The Overwhelming Steadfast Love of the Loving God

Sunday Musings   

loving-kindness, a characteristic of God in the ot. The Hebrew word khesed, which is rendered by the KJV as ‘loving-kindness’ (30 times), as ‘kindness’ (38 times), and as ‘mercy’ (145 times), is translated in the RSV chiefly as ‘steadfast love’ (182 times) and ‘kindness’ (21 times), but occasionally as ‘great kindness’ (Gen. 19:19) or ‘loyal love’ (1 Sam. 20:14). In its preference for ‘mercy’ the KJV was obviously influenced by the Septuagint (LXX) which in 168 instances renders khesed as ‘mercy’ or ‘compassion’ (Gk. eleos).

All renderings in English only approximate the richness of the original. It contains the idea of devotion, loyalty, and covenant faithfulness (see Exod. 34:6; Neh. 9:32). Thus one who was ḥasēēd (Ps. 18:25) was a ‘loyal’ (RSV) ‘devout person.’ … This word is used chiefly, but not exclusively, of God. The ‘kindness’ the prophet Micah enjoins humankind to love includes both its human and divine aspects (Mic. 6:1-6). It is thus a metonym for covenantal loyalty and performance.    [John G. Gammie]*

That’s the theological dictionary definition of the Hebrew word khesed. I have been circling, and underlining, and highlighting and meditating on the word because of its prominence in Psalms 115-118.  I’m looking forward to chewing long on the word this afternoon. Join me and let the Spirit of God grab your soul anew with the wonder of his love.

John G. Gammie, Ph.D.; Emma A. Harwell Professor of Biblical Literature; University of Tulsa; Tulsa, Oklahoma
*Achtemeier, Paul J. ; Harper & Row, Publishers; Society of Biblical Literature: Harper’s Bible Dictionary. 1st ed. San Francisco : Harper & Row, 1985, S. 581

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