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Studies, Devotionals, Sermons, Illustrations
Old and New Testament.
DEFINITION OF HEBREW
Hesed - Chesed - Heced
on this page - Definition of Hebrew word - Racham)
Updated February 3,
is the idea of faithful love in action
and often in the OT refers to God's lovingkindness expressed in His
covenant relationship with Israel (His "loyal love" to His "Wife" Israel
[cp Hos 2:18, 19, 20-see
Is 54:5, Je 31:32] = His "loyalty to covenant"). God's hesed His
denotes persistent and unconditional tenderness, kindness, and mercy, a
relationship in which He seeks after man with love and mercy (cp God
immediately seeking man Ge 3:9, who was immediately hiding Ge 3:8 trying
to cover their shame Ge 3:7 - contrast God's lovingkindness manifest by
spilling blood to provide skins to cover their shame! Ge 3:21).
Hesed expresses both God’s
loyalty to His covenant and His love for His people along with a
faithfulness to keep His promises.
As you consider the Hebrew word
hesed, be aware that versions other than NAS often translate
hesed as "mercy". There is another Hebrew word racham
(07355) which is also translated "mercy". While the English translations
do not always distinguish between hesed and racham, clearly
they are distinct as demonstrated by their use in the same passage (13x in
NAS - Ps 25:6 40:11 51:1 69:16 103:4 Isa 54:8 54:10 63:7 Jer 16:5 Lam 3:22
3:32 Ho 2:19 Zec 7:9) for example...
In an outburst of anger I hid My face
from you for a moment; but with everlasting lovingkindness (hesed)
I will have compassion (racham) on you," Says the LORD your
Redeemer. (Isa 54:8)
For the mountains may be removed and
the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness (hesed) will not be
removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken," Says the
LORD who has compassion (racham) on you. (Isa 54:10)
The LORD'S lovingkindnesses
(hesed) indeed never cease, For His compassions (racham) never
fail. (Lam 3:22)
Comment: It is intriguing to
note the frequent occurrence of hesed with "morning" - Ps
59:16, Ps 90:14 Ps 92:2, Ps 143:8, Ho 6:4 Lam 3:22, 23. What a great way
to start the day - praying for (Ps 17:7) and praising God for His
faithful, unfailing, steadfast love to His beloved in Christ. (See
Spurgeon's sermon on Lam 3:22-23 =
The Novelties of Divine Mercy)
For if He causes grief, then He will
have compassion (racham) according to His abundant
lovingkindness (hesed). (Lam 3:32)
I shall make mention of the
lovingkindnesses of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, according to
all that the LORD has granted us, and the great goodness toward the house
of Israel, which He has granted them according to His compassion,
and according to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses. (Isa 63:7)
hesed with the Greek word
eleos [word study]
(or the related verb
eleeo) while the Latin Vulgate
uses the word misericordia (mercy + heart).
Vine writes that...
In general, one may identify three
basic meanings of hesed, and these 3 meanings always interact --
strength, steadfastness, and love. Any understanding of hesed that
fails to suggest all three inevitably loses some of its richness. Love
by itself easily becomes sentimentalized or universalized apart from the
covenant. Yet strength or steadfastness suggests only the
fulfillment of a legal (or similar) obligation. Hesed refers
primarily to mutual and reciprocal rights and obligations between the
parties of a relationship (especially Jehovah and Israel). But hesed is
not only a matter of obligation but is also of generosity. It is not only
a matter of loyalty, but also of mercy. Hesed implies personal
involvement and commitment in a relationship beyond the rule of law.
W E: Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.
COVENANT AND LOVINGKINDNESS
Hesed is related to
the Biblical of
and also to the idea of grace in that
hesed was (is) extended by God when it was not deserved (in truth hesed
is never deserved!) God's hesed is His persistent,
unconditional tenderness, kindness, and mercy, a relationship in which God
seeks after man with love and mercy (cp God immediately seeking Adam after
he had sinned - Ge 3:6, 7, 8, 9). The counterpart of human hesed is
pictured in the loving bride (in the OT = Israel = Is 54:5, Je 31:32) who
clings to her beloved bridegroom (Jehovah). The initial state of betrothal
between God and Israel is the period from Israel's deliverance out of
Egypt to the establishment of the covenant at Sinai and it will be
fulfilled in the future (Ho 2:18, 19, 20).
Ralph Davis in his comments on 2Sa
9:1, 2, 3, 4, 7 writes that in this chapter,
hesed (three times, 2Sa 9:1,
3, 7) is the devoted love promised within a covenant; hesed is
love that is willing to commit itself to another by making its promise a
matter of solemn record. So when David mentions hesed and ‘for Jonathan’s
sake’ we know he is alluding to the sacred commitment Jonathan had asked
David to make in 1Sa 20:15: ‘And you must not cut off your devoted love
(hesed) from my house forever, not even when Yahweh cuts off each one of
David’s enemies from the face of the ground. ’ And David had gone on oath
about that. Now (2Sa 9:1-13) he is preparing to fulfil that pledge. (Ralph
Davis, D. Focus on the Bible: 2 Samuel - any commentary by Ralph Davis is
highly recommended) (See notes on
Comment: See also association of
covenant and hesed in 1Sa 20:8,9 where David seeks hesed
based on the fact that he and Jonathan had cut covenant - cp first
time they cut covenant in 1Sa 18:1, 2, 3, 4 and second time [this time
specifically including the descendants] in 1Sa 20:15, 16, 17.
Davis commenting on 1Samuel 20
hesed often has that flavor: it
is not merely love, but loyal love; not merely kindness, but dependable
kindness; not merely affection, but affection that has committed itself.
In our passage then David appeals to Jonathan to treat him with “devoted
love.” He has reason to believe Jonathan will do so because Jonathan has
so promised in a “covenant of Yahweh.” Hence the covenant gives him
reason to look for and depend upon hesed, devoted love. It is crucial,
however, to remember that Jonathan’s covenant itself was the expression of
love, initiated by love (1Sa 18:1, 3). The order is: love gives itself
in covenant and gladly promises devoted love in that covenant; the
covenant partner then rests in the security of that promise and may appeal
to it,6 as David does here." The text is not merely describing a
relation of David and Jonathan; rather, the text is extending its comfort
to any Israelite who will receive it. Its message is: In confusion and
trouble, you take yourself to the one person who has made a covenant with
you. In David’s disintegrating world there was yet one space of sanity,
one refuge still intact — Jonathan. There was covenant; there David could
expect hesed. There was kindness in a raw world.
We should not be surprised then when we
catch believers in the Bible in the act of doing what David did in 1
Samuel 20: running to the one dependable refuge that remains, to the One
who has bound himself to them by covenant and from whom they can expect
hesed–like treatment (see, e.g., Neh. 1:5; Ps 13:5; 17:7; 25:6,
7). But that hesed ultimately flows not from a formal covenant promise
but from the very nature of the covenant God, Yahweh, who is “rich in
hesed and fidelity” (Ex 34:6) (Note: It is important to remember
that in the context of Exodus 34 Israel had absolutely no claim on
Yahweh’s hesed because they had broken the covenant in the bull–calf
worship [Ex 32]. If Israel receives hesed, it will only be because it
flows from Yahweh’s heart — because of what/who he is, “rich in hesed and
fidelity.” Hence hesed really passes over into grace [Hebrew = chen],
which is, as my father used to say, something for nothing — when we don’t
deserve anything). You will never perish when you fall into the abyss
of God’s lovingkindness. Ultimately, that is our only recourse. And, of
course, the One “rich in hesed and fidelity” has come near to his
beleaguered people; for if we translate the Hebrew of Exodus 34:6 into
Greek and then into traditional English we are facing him who is “full of
grace and truth” (John 1:14). You seek hesed and simply find yourself
in the arms of Jesus Christ. Don’t forget what David has taught you: in
confusion and trouble, you take yourself to the one who has made a
covenant with you. He is the only recourse in uncertainty. (Ralph
Davis, D. Focus on the Bible: 1 Samuel)
R Laird Harrison writes
When we come to the hesed of God...God
was in covenant relation with the patriarchs and with Israel. Therefore
His hesed can be called covenant hesed without contradiction. But by the
same token God’s righteousness, judgment, fidelity, etc. could be called
covenant judgment, etc.
C Hassell Bullock writes
The moral core of the covenant,
however, was described by another word, hesed, a rich concept requiring
multiple terms in translation, such as “steadfast love,” “lovingkindness,”
“mercy,” “faithfulness,” “trustworthiness,” and “loyalty.” This
“trustworthiness” or “loyalty” that characterized God is set down in the
ethical centerpiece of the law, the Ten Commandments, where God declares
that he will show hesed “to a thousand generations of those who
love me and keep my commandments” (Ex 20:6). In some instances, it (hesed)
also carries the idea of compassion (Jer 16:5). Whereas God related to
Israel with a steadfastness of love and compassion, Israel should
also relate to him with the same kind of loving loyalty (Editorial
comment: Even as would a faithful wife to her loving husband). The
prophet Micah (Mic 6:8) articulated it most clearly: “He has showed you, O
man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly
and to love mercy (hesed), and to walk humbly with your God.” Thus, at
Sinai God spells out his holy and loving character toward Israel and calls
Israel to the same kind of holy living and loving loyalty toward him and
toward their neighbors. (God
- Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Online -
This is an excellent resource!) (Hardbound
Some writers feel that devotion is
one of single best English words one could use to sum up the meaning of
the Hebrew word hesed. The English word devotion describes
the state of being ardently dedicated, in love with and loyal to another
RSV attempts to bring this out by its translation, steadfast love
(Play Don Moen's beautiful chorus
Your Steadfast Love).
Vine adds that...
frequently speaks of someone "doing," "showing," or "keeping" hesed. The
concrete content of the word is especially evident when it is used in the
plural (eg, La 3:22). God's "mercies," "kindnesses," or "faithfulnesses"
are His specific, concrete acts of redemptive love in fulfillment of His
covenant promises. Anexample appears in Isaiah 55:3
And I will make an everlasting covenant (beriyth) with you,
according to the faithful (aman = 0539 = speaks of certainty) mercies
(hesed) shown to David.
Comment: Note that in this
context "mercies" is used almost as a synonym for God's covenant
promises. Notice also that the use of hesed (lovingkindness) and
covenant (beriyth) emphasizes the close association of God's
lovingkindness and His covenant. Here are the other 13 OT verses which use
hesed and beriyth in the same verse - Dt 7:9 Dt 7:12 1Sa
20:8 1 Ki 8:23 2 Chr 6:14 Neh 1:5 Neh 9:32 Ps 25:10 Ps 89:28 Ps 106:45 Isa
54:10 Isa 55:3 Da 9:4.
...The association of hesed with
“covenant” keeps it from being misunderstood as mere providence or love
for all creatures; it applies primarily to God’s particular love for His
chosen and covenanted people. “Covenant” also stresses the reciprocity of
the relationship; but since God’s checed is ultimately beyond the
covenant, it will not ultimately be abandoned, even when the human partner
is unfaithful and must be disciplined (Isa. 54:8, 10). Since its final
triumph and implementation is eschatological, checed can imply the goal
and end of all salvation-history (Ps. 85:7, 10; 130:7; Mic. 7:20).
