Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Steadfast Love of God

As you read through the book of Deuteronomy, you repeatedly come across a word translated as "covenant loyalty" in the New Revised Standard Version.  I honestly prefer the New American Standard Version's translation: lovingkindness (yes, one word).  Another translation I like is "steadfast love."  The word being translated is hesed, and in defense of the bible translators, hesed means all of the above.  It's a tricky word to translate, a small word that carries a lot of weight.  It refers to the type of love one has in a committed relationship, a covenant, which is why it connotes the ideas of steadfastness and faithfulness.  It is kindness, but a deep, providing, sustaining kindness.  In the Old Testament, hesed is almost always the word used to describe God's love for his people.  Other then the proper name for God, I think you could make the argument that hesed is the most frequent way of describing who God is, and I find that amazingly comforting.

God loves us, and not like I love Chinese buffets.  He has invited us to be in a relationship with him, has initiated that contact.  He is faithful to that relationship, steadfast in the responsibilities that come with that relationship, and kind in his holding us accountable to that relationship.  He is not a fickle or moody partner.  He, in fact, is the only constant, while we continuously get tossed back and forth by the winds of our fancy.  The Apostle John, in the New Testament, didn't coin the phrase, "God is love."  The Old Testament writers beat him to the punch.  They knew who God was too.  God is hesed.

Stopping point: Deuteronomy 7

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