Every January our pastor announces a verse of the year for our church. This year’s verse is Lamentations 3:22-23 — “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”
I really love this verse. For starters, I love semi-colons, and this verse has three of them! But, more importantly, this verse is full of hope and offers reassurance in any circumstance. Who doesn’t need a reminder that God’s love and mercies are endless and His faithfulness is great? It’s life-giving oxygen for the soul when worries and doubts threaten to suffocate us.
And it should be no surprise that the verse of the year includes my word of the year: steadfast. A keyword search in Biblegateway shows that steadfast appears 219 times in the ESV Bible. The adjective nearly always describes the noun love — God’s love.
John MacArthur’s commentary on this Lamentations passage says the Hebrew word for steadfast love appears 250 times in the Old Testament. The Hebrew word is chesed or checed, and MacArthur explains that it is a comprehensive term that encompasses “love, grace, mercy, goodness, forgiveness, truth, compassion and faithfulness.” In my old NIV Bible, the terms “kindness and faithfulness” and “lovingkindness” are often used in place of steadfast love.
The English language has no single word equivalent to chesed. You could say steadfast love is complicated. It’s a God-sized concept that’s a challenge to comprehend fully because God’s ways and thoughts are higher than the English-speaking man’s ways and thoughts. But what a joy to ponder it deeply and praise Him for it!
“The bedrock of faith,” MacArthur writes, “is the reality that God keeps all His promises according to His truthful, faithful character.”
God is who He says He is. And Daniel 11:32 says the people who know their God will be strong. So my biggest aim with this blog series is to know and love God better by studying His truthful, faithful character in the concept of His steadfast love.
Next time let’s look at Genesis 24 and the story of Isaac and Rebekah, which includes the first mention of God’s steadfast love in the Old Testament.