Psalm 130:7 speaks of the hesed of God when the psalmist
employs the term steadfast love. Often translated “mercy,
faithfulness, loving-kindness, grace, goodness,” the wide connotations
of the term invite investigation. Scholars propose that
hesed is relational, describing interaction and mutual relations
between two entities. It is active, demonstrated, and even reciprocal:
an act of hesed encourages and promotes similar actions.
Hesed in Hebrew scriptures is a noun and in the majority of uses
refers to God’s activities: God “gives,” “sends,” “remembers,”
“shows” hesed. Israel depends on God’s hesed. It is often connected
but not limited to God’s covenant promises, the covenant
community, and the element of fidelity that heals broken relationships.
Scholars assert that the greatest hesed of God comes
when God suspends justice to give grace to forgive Israel.
In the Psalms, hesed is the basis for the psalmist’s request for
deliverance and forgiveness. God remains faithful to Israel and
sustains the whole earth. Hesed enables humans to relate to God;
it is the quality God wants the community to put into practice
and the way individuals are to behave toward one another.
In 2 Samuel 2:5-6, David promises to do good to the city of
Jabesh-gilead because its citizens showed hesed in rescuing
Saul’s corpse and burying it.
In Psalm 130, the cry to God from the depths becomes a cry
of hope because the depths of the abyss cannot prevent human
anguish or awareness of human iniquity from reaching God.
In the closing verses, God’s redemption manifests God’s hesed.
God’s hesed brings a liberating expectation—an expectation that
God will act.
O God, give us patience to discern your loving-kindness and mercy. Transform our souls into a reflection of your love and compassion, and grant us strength and peace. Amen.
Ezekiel 37 presents a vision of the dry bones that represent the people of Israel after the Babylonian invasion—the people have no life. God calls Ezekiel to see the devastation and to prophesy to the dry bones with the message that they shall live. The psalmist cries out from the very depths expressing both a need and hunger for God and a trust in God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. The story of Lazarus’s death and Jesus’ raising him to life calls forth our own stories and experiences of life and death. It draws us in to a conversation that goes deeper than our intellect. It evokes our questions, our fears, our doubts, and our faith. The Romans text offers the good news that the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us. Each of these texts affirms life after death. Death is not the end; death does not have the nal word.
• Read Ezekiel 37:1-14. How has life come to you through death?
• Read Psalm 130. For what do you cry out to God? Pray the psalm, line by line, knowing that God hears and extends mercy and care.
• Read Romans 8:6-11. How has God changed your mind-set, your attitude, to bring you richer life?
• Read John 11:1-45. What in your world needs to die in order for life to come forth?
Respond by posting a prayer.