W E: Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.
Delitzsch says God's hesed
the Divine Love condescending to His
creatures, more especially to sinners, in unmerited kindness.
Here is love, vast as the ocean,
Lovingkindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten,
Throughout Heav’n’s eternal days.
Here Is Love (play)
has described God's hesed or covenant love as
combining the warmth of God’s
fellowship with the security of God’s faithfulness.
Dr Charles Ryrie
OT, communion, deliverance, enabling, enlightenment, guidance,
forgiveness, hope, praise, preservation are all based on God's hesed.
hesed encompasses deeds of mercy
performed by a more powerful party for the benefit of the weaker one.
Ralph Davis writes that...
the devoted love promised within a covenant; hesed is love that is willing
to commit itself to another by making its promise a matter of solemn
record. (Ralph Davis, D. Focus on the Bible: 2 Samuel)
An act of hesed presupposes the
existence of a relationship between the parties involved. Where no formal
relationship has previously been recognized, the person exercising
hesed has chosen to treat the recipient as if such a relationship did
Hesed has both God and man as its
subject. When man is the subject of checed, the word usually describes the
person’s kindness or loyalty to another; cf. 2Sa 9:7...Only rarely is the
term applied explicitly to man’s affection or fidelity toward God; the
clearest example is probably Jer 2:2...Man exercises checed toward various
units within the community—toward family and relatives, but also to
friends, guests, masters, and servants. Hesed toward the lowly and needy
is often specified. The Bible prominently uses the term hesed to summarize
and characterize a life of sanctification within, and in response to, the
covenant. Thus, Ho 6:6 states that God desires “mercy [RSV, “steadfast
love”] and not sacrifice” (i.e., faithful living in addition to worship).
Similarly, Mic 6:8 features checed in the prophets’ summary of biblical
ethics: “and what doth the Lord require of thee, but...to love mercy?”
Behind all these uses with man as subject, however, stand the repeated
references to God’s hesed. It is one of His most central characteristics.
God’s loving-kindness is offered to His people, who need redemption from
sin, enemies, and troubles. A recurrent refrain describing God’s nature is
“abounding/plenteous in hesed" (Ex 34:6; Neh 9:17; Ps 103:8; Jonah 4:2).
The entire history of Yahweh’s covenantal relationship with Israel can be
summarized in terms of checed. It is the one permanent element in the flux
of covenantal history. Even the Creation is the result of God’s checed (Ps
136:5-9). His love lasts for a “thousand generations” (Dt. 7:9; cf. Dt.
5:10 and Ex 20:6), indeed “forever” (especially in the refrains of certain
psalms, such as Ps. 136).
W E: Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.
The Hebrew word hesed is one
of Jehovah's chief attributes. God's loving-kindness (hesed) is offered to
His people, who need redemption from sin, enemies, and troubles. A
recurrent refrain describing God's nature is abounding in hesed (Ex
34:6; Neh 9:17; Ps 103:8; Jonah 4:2, Lam 3:22). Indeed, hesed is
one of the most important words in the OT, and is often translated in the
KJV as “lovingkindness” or “mercy”.
All Depends on Our Possessing
When with sorrow I am stricken,
Hope my heart anew will quicken,
All my longing shall be stilled.
To His lovingkindness tender
Soul and body I surrender;
For on Him alone I build.
Hesed indicates faithfulness
to a relationship. To show kindness or hesed is to act in a
loyal, loving way to a person. This is true of kindness in human
relationships and of the kindness God shows us. In
2Sa 9:1-13 we see the beautiful example of David showing ''hesed" to
crippled Mephibosheth, the surviving son of Jonathan with whom David had a
Then David said, “Is there yet anyone
left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness
(hesed; Lxx =
eleos) for Jonathan’s sake?”...3 And the
king said, "Is there not yet anyone of the house of Saul to whom I may
show the kindness (hesed; Lxx =
eleos) of God?" And Ziba said to the
king, "There is still a son of Jonathan who is crippled in both feet."...6
And Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan the son of Saul, came to David and
fell on his face and prostrated himself. And David said, "Mephibosheth."
And he said, "Here is your servant!" 7 And David said to him, "Do not
fear, for I will surely show kindness
(hesed; Lxx =
does hesed "counter" in this context? Are you fearful? Consider praying
David's prayer in Ps 17:7-see
to you for the sake of your father Jonathan, and will restore to you all
the land of your grandfather Saul; and you shall eat at my table
regularly." (2 Sa 9:1, 3, 6,7)
Covenant: This passage clearly
shows how a David a man after God's own heart seeks to honor the covenant
which he had cut with Jonathan. Jonathan is not longer alive but David
understands that the hesed or loyal love associated with covenant called
for David to extend the covenant blessings to Jonathan's offspring,
Hesed is central
to God’s character and is closely tied to His covenant with His
Chosen people; in fact the covenant may be thought of as the
relationship from which the hesed flows. However, God’s hesed
is not bound by the covenant itself, and though men may prove unfaithful
to this relationship, God’s hesed is everlasting (Isa 54:8).
Since it is a quality of God hesed
should also characterize His people; therefore it is called for in them
(“mercy,” Mic 6:8; Zech 7:9; cf. Ho 4:1; 12:6). On their part it is
loyalty to His covenant expressed in obedience and acts of mercy and
compassion toward their fellows.
Hesed - 246x in 239 verses in
the NAS - Ge 19:19; 20:13; 21:23; 24:12, 14, 27, 49; 32:10; 39:21;
40:14; 47:29; Ex 15:13; 20:6; 34:6f; Num 14:18f; Deut 5:10; 7:9, 12; Josh
2:12, 14; Judg 1:24; 8:35; Ruth 1:8; 2:20; 3:10; 1Sa 15:6; 20:8, 14f; 2
Sam 2:5f; 3:8; 7:15; 9:1, 3, 7; 10:2; 15:20; 16:17; 22:51; 1 Kgs 2:7; 3:6;
8:23; 20:31; 1 Chr 16:34, 41; 17:13; 19:2; 2 Chr 1:8; 5:13; 6:14, 42; 7:3,
6; 20:21; 24:22; 32:32; 35:26; Ezra 3:11; 7:28; 9:9; Neh 1:5; 9:17, 32;
13:14, 22; Es 2:9, 17; Job 6:14; 10:12; 37:13; Ps 5:7; 6:4; 13:5; 17:7;
18:50; 21:7; 23:6; 25:6f, 10; 26:3; 31:7, 16, 21; 32:10; 33:5, 18, 22;
36:5, 7, 10; 40:10f; 42:8; 44:26; 48:9; 51:1; 52:1, 8; 57:3, 10; 59:10,
16f; 61:7; 62:12; 63:3; 66:20; 69:13, 16; 77:8; 85:7, 10; 86:5, 13, 15;
88:11; 89:1f, 14, 24, 28, 33, 49; 90:14; 92:2; 94:18; 98:3; 100:5; 101:1;
103:4, 8, 11, 17; 106:1, 7, 45; 107:1, 8, 15, 21, 31, 43; 108:4; 109:12,
16, 21, 26; 115:1; 117:2; 118:1ff, 29; 119:41, 64, 76, 88, 124, 149, 159;
130:7; 136:1, 2, 3; 138:2, 8; 141:5; 143:8, 12; 144:2; 145:8; 147:11; Pr 3:3;
11:17; 14:22; 16:6; 19:22; 20:6, 28; 21:21; 31:26; Isa 16:5; 40:6; 54:8,
10; 55:3; 57:1; 63:7; Jer 2:2; 9:24; 16:5; 31:3; 32:18; 33:11; Lam 3:22,
32; Dan 1:9; 9:4; Hos 2:19; 4:1; 6:4, 6; 10:12; 12:6; Joel 2:13; Jonah
2:8; 4:2; Mic 6:8; 7:18, 20; Zech 7:9
Hesed is rendered in the
NAS as - deeds of devotion(2), devotion(1), devout(1),
faithfulness(1), favor(2), good(1), kindly(7), kindness(32),
kindnesses(1), loveliness(1), lovingkindness(176), lovingkindnesses(7),
loyal deeds(1), loyalty(6), mercies(1), merciful(2), mercy(1),
righteousness(1), unchanging love(2).
Hesed can be "defined" or
described Biblically as His lovingkindness to man (Ge 19:19; 24:12;
Ex 15:13; 20:6; 2 Sa 2:6; 7:15; 1 Ki 3:6; 8:23; 2 Ch 6:14; Ezr 7:28; Job
10:12; Ps 17:7; Pr 16:6; Je 9:24; 32:18; Hos 2:19), as abundant and
great (Ex 34:6; Nu 14:18, 19; 1 Ki 3:6; 2 Ch 1:8; Ne 9:17; 13:22; Ps
5:7; 33:5; 86:5, 13; 119:64; 136; La 3:32; Joe 2:13; Jon 4:2), as
everlasting (1Ch 16:34, 41; 2 Ch 5:13; Ezr 3:11; Ps 100:5; 118:1, 2,
3, 4; Is 54:8, 10; Je 33:11; La 3:22), as that which can be trusted
(Ps 13:5; 52:8), as that in which we can rejoice (Ps 31:7, Ps
59:16), as that which evokes (or should evoke) gratitude (Ps
107:8, 15, 21, 31, 138:2), as that which is proclaimed (Is 63:7, Ps
92:2), as precious (Ps 36:7-see notes below), as good
(Ps 69:16), as marvelous (Ps 17:7-see notes below; Ps 31:21), as
multitudinous (Isa 63:7), as great (Ps 117:2) as better than
life (Ps 63:3), as that for which saints should pray (Ps 17:7, 25:6,
143:8, 36:10, Ge 24:12, 2Sa 2:6)
One can also gain some sense of the
"variegated" meaning of hesed by observing the Biblical
effects or associations of hesed on individuals (some contexts
speak of Israel) -- drawn by God's hesed (Jer 31:3), preserved
by God's hesed (Ps 40:11), revived according to
God's hesed (Ps 119:88), comforted by God's hesed (Ps
119:76), looking for forgiveness of one's sins through God's
hesed (Ps 51:1), receiving mercy through God's hesed (Israel = Isa
54:8), heard by God on the basis of His hesed (Ps 119:149), to be
pondered in worship (Ps 48:9), expecting God's hesed when in affliction
(Ps 42:7,8), crowned with God's hesed (Ps 103:4).
O Bless the Lord, My Soul (play)
Then bless His holy Name,
Whose grace hath made thee whole,
Whose lovingkindness crowns thy days!
O bless the Lord, my soul!
Here are some select OT uses of
(Rahab to the Jewish spies sent by
Joshua) Now therefore, please swear to me by the LORD (Jehovah), since I have dealt
kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly (hesed)
with my father’s household, and give me a pledge of truth (Jos
Comment: Hesed means
loyal, steadfast, or faithful love based on a promise, agreement, or
covenant. Sometimes the word is used of God’s covenant-love for His people
and sometimes, as here, of relationships on the human level. Rahab’s
request was that the spies make a hesed agreement with her and her
father’s family, just as she had made a hesed agreement with them
by sparing their lives.
