Recently while studying Psalms, I became acquainted with the beautiful Hebrew word “chesed“. David used it in Psalm 5:7 where he is saying that the only way he can enter the Lord’s house is by His abundant lovingkindness, not by any merit of his own.
But as for me, by Thine abundant lovingkindness [chesed] I will enter Thy house, at thy holy temple I will bow in reverence for Thee.”
The Moody Bible Commentary says the following about chesed in this scripture:
“The term “lovingkindness” is chesed which specifically indicates God’s covenant love, His faithful and continual expression of what is best for those who are His own under the promise of Abrahamic covenant.
The Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 12 included three components: land, a nation, and, most importantly to us Gentiles, an expansive blessing. The blessing is to Abraham (a Gentile), his descendants and then to all the families of the earth. ”
God promised Abraham in Genesis 12: 3
“….and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
God’s love is seeking to ‘push’ His blessing as far as His justice will allow.”
Moody Bible Commentary
We Gentiles should say a big thank you to God for including us in His wonderful covenant.
The Messianic Prophecy Bible Project says the following about “chesed” :
“This other Hebrew word for love is more difficult to translate into English. Chesed is a love that cannot be sentimentalize; it has the attributes of strength, steadfastness, loyalty, and devotion that stem from a covenant between God and Israel or between people.
It has been translated as loving-kindness, mercy, steadfast love, compassion, loyalty, goodness, great kindness, favor and loyal-or leal-love.” (Leal is a old Scottish word that means “loyal and honest”.)
They go on to say:
Chesed does not dismiss the need for holiness and righteousness but, mercifully, despite failings on the part of the Jewish People, makes a way through unmerited kindness toward love for His covenant.
In fact, chesed is quite often paired with the Hebrew word translated mercy and compassion: rachum. (see Isaiah 54:8; 63:7; Lamentations 3:22)
“And I will betroth you to Me forever, and I will betroth you to Me with righteousness and with justice and with loving-kindness [chesed] and with mercy [rachum]. And I will betroth you to Me with faith, and you shall know the Lord.” (Hosea 2:19–20 [21–22])
“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but my loving-kindness [chesed] will not be removed from you, and my covenant of peace will not be shaken,’ says the LORD who has compassion [rachum] on you.” (Isaiah 54:10)
The Hebrew word chesed also appears in Leviticus 20:17 where the Law states that a man who uncovers the nakedness of his sister has committed a chesed: here it is translated as “a disgrace”.
In writing “chesed,” it suggests that the man has crossed a Divine line, giving chesed the added sense of being “characterized by overflowing and lack of boundaries.” (Aish)
In this case, chesed is given a negative connotation. But when holiness is the connotation, the intent is that the one who loves does so without boundaries — an act of love characterized by overflowing grace, mercy and giving.
To summarize, chesed is a love characterized by strength, steadfastness, loyalty, and devotion which is not limited in quantity to its recipient, but overflowing, abundant to meet the needs of His people.
We see this same characteristic of “overflowing” in Romans 5: 17 where Paul writes:
“For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” (Emphasis added)
Here the word “abundance” means “superabundance”. Grace enough to save me with even more grace poured out on top of that! A superabundance of God’s grace poured out for my sins establishing me in His covenant as His child forever. God’s wonderful mercy toward His children!
King David was saved the same way we are. He was looking forward to Calvary by faith and we are looking backwards to Calvary by faith. It truly is by His abundant lovingkindness that anyone, OT or NT, is saved from the guilty and penalty of their sins and enter into His kingdom. He made a Way when there was no way.
Let us give thanks for His loving kindness and the superabundance of His grace in our lives today.