It’s a word that stirs up different images and feelings for each of us.
A word defined by culture.
I think our grandparents or great-grandparents would define it differently than we.
For me, the word “love” evokes a warm feeling in my heart. Security, acceptance, provision, and desire. To be loved is to be desired.
Is this what David meant when he said that God’s “love” was better than life?
Though I know from personal experience that God’s love—His acceptance, security, provision, and desire for me frees me to live a life of eternal proportions beyond myself, and that makes life so much better…
And I know that God’s love somehow takes me out of myself, my neediness, my holes within, and breathes new purpose into my limited time on earth. And I know His love gives me a greater capacity to love. Greater compassion.
Though I know the power of love, I also know that my vision of love is flawed as seen through mortal eyes.
I believe our English translation mars the meaning of the ancient word David himself penned when he wrote this psalm.
David actually wrote:
“Because your chesed is better than life, my lips will glorify you.”
This is the definition of the word David used:
Chesed: One of the most important words in the OT, chesed essentially denotes an act of kindness, love or mercy. The quality of kindness shown is usually reserved for close friends and family members but the act of chesed can be demonstrated in any relationship…or covenant…but God’s chesed is not bound by covenant itself, and though men may prove unfaithful to this relationship, God’ chesed is everlasting.” (Key-Word Study Bible)
[tweetability]Sometimes we think we can earn somebody’s love—even God’s love. But mercy cannot be earned nor can kindness.[/tweetability]
Chesed is not earned. It simply flows out of the heart of the giver. It’s in His DNA. It is who He is.
[tweetability]God’s Kindness, is better than life.[/tweetability]
Somehow this changes Psalm 63:3 for me. If I use the word “love” in translation it involves my heart which feels that love, and there is nothing wrong with that. But it draws me into the definition.
When I employ the word kindness the focus goes straight to God and who He is.
When life gets hard, tumbling out of control and one bad thing happens after another, what are your first thoughts of God? Do you immediately think He’s punishing you or He is angry? Does it seem He is withholding His love?
What would happen to those thoughts if you remembered that His DNA is kindness?
C. S. Lewis masterfully portrayed God’s character with these words from Mrs. Beaver as she tried to explain him to Susan in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe:
“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
…and His kindness is better than life, so I can’t help but use my mouth to give Him praise and tell everybody how good He is.
May I pray?
“Dear Lord, you know how desperately I want people to experience your love for them. Your love gives us new purpose beyond ourselves. But if we don’t really understand your goodness and kindness, it’s hard to get to that point. You’ve gotten some bad publicity in the past from people who didn’t know your DNA. Thank you for your kindness. Thank you that you are a God of mercy, a God of chesed who acts on behalf of His children even when we don’t deserve it. You can’t help yourself. Kindness is who you are. Help us know this beyond our heads to our hearts. Amen.”