J. F., Zuck, R. B., et al: The Bible Knowledge Commentary. 1985. Victor)
(David speaking to Jonathan, Saul's
son) Therefore deal (do or work) kindly (lovingkindness) with your
servant (Saul), for you have brought your servant (David) into a
covenant of the LORD with you (Jonathan). But if there is iniquity in
me, put me to death yourself; for why then should you bring me to your
father?" (1Sa 20:8)
Comment: David is referencing
the covenant (see study of
initiated by Jonathan with David because of his filial love for him (1Sa
18:3), and so on the basis of the solemn binding covenant which Jonathan
has cut David appeals to his covenant partner to demonstrate kindness (In
= kindness or concern expressed for someone in need, mercy,
compassion, pity, clemency). David understood the binding nature of
covenant, especially when cut between men of integrity. (See related
Covenant: The Exchange of Robes;
Covenant: The Exchange of Armor and
but My lovingkindness (hesed;
Lxx = eleos) shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul,
whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall
endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever."' (2Sa
Comment: "Your throne shall be
established forever" refers to an immutable covenant promise which will be
fulfilled with the establishment of Messiah's glorious, eternal Kingdom.
But as for me, by Thine abundant
lovingkindness I will enter Thy house, At Thy holy temple I will bow
in reverence for Thee. (Ps 5:7)
Return, O LORD (Jehovah), rescue my soul; Save me
because of Thy lovingkindness. (Ps 6:4)
Comment: Notice David's
understanding and reliance upon God's covenant relationship with him.
While he does not use the specific word "covenant", David does appeal to
God's lovingkindness which is inextricably bound to His covenant of grace
with fallen men like David.
Wondrously show Thy lovingkindness, (KJV = Show thy marvelous
lovingkindness) O Savior (Heb = 03467 = yasha = deliver, rescue -
related to Yeshua ~ NT "Jesus"; Lxx =
sozo = to save) of those who take refuge
(Heb = 02620 = chacah = flee for protection, confide in, put trust it,
hope in; Lxx =
elpizo = to
hope) at Thy right hand From those who rise up against them. (Psalm 17:7)
Comment: What a great prayer by
David. Have you ever prayed this prayer? Do you dare pray such a prayer?
invites us to pray boldly drawing "near with confidence to the throne of
grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of
need." Given this truth, dare we NOT pray this great prayer? Oh beloved,
let us offer up this prayer and "test (Jehovah) now in this, if (He) will
not open for (us) the windows of heaven, and pour out for (us) a blessing
until it overflows" (Mal 3:10) in Christ Jesus Who became poor that we
through His poverty might become rich.(2Co 8:9) Amen
Spurgeon writes: What deep
depression some of us have had! We have gone to the bottom of the
mountains, and the bars of the earth seemed to hold us there. We feel as
John Fawcett’s hymn puts it:
My soul, with various tempests tossed,
Her hopes overturned, her projects crossed,
Sees every day new straits attend,
And wonders where the scene will end.
But after just one glimpse of God’s
everlasting love, we are near God’s right hand.
Pray for this experience: “Show Your marvelous lovingkindness”
(Ps. 17:7). He will do it! He will bring you up, out, and through—not
necessarily in the way you would like to come, but in the best way. (Listen to the
entire Mp3 of
Spurgeon's wonderful sermon on this verse wherein he repeatedly challenges
us to pray this simple but profound prayer -
Marvelous Lovingkindness - Psalm 17:7 - Mp3
; If you'd rather just read the sermon =
Marvelous Loving-Kindness - Psalm 17:7)
O Thou that ever savest those
Whose trust on Thee is stayed,
Preserving them from all their foes
By Thine almighty aid,
Let me Thy lovingkindness see,
Thy wondrous mercy, full and free.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness
(Amplified = "unfailing love" - hesed; Lxx =
eleos) will follow me all the days of my
life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD (Jehovah) forever. (Ps 23:6)
together with goodness suggests the steady kindness and support that one
can count on in the family or between firm friends ("Friend" is also a
term). With the non-lying God these qualities are not merely solid and
dependable, but vigorous—for to follow does not mean here to bring up the
rear but to pursue, as surely as His judgments pursue the wicked (Ps
Spurgeon comments: Surely
goodness (tob - 02896) and mercy shall follow me all the
days of my life. This is a fact as indisputable as it is encouraging, and
therefore a heavenly verily, or "surely" is set as a seal upon it
(Ed: That speaks also of how certain is God's
goodness and mercy!). This sentence may be read, "only goodness and
mercy," for there shall be unmingled mercy in our history. These twin
guardian angels will always be with me at my back and my beck. Just as
when great princes go abroad they must not go unattended, so it is with
the believer. Goodness and mercy follow him always -- all the days
of his life -- the black days as well as the bright days, the days of
fasting as well as the days of feasting, the dreary days of winter as well
as the bright days of summer. Goodness supplies our needs, and mercy blots
out our sins.
A "SHEEP DOG" NAMED
Stedman comments: Some quaint
commentator has said that those two words goodness and mercy (hesed) are
God's "sheep dogs". This is the Shepherd's Psalm. David wrote it
when he was but a lad, keeping sheep. In referring to the goodness and
mercy of God, he is referring to the sheep dogs that nip at the heels of
the flock and keep them in line, driving them into place. "Surely Goodness
and Mercy shall follow me all the days of my life," nipping at my heels,
humiliating me, turning me back from that which looks good but is really
evil, keeping me from getting what I think I need, and what I think
I want. But in the end we must name these what God names them --
goodness and mercy!
How precious (Heb = yaqar = 03368 =
precious in the sense of being rare and valuable; excellent; splendid;
weighty; noble) is Thy lovingkindness, O God! And the children of
men take refuge in the shadow of Thy wings. (Ps 36:7)
Spurgeon comments: Here we enter
into the Holy of Holies. Benevolence, and mercy, and justice, are
everywhere, but the excellence of that mercy (hesed) only those
have known whose faith has lifted the veil and passed into the brighter
presence of the Lord; these behold the excellency of the Lord's mercy (hesed).
The word translated excellent may be rendered "precious;" no
gem or pearl can ever equal in value a sense of the Lord's love. This is
such a brilliant as angels wear. King's regalia are a beggarly collection
of worthless pebbles when compared with the tender mercies (hesed)
David could not estimate it, and
therefore, after putting a note of admiration, he left our hearts and
imagination, and, better still, our experience, to fill up the rest.
He writes "how excellent" because he cannot tell us the half of it.
Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy
wings. The best of reasons for the best of courses. The figure is very
beautiful. The Lord overshadows his people as a hen protects her brood, or
as an eagle covers its young; and we as the little ones run under the
blessed shelter and feel at rest. To cower down under the wings of God is
so sweet. Although the enemy be far too strong for us, we have no fear,
for we nestle under the Lord's wing. O that more of Adam's race knew the
excellency of the heavenly shelter! It made Jesus weep to see how they
refused it: our tears may well lament the same evil.
Because Thy lovingkindness is
better than life, My lips will praise Thee. (Ps 63:3)
Spurgeon comments: A reason for
that which went before (Ps 63:2), as well as for that which follows (Ps
63:4). Life is dear, but God's love is dearer. To dwell with God is better
than life at its best; life at ease, in a palace, in health, in honour, in
wealth, in pleasure; yea, a thousand lives are not equal to the eternal
life which abides in Jehovah's smile. In him we truly live, and move, and
have our being; the withdrawal of the light of His countenance is as the
shadow of death to us: hence we cannot but long after the Lord's gracious
Life is to many men a doubtful good:
lovingkindness is an unquestioned boon:
life is but transient,
mercy (hesed) is everlasting:
life is shared in by the lowest
but the lovingkindness of the Lord
is the peculiar portion of the chosen.
Thomas Brooks (Puritan writer):
Thy lovingkindness is better than life; or, better than lives, as the
Hebrew hath it (chaiim). Divine favour (hesed) is better than life;
it is better than life with all its revenues, with all its appurtenances,
as honours, riches, pleasures, applause, etc.; yea, it is better than many
lives put together. Now you know at what a high rate men value their
lives; they will bleed, sweat, vomit, purge, part with an estate, yea,
with a limb, yea, limbs, to preserve their lives. As he cried out, "Give
me any deformity, any torment, any misery, so you spare my life." Now,
though life be so dear and precious to a man, yet a deserted soul prizes
the returnings of divine favour upon him above life, yea, above many
lives. Many men have been weary of their lives, as is evident in
Scripture and history; but no man was ever yet found that was weary of the
love and favour (hesed) of God. No man sets so high a price upon
the sun as he that hath long lain in a dark dungeon, etc.
My lovingkindness I will keep
for him forever, and My covenant shall be confirmed to him. (Ps 89:33)
Comment: The context is the
covenant with David (cp 2Sa 7:15,16) but is applicable to all who
have entered the new covenant by grace through faith. Note the association
of hesed with covenant (beriyth).
Spurgeon's comment (Ps 89:33KJV
begins with "Nevertheless"): Nevertheless. And a glorious nevertheless
too! Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him. O
glorious fear killing sentence! This crowns the covenant with exceeding
glory. Mercy (hesed) may seem to depart from the Lord's chosen, but
it shall never altogether do so. Jesus still enjoys the divine favour, and
we are in Him, and therefore under the most trying circumstances the
Lord's lovingkindness to each one of his chosen will endure the
strain. If the covenant could be made void by our sins it would have been
void long ere this; and if renewed its tenure would not be worth an hour's
purchase if it had remained dependent upon us. God may leave His people,
and they may thereby suffer much and fall very low, but utterly and
altogether He never can remove His love from them; for that would be to
cast a reflection upon His own truth, and this He will never allow, for He
adds, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. Man fails in all points, but God
in none. To be faithful is one of the eternal characteristics of God, in
which He always places a great part of his glory: His truth is one of his
peculiar treasures and crown jewels, and He will never endure that it
should be tarnished in any degree. This passage sweetly assures us that
the heirs of glory shall not be utterly cast off. Let those deny the
safety of the saints who choose to do so, we have not so learned Christ.
We believe in the gospel rod (speaking of God's discipline - He 12:5, 6,
7, 8), but not in the penal sword for the adopted sons (Ro 8:15, Ro 8:23,
Gal 4:5, Ep 1:5).
Who is wise? Let him give heed to these
things; and consider (an understanding resulting from comparative study
that leads to an understanding which is superior to mere gathering of
data) the lovingkindnesses of the LORD. (Ps 107:13)
Spurgeon's comment: Those who
notice providence shall never be long without a providence notice. It is
wise to observe what the Lord doth, for he is wonderful in counsel; has
given us eyes to see with, and it is foolish to close them when there is
most to observe; but we must observe wisely, otherwise we may soon confuse
ourselves and others with hasty reflections upon the dealings of the Lord.
In a thousand ways the
lovingkindness of the Lord is shown, and if we will prudently watch,
we shall come to a better understanding of it.
To understand the delightful
attribute of lovingkindness is an attainment as pleasant it is profitable:
those who are proficient scholars in this art will be among sweetest
singers to the glory of Jehovah.
