I didn’t know what this word meant until this weekend. Not in some metaphorical way… like “I didn’t know what Love was until I met you” sort of thing. I literally had never heard of it.
Which is strange (even though it’s Hebrew) considering I have experienced it so many countless times. I am often blown away by new words… words that until the moment of hearing, I only knew of their meaning, not the name. Words like feuille-morte, crepuscular rays, petrichor. (Look those up if you don’t know them!) Hesed is one of the most beautiful examples of that.
I’ve studied the book of Ruth before, but only in the context of Relationships and Boys and Waiting For a Boaz Kind of Man. Never in the context of Hesed. Sunday morning at Adult Sunday School, studying Ruth, I learned the word I’ve spent my life discovering.
Hesed is a quality that moves someone to act for the benefit of someone else without considering “what’s in it for me?”
The word hesed is usually translated “kindness” or “lovingkindness.” Hesed is difficult to translate because it stands for a cluster of ideas—love, mercy, grace, kindness. It wraps up in itself all the positive attributes of God. Hesed is one of the Lord’s most treasured characteristics.
But it is not merely love, but loyal love; not merely kindness, but dependable kindness; not merely affection, but affection that has committed itself. It is steadfast, strong, and good.
By all accounts, the last few weeks have been some of the most fun I’ve had in a long time– wonderful birthday, crazy Thanksgiving with the family, a youth mountain retreat with some of my favorite teenagers, unbelievable Sufjan concert, Georgia Football, supper club, community group, Halloween, fall leaves, hot beverages, pumpkin spice everything… but understanding this word is maybe the best.
God’s act of hesed leads us in a chain of hesed for others: We love because He first loved us. If I can remember one thing from this season of my life, I want it to be that.