by Andy Lee
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:11-12.
I smelled like Dial soap, always scrubbed clean and pajama laden, as I sat next to my daddy watching the stars on warm summer nights. I’m not sure which intrigued me the most, the beauty of the glitter flung across the darkness or the constellations’ shapes. I loved to star gaze. The stars beckoned me to their heavenly home but inability to understand their unimaginable size and vast distances between them kept me from true comprehension.
The universe is difficult to grasp, but Psalm 103 boasts a wonderful claim that is equally mind-boggling—God’s love. Surely David also liked to star gaze as he shepherded his sheep. Maybe his eyes found Orion’s belt as he wrote, “As far as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him.” That’s a big love.
But this love is different than our modern minds perceive. It’s not tied up in emotion and romance, though the heart of the Giver plays the main role. The truth is, we don’t have an English word that adequately translates the word chesed, the Hebrew word often translated as “love.”
Chesed is more than love. It is mercy, grace, and acts of loving-kindness all rolled into one. It usually came to those who were related by family or friendship, but sometimes it was given to strangers.
Chesed is what Rahab gave the Israelite spies when she hid them on her rooftop and diverted the Jericho police search party. Though no relationship had been established prior to their visit, after her kindness, the Israelites returned chesed to Rahab by preserving her family when the walls fell. God’s chesed didn’t end there. Rahab married one of the spies, and became the grandmother of Boaz and the great grandmother of David, the star-gazing shepherd.
God was merciful and faithful to Rahab, a former prostitute and idol worshiper. Maybe that’s why David writes with such assurance of God’s goodness. His family line demonstrated the very nature of God’s merciful, loving acts of kindness. Though Rahab wasn’t Jewish, she married into the family and became the great grandmother of the man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14) and became one of four women named in the genealogy of the promised messiah, Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Matthew 1:5).
How great is God’s kindness and mercy? It’s mind-bogglingly beautiful, like the stars in the sky, yet not out of reach. It’s given in grace, providing mercy and forgiveness to all who choose to trust in Him. Hallelujah.
About the author: Andy Lee is the author of two books, A Mary Like Me: Flawed Yet Called and The Book of Ruth Key Word Bible Study: A 31-Day Journey to Hope and Promise. Andy is a Bible teacher, blogger, event speaker, and cat lover. She and her orange tabby, Hank, spend many hours in her office writing articles that draw people closer to the living God. She also teaches on Facebook. Visit her website to find out how to join hundreds of viewers on her live broadcast. Come feed your soul!
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Join the conversation: Have you personally experienced God’s acts of loving kindness? Leave a comment below and encourage others.