Chesed (or hesed) is a word I learned recently. I’m not completely sure how to pronounce it. It is the Hebrew word for God’s relationship with his people, the Israelites. You may recognize it translated as loving-kindness, but that doesn’t quite capture the full flavor of the meaning. It encapsulates a triune God in full relationship between the Father, Spirit, and Son. A God whose love flows from an infinite source within Himself. A God that needs nothing from us, but because of His nature extended His goodness to His chosen people. This was God’s message to the Israelites in Exodus 6:7:
“I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.”
The Israelites couldn’t accept this, because all they could see was their reality of harsh labor and discouragement. I know I don’t often see the reality of chesed either. All I can see is fickle earthly love that rises and falls based on my emotions. Many times my prayer time goes, “Yeah, yeah You love me God. That’s great and all, but can you fix this situation? and heal this person? and repair this relationship?” That’s not verbatim, but my attitude is well represented here.
Lets see what the New Testament says about chesed in Ephesians 2:4-7:
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
When I forget this I might as well be an Israelite slave refusing to make the journey out of Egypt into the promised land. Only it’s worse, “No thanks God, leave me here dead. I’m too discouraged to be alive.”
I’ve been thinking about God’s love all wrong. His lovingkindness is so much more than what I can understand because it’s more than what’s on Earth. All the love I’ve received, all the love I’ve given, all the love I’ve seen, and all the love I’ve wanted is not enough to save me. The love he’s given is so much more than we’ve asked for. So when you come across “lovingkindness” think chesed.
I shall make mention of the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, the praises of the Lord, According to all that the LORD has granted us, And the great goodness toward the house of Israel, Which He has granted them according to His compassion And according to the abundance of His lovingkindnesses. Isaiah 63:7