Hesed – our souls’ deepest longing

Hesed. My favorite Hebrew word.  In the NASB it is most often translated “lovingkindness,” but this translation just sounds to mushy, too fluffy. ESV translates this often as “steadfast love” which sounds less “mushy.”  Yet, Hesed is more strong, brave, noble, loyal, faithful. Hesed means more than a steady, kind, love. Hesed is a full word, too full to be translated with one English word.  Hesed entails love, and action, and loyalty, and promises made and kept. It harkens back to covenant making and keeping. God exercises hesed, we are all often too faithless and selfish to come close to being described as having or exercising hesed.  The command given to us is to not let hesed or truth leave us; we should etch them both into the tablet of our hearts (see Proverbs 3).

Side note:  one of the comical nuances, in Mark Twain’s opinion, of the German language is how they make up words when they can’t find one.  They combine so many words into one that one word can appear as a sentence. In English, we sometimes err in the opposite direction.  We cut half the meaning away. We don’t know what to do with a word that implies “covenant-keeping-loyal-powerfully protecting-overseeing-working all things for the good of your soul-eternal-redemptive-love,” so we translate it into fluffy kindness.  “Nice.”

God shows His hesed by loving us first, for He is love.  Then, drawing us into His perfect and eternal love, (the quality of which cannot be matched, let alone fully grasped) and giving us hearts capable of knowing and enjoying true love.  He then fits us for heaven, our true home, full of love unmarred by sin or corruption. He makes covenant promises, enters into that covenant, guarentees it, and keeps it.

Notice, brethren, when you read the OT (which I hope you do often), how often “lovingkindness” or “steadfast love” appear.  Journal through the verses, and allow yourself to say “hesed” (the “h” by the way is pronounced in a gutteral manner, as though you were getting something up out of the back of your throat) as you read those words.

Then, as you pray through Ephesians 3:14-21, your desire for hesed will transform this prayer.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints with is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.  Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever, Amen.

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