Isaiah contrasted the temporary nature of this world with the permanence of God’s love for us:
The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.Isaiah 54:10, 3 Nephi 22:10
The Hebrew word translated “kindness” in this passage is hesed (חֵסֵד), a word which appears nearly 250 times in the Old Testament and which has no exact equivalent in English. The King James translators sometimes render it as “mercy” or “goodness.” Several times, they use the word “lovingkindness,” to indicate that it is more than ordinary kindness. Other translations of this verse render the word as “unfailing love” (NIV), “faithful love” (New Living Translation), or “steadfast love” (English Standard Version). (See parallel translations of Isaiah 54:10 on biblehub.com. See also President Nelson’s comment on this word in “The Power of Spiritual Momentum,” General Conference, April 2022, footnote 11.)
Part of the difficulty of translating this term is the implication of a covenant relationship. President Russell M. Nelson explained, “Hesed is a special kind of love and mercy that God feels for and extends to those who have made a covenant with Him. And we reciprocate with hesed for Him” (“The Everlasting Covenant,” Liahona, October 2022).
Although hesed is associated with covenants, it is given willingly, even eagerly, not out of a sense of obligation. For example, through the prophet Jeremiah, God said, “I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness [hesed], judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:24). And the prophet Micah assured us that God “delighteth in mercy [hesed]” (Micah 7:18). Brigham Young University professor Daniel L. Belnap concludes, “We may begin these obligations in covenantal relationships, but these relationships allow us to learn how to “delight” in performing hesed” (“‘How Excellent is Thy Lovingkindness’: The Gospel Principle of Hesed,” in The Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament, 2009).
President Nelson said, “The covenant path is a path of love—that incredible hesed, that compassionate caring for and reaching out to each other. Feeling that love is liberating and uplifting. The greatest joy you will ever experience is when you are consumed with love for God and for all His children” (“The Everlasting Covenant,” Liahona, October 2022).
Today, I will be grateful for God’s lovingkindness toward His children. I will be grateful that He allows us to enter a covenant relationship with Him, so that we can also learn to show steadfast lovingkindness toward Him and toward other people.
I was impressed by hesed when I heard President Nelson’s talk but I forgot about it. Thank you for this wonderful post reminder. Mom
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