14th October 2022
Read Psalm 117
Message Alan Burke
Today we are going to focus on one word, and it is a word that translators have struggled to capture the depth and wonder of its meaning as they have translated the Hebrew to English. The word is used over 250 times in the Old Testament and used 127 in the Psalms, translators often have translated this as ‘merciful kindness’ as the KJV puts it, the NIV in Psalm 117 it is simply translated as ‘love’, but neither the KJV or the NIV consistently translate the word. Some of the many different ways in which it is translated, are mercy, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, loyalty, some times phrases are used. The ESV does the best at constantly translating this word in the same way and and the term it uses is “steadfast love”, so when you read the ESV and see the phrase ‘steadfast love’ you will always know that the Hebrew word חֶסֶד in English ‘hesed’ is used there. You might be thinking ‘seriously Alan, what does it matter’ but it does, for this word has such depths that to ignore it would rob us of the wonder of the Love of God.
This word hesed is used in Exodus 34, where we are told, the Lord passed before Moses and proclaimed, and I’m taking this from the ESV because it is consistent… “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…” Don’t forget that the Lord said these words to Moses just after His people had made a golden calf and worshiped it, and yet here the Lord assures Moses of his ‘hesed’ love, His steadfast love. Hesed is a word that reminds us that the Lord’s love for His people is not like how we love, how I love or you love, that is changeable, that goes in and out of fashion, that is here today and gone the next, or is conditional, and whether we want to accept it our not our love is conditional.
God’s love towards His people, toward us through the Lord Jesus Christ is not like our love, it is not conditional, it is not changeable, it doesn’t change from one day to the next, it is a hesed love, a steadfast love, a love that continues steadfastly, the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. I want to take you to the book of Lamentations, again I’m using the ESV and we are told in chapter 3,
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Just as with what the Lord said to Moses in the book of Exodus, here in Lamentations we read this in the context of the people of God’s sinful rebellion, time and time again God’s people know the hesed Love of God. But not only that God in His hesed love gave us the heavens, their starry host, the sun that gives light to the day and the moon for the night, (Ps 136), by His hesed love we have a harvest to celebrate, for He has provided once more. What is more is that Christ Jesus who went to the cross because of His hesed love towards us, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8). Jesus Christ went to the cross to die in our stead so that we who are gentiles by birth might know the surpassing riches of God in Him, even though we are sinful rebels, God’s hesed love is shown to us so that we could be clothed with the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ as if were our very own, as if we had lived this perfect righteousness ourselves.
Q78 What is forbidden in the ninth commandment?
The ninth commandment forbiddeth whatsoever is prejudicial to truth, or injurious to our own or our neighbour’ s good name. (1 Sam. 17:28, Lev. 19:16, Ps. 15:3)