I’ve been deeply encouraged and convicted as of late with a single Hebrew word.
Though this is a simple Hebrew word, its translation is quite complex. The translation into English can been rendered:
- steadfast love (or faithful love)
- loyalty (or unswervingly loyal)
- gracious covenant (or covenant loyalty)
- loving instruction
- covenant friendship
Technically there are more, but those are the main variants.
This amazing and powerful Hebrew word (Hesed) occurs nearly 250 times throughout all the major divisions of the Old Testament (Law, Prophets, and Writings), 127 of which are in the Psalms (with 26 of those in Psalm 136 alone).
Though Hesed is translated in a variety of ways throughout the Old Testament, the best definition I’ve found comes from a book by Michael Card, where he translated Hesed as “when the person from whom I have a right to expect nothing gives me everything.”
Our incredible, indescribable God is a God of Hesed.
Exodus 34:6-7 declares: “And the LORD passed before [Moses] and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in Hesed and truth, keeping Hesed for thousands [of generations], forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.'”
Our God abounds in Hesed – love, kindness, favor, loyalty, beauty, faithfulness, grace, and mercy.
This word shows up 26 times in Psalm 136 alone. Psalm 136 is a participatory psalm where a reader would remind the listeners of God’s character and faithfulness in supplying all Israel needed throughout its history, and the congregation would all repeat back a single line: “For His Hesed endures forever!”
Some translations render the line: “For His mercy endures forever!” Others say “For His faithfulness endures forever!” and still others use “For His lovingkindness endures forever!” or “For His steadfast love endures forever!”
But the more I’ve been studying Hesed, the more I’ve been merely saying “For His Hesed endures forever!”
With a word that is so comprehensive that its nearly inexpressible, using the Hebrew word allows all the definitions to be present when I declare forth that God’s Hesed indeed never ends, for He abounds in Hesed!
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
When is the last time that you pondered all God has done in your life? When did you last sit in awe of His abounding goodness, love, faithfulness, mercy, and “hesed.”
This is a month we typically set aside for thankfulness, gratitude, and remembering. May I encourage you to take some time and make a list of your own history – all the ways God has provided, been there, protected, given, blessed … and even the things that still don’t make sense – the difficulties, hardships, trials, sickness, and challenges.
What if you put a declaration of God’s character after each item? What if with every blessing, you too declared “For God’s Hesed endures forever!
What if in the midst of the difficulty, sickness, or challenge you were reminded that He hasn’t abandoned you but declared: “This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. Through the LORD’s Hesed we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:21-23).
I can face any challenge because my God abounds in Hesed and His Hesed endures forever!
Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His Hesed endures forever. (Psalm 136:1)
Bask in the reality that the God we love and serve, the One in whom indwells us with His Holy Spirit, is a God of Hesed – the One in whom we have a right to expect nothing from, yet gives us everything we need for life and godliness (see 2 Peter 1:3).
Know I am cheering you on down the Narrow Way of our precious Hesed God!
PS – I want to remind you that the next Israel Bible Study Tour is scheduled for April 15-26, 2020 and I’d love to have you join me on an epic Bible study adventure in the Holy Land as we experience and know more of our God of Hesed! Deadline to sign up is December 31.
PPS – this month we are giving away a free copy of Michael Card’s book on Hesed called Inexpressible. Learn more how you can win a free copy!