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:
Sometimes we think we can earn somebody’s love—even God’s love. But mercy cannot be earned nor can kindness. Click To Tweet
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)
Chesed is not earned. It simply flows out of the heart of the giver. It’s in His DNA. It is who He is.
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 rather than keeping the focus on God.
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, our first thoughts of God are often that He’s punishing us or He is angry. It may seem He is withholding His love.
What would happen to those thoughts if we remembered that His DNA is kindness?
Would it help us see the problems for what they really are–life in a fallen world and an opportunity to lean on and trust our Savior?
I feel a prayer coming on. Grab my hand.
“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.”
Finding Purpose in God’s Kindness,