerusalem in ruins (Psalms 102:13), those who fear God (Psalms 103:13), and the exiles (Isaiah 49:10). In judgment, God withholds pity from God's people (Jeremiah 13:14; Jeremiah 20:16; Lamentations 2:17; Lamentations 3:43; Ezekiel 5:11). Ezekiel pictured Jerusalem as an unpitied child denied the most basic postnatal care (Ezekiel 16:5). Hosea illustrated the fate of Israel with Lo-ruhamah, a child's name meaning, “not pitied” (Hosea 1:6; Hosea 2:23).

Pleas for pity are a common feature of healing narratives (Mark 9:22 NAS, NIV, NRSV; Luke 17:13 NIV). Pity moved Jesus to heal (Matthew 20:34 RSV). Jesus used a compassionate Samaritan as an unexpected example of active pity (Luke 10:33 NIV). Such active concern for those in need serves as evidence that one is a child of God (1 John 3:17 NIV).

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor.. "Entry for 'PITY'". "Holman Bible Dictionary".
<>. 1991.