Recently my husband and I were visiting a church service on the east coast. The pastor full of Pentecostal energy shared vigorously from Psalm 136. Twenty-six times the Psalmist declares “His mercy endures forever.” Oh it does! God’s mercy is unending. Matchless in every way, it can be seen from the beginning of mankind’s existence and has no vanishing point in the future. Within the 15 minutes of sharing, the pastor repeated the blessing of God’s mercy, then “In closing…” He said, “His mercy endures forever.” As the folks stood to leave, preparing for the cold trek home to the roast in the Crockpot, I wanted so BADLY to stand to my feet and yell, “Tell them!” (All eyes on the crazy visitor lady in the back.) There’s more! His mercy is incredibly amazing, but there’s more! “His mercy endures forever.” Pastor! Don’t stop here!
Tell them that the Hebrew language is full of imagery, YES mercy! But there is more. Just like there is ‘sunrise’ with just a glimpse of light peeking over the horizon, then there is SUNRISE with colors so vibrant you stare in unbelief at the magnitude of the brilliance of His creation. Colors spilling over each other as it dances across the sky in tones that if we are still enough it could be heard. Today we were just …peeking.
His mercy endures forever. Mercy, is Hesed.
Scholars find it extremely difficult to translate ‘hesed’ (Hebrew) into English, because there really is not an equivalent word. One commentary says, “It is difficult, if not impossible to precisely convey the full meaning of the term with just one English word or phrase.” The King James Version alone uses 15 different words in attempt to express its meaning in each context. Words such as lovingkindness, steadfast love, loyal love, kindness, faithful love, mercy and yes, grace. Grace. God’s mercy is withholding what we do deserve, where His grace is giving us what we do not. One hand pushes forward in giving, while the other holds back in restraint. THAT is our God! Because of His love for us, His commitment to covenant, His value of relationship, our God interacts with us with hesed. It is deep, wide and continuing.
Jonah knew God’s hesed, saying to the Lord, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love (hesed), a God who relents from sending calamity.” (Jonah 4:2) Ok, maybe Jonah needed an attitude adjustment, (Thus the large fish story) but he knew, he understood, experienced and observed God and how He operates within His love and mercy.
I echo Paul’s words “But by the grace of God I am what I am…” (1 Cor 15:10) Yes indeed, it is worthy of repeated twenty-six verses, “His mercy endures forever.” His lovingkindness, faithfulness and His grace. It is enough to make us bow our head, eyes closed with groanings that cannot be uttered!
Standing in the magnitude of His brilliance sunrise glow!
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)