Day 123: My Favorite Hebrew Word (Psalm 106-107)

Not my wrist. Not yet, anyway.
“Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.” Psalm‬ ‭107:43‬ ‭ESV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

There aren’t many things I would be willing to have tattooed permanently on my body. But there is one Hebrew word that, if I ever do get a tattoo, is going to be on the pulse point of my wrist. It’s the word chesed. And it is all over the two Psalms we read today.

There’s not a precise English equivalent, so we get “steadfast love,” “unfailing love,” “lovingkindness,” etc. in various translations.

Personally, I’m partial to “covenant love.” It’s a love that is protected and safeguarded by a promise made. That regardless of someone’s unloveliness or unworthiness, the Lover who is committed to “chesed” still loves.

The closest thing we have to relate to chesed is the covenant of marriage. A good marriage protects and sustains romantic love because it is protected by chesed (covenant) love. And even that falls short, because human beings break promises and covenants all the time.

But here’s the thing that makes God’s covenant live so steadfast. So unchanging. So unfailing.

When God swore a covenant, he swore by Himself. God made a covenant with Himself! Remember that bizarre scene back in Genesis, when Abraham saw the blazing torch and smoking firepot (see Day 016: When God Makes a Covenant (Genesis 12-15). That is what seals the covenant. If God swears by Himself, then the promise will endure to eternity.

Which is why God’s “chesed” is such a beautiful, untranslatable word. God made a covenant with himself to redeem and restore His people. And God cannot be false to his own name!

Today, follow the command of Psalm 107:43. Consider the steadfast love, the chesed of the Lord.



4 responses to “Day 123: My Favorite Hebrew Word (Psalm 106-107)”

  1. […] read through we are doing, we go from yesterday’s meditation on God’s covenant love (see Day 123: My Favorite Hebrew Word (Psalm 106-107) to one of the most brutal stories of Gods wrath in today’s […]

  2. […] was outside the walls of the city. Its Hebrew name is Beth Chesed, or “House of Mercy” (see Day 123: My Favorite Hebrew Word), from which we get our word Bethesda. There is some evidence that the Romans used it as shrine to […]

  3. Lois Avatar

    Yes! It’s my favorite Hebrew word as well. The first time I heard it, I kept rewinding the podcast to figure out what they were saying. This led me to lots of great studies on this beautifully rich word that has no exact translation. I even taught this to my group of young girls, and they understood and loved it as well.

    1. James Avatar

      I’ve almost talked myself into the tattoo for next year.

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