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Why does God not punish us like we deserve?

“Now therefore, our God, the great God, mighty and awesome, who keeps his covenant of love, do not let all this hardship seem trifling in your eyes—the hardship that has come on us, on our kings and leaders, on our priests and prophets, on our ancestors and all your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until today…” Nehemiah 9:32

            He keeps His promise to us to show us mercy.  He should punish us the moment we sin the first time and yet He allows us to live.  It’s all about mercy and we should always be grateful.