Saturday, December 24, 2016

Thought for a Christmas Eve day

I read yesterday that Russia announced it would reenter the nuclear arms race, and the president-elect of the U.S. responded in kind. By coincidence(??), my reading in the Psalms today contained this Psalm, which I've modified slightly to make it more 21st century. . .
16 Kings [President-elects] aren’t saved by the strength of their [country's] armies;
    warriors [President-elects] aren’t rescued by how much power [wealth] they have.
17 A [nuclear] war[head] horse is a bad bet for victory;
    it can’t save despite its great strength [destructive power].
18 But look here: the Lord’s [YHWH] eyes watch all who honor him,
    all who wait for his faithful love [ḥesed],
19     to deliver their lives from death
    and keep them alive during a famine.

20 We put our hope in the Lord [YHWH].
    He is our help and our shield.
21 Our heart rejoices in God
    because we trust his holy name [and his holy name is YHWH, of which Jesus is the incarnation!].
22 Lord [YHWH], let your faithful love [ḥesed] surround us
    because we wait for you. (Ps 33:16–22 CEB)

If you can find access to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. Laird Harris et al. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), read the article on ḥesed (I think they transliterate it chesed). It's included in the base package of both Accordance and BibleWorks (I couldn't find it in Logos, but it might be there). It's a healthy corrective to the older view that ḥesed just means "covenant loyalty" and nothing more. It means a whole lot more! It's the love that drives God to pursue his wayward people—even before they are his people! It's the love that drives God to become human in the incarnation. Or, as Michael Card put it so well, "he would rather die than live without us." That's what ḥesed is all about. "Loving kindness," "mercy," those are good starts, but it's much bigger than all those words.

So, all that to say, Merry Christmas!

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