In that day (this is a
prophecy to be fulfilled at His
Second Coming) I will also
make a covenant (cut a
- compare Jehovah's promise in Ro 11:25, 26, 27-notes
= "this is My
them when I take away their sins") for them with the beasts of the
field, the birds of the sky, and the creeping things of the ground. And I
will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and will make them
lie down in safety. And I will betroth you (Israel - see comment below) to
Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice,
In lovingkindness (Hesed) and in compassion, and I will betroth you
to Me in faithfulness (Heb = 0530 = emunah = certainty, fidelity,
steadiness, moral steadfastness, integrity characteristic of God Dt 32:4 -
in context Israel will likewise now be firmly faithful to her "Husband",
Jehovah). Then you will know (Speaks of intimacy - which was echoed in the
OT promise of the New Covenant - Je 31:31, 32, 33, 34 "they shall all know
[intimately] Me" - see
New Covenant in the OT)
the LORD (Jehovah). (Hos 2:18, 19, 20)
Comment: In the context of
cutting a covenant, Jehovah is promising Israel, His "wife" (Is 54:5,
Je 31:32) that he would betroth her to Him forever. Betrothal
(notice that God promises betrothal three times!) in the OT was similar to
modern “engagement” but was far more binding (modern engagements in
so many cases being virtually meaningless) and involved a formal
proceeding, undertaken by a friend or legal representative on the part of
the bridegroom and by the parents on the part of the bride. From the time
of betrothal the woman was regarded as the lawful wife of the man to whom
she was betrothed (Dt 28:30; Jdg14:2, 8; Mt1:18-21). The betrothal was
confirmed by oaths and accompanied with presents to the bride. The act of
betrothal was celebrated by a feast, and among the modern Jews it is the
custom in some parts for the bridegroom to place a ring on the bride’s
finger. The ring was regarded among the Hebrews as a token of fidelity (Ge
41:42) and of adoption into a family (Lk 15:22). Betrothal could be
dissolved only by a legal divorce. Infidelity during that period on the
part of the bride might even be punishable by death (Dt 22:23,24). Joseph
was a "righteous man" (Mt 1:19), who loved Mary who was pregnant with
Jesus and was unwilling to divorce her (break the betrothal) for supposed
Notice the use of hesed in the
context of what is clearly a covenant (which her includes betrothal), in
which God Himself as the loyal, steadfast, faithful Lover of Israel
initiates the covenant and betrothal with His "wife". This use of hesed
stresses the idea of a belonging together of those involved in the love
relationship. Here it connotes God's amazing faithful love for His
frequently unfaithful people.
For I delight in loyalty (hesed;
eleos) rather than sacrifice, and in the
knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. (Hos 6:6)
Comment: Jesus quotes this
desire of God in Mt 9:13 and Mt 12:7. His point is that the demonstration
of mercy is more pleasing to God than external conformity to the law.
Jehovah desires the loving obedience of His people more than their animal
sacrifices. As an (important) aside, note that the knowledge Hosea
describes is not just a bookish collection of information but is
experiential knowledge of the Living God. Knowledge of His written
Word cannot be separated from personal knowledge of God. To know God is to
live in harmony with His will, and to live in harmony with His will we
must know His will through His Word.
Sow with a view to righteousness, reap
in accordance with kindness (hesed;
eleos). Break up your fallow
ground, for it is time to seek the LORD until He comes to rain
righteousness on you. (Hos 10:12)
He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD (Jehovah)
require of you But to do (i.e., to promote) justice, to love kindness
(hesed; Lxx = eleos), and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
Comment: What God calls us to is
a godly or god-like hesed and what God requires, He always empowers! Let
us all strive according to His power (grace, Spirit) which works mightily
within us to be "Micah 6:8 men and women" for the glory of His great Name.
NET Note: What the LORD really
wants from you. Now the prophet switches roles and answers the
hypothetical worshiper's question. He makes it clear that the LORD desires
proper attitudes more than ritual and sacrifice.
Hesed is often accompanied by
the word ’emeth, usually translated as truth (105/127)
but is also translated faithfulness (19/127 faithfulness,
faithful, faithfully) = Ge 24:27 24:49 32:10 47:29 Ex 34:6 Josh 2:12 2:14
2Sa 2:6 15:20 1 Ki 3:6 Ps 25:10 26:3 40:10,11 57:3, 10 61:7 69:13 85:10
86:15 89:14 108:4 115:1 117:2 138:2 Pr 3:3 14:22 16:6 20:28 Isa 16:5 Hos
4:1 Mic 7:20 Zec 7:9. The Lord’s Word is reliable and so He is
faithful (trustworthy), a truth which strengthens the concept of God's
Awake, My Soul, to Joyful Lays
by Samuel Medley (1782)
Awake, my soul, to
And sing thy great Redeemer’s praise;
He justly claims a song from me -
His lovingkindness, O how free!
His lovingkindness, O how free!
He saw me ruined in
Yet loved me notwithstanding all;
He saved me from my lost estate -
His lovingkindness, O how great!
His lovingkindness, O how great!
Though numerous hosts
of mighty foes,
Though earth and hell my way oppose,
He safely leads my soul along -
His lovingkindness, O how strong!
His lovingkindness, O how strong!
When trouble, like a gloomy cloud,
Has gathered thick and thundered loud,
He near my soul has always stood -
His lovingkindness, O how good!
His lovingkindness, O how good!
Often I feel my
Prone from my Jesus to depart;
But though I have him oft forgot,
His lovingkindness changes not.
His lovingkindness changes not.
Soon I shall pass the gloomy vale,
Soon all my mortal powers must fail;
O! may my last expiring breath
His lovingkindness sing in death.
His lovingkindness sing in death.
Then let me mount and soar away
To the bright world of endless day;
And sing with raptures and surprise,
His lovingkindness in the skies.
His lovingkindness in the skies.
Unparalleled Loving Kindnesses - Psalm 89:49
Marvelous Loving-Kindness - Psalm 17:7
or listen to the
A Song Concerning Loving Kindnesses
The Novelties of Divine Mercy - Lamentations 3:22,
exhorts to be like David as described in 1Sa 17:37)...
Come, then, let us recall the
Lord’s former lovingkindnesses. We could not have hoped to be delivered
aforetime by our own strength; yet the Lord delivered us. Will He not
again save us? We are sure He will. (Faith's Checkbook, Feb 22)
on Isaiah 63:7 "I will mention the lovingkindnesses of
And canst thou not do this?
Are there no mercies (lovingkindnesses) which thou hast experienced? What
though thou art gloomy now, canst thou forget that blessed hour when Jesus
met thee, and said, “Come unto me”? Canst thou not remember that rapturous
moment when he snapped thy fetters, dashed thy chains to the earth, and
said, “I came to break thy bonds and set thee free”? Or if the love of
thine espousals be forgotten, there must surely be some precious milestone
along the road of life not quite grown over with moss, on which thou canst
read a happy memorial of his mercy (lovingkindness) towards thee? What,
didst thou never have a sickness like that which thou art suffering now,
and did he not restore thee? Were you never poor before, and did He not
supply thy wants? Were you never in straits before, and did He not deliver
thee? Arise, go to the river of thine experience, and pull up a few
bulrushes, and plait them into an ark, wherein thine infant-faith may
float safely on the stream. Forget not what thy God has done for thee;
turn over the book of thy remembrance, and consider the days of old. Canst
thou not remember the hill Mizar? Did the Lord never meet with thee at
Hermon? Hast thou never climbed the Delectable Mountains? Hast thou never
been helped in time of need? Nay, I know thou hast. Go back, then, a
little way to the choice mercies of yesterday, and though all may be dark
now, light up the lamps of the past, they shall glitter through the
darkness, and thou shalt trust in the Lord till the day break and the
shadows flee away. “Remember, O Lord, Thy tender mercies and Thy
lovingkindnesses, for they have been ever of old.” (Ps 25:6)
Hebrew - hesed - chesed - checed
(Modified from 1915 International Std Bible
Lovingkindness is derived from
hacad, meaning perhaps, "to bend or bow oneself," "to incline oneself";
hence, "to be gracious or merciful."
When used of God hesed
denotes, in general, "the Divine Love condescending to His creatures, more
especially to sinners, in unmerited kindness" (Delitzsch).
It is frequently associated with
forgiveness, and is practically equivalent to "mercy" or "mercifulness"
- E.g., Ex 20:6; 34:6f, Nu 14:18; Mic 7:18. This quality in Yahweh was one
by which He sought to bind His people to Himself. It is greatly magnified
in the Old Testament, highly extolled and gloried in, in many of the
psalms (Ps 136:1ff echoes His lovingkindness in all 26 verses). In Dt 7:12
hesed is associated with the covenant (in context referring
to the unconditional covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob = "your
forefathers"), and in 2Sa 7:15 with the covenant with David (see Isa 55:3,
quoted in Acts 13:34 by Paul preaching on the Sabbath in the synagogue in
Pisidia Antioch). God's
lovingkindness therefore was a divine blessing upon which one could always
Since lovingkindness was such an essential and distinctive attribute of
God, the prophets taught that lovingkindness (often rendered
"kindness") should also characterize God's people and so it is noted in
the oft quoted passage in Micah 6:8 (cp Zec 7:9 = kindness). Sadly the
nation of Israel failed for the most part to demonstrate
lovingkindness/kindness and this was a cause of the Lord's controversy
with them (Ho 4:1) and His call for their repentance (Ho 12:6).
Cheyne (Encyclopedia Biblica)
regards hesed as denoting paternal affection on God's part, answered
by filial and loyal affection and brotherly love on man's part
(philadelphia in the New Testament).
The word "lovingkindness" does not occur in the NT but equivalents
would include "mercy" "goodness," "kindness," "brotherly love".
Remembering that hesed is often translated "mercy" here is an overview of
the Mercy of God with links to sermon discussions of each subtopic...
The following material is a unique
resource from Charles Simeon's massive (13,000 pages) collection of
sermons entitled Horae Homileticae. If you are not familiar with
this great man of God read ink to
read John Piper's sketch
of his life.
XIV. 356: especially in forbearing
Never sought in
II. 590, 591.
How it is to be
II. 591, 592.
Displayed in the
case of Manasseh,
Displayed to the
most obstinate sinners,
All the paths of the
Lord are mercy and truth,
Mercies of God,
I. 437, 438. On what terms bestowed,
Past mercies pleaded
Past mercies to be
Past mercies to be
X. 564, 565;
Past mercies - the
knowledge of them perpetuated,
Past mercies - How
to be improved,
Past mercies -
Memorials of them,
Past mercies -The
duty of commemorating them,
Past mercies to be
to be thankfully acknowledged,
The believer adoring
God for his mercies,
Extent of the divine
Mercy and judgment
grounds of praise,
The duty of praising God for his
VI. 205–2 ;
485–490; esp of God’s mercy,
VI. 213, 214.
The effects which
national mercies should produce on us,
God the source of
all our mercies,
VI. 388, 389.
of him in them, the truest source of the enjoyment of them,
A view of God in his
providential mercies will encourage us to apply to him for the blessings
of his grace,
VI. 389, 390;
an encouragement to
VI. 411–415; a call to contemplate
and adore God for his mercy, God the source of all our mercies
Temporal mercies a
ground of praise, God the source of all our mercies
God more ready to
shew mercy than to execute judgment,
To be praised for
his mercies, especially on recovery from sickness,
Past mercies to be
remembered, and made the ground of future expectations,
VIII. 296, 297.
The contempt, with
which God’s richest mercies are treated,
The mercy of God to
His mercy contrasted
with our sinfulness,
IX. 311, 312.
The extent of God’s
mercy on the renewed soul,
They are not given
according to our merits,
Mercy preferred to sacrifice,
The mercy of God
delineated by Jonah, and illustrated in his history,
improvement of God’s mercies,
The duty of
thankfulness for them,
The mercy of God,
specially displayed in the incarnation of Christ,
Sure ground of hope
for all who feel their need of mercy,
God’s mercy to the
How Christians are
to look for the mercy of Christ unto eternal life,
Racham (07355) means to show
love for, to love deeply, to feel, show or have compassion on, to be compassionate,
show pity or mercy (Hab 3:2-note), to
experience compassion (in the pual - Ho 1:6). Racham speaks of tender,
heart-felt concern. To tenderly regard someone or tenderly love especially
as parents love their infant child.
