Author: Peter Yaremko
The Hebrew word “hesed” is often translated as “mercy.” But “mercy” as commonly understood today does not do justice to the richness and depth of meaning of “hesed.”
A fuller translation of “hesed” would encompass concepts like trustworthy, loving, powerful, steadfast, loyal. This is a fuller sense of God’s loving power and action, which extends beyond forgiveness alone.
The author of Psalm 136, which repeats “his mercy endures forever” 26 times, reflects on the glory of God and marvels at how He constructed the heavens and cast the stars into the sky. But more than anything else, the psalmist is awestruck by God’s mercy.
God’s enduring mercy is beyond our understanding. Maybe this is why the word appears so many times in the Hebrew Scriptures as well as in the New Testament.
The ancient Levite song leader would sing the first half of each verse of Psalm 136 and the congregation would sing the refrain. This reminded the congregation—just as we need to be reminded today—that all we are, all we have and all we do depends on God’s mercy, trustworthiness, steadfastness, loving kindness and loyalty.
Our prayer today: Lord, help me always remember that although you are the only one I have reason to fear, you have chosen through your mercy to be someone I never need to fear.