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September 7, 2011 / Daniel

Ruth, the story of God’s loyal love 2

Field of Boaz

Image by See The Holy Land via Flickr

One of the major themes in the book of Ruth is hesed, God’s loyal covenant love.  In his NIVAC commentary on Judges/Ruth, Lawson Younger summarizes the meaning of the word.  He makes four points.

1) “Hesed springs from and is based on relationship.”  This is a covenant word.  Hesed takes place within the context of covenant and it happens because of covenant.

2)  “While hesed contians an emotive quality that highlights issues of motive, it is fundamentally an action.”  God’s covenant love is more than just feelings.  It is a love that must be put in action.

3)  “It is performed for a situationally weaker person by a situationally more powerful person.”  Hesed flows out of God’s grace.  It’s not undeserved.  It’s unmerited.

4)  “It is a voluntary act of extraordinary mercy or generosity.”  Hesed is”going beyond the call of duty.”  It’s more than just an obligation or a duty.

You can see why it’s a such a hard word to translate.  Take loyalty and combine it with love, grace, compassion, and kindness and you have hesed.  This is the love that God shows to his people.


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