Racham refers to
compassion which stirs one's emotions (like a parent for their child -
see below). Racham expresses a deep and tender feeling of
compassion, such as is aroused by the sight of weakness or suffering in
those that are dear and/or need help. Racham pictures the expression of "a
sympathetic view of another’s distress, motivating helpful action." (John
The truths about God's racham should
stimulate in His children a desire to seek to imitate His tender feelings
of compassion to those who don't necessarily deserve our compassion but
who are in need of it. As the Puritan Thomas Manton once said...
The right spring of mercy is a sense of
God's mercy; it is a thank-offering, not a sin-offering.
He that demands mercy and shows none ruins the bridge over which he
himself is to pass.
Or as Thomas Fuller once
If God should have no more mercy on us
than we have charity one to another, what would become of us?
Albert Barnes convicts us all
with his wise comment that...
Nowhere do we imitate God more than in
Racham can refer to God’s
compassion upon the lost, leading to salvation (Isa 55:7) and is
frequently used for God’s temporal blessings upon His people, either as
bestowed or as withheld (Is 14:1; Je 13:14; 21:7; 33:26; 42:12; Zech
10:6). As Ezekiel 39:25 says
Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will now bring Jacob
back from captivity and will have compassion [racham] on all
the people of Israel.
As you study the OT uses of
racham, notice a "common theme" that often depicts the objects of
God’s racham as alienated or helpless. Does this not make this
Hebrew word even more precious to all of us who stand continually in need
of His boundless racham, especially when we all too often make
choices that do not honor His Name! How deep is His compassion --
throughout eternity we will find that the depths of His mercy and
compassion will never be fully plumbed.
Beloved, if you think eternity is
going to be "boring", you need to think again, and to ponder His
attributes like mercy/compassion/tender love, remembering that each of His
attributes is infinite in breadth and length and height and depth! How
great is our God!
As I was writing these notes, I was
reminded of my great sins yesterday, the nature of which is not important
(except to say they were "great" especially in light of the truth I know
about God), and how I today have personally experienced His unmerited
racham. The thought overwhelmed me and yet gave me a desire to plead with
Him for even a greater outpouring of His racham today.
Have you ever been broken and
contrite and pleaded with Him for racham?
His bestowal can bring you a blessed sense of surpassing peace and a
glorious restoration of intimate fellowship.
It is important to remember that
God's racham is not merely a passive emotion, but His active desire
to in some way aid the distress of those who are the blessed objects of
His compassion (Read through the 45 OT uses of racham below and observe
how often racham is associated with some active "intervention" by Jehovah
- e.g., see Pr 28:13 a verse in which can all find comfort -- assuming we
choose to confess rather than cover our sin!).
The majority of Bible uses of
racham have God as the subject (the Giver) and someone or something in
the temporal world as the object (the recipient). (See Ho 2:4, 23; Zech.
1:16; 10:6, and Ps. 145:9).
Racham refers to
demonstration of a deep love (a compassion which is protective, reflecting
the feelings of the more powerful for the inferior) the basis of which is
some "natural" bond, Isaiah 49:15 being an excellent example...
Can a woman forget her nursing child,
and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but
I will not forget you.
In a similar use (Ps 102:13), David
uses the racham of a father toward his children to picture
Jehovah's deep feelings toward those who are in His family (cp Jn 1:12,
13, 1Jn 3:1, 2, 10), Spurgeon noting that
Fathers feel for their children,
especially when they are in pain, they would like to suffer in their
stead, their sighs and groans cut them to the quick: thus sensitive
towards us is our heavenly Father.
God wants parents to tenderly love
their offspring and to show compassion toward all who are weak and
defenseless. God sets the example by His constant compassion for the
helpless and undeserving (Is 54:8, 10).
Baker writes that racham...
pictures a deep, kindly sympathy and
sorrow felt for another who has been struck with affliction or misfortune,
accompanied with a desire to relieve the suffering.
W. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament: AMG)
Racham is thought to be
derived from rehem/rechem (07358) which is the Hebrew word for womb
Rechem (07358) translated = birth(3), born*(1), maiden(1),
womb(22), wombs(1) = 30x in 28 verses in the NAS = Ge 20:18; 29:31; 30:22; 49:25; Exod 13:2, 12, 15; 34:19; Nu 3:12; 8:16;
12:12; 18:15; Judg 5:30; 1 Sa 1:5f; Job 3:11; 10:18; 24:20; 38:8; Ps
22:10; 58:3; 110:3; Pr 30:16; Isa 46:3; Jer 1:5; 20:17f; Hos 9:14.
Mike Butterworth writes that
racham (and the cognates or related words)...
...goes beyond the realm of legal right
into the realm of grace and hope, and dependence on the willingness of
another party to show favor. (New
International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis: 3:1095.
Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House).
Allen Guenther writes that...
racham describes God’s love, it is always a love which stretches
out to the wounded, the alienated, the obstinate, and willfully
disobedient child. It restores God’s people from under judgment. It is not
love in a neutral context. This is not love at first sight. For
example, God says: “I will restore their fortunes, and will have mercy on
them” (Jer 33:26). “In overflowing wrath for a moment I hid my face from
you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you” (Is 54:8).
Racham appears in parallel with mercy and restore the fortunes of,
pointing to its unique emphasis as love that restores. As such, it
always describes God’s concern for His people, and never expresses his
love for the nations generally. (Believer's Church Bible Commentary)
TWOT writes that racham...
In the Piel it is used for the deep
inward feeling we know variously as compassion, pity, mercy.....Racham
is used infrequently (12/47) of men. It is used only once in the Qal when
the Psalmist confesses his love for Jehovah (Ps 18:1 "I love
You, O LORD, my strength"). The depth of this love is shown by the
connection of this word with rehem (womb) and racham.
Compare Isaiah (Is 49:15) who uses it of a mother’s love toward her
nursing baby. It can also refer to a father’s love (Ps 103:13 "Just as a
father has compassion on his children").
Apparently this verb connotes the
feeling of mercy which men have for each other by virtue of the fact
that they are human beings (Jer 50:42) and which is most easily prompted
by small babies (Isa 13:18) or other helpless people. It is this
natural mercy for the helpless that Israel’s and Babylon’s enemies
will lack in their cruelty (Is 13:18; Je 6:23), although God may give
Israel’s enemies such feeling (compassion) (1Ki 8:50; Je 42:12)....
This root is frequently used of God. It
incorporates two concepts: first, the strong tie God has with those whom
He has called as his children (Ps 103:13). God looks upon His own as a
father looks upon his children; He has pity on them (cf. Mic 7:17). The
second concept is that of God’s unconditioned choice (chanen, grace,
02603). God tells Moses that he is gracious and merciful to whomever He
chooses (Ex 33:19).
R L, Archer, G L & Waltke, B K Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament.
The English dictionary makes
the following distinctions on compassion and mercy...
SHOW COMPASSION: Show sympathetic
consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it;
includes the capacity for sharing the painful feelings of another; implies
pity coupled with an urgent desire to aid or to spare
SHOW MERCY: exhibit compassion or forbearance shown especially to an
offender or to one subject to one’s power; show lenient or compassionate
treatment; show compassionate treatment of those in distress; manifest a
disposition to show kindness or compassion, esp compassion that forbears
punishing even when justice demands it.
In his older but still excellent
work (Synonyms of the Old Testament), Robert Girdlestone writes
Racham expresses a deep and
tender feeling of compassion, such as is aroused by the sight of weakness
or suffering in those that are dear to us or need our help. It is rendered
pity or pitiful in a few passages. Thus Ps. 103:13, ‘Like as a father
pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him;’ Ps. 106:46,
‘He made them also to be pitied of all those that carried them captives;’
Lam. 4:10, ‘The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own
children.’ It is curious that the word ‘pitiful’ should have had its
meaning so altered in modern times as to be hardly understood in the
passage last cited.
Racham is rendered ‘mercy’ several
times, and is the origin of the word Ruhamah, which occurs in Hos. 2:1.
Jacob used it to express his strong feeling on sending Benjamin with his
brothers into Egypt, ‘God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he
may send away your other brother, and Benjamin’ (Gen. 43:14). It is an
element in the character of God, who shows mercy on whom He will show
mercy (Exod. 33:19), and is merciful as well as gracious (Ex. 34:6, Deut.
4:31). Accordingly David says, ‘Let us fall now into the hands of God, for
his mercies are abounding’ (2 Sam. 24:14). Mercy (misericordia) is really
the same thing as pity, though the words have gradually assumed rather
Racham also represents the
beautiful expression ‘tender mercy’ wherever it occurs; thus the Psalmist
prays, ‘According to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my
transgressions’ (Ps. 51:1). It is the only word rendered ‘mercy,’ with two
exceptions (Jer. 3:12, and Dan. 4:27), in the prophetical books of the OT,
being specially used in them to mark the tenderness with which God regards
His people in their downcast condition. It is rendered ‘compassion’ and
‘bowels of compassion’ in all passages where these expressions are found
in the A. V., with the exception of Exod. 2:6, 1 Sam. 23:21, 2 Chr. 36:15,
17, and Ezek. 16:5, where a less forcible word (חטל) is used. Racham has
twice been rendered ‘love,’ viz. in Ps. 18:1 and Dan. 1:9. With regard to
the first of these passages, ‘I will love thee, O Lord, my strength,’ the
word seems at first sight out of place, because there can be no element of
pity in man’s love to God; but it expresses here the depth and tenderness
of the Psalmist’s feeling; and it may be observed that in this passage the
word is used not in the Piel or intensive voice (as in all other
passages), but in the Kal, or simple active voice. (Free online version - Synonyms
of the Old Testament - suggestion - enter Page #177 and read Girdlestone's
entire chapter on "Grace, Pity, Love and Mercy")
The most prominent rendering for
racham in the
Septuagint (LXX) is oiktirmos. This word
occurs five times in the N.T., twice as the attribute of God (Ro 12:1, and
2Co 1:3), and three times as a quality to be manifested in our dealings
with one another (Phil. 2:1; Col. 3:12; see also Heb. 10:28)
Louis Berkhof writes that
Another important aspect of the
goodness and love of God is His mercy or tender compassion. The Hebrew
word most generally used for this is hesed. There is another word,
however, which expresses a deep and tender compassion, namely, the word
racham, which is beautifully rendered by "tender mercy" in our English
Bible. The Septuagint and the New Testament employ the Greek word eleos
to designate the mercy of God. If the grace of God contemplates man
as guilty before God, and therefore in need of forgiveness, the mercy
of God contemplates him as one who is bearing the consequences of sin,
who is in a pitiable condition, and who therefore needs divine help. It
may be defined as the goodness or love of God shown to those who are in
misery or distress, irrespective of their deserts. In His mercy God
reveals Himself as a compassionate God, who pities those who are in misery
and is ever ready to relieve their distress.
