I want you to imagine a special, highly festive event. Psalm 118 was written for such an occasion. It began with a blare of trumpets, the sound of cymbals, and the choir of Israel literally thundering as a chorus, singing forth these words: "His mercy endures forever."
Chesed is a dramatic word that focuses what is behind the dynamics of the giving of thanks. The theme that awakens the thanksgiving of this psalm and many others in the Bible is the chesed of God, the mercy of God. Chesed is a word that has to do with the slight bowing of the neck, a slight stooping. It could be stooping to an act of mercy, coming down to a broken person and ministering to them.
Just the other day our little grandson, one year old, was crying. I stooped down and picked him up, and in just a minute he was a happier little boy. His grandpa was holding him.
One of the most tender songs I've heard about mercy is called "His Word Is Mercy." It begins, "If you could just imagine a bird without a song that has fallen to the barren earth and left alone, and then with just a moment's touch a kind and gentle hand lifts the bird and flight returns and the song is restored again." The chorus says, "The word is mercy." That's the word that describes that actionthe stooping with an act of tender mercy. Kindness. And the Bible, in speaking to us about the Lord, says those mercies endure forever.
The mercy of God is an active mercy.
Chesed is worthy of our attention because all the thanksgiving in this psalm centers on it. It has to do with the endless kindness of God that is bent toward our interest and care. This specific act of kindness is the first idea in the word chesed, and there's an illustration of it in the Bible. It's a case study ...
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Jack Hayford is chancellor of The King's College and Seminary, Van Nuys, California, founding pastor of The Church on the Way, and former president of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. He is author of Rebuilding the Real You (Charisma House).