HESED. This is probably my favorite ancient-language word. It is Hebrew (read from right to left, and those little dots and funky markings are basically the vowels). I’m not a tattoo guy (yet?), but I was (am?) fairly close to getting one and it was this. Because it is so powerful, beautiful and transformative.
It is generally defined as “Steadfast Love; Goodness; Kindness; Faithfulness; Loyalty; Favor; Unconditional Love. This is the semi-equivalent to the Greek word Agape, but I think even bigger. It is used 247 times in the Old Testament and all over the Psalms. Let me unpack it a little.
33:5b the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.
God Himself, in his being, character and actions IS Love. Not just loving, but Love itself. In his essence God is this perfect, steadfast, passionate and powerful Love. God gets a lot of attention for being Omnipotent…meaning that he can do all things. But He can’t. God can only behave according to his being. And his being is Love. God doesn’t have the ABILITY to be or do anything unloving. God can’t go back on his promise or do harm to his loved ones. God can’t forget his people or be in any way faithless to us. This word HESED is far more than describing how God acts; it describes God himself. To drive home the point, the greatest HESED act, the act that displays his character the best, is his faithful sacrifice of his very own son. That’s HESED on steroids. Out of no consideration to himself, he gave us his very own: Jesus, the HESED of God in the Flesh.
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
So when I am afraid, angry, judgmental or overcome with sin (my own or others), I keep looking to HESED. If this God’s essence and how he has already treated me, how much more will he continue this love today and tomorrow? How much more will God pursue me still? If He’s gone to this extent to bring me home, how much more to flood me with more and more love, that I would, out of response and thanksgiving, love him and others in return…with my own seriously broken form of HESED.
So how can I appreciate and hold on to this Divine HESED today? When I feel unloved and unlovable, I must return to LOVE himself, who gave himself, to make me a vessel of LOVE to him and others.