John Calvin commenting on Ps
18:1 (in which David uses racham)
This is the rendering of the French
version. The word in the Hebrew text, which is רחם, racham, is very
expressive. "רחם," says Cocceius, "est intime ac medullitus cum motu
omnium viscerum diligere;" — "is to love with the deepest and strongest
affections of the heart, with all of all the bowels." Ainsworth reads, "I
will dearly love thee ;" Street, "I love thee exceedingly ;" Bishop Horne,
"With all the yearnings of affection I will love thee, O Jehovah ;" and Dr
Adam Clarke, "From my inmost bowels will I love thee, O Lord." The word,
therefore, denotes the tenderness and intensity of David’s emotions.
A number of passages use racham
to speak of compassion (or lack of) as it relates to enemies (1Ki
8:50; Isa 13:18; Jer 6:23; 21:7; 42:12; 50:42).
In Psalm 18:1 racham is used
to convey the sense of deep, unconditional love and even the
Septuagint (LXX) translates it with the verb
Butterworth adds that ..
The most common use for this verb
(racham) is of God as either having compassion (Ex 34:19; Dt 13:17; 30:3;
2Ki 13:23; Isa 14:1) or not having compassion (Isa 27:11) on His people.
In the latter case its use shows the seriousness of Israel’s plight in
that “their Maker has no compassion (רָחַם - racham) on them, and their
Creator shows them no favor (חָנַן).” Yet the compassionate God cannot
leave His people in a state of alienation. This is the message of hope
given by the prophets. For example, Jeremiah proclaimed, “Is not Ephraim
my dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against
him, I still remember him. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I have great
compassion (רָחַם) for him” (Jer 31:20). The book of Zechariah
encourages the postexilic community to keep their hope fixed on Yahweh: “I
will strengthen the house of Judah and save the house of Joseph. I will
restore them because I have compassion (רָחַם) on them. They will
be as though I had not rejected them, for I am the Lord their God and I
will answer them” (Zech 10:6).
The verb רָחַם (racham) is also used of
human beings, usually as regards their behavior as conquerors (BDB, 933).
Isa 13:18 refers to the Medes who will “have no mercy on infants nor will
they look with compassion on children” (cf. Jer 6:23; 21:7; 50:42).(New
International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis: 3:1095.
Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House).
Carpenter writes that...
It is not overstating the case to say
that Israel exists because God is a compassionate God who lives and acts
according to who He is. Yet, in His sovereignty and divine wisdom He will
show compassion (Ex. 33:19)....In the time of Israel’s rebellion with the
golden calf at Mount Sinai, the Lord showed Himself to be compassionate by
forgiving His people and reestablishing the covenant on the basis of who
He is, not who they were (Ex 34). Israel’s rebellion in the time of Micah
had reached such proportions that again Israel was on the verge of
destruction. But, Micah humbly pleaded to a God who pardons and removes
the sins of His people. His plea was well informed; he knew the story of
Israel’s rebellion and the responses of her “compassionate”—that is,
rachum—God. Perhaps He would again have compassion upon His people (Micah
7:19)....If it had not been for the compassion of the Lord towards His
people, they would not have continued to exist. But, He rescued them and
remains eternally compassionate towards them. (Holman Treasury of Key
Bible Words: 200 Greek and 200 Hebrew Words Defined and Explained)
Racham - 48x in 45v in the
NAS - Rendered in the NAS as - compassion(1), compassionate(1),
find compassion(1), finds mercy(1), had(2), had compassion(2), has
compassion(4), have compassion(20), have had compassion(1), have mercy(2),
have pity(1), have...compassion(3), have...mercy(2), love(1), mercy(1),
obtained compassion(1), Ruhamah(1), show compassion(2), surely have
Racham is rendered in the
KJV as - mercy 32, compassion 8, pity 3, love 1, merciful 1, Ruhamah
1, surely 1
Here are the 45 uses of Racham
in the NAS...
And He said, "I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will
proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I
will be gracious, and will show compassion (Lxx = oikteiro) on whom
I will show compassion (Lxx = oikteiro)."
Romans 9:15 quotes this verse and applies it to the sovereignty of God.
Sermon on Ex 33:18-23 =
God's Glory and His Goodness
Deuteronomy 13:17 "Nothing from that which is put under the ban shall
cling to your hand, in order that the LORD may turn from His burning anger
and show mercy to you, and have compassion (Hebrew = racham; Lxx =
eleeo) on you and
make you increase, just as He has sworn to your fathers,
Deuteronomy 30:3 then the LORD your God will restore you from captivity,
and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the
peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you.
Here we see that racham is a action word, not just an affective (feelings
word - deep feelings of pity God has for Israel) as reflected in His
promised regathering of Israel. When is "then"? The events in this
section can only refer to the time of the return of Messiah at His
Second Coming. Even older
commentators like like Matthew Henry agree that "this chapter is a
plain intimation of the mercy God has in store for Israel in the latter
days. This passage refers to the prophetic warnings of the last two
chapters, which have been mainly fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem
by the Romans, and in their dispersion to the present day; and there can
be no doubt that the prophetic promise contained in these verses yet
remain to come to pass. The Jewish nation shall in some future period,
perhaps not very distant, be converted to the faith of Christ; and, many
think, again settled in the land of Canaan. The language here used is in a
great measure absolute promises; not merely a conditional engagement, but
declaring an event assuredly to take place. For the Lord himself here
engages to "circumcise their hearts;" (Dt 30:6) and when regenerating
grace has removed corrupt nature, and Divine love has supplanted the love
of sin, they certainly will reflect, repent, return to God, and obey him;
and he will rejoice in doing them good. The change that will be wrought
upon them will not be only outward, or consisting in mere opinions; it
will reach to their souls. It will produce in them an utter hatred of all
sin, and a fervent love to God, as their reconciled God in Christ Jesus;
they will love Him with all their hearts, and with all their soul. They
are very far from this state of mind at present, but so were the murderers
of the Lord Jesus, on the day of Pentecost; who yet in one hour were
converted unto God. So shall it be in the day of God's power; a nation
shall be born in a day; the Lord will hasten it in his time. As a
conditional promise this passage belongs to all persons and all people,
not to Israel only; it assures us that the greatest sinners, if they
repent and are converted, shall have their sins pardoned, and be restored
to God's favour. (Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary)
Ryrie writes: A prediction of the regathering of Israel from all the
nations to which she was scattered. This regathering will occur at the
second coming of Christ (Dt 30:3; cf. Mark 13:26, 27) and will include:
(1) restoration to the land of Palestine (Dt 30:5), (2) a work of grace in
the people's hearts (Dt 30:6; see Dt 10:16 and Jer. 31:31, 32, 33, 34),
(3) judgment of Israel's enemies (Dt 30:7; cf. Joel 3:1,2), and (4)
prosperity in the land (Dt 30:9; cf. Amos 9:11-15).
Ryrie Study Bible: New American Standard Translation: 1995. Moody
1 Kings 8:50 and forgive Your people who have sinned against You and all
their transgressions which they have transgressed against You, and make
them objects of compassion before those who have taken them
captive, that they may have compassion on them
A "prophetic prayer" by Solomon, anticipating Judah's exile into Babylon,
pleading with God that even in the face of Judah's sins and
transgressions, God would intervene in such a way that the guilty captives
would experience compassion, even though they did not deserve compassion.
Such a move surely reflects God's sovereign rule over human hearts, even
unbelieving hearts, and is surely motivated by His own deep seated
feelings or racham. Psalm 106:46 records God's affirmative answer
to Solomon's request, spoken some 400 years prior to their Babylonian
captivity! I wonder if we understand the "timeless" nature of our prayers
(e.g., praying for our yet unborn children, grandchildren, etc to come to
know Christ as Lord and Savior. Would God answer such a prayer even though
we the one who prayed such a prayer no longer by physically alive? I think
we know the answer.)
2 Kings 13:23 But the LORD was gracious (chanan = to have mercy on, Lxx =
eleeo) to them and had compassion
(Hebrew = racham; Lxx = oikteiro)
on them and turned to them because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob, and would not destroy them or cast them from His presence until
Note that in this case God's racham is a reflection of the
unconditional covenant He cut with Abraham, the promises of which flowed
through the son of promise Isaac and through the line of Jacob (Israel).
2 Kings 13:25 Then Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz took again from the hand of
Ben-hadad the son of Hazael the cities which he had taken in war from the
hand of Jehoahaz his father. Three times Joash defeated him and recovered
the cities of Israel.
2 Kings 14:3 He (Joash
- 2Ki 14:1) did right in the sight of the LORD, yet not like David his
father; he did according to all that Joash his father had done.
Psalm 18:1 For the choir director. A Psalm of David the servant of the
LORD, who spoke to the LORD the words of this song in the day that the
LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of
Saul. And he said, "I love (Hebrew = racham; Lxx =
agapao) You, O LORD, my strength."
comments: I will love thee, O Lord. With strong, hearty affection will
I cling to thee; as a child to its parent, or a spouse to her husband. The
word is intensely forcible, the love (racham) is of the deepest
"I will love heartily, with my inmost bowels."
Here is a fixed
resolution to abide in the nearest and most intimate union with the Most
High. Our triune God deserves the warmest love of all our hearts. Father,
Son and Spirit have each a claim upon our love. The solemn purpose never
to cease loving naturally springs from present fervor of affection. It is
wrong to make rash resolutions, but this when made in the strength of God
is most wise and fitting.
Our God is the strength of our life, our graces, our works, our hopes, our
conflicts, our victories. This verse is not found in 2Sa 22:1-51, and is a
most precious addition, placed above all and after all to form the
pinnacle of the temple, the apex of the pyramid. Love is still the
You will arise and have compassion (Hebrew = racham; Lxx =
oikteiro) on Zion; For it is time to be
gracious to her, For the appointed time has come.
comments: He (The psalmist) firmly believed and boldly prophesied that
apparent inaction on God's part would turn to effective working. Others
might remain sluggish in the matter, but the Lord would most surely bestir
himself. Zion had been chosen of old, highly favoured, gloriously
inhabited, and wondrously preserved, and therefore by the memory of her
past mercies it was certain that mercy would again be showed
Psalm 103:13 Just as a father has compassion
(Hebrew = racham; Lxx = oikteiro) on his children, So
the LORD has compassion (chanan - heartfelt response by someone who has
something to give to one who has a need) on those who fear Him.
