Dabar [theme]

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Psalms 91:4

Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon

Monday, November 03, 2008

Jeremiah 9:23-24

Jeremiah 9:23-24, "Thus says the Lord:
"Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,

Let not the mighty man glory in his might,

Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;

But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me,

That I am the Lord,

exercising lovingkindness,


and righteousness in the earth.

For in these I delight," says the Lord."

Lovingkindness is a compound word with an extensive meaning beyond that which is conveyed by the sum of its phonetic parts. The sum of the parts may give us reason to conclude that lovingkindness means kindness or mercy which is based on or arises from love. This is a right interpretation of the meaning, but it fails to impact the reader with the fullness of the import of the word. The Hebrew word which is translated as lovingkindness is 'hesed'. There are three basic meanings or thoughts which are communicated by God through the use of this word. The essential elements are goodness, kindness, but it is in the application and motivation that the true value of the word is found. The word implies strength, steadfastness and love and the constant interaction of these three elements in application of the concept of lovingkindness. The richness of the word is maintained by the inclusion of these three thoughts or definitions.

The word, lovingkindness, refers primarily to the mutual and reciprocal rights and obligations between two parties of a relationship. In this instance God and man. It implies that there is not only obligation but generosity; there is not only loyalty but also mercy. The intent is to bring about a realization that the weaker party needs the protection and blessing of the patron or protector while understanding that he (the weaker) may lay no claim (absolutely) to it.

The stronger party remains committed to His promise namely that of protection, blessing, etc., but, retains His freedom, especially with regard to the manner in which He may bestow or implement those promises. There is implied in the relationship an involvement and commitment beyond the rule of law. It is in the tender mercies of the Lord that hope is built upon and trust (faith) is empowered; God would have us hope, that even though sin has infiltrated our lives, the Lord will restore us with much pity and compassion. ‘Let Israel hope in the Lord,’ for with the Lord there is mercy, tender mercy.

In this we see that 'lovingkindness' is a central characteristic of God in His relationship with people. God offers His love because people need redemption from sin, their enemies and trouble. The entire covenantal history of Yahweh's interactions with man can be summarized in terms of 'hesed'. It is the one permanent element in the flux of human history.

Hosea 11:3-5,7-9,10, "I taught (you) to walk, taking (you) by (your) arms; but (you) did not know that I healed (you). I drew (you) with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to (you) as those who take the yoke from (the) neck. I stooped and fed you. ... My people are bent on backsliding from Me. Though they call to the Most High, none at all exalt Him. ... My heart churns (is changed) within Me; My sympathy (compassion, repentings, lovingkindness and mercy) is stirred. I will not execute the fierceness of My anger; I will not again destroy (you). For I am God, and not man, The Holy One in your midst; And I will not come with terror. ... (You) shall walk after the Lord.... Even with the Holy One who is faithful."

The hope of the backsliding and/or unrepentant is that the lovingkindness of the Lord will sway Him to act in mercy, without regard for the fact of His Holiness. Hosea 11:9, "I will not execute the fierceness of My anger; I will not again destroy (you). For I am God, and not man, the Holy One in your midst; and I will not come with terror." This view of the lovingkindness of God extending beyond His character to include universally all who would appeal to His sensibilities; those sensiblilities influenced by His lovingkindness, is a doctrine of hope, which for the most part finds as its foundation a hope that God is not Holy. It is a hope which has as its foundation a belief that God's lovingkindness is bound by a law of His character which disallows Him from acting in judgement.

The real message to be taken from the study of God's lovingkindness is that there is a future. Hope is in the future and in that future the restoration of relationship which is based on grace and love. The hope is in the removal of the logical links between crime and punishment. The hope lies in our inability to articulate or anticipate the spontaneous, inexplicable, unpredictable, and mysterious act of lovingkindness revealed in the salvation obtained for us by Jesus Christ, God's Son and the grace and mercy and lovingkindness of God the Father in authoring such a final act of love.

"If wisdom, strength, or riches be thy lot,
Boast not; but rather think thou hast them not.
One God alone from whom those gifts proceed
Is wise, is mighty, and is rich indeed."

Ephes. 2:4,7,8 "...but God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, ... might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,... '

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