His Love Endures Forever


“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.

 Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever.

 Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever.

to him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever.

 who by his understanding made the heavens, His love endures forever.

who spread out the earth upon the waters, His love endures forever.

 who made the great lights — His love endures forever.

 the sun to govern the day, His love endures forever.

 the moon and stars to govern the night; His love endures forever.

 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt His love endures forever.

 and brought Israel out from among them His love endures forever.

 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm; His love endures forever.

 to him who divided the Red Sea asunder His love endures forever.

 and brought Israel through the midst of it, His love endures forever.

 but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea; His love endures forever.

 to him who led his people through the desert, His love endures forever.

 who struck down great kings, His love endures forever. 

 and killed mighty kings — His love endures forever. 

 Sihon king of the Amorites His love endures forever.

 and Og king of Bashan — His love endures forever.

 and gave their land as an inheritance, His love endures forever.

 an inheritance to his servant Israel; His love endures forever.

 to the One who remembered us in our low estate His love endures forever.

 and freed us from our enemies, His love endures forever.

 and who gives food to every creature. His love endures forever.

 Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.”2

This psalm is representative of one of the ways the Israelites would worship the LORD.  A priest would say the first part and the congregation would say the bolded words as a response.  While the English translation demonstrates a powerful message, we often miss just how powerful it is because Hebrew words often cannot be translated to just one word in English.  The word “love” used in this psalm comes from the Hebrew word “hesed” and there is no single English word that would be a perfect match to the definition of hesed.

A good working definition of “hesed” is “the consistent, ever-faithful, relentless, constantly-pursuing, lavish, extravagant, unrestrained, furious love of our Father God!”3   God pursues us desiring a “hesed” love relationship.  The word “hesed” is used 240 times in the Old Testament.  There are four key components to understanding “hesed” and they are essential to defining the magnitude of this word.  They are:

  1. Lovingkindness
  2. Mercy
  3. Covenant Relationship
  4. Truth

Lovingkindness in this case can be described as love in action.  God pursues us with a love that is steadfast and it will never fail us.  In the book of Isaiah God tells us “In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,’ says the LORD your Redeemer.”4   While God’s men often struggle with the idea of unconditional love, God has repeatedly demonstrated His unconditional love for us.  “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”5   God is telling us that the world around us could be in total chaos yet it does not change His commitment to us or His compassion for us.  In fact, scripture tells us “The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”6  God’s Word is reassuring us that our Heavenly Father’s lovingkindness and compassion are so secure that they are brand new each day.  I can remember as a boy how I felt when something was a “hand-me-down” versus something brand new.  God’s lovingkindness is never a hand-me-down but it is brand new for God’s men every day.

The second component of “hesed” is mercy.  I am enormously grateful that God gives me mercy rather than justice.  I am undeserving of His mercy and very deserving of His justice but because of “hesed” He chooses to provide me with His mercy.  David says “But I will sing of Your power; Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; For You have been my defense And refuge in the day of my trouble.   To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises; For God is my defense, My God of mercy.”7   This component of hesed” is one that God’s men need to learn how to apply as well as receive.  We understand very well its meaning when it has to do with us and our desire to receive God’s mercy for something we have done; but we aren’t so quick to return that mercy to others when we are dealing with people and situations around us.  God is deeply concerned for our welfare and He will intervene on our behalf when we are dealing with adversity.  David uses the word refuge” which can be defined as “shelter or protection from danger or distress.”8   God’s mercy (“hesed”) provides us shelter or protection from danger or distress.

Covenant Relationship is the third component of “hesed.”  Covenant can be defined as “A pact, treaty, alliance, or agreement between two parties of equal or of unequal authority. The covenant or testament is a central, unifying theme in Scripture, God’s covenants with individuals and the nation Israel finding final fulfillment in the new covenant in Christ Jesus. God’s covenants can be understood by humans because they are modeled on human covenants or treaties.”9   Scripture tells us “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.”10   While God will remain faithful and loyal to this covenant, by definition, it requires that both parties enter into agreement.  It is not a one sided arrangement where God gives and we take.  That is why the scripture states “of those who love him and keep his commands.”  Today, God’s men initiate that covenant relationship by entering into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  The agreement cannot be fulfilled unless both parties remain loyal and faithful to the covenant.

Truth is the fourth component.  While our Heavenly Father is merciful, truth goes hand-in-hand with mercy.  Sixteen times in the Old Testament “hesed” is joined with the Hebrew word for truth.  “In mercy and truth atonement is provided for iniquity; and by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.”11   It is very important that God’s men understand the definition of “atonement.”  Atonement, meaning reconciliation, “was associated with sacrificial offerings to remove the effects of sin in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, refers specifically to the reconciliation between God and humanity affected by the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.”12   The first step to having a “hesed” love relationship with our Heavenly Father is we must be reconciled with.  This verse also uses the word “fear;” in this context the word should be defined as “awe” and “respect” rather than being afraid.  It is because God is so awesome that we turn from evil and look to Him for our solution and our salvation.  It is through reconciliation in our relationship with God and respect of who He truly is that gives us the full benefit of “hesed” love.

God’s men must understand that “hesed” love is not just about God’s faithfulness and covenant with us but it is a reciprocal relationship that requires us to be faithful and loyal to Him.  In addition, since we are to model ourselves after Christ, we are to show “hesed” love to others.  “He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the LORD require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”13   Whether in our marriage relationship, family relationship, or friend relationship we must demonstrate the love that is shown to us through a righteous relationship with a Holy God.  My prayer is that you will understand and embrace the meaning of “hesed” because if you do, it will not only be life changing, but world changing in impact.

[1] This article is based on concepts presented by Pastor Scott Cappleman, Pastor of CrossPoint Baptist Church, Starkville, MS, in his sermon on Sunday, 6/10/12.
[2] Psalm 136:1-26.  All scriptures used in this article are taken from the NIV 1984 translation of the Holy Bible unless otherwise noted.
[3] Taken from the website “hesed.com.
[4] Isaiah 54:8
[5] Isaiah 54:10
[6] Lamentations 3:22&23 from the NASB translation.
[7] Psalm 59:16&17
[8] Taken from www.merriam-webster.com online dictionary.
[9] Holman Bible Dictionary, Broadman and Holman, 1991.
[10] Deuteronomy 7:9
[11] Proverbs 16:6 New King James Version
[12] Holman Bible Dictionary, Broadman and Holman, 1991.
[13] Micah 6:8

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