Spurgeon's sermon: DAVID sang of the compassionate pitifulness
of our heavenly Father, who will not always chide, nor keep his anger for
ever. He had proved in relation to himself that the Lord is not easily
provoked, but is plenteous in mercy. Remembering how feeble and how frail
we are, the Lord bears and forbears with his weak and sinful children, and
is gentle towards them as a nurse with her child. Although our own
observation has proved this to be true, and our experience every day goes
to show how truthfully David sang, yet assuredly the clearest display of
the patience and pity of God towards us may be seen in the life of him in
whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Therefore, instead
of speaking upon providential patience, I shall bid you gaze upon God in
Christ Jesus, and see there how human weaknesses and follies are pitied of
the Lord. With a text from the Old Testament, I purpose to take you
straight away to the New, and the tenderness and pitifulness of the Father
shall be illustrated by the meekness and lowliness of the Son towards his
immediate disciples, the apostles. While the Holy Spirit shows you thus
the pity of Jesus Christ towards his own personal attendants, you will see
as in a glass his pity towards you. (for full sermon see
The Tender Pity of the Lord)
(For another Spurgeon sermon on Psalm 103:13 see
God’s Fatherly Pity)
comments in The Treasury of David: To those who truly reverence (fear) His holy name, the Lord
is a father and acts as such. These He pities, for in the very best of men
the Lord sees much to pity, and when they are at their best state
they still need His compassion. This should check every propensity to
pride, though at the same time it should yield us the richest comfort.
for their children, especially when they are in pain, they would like to
suffer in their stead, their sighs and groans cut them to the quick: thus
sensitive towards us is our heavenly Father. We do not adore a god of
stone, but the living God, who is tenderness itself. He is at this moment
compassionating us, for the word is in the present tense; his pity never
fails to flow, and we never cease to need it.
Like as a
father pitieth his children, etc. A chaplain to seamen, at an American
port, visited a sailor who appeared to be near death. He spoke kindly to
the man upon the state of his soul, and directed him to cast himself on
Jesus. With an oath, the sick man bade him begone. The chaplain then told
him that he must be faithful to him, for if he died impenitent he would be
lost for ever. The man was sullen and silent, and pretended to fall
asleep. The visit was repeated more than once, with similar ill success.
At length the chaplain, suspecting that the sailor was a Scotchman,
repeated a verse of the old version of the Psalms:
"Such pity as a father hath
Unto his children dear.
Like pity shows the Lord to such
As worship him in fear."
Tears started into the sailor's eyes as he listened to these words. The
chaplain asked him if he had not had a pious mother. The man broke into
tears. Yes, his mother had, in years gone by, taught him these words, and
had also prayed to God for him. Since then he had been a wanderer by sea
and land; but the memory of her faith and love moved his heart. The
appeals made to him were blessed by the Spirit of God. His life was
spared, and proved the reality of his conversion.
Henry: The father pitieth his children that are weak in knowledge, and
instructs them; pities them when they are froward (perverse, disobedient),
and bears with them; pities them when they are sick, and comforts them;
when they are fallen, and helps them up again; when they have offended,
and upon their submission, forgives them; when they are wronged, and
rights them. Thus "the Lord pitieth them that fear Him."
Baker: Though it be commonly said, "It is better to be envied, than
pitied;" yet here it is not so: but it is a far happier thing to be pitied
of God, than to be envied of men.
Psalm 116:5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; Yes, our God is
compassionate. (racham) (merciful KJV)
comments: Yea, our God is merciful, or compassionate, tender, pitiful,
full of mercy. We who have accepted Him as ours have no doubt as to His
mercy, for he would never have been our God if he had not been merciful.
See how the attribute of righteousness seems to stand between two guards
of love: -- gracious, righteous, merciful. The sword of justice is scabarded in a jeweled sheath of grace.
(Ed: Wow! Hallelujah!)
Gwyther: Our God is merciful. Mercy is God's darling attribute;
and by his infinite wisdom he has enabled mercy to triumph over justice
(Jas 2:13) without in any degree violating his honour or His truth. The
character of merciful is that by which our God seems to delight in being
Proverbs 28:13 He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he
who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.
“Here’s pardon for transgressions past,
It matters not how black they’re cast
And O, my soul, with wonder view
For sins to come here’s pardon too.”
It is interesting that the
Septuagint (LXX) translates racham in this
passage with the verb
agapao speaking of
God's unconditional love.
comments that to conceal: means refusing to acknowledge them
(transgressions) in confession, and perhaps rationalizing them away. On
the other hand there is the one who both "confesses" and "forsakes" the
sin. To "confess" sins means to acknowledge them, to say the same thing
about them that God does.... In other passages the verb "conceal" is
used of God's forgiveness – he covers over the iniquity (Ps 32:1). Whoever
acknowledges sin, God will cover it; whoever covers it, God will lay it
(In context God is speaking to the Northern Kingdom who has not turned to
Him for protection but to an alliance with the pagan Syrians!) Therefore the Lord does not take pleasure in their young men, Nor does He
have pity on their orphans or their widows; For every one of them
is godless and an evildoer, And every mouth is speaking foolishness. In
spite of all this, His anger does not turn away And His hand is still
For the Lord not to have pity on the the orphans or widows somehow speaks
to the depths of depravity to which the Northern Kingdom had descended
("every one of them is godless and an evildoer"!) This is a frightening
verse for any man, woman, nation or people who would presume upon (take
for granted) the great compassion of Jehovah! This reminds me of the
foolish presumption of the skeptic infidel and God hater Voltaire who
foolishly quipped "God will forgive; that is His business". Yes,
that is true but God is perfectly righteous and just and therefore He must
punish sins that are not covered by the blood of His Son!
Isaiah 13:18 And their bows (see Is 13:17 = Medes led by Cyrus the Great,
defeated Babylon in 539BC, cp Daniel's record = Da 5:28, 30, 31-note) will mow down the young men, They will not even
have compassion on the fruit of the womb, nor will their eye pity
comments: The verb have no mercy contains the word for ‘womb’
and is used of compassion which stirs the emotions.
Isaiah 14:1 When the LORD will have compassion on Jacob and again
choose Israel, and settle them in their own land, then strangers will join
them and attach themselves to the house of Jacob.
(I agree with John MacArthur's interpretation (especially in light
of Is 14:3 - "rest" can hardly describe the situation after return from
Babylonian exile): While having some reference to the release from
Babylonian captivity, the primary view in this chapter is identified in
these opening verses (Is 14:1,2,3). The prophet looked at the final
Babylon at the end of the tribulation (see
Great Tribulation). The
language is that which characterizes conditions during the millennial
Millennium) after the
judgment of the final Babylon. The destruction of future Babylon is
integrally connected with the deliverance of Israel from bondage. Babylon
must perish so that the Lord may exalt His people (see
The Destruction of Babylon). God’s
compassion (racham) for physical Israel receives fuller development in
J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word)
Isaiah 27:11 When its limbs are dry, they are broken off; Women come and
make a fire with them, For they are not a people of discernment, Therefore
their Maker will not have compassion on them. And their Creator
will not be gracious (chanan) to them.
Grace/gracious (chanan 02603 = have mercy, be gracious, take
pity, be kind, i.e., show an act. of kindness, compassion, or benefice to
another) and racham are coupled in several OT
passages - Ex 33:19, 2 Ki 13:23, Ps 102:13, Isa 27:11, Isa 30:18.
Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on
high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice;
How blessed are all those who long for Him.
Ryrie: Isa 30:18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 A description of the
glories of the Millennium, though the day of the great slaughter (Is
30:25) refers to Armageddon.
Ryrie Study Bible: New American Standard Translation: 1995. Moody
And so in this context Jehovah's racham or compassion will be
realized in the restoration of Israel to the promised land during the
"They will not hunger or thirst, Nor will the scorching heat or sun strike
them down; For He who has compassion on them will lead them and
will guide them to springs of water.
Comments (John MacArthur's comment essentially agrees as does John
Martin in the Bible Knowledge Commentary) that Isa 49:8-12 speak of:
Israel's restoration in the millennial kingdom and characteristics of that
Isaiah 49:13 Shout for joy, O heavens! And rejoice, O earth! Break forth
into joyful shouting, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people
and will have compassion on His afflicted.
Who will receive God's compassion? The "afflicted" (Hebrew =
ani = the humble; Lxx =
which are really those who are humble in heart.
Isaiah 49:15 (God is answering "Zion" who feels that Jehovah has forsaken
her) "Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion
on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.
Jehovah encourages His people who will be in captivity which this poignant
picture -- Could ever a mother forget her nursing child? Even if that
unlikely event transpired, God would be found more faithful, never
forgetting Israel because of His faithfulness to His covenant promises. To
underscore God's covenant faithfulness He adds "Behold, I have inscribed
you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me." (Is
comments: The Lord has an innate attachment to Zion, just like a
mother does for her infant child. But even if mothers were to suddenly
abandon their children, the Lord would never forsake Zion. In other words,
the Lord's attachment to Zion is like a mother's attachment to her infant
child, but even stronger.
Isaiah 54:8 (Context:
Is 54:5 alludes to Israel as God's "wife" - and here we see He is taking
her back) "In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment,
But with everlasting lovingkindness (hesed) (Ed: Everlasting hesed
is related to God's everlasting covenant with Abraham = Ge 17:7) I will
have compassion (racham) on you," Says the LORD your Redeemer
(See word study on
Isaiah 54:10 "For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake,
But My lovingkindness (hesed) will not be removed from you, And My
covenant of peace will not be shaken," Says the LORD who has compassion
comments on Isaiah 54:9,10 writing that: After the
Flood, in which God executed His anger against the world’s depravity, He
promised never again to devastate the earth in the same way (Ge 9:11).
Similarly God promised that the day is coming when He will
never...rebuke Israel again. Statements like this show that
Isaiah was speaking of the millennial kingdom (Millennium)
rather than the return from the Babylonian Captivity, for the nation has
suffered God’s anger many times since the postexilic return. Even if the
world could be punished again as in the Flood, God’s love (hesed
cf. Isa 54:8) and compassion will never cease. The covenant of
peace (also mentioned in Ezek 34:25; 37:26) refers to this promise
which God had just made. God will give His people lasting peace (cf. Isa
9:7; 32:17,18; 54:13; 55:12; 66:12; Je 30:10; 33:6, 9; 46:27).
J. F., Zuck, R. B., et al: The Bible Knowledge Commentary. 1985. Victor)
Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his
thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have compassion
(Hebrew = racham; , Lxx =
on him, and to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.
This verse presents a good picture of genuine heart repentance...not just
feeling sorry (like world does) for your evil deeds but truly turning from
them and unto Jehovah (cp 1Th 1:9-note). God waits to have mercy (racham) upon him and to “pardon
abundantly” (lit., “He will multiply to pardon”), clearly
demonstrating the divine action linked with His divine compassion.
Isaiah 60:10 "Foreigners will build up your walls, and their kings will
minister to you; For in My wrath I struck you, and in My favor (Hebrew =
ratson = delight, pleasure, grace, kindness) I have had
compassion (Hebrew = racham; Lxx =
agapao) on you.
Jeremiah 6:23 (Jeremiah is describing the cruelty of the Babylonians when
they invade Judah) "They seize bow and spear; They are cruel and have no
mercy; Their voice roars like the sea, And they ride on horses,
Arrayed as a man for the battle Against you, O daughter of Zion!"
