{RE:} Reflecting Steadfast Love

Tuesday: Reflecting Steadfast Love

God loves you. But you probably already know that, right? Or at least you've heard it (and probably sung it) a hundred times! But sometimes the most familiar truths are hard to really grasp. Let's pause to reflect on God's character this morning.

Read: Exodus 34: 2-6

The Lord said to Moses, "Be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai and present yourself there to me, on the top of the mountain. No one shall come up with you, and do not let anyone be seen throughout all the mountain; and do not let flocks or herds graze in front of that mountain.”

So Moses cut two tablets of stone like the former ones; and he rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tablets of stone.

The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name, “The Lord.”
The Lord passed before him, and proclaimed,
The Lord, the Lord,
a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger,
and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation"


Sometimes the English language is so frustrating, especially when it comes to translating certain Biblical words. In this passage, God is revealing his character to Moses and the phrase he speaks become the most frequently used description of God throughout Scripture.

God describes himself as loving and faithful to a thousand generations. The phrase - "steadfast love" - is the word chesed (that CH makes the throaty Hebrew sound, less like "cheese" and more like "HESSead").

Chesed is one of those words that doesn't really have a suitable English counterpart. It is a love that is based in relationship, but it is not dependent on any external circumstances like behavior. Chesed is a love that is loyal, generous, patient, and gracious. Sometimes the word is translated "steadfast love," sometimes "kindness," or "merciful."

  • What comes to mind when you think about this word? 
  • Why does it matter that this is how God chooses to describe his own character in the Old Testament?

Later in Numbers, the Israelites turn away from God, disobey, and worship other gods. (This happens a lot, yes.)  In this instance, God is fed up with the people and tells Moses that he is going to "dispossess them" and make a new nation from Moses. In return, Moses appeals to God's character by reminding him of his words and then saying " Pardon the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of your (Chesed) steadfast love..." (Numbers 14)

Moses does not ask God to spare the people of Israel because of anything they have done or can do. Instead, Moses reminds God of who he is. He is essentially telling God, "If you disown these people you will be a liar."

And it works! God relents, though that generation does not see the Promised Land. God's love for his people and creation is not based on anything they can do for him. God loves because that is his character.

  • Are you ever tempted to believe that you can (or need to) behave your way into God's love?
  • Allow yourself to be overwhelmed with the reality that you are loved by God - just you. Not what you can do or have done. God loves you because God is love. 
  • Sit with this reality for a while. Give thanks to God for his steadfast, loyal, redeeming love. Don't let this phrase be commonplace this morning.

We are also called to chesed love, and not only in our relationship with God. When God tells the people to "love mercy" in Micah he is telling them to love "chesed." And in the New Testament, that same word is translated as both "mercy" and "kindness". When Jesus tells the man to "show mercy" like the Good Samaritan, he is telling them to show "chesed."

  • Have you ever experienced a chesed love in a human relationship? What does that look like?
  • What does it look like to have this kind of love for all people - neighbors. How can you so deeply love people you've never met?

Jesus shows us what it looks like to embody and enact this faithful, loyal love. Consider the way the Jesus continues to care for the people around him even as he is crucified - asking God for his executors to be forgiven, promising paradise to the thief next to him, washing the feet of his denier and betrayer. This Holy week is full of snapshots of chesed love.

Whatever is going on in life, God's chesed - his very character - will not abandon you. I believe this is why Paul is so confident that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ. (Romans 8:28-30)
Let's take time this week to let this word and all it stands for overwhelm us and move us toward one another!

Let Psalm 136 be your prayer of reflection!

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

who alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
who by understanding made the heavens,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
who spread out the earth on the waters,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
who made the great lights,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
the sun to rule over the day,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
the moon and stars to rule over the night,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

who struck Egypt through their firstborn,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and brought Israel out from among them,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
who divided the Red Sea in two,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
but overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
who led his people through the wilderness,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
who struck down great kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and killed famous kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
Sihon, king of the Amorites,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and Og, king of Bashan,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and gave their land as a heritage,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
a heritage to his servant Israel,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and rescued us from our foes,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
who gives food to all flesh,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

O give thanks to the God of heaven,
for his steadfast love endures forever.


Kaitlyn - April 12th, 2022 at 5:23am

I know that I wrote this reflection but... I will 100% admit that this is one of those I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around! Not because I don't believe it, but because I tend to be so logical/locked up in my head! But there are moments, almost always during worship (and often in my car) where I am just completely overwhelmed and "hit" with Gods love. I'm not even sure how to describe it other than that! But in those moments, I experience God's character and steadfast love in a way that has nothing to do with anything I accomplish.

Melody - April 12th, 2022 at 6:28am

I agree--Im sitting here analyzing your question about if I've ever experienced this in a human relationship and thinking: Of course not! This is impossible, human love always has "bounds"; we don't have unlimited patience.

But maybe that's just me, in my own limitations.

David Edelstein - April 12th, 2022 at 5:50am

The local news is full of good and bad. There are inspiring heartwarming stories of even small children doing things to raise money for good causes. But much of the news is about local violent crime which ignites my anger. In the episode of The Chosen we watched this week, the Good Samaritan story is sort of turned on its head. Jesus shows his extravagant love to a man we learn is one of the two bandits who attacked the innocent Jewish traveler/victim and left him for dead. Jesus gives this man the opportunity to tell Him and His disciples his story. I suppose everyone, no matter what they have done, has a story to tell. God, in all his love, is there to listen. As His disciples, we are too.

Melody - April 12th, 2022 at 6:34am

I'm thinking of this song by John Prine. It's probably a love song, but whenever I hear it, it becomes a worship song, as I believe (because of my own limitations) that only God can love us with a truly boundless love. See what you think: https://youtu.be/FSSFTrtx4LE

Linda Comstock - April 12th, 2022 at 7:29am

God's love is so amazing. Can any human phantom what that love is truly like while here on earth? Its an overwhelming love, pure, new every day. It makes me smile and joyful thinking about His love for me. No one could ever love me the way He does...unconditionally.

Janet Nygren - April 12th, 2022 at 7:30am

This is a topic close to my heart. For my Lenten study a few years ago I looked up all of the instances of Chesed in the Old Testament and it really brought out God's love and character in a compelling way. If I recall correctly, there are something like 130 instances in the Psalms! I try to remind myself of this each day as I recite Ps. 90:14: "Satisfy me in the morning with your unfailing love (chesed), that I might sing for joy and be glad all my days."

Nick Tebordo - April 12th, 2022 at 7:34am

I am so thankful for this reminder today! God’s extravagant love, unearned and unending is poured out on us-His children. Many people accept this as a truth, but don’t experience it as a reality in their lives. It was a constant struggle for Terrie. The song “Above All Powers” was a blessing to her. “He took the fall and thought of me above all.”

Susan Blais - April 12th, 2022 at 8:11am

This morning’s reading was so compelling, and so appropriate for this week. Gods " CHESSED” brings out the point that it is not because of what we do, but because of who he is. The song “it is absolutely breathtaking and brings it all back to home. This is some thing that I will think about forever. Thank you, God, for your steadfast love which endures forever And through all generations. This gives me hope for both me and my family today.

Richard Mc master - August 30th, 2023 at 7:03am

While meditating on God's boundless love, the insights of "A Love Divided by Time" book authors come to mind. Just as we strive to comprehend enduring truths, their words illuminate profound aspects of love. Through their wisdom, we delve deeper into understanding God's unwavering affection for us.




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