“The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression”
~ Numbers 14:18
When we stop to think about it, some words sound funny when they come out of our mouths. A friend of mine introduced me to a YouTube video entitled, “Bulbous Bouffant.” In this comedy sketch the characters enunciate words such as blubber, mukluks, galoshes and gazebo in a way that is very funny. One of my teachers in Bible School and Seminary loved to make light of the sound of some words in the original language. Pastor Holmaas taught Old Testament, which was originally written in the Hebrew language. One word that he especially emphasized will never leave my mind. What is that word? The way to spell it in English would be: “HSD” or “Hesed.”
Saying the word “hesed” in Hebrew is the equivalent of clearing your throat of phlegm. Because this is a written article and not given by word of mouth, I invite you to ask me to say the word “hesed” so you know what I am talking about. Pastor Holmaas, as he taught us the Old Testament, would always stop, smile and gush about this word. In addition, he would frequently have us as a class say “hesed” together out loud. We loved it. But what, you may ask, does it mean? Hesed is such a rich word that it needs to be defined by two words in English: steadfast love.
This word, also translated as “loving-kindness,” is one of those words that, though it may sound funny, actually has great depth of meaning. One gets the sense of the overwhelming love of God just from that single little word. Those three little letters of the Hebrew alphabet pack into it meaning that explodes and pours out to us. We desperately need this amazing love! God lavishes it on us! The expression, “God loves you” can sometimes sound trite and cliché, but it is in no way that. The truth of that statement, as it is unfolded and expressed in the Bible, penetrates deeply into our unloving hearts. God expresses His love for all people over and over again. He speaks tenderly to His people throughout the pages of His Word. He delivers them from slavery in Egypt and, through the Passover celebration, points forward to Jesus’ death on the cross as the Lamb of God. Even in judgment of sin, God leaves a remnant, a group of remaining people. God tenderly heals the wounds of the prostitute in Hosea, which represents the horrendous sin of His people. God guides history all the way to Jesus. There, in Jesus, we have the greatest expression of God’s hesed. This word “hesed” is so powerful and rich in meaning that the Israelites repeat this expression throughout the Old Testament. They keep coming back to it. In light of that, I want to list for you a number of times in the Bible where this word is used. Let these sweet words drench your soul with the love of God. Be refreshed.
*Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. Deuteronomy 7:9
*Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever. 2 Samuel 22:51
*And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, “For he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.” And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. Ezra 3:11
*Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord! Psalm 25:7
*I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation. Psalm 40:10
*Read all of Psalm 136. Every verse repeats: “For His ‘hesed’ (steadfast love) endures forever.”
*There are many, many more references.
Do you hear it? God says to you, “I LOVE YOU!” For whatever reason, saying “I love you,” may sound silly coming out of your mouth. It is a wonderful thing to say. There are people around you that need to hear you say it to them repeatedly. Spouses, say those beautiful words to each other. I probably don’t need to write this, but at this moment say back to God, “I love you, too.” It’s not a silly word to say.
Pastor Brett Boe