Jeremiah 12:15 "And it will come about that after I have uprooted them, I
will again have compassion on them; and I will bring them back,
each one to his inheritance and each one to his land.
After Babylonian captivity to fulfill the 70 years of failing to keep the
"sabbath year" (failure to let the land rest every seventh year - see Lv
25:4, 26:34, 35, 2Chr 36:21, Jer 25:11, 12, 29:10, Da 9:2-note), Judah would be
benefactors of the compassion of the Lord. His compassion would be
evidenced by His returning them to the land of Israel after the captivity.
Jeremiah 13:14 "I will dash them (leaders in Judah - Je 13:13) against
each other, both the fathers and the sons together," declares the LORD. "I
will not show pity nor be sorry nor have compassion
(Hebrew = racham; Lxx = oikteiro) so as not to
As alluded to in an earlier passage the depths of God boundless compassion
can be reached. This is (or should be) a frightening thought to any one
who is not safe in the "ark" of Christ (Acts 16:31).
Jeremiah 21:7 "Then afterwards," declares the LORD, "I will give over
Zedekiah king of Judah and his servants and the people, even those who
survive in this city from the pestilence, the sword and the famine, into
the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of their
foes and into the hand of those who seek their lives; and he will strike
them down with the edge of the sword. He (Nebuchadnezzar) will not spare
them nor have pity nor compassion. (This same couplet of pity and
compassion is used also in Jer 13:14)"'
Jeremiah 30:18 "Thus says the LORD, 'Behold, I will restore the fortunes
of the tents of Jacob And have compassion on his dwelling places;
And the city will be rebuilt on its ruin, And the palace will stand on its
This is not a reference to the Church as suggested by the Disciple's Study
Bible. A literal reading of the text cannot (or at least should not) allow
one to escape the fact that this passage is a clear reference to restored
Israel ("tents of Jacob") and Jerusalem ("the city will be rebuilt") (See
Millennium) So here
we see the prophet Jeremiah offering the people hope in the midst of their
captivity (cp Hab 3:2)
Jeremiah 31:20 "Is Ephraim (referring to Israel) My dear son? Is he a delightful child? Indeed,
as often as I have spoken against him, I certainly still remember him;
Therefore My heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on
him," declares the LORD.
Jeremiah 33:26 (Context = reiteration of the promised permanence of
God's new covenant with Israel - Je 33:25, cp Je 31:31, 32, 33, 34, esp Je
31:35, 36, 37) then I would reject the descendants of Jacob and
David My servant, not taking from his descendants rulers over the
descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But I will restore their fortunes
and will have mercy on them.'"
Jeremiah 42:12 'I will also show you (Judah) compassion, so that he
(see Je 42:11) will have compassion on you and restore you to your
Knowledge Commentary: Jer 42:7-12. Jeremiah prayed for the people, and
10 days later God answered his request. Jeremiah called together
the group and gave them God’s answer. If they would stay in the land, God
promised to build them up. They were not to be afraid of the Babylonians
because God would deliver them from any harm from their hands. Indeed God
vowed that Nebuchadnezzar would have compassion (racham,
“show tender concern”), a characteristic not usually associated with the
Babylonians (cf. Jer 6:23; 21:7). (Ed: Does not this truth - that
the Babylonians were hardly known for demonstrating compassion to their
enemies [!] - in a sense illustrate God's "fatherly" racham, His tender
loving pity for His chosen people who were in exile for their continual
spiritual harlotry and failure to keep the Sabbath rest for the land every
7 years. Yes, they were in the dire straits of Babylon because of their
own sins and were in great need of compassion, which God sovereignly
supplied through His workings in the heart of the wicked Babylonians. How
awesome is our God! Beloved,
if He so sweetly and sovereignly acted for rebellious Judah, will He not
be willing to show His tender mercies to us His own family members [1Jn
3:1-note, et al] in whatever dire strait we might currently find ourselves as
the result of our sin which has called forth His hand of loving
discipline?! Remember that He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Hallelujah. Thank you Yeshua for continually showering Your racham on your
are so undeserving. Amen.)
Jeremiah 50:42 "They (Cyrus the Great and the Medo-Persians in 539BC)
seize their bow and javelin; They are cruel and have no mercy.
Their voice roars like the sea; and they ride on horses, marshalled like a
man for the battle against you, O daughter of Babylon.
Lamentations 3:22 The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His
compassions never fail.
Lamentations 3:32 For if He causes grief, Then He will have
compassion according to His abundant lovingkindness (hesed).
The previous verse says "For the Lord will not reject forever" (La
3:31). Here we see His compassion implies His active pity and it is rooted
in His abundant lovingkindness (hesed) or covenant love.
Ezekiel 39:25 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, "Now I will restore the
fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will
be jealous for My holy name.
Hosea 1:6 Then she conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. And the
LORD said to him, "Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have
compassion on the house of Israel, that I would ever forgive them. 7 "But
I will have compassion on the house of Judah and deliver them by
the LORD their God, and will not deliver them by bow, sword, battle,
horses or horsemen."
Church Bible Commentary: Lo-ruhamah. Not-pitied.
Not-shown-compassion. The choice of words at this point is crucial to the
message of Hosea. The root verb, racham, expresses the love,
compassion, and pity a mother feels for her children. It is warm and
intense. It carries no sexual overtones. When racham describes
God’s love, it is always a love which stretches out to the wounded, the
alienated, the obstinate, and willfully disobedient child. It restores
God’s people from under judgment. It is not love in a neutral context.
This is not love at first sight. For example, God says: “I will
restore their fortunes, and will have mercy on them” (Jer 33:26). “In
overflowing wrath for a moment I hid my face from you, but with
everlasting love I will have compassion on you” (Is 54:8). Racham
appears in parallel with mercy and restore the fortunes of, pointing to
its unique emphasis as love that restores. As such, it always describes
God’s concern for His people, and never expresses his love for the nations
generally. (Guenther, Allen)
Hosea 2:1 Say to your brothers, "Ammi," and to your sisters, "Ruhamah
(racham - literally "she has obtained compassion")."
Hosea 2:4 "Also, I will have no compassion on her children, Because they
are children of harlotry.
Hosea 2:23 "I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have
compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, And I will say to those
who were not My people, 'You are My people!' And they will say, 'You are
Hosea refers here to Israel and not to the Gentiles looking forward to the
time when Israel will be restored as God’s people and as His beloved. But
when Paul quotes them in (Ro 9:25-note)
he applies them to the call of the Gentiles. What right does Paul have to
make such a radical change? The answer is that the Holy Spirit who
inspired the words in the first place has the right to reinterpret or
reapply them later.
Hosea 14:3 "Assyria will not save us, We will not ride on horses; Nor will
we say again, 'Our god,' To the work of our hands; For in You the orphan
Church Bible Commentary: The case has been made in the notes
under Hosea 1:6 that racham should be read as restoring love.
In the Hebrew Bible, it regularly refers to a mercy which extends life to
one who has come under judgment (cf. La 3:32; Isa. 14:1; Jer 33:26; Zech.
10:6). The restoring love comes from the very agent who is bringing
the judgment, most frequently God. At one point this love is directed even
to the dwellings in the city of Jerusalem (Jer 30:18-note), resulting in the
reconstruction of the city. The verb racham appears in Hosea in Hos
1:6, 7; 2:4, 23; Hos 14:3. Each instance refers to a recovery or
restoration of what has been lost or is deficient (cf. Hos 14:3). It never
describes the process of initiating a relationship, as does ahab (Hebrew
for love first found in Ge 22:2), the more common and more far-reaching
word for love in Hosea (Hosea 2:5 2:7 2:10 2:12 2:13 3:1 4:18 9:1
9:10 10:11 11:1 12:7 14:4). The verb ahab connotes choice and a
(continuing) relationship characterized by affection and intimacy.
Restorative love characterizes God’s relationship to a sinful people;
it is motivated by deep affection growing out of a prior relationship.
Withholding racham is an act of judgment or is motivated by cruelty (Jer
6:22,23; 50:42). (Guenther, Allen)
Micah 7:19 He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our
iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all their sins Into the depths
of the sea.
Morris writes: Micah 7:18,19, climaxing the Old Testament
message of the prophet Micah, comprise a beautiful testimony to God's
saving gospel. He pardons all our iniquities forever. Furthermore, He will
"subdue" them in our personal lives by the compelling love of His
compassion, and our sins will not be remembered any more.
writes that God: ...would subdue their iniquities as though they
were insects that He stepped on and obliterated. He would do away with
their sins as surely as someone gets rid of something permanently by
throwing it into the sea (cf. Ps 103:12). The use of three words for sin
in verses 18 and 19 (iniquity, rebellious acts, and sins) gives added
assurance of forgiveness. God will forgive all types of Israel’s sins.
Spurgeon's sermon on Micah 7:19 -
Habakkuk 3:2 LORD, I have heard the report about You and I fear. O LORD,
revive Your work in the midst of the years, In the midst of the years make
it known; In wrath remember mercy.
Comments: In the midst of the years make it known: Habakkuk
longs for God to do a work that is evident to everyone as a work of God.
He prays that revival would be known at a definite time and place (in the
midst of the years), not just as an idea in someone's head. In wrath
remember mercy: Habakkuk prays knowing well that they don't deserve
revival, so he prays for mercy. The idea is, "LORD, I know that we deserve
your wrath, but in the midst of your wrath remember mercy and send revival
not wishing to be an accuser of the brethren, it does seem to me that
considering the responsibilities which were laid upon us, and the means
which God has given us, the church generally, (there are blessed
exceptions!) has done so little for Christ that if 'Ichabod' were written
right across its brow, and it were banished from God's house, it would
have its deserts. We cannot therefore appeal to merit, it must be mercy.
(from his sermon
A Message from God to His Church and People)
(See Spurgeon's other sermon on Habakkuk 3:2 -
Spiritual Revival—The Need of the Church)
Zechariah 1:12 Then the
Angel of the LORD said, "O LORD of hosts, how long
will You have no compassion for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah,
with which You have been indignant these seventy years?"
Lindsey comments: The intercession of the Angel of the Lord is
unusual, for this divine Messenger is usually seen representing God to
people rather than functioning in an intercessory role representing people
to God. That the divine Messenger addressed the Lord Almighty in prayer
supports a distinction of Persons in the Godhead, and contributes to the
implicit doctrine of the Trinity in the Old Testament. The lament formula
How long? expresses the deep need of Israel to have the Lord act on her
behalf. The 70 years of promised Captivity were over (cf. Jer. 25:12;
29:10), but the city was still not rebuilt.
Zechariah 10:6 "I will strengthen the house of Judah, And I will save the
house of Joseph, And I will bring them back, Because I have had compassion
on them; And they will be as though I had not rejected them, For I am the
LORD their God and I will answer them.
Comment: Why will God strengthen
and save and bring back? The basis of these acts is His compassion.
In this context, compassion (racham) overlaps somewhat with grace
for each of these Divine acts reflects His unmerited favor (compare
"grace") to a nation that hardly deserved His favor (none of us of course
"deserve" God's favor). God is referring of course not to all Israel but
to the believing
which He would bring through the fire of the