Title: Ruth: 3:1-9; a study on chesed - mercy is to be personal and universal.
Chesed implies personal involvement and commitment in a relationship beyond the rule of law.
James used the word when instructing his readers to abstain from showing favoritism to the rich above the poor.
JAM 2:1 My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.
James is explaining what living faith is all about. We are not to compromise faith by having respect of persons. Admiring a person because of his position in life was expressly forbidden by the Mosaic Law in LEV 19:15.
God has honored the poor with salvation and richness of spiritual life. When a rich man becomes a believer, his earthly wealth turns to nothing as it is weighed in the scales against eternal life and the spiritual life of Christ. To dishonor the poor is to dishonor whom God has honored with His kingdom, and if they are merciful, the crown of life.
God, through James, identifies the law of how we treat others as a kingly or royal law.
JAM 2:8 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well.
The royal law is the way or conduct of the disciple of Jesus as He described it in the Sermon on the Mount.
JAM 2:13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
The Greek word “eleos” is the Greek translation of the Hebrew chesed.
Truth guides chesed, but it is not a procedure or ritual. Chesed is as alive as God is. The truth reveals that the material wealth is of no importance since it has no bearing on the reality of things. Knowing this, we treat every man with mercy, regardless of position or wealth. This is the Law of Christ. We are involved in their lives for their sake, for Christ’s sake and without thought of self. Believers are already rich beyond their wildest dreams.
We do not judge one worthy of our time and another unworthy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. We are involved in people’s lives for their sake and Jesus’ sake.
In light of the NT, the judgment James speaks of here is the discipline of the Lord upon His children who are conceited. It may also refer to the judgment at the Lord’s Bema Seat refered to in 2CO 5:10.
Thank God that judgment will be merciless, which is the Greek word eleos with the negative alpha prefixed. If a believer is self-centered or selfish and so will not show mercy to certain people, he walks as if he is not alive in Christ, which is a terrible slavery and fear. God will do all that is necessary for us to see the life that we have in Christ, of which mercy plays a key role.
The lack of joy and peace in our hearts will testify to us that judgment of others is not of life. The presence of bitterness, anger, and fear will testify of the same thing. And if this is not enough to bring us to repentance, then God will bring discipline and magnify our pain so that we may learn and see the royal law that we are under. Also, the warning of loss of reward at the Bema Seat motivates the believer. To know that our deeds, whether good or bad, will be judged, makes it clear to us that we will reap what we sow. We know that though we may fool people, we cannot fool the Lord, to whom we will give an account.
The point is: to show mercy means to gain mercy; to show judgment means to gain judgment. Mercy exults in victory over condemnation.
It is a living, personal involvement and commitment to another from the truth, from the power of Christ’s love, and from the sacrifice of Christ’s mercy. It needs to be in each believer’s heart. It needs to be offered to all in the royal family just as our love is offered to all in the world.
Steadfast love, mercy, grace, etc. can all describe the word, but devotion is a word that covers most of it in one word.
Chesed: love is mixed with strength and results in work. Devotion fits this well.
It is devotion to one another in spite of any circumstances we face that makes mercy more difficult or more sacrificial.
We must be devoted to one another. We must set aside all fleshly pettiness and devote ourselves to the wellbeing of one another. We must consider one another as more important than ourselves. We must sacrifice when called to for the benefit of one another, setting aside our own happiness, and yet gaining more of God’s happiness. Such a view within our hearts will give us a unity that the entire force of Satan’s army could not slow down. Such a people do not need numbers, for God’s chesed is its power, infinite and lovely. Only in this life do we face opposition and we must not miss out on the power that unifies us against it. Lose your own life that you may find it!
Having recently seen the movie Darkest Hour, I am inspired on this point to share a portion of Winston Churchill’s speech to the House of Commons on June 4, 1940, shortly after he was name PM.
“Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”
Such devotion is needed in Christianity, to the foundational Christian doctrines, in the midst of a cynical unthinking world. More and more people in this world need to see the mercy and grace of God flowing though God’s children. In a dark world it is a brilliant and unquenchable light.
Chesed is the devotion of God to His covenants.
God’s devotion to His word must become a part of our own fabric. We are not to be devoted to some word that is of our own making, but having God’s word inside of us, the written Christ if you will, we must be devoted to it to the end, without wavering, and without compromise.
We must not write our preferred theology into the scripture, like several large denominations have over the centuries. We stick to the scripture alone, with humility, trusting the Holy Spirit to show us the way.
HOS 2:19"And I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice,
In lovingkindness and in compassion,
HOS 2:20 And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness.
Then you will know the Lord.
No matter what His people did, and no matter what the world did against Him when He came into it as a subjected human, did He bend or alter His covenant promises. We must be the same. They may take our lives, but they will not take our devotion to God’s word.
Chesed is used in the plural in indicating the many times that God has been merciful to us.
ISA 55:1"Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat.
Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost.
ISA 55:2 "Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And delight yourself in abundance.
ISA 55:3 "Incline your ear and come to Me.
Listen, that you may live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
According to the faithful mercies [chesed] shown to David.
Again, we turn to the mirror and look into our own souls. How many times may my brother fail me before I shut him off from my own devotion in lovingkindness? 490 times in one day? Faithful mercies, many lovingkindnesses were shown to David by God and many must be shown by us to our brethren. We are to never resort to anger or bitterness. Never give in to jealousy or revenge. Never entertain anything other than total devotion in love. Never reach so low as to not be just like our Father in love, which is to reach very high indeed. Yes, this demands a total devotion of life unto God, like Ruth had done. Look at her life in this book, and the countless others that you may know of who have given all to the One who is all and ask yourself if it is worth it.
Chesed is one of God’s most central characteristics. God's loving-kindness is offered to His people, who need redemption from sin, enemies, and troubles. A recurrent theme describing God's nature is "abounding in checed". The entire history of Yavah's covenantal relationship with Israel can be summarized in terms of checed. It is the one permanent element in the flux of covenantal history.
God’s chesed lasts for a thousand generations.
DEU 7:6 "For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
DEU 7:7 The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples,
DEU 7:8 but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
DEU 7:9 Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;
DEU 7:10 but repays those who hate Him to their faces, to destroy them; He will not delay with him who hates Him, He will repay him to his face.
DEU 7:11 Therefore, you shall keep the commandment and the statutes and the judgments which I am commanding you today, to do them.
ISA 54:4 "Fear not [Israel], for you will not be put to shame;
Neither feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced;
But you will forget the shame of your youth,
And the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.
ISA 54:5 "For your husband is your Maker,
Whose name is the Lord of hosts;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel,
Who is called the God of all the earth.
ISA 54:6 "For the Lord has called you,
Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,
Even like a wife of one's youth when she is rejected [divorced],"
Says your God.
ISA 54:7 "For a brief moment I forsook you,
But with great compassion I will gather you [Second Coming].
ISA 54:8 "In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment;
But with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,"
Says the Lord your Redeemer.
ISA 54:9 "For this is like the days of Noah to Me;
When I swore that the waters of Noah
Should not flood the earth again,
So I have sworn that I will not be angry with you,
Nor will I rebuke you.
ISA 54:10 "For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake,
But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you,
And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,"
Says the Lord who has compassion on you.
It is certainly amazing that God calls a “brief moment” thousands of years, but as He said, to Him a thousand years is as a day. Israel was forsaken in 721 BC, again in 586 BC, and they were restored from the captivity seventy years later, only to be forsaken again in 70 AD after they had rejected Christ. Here it is almost 2000 years later and they are still not restored, but God calls this but a moment on His own calendar. When He returns at the Second Coming, He will restore the nation of Israel and give her a glory that she never came close to having, even in the days of Solomon, and from that time on He will never be angry with her again. How blessed are those who wait for Him.
We close our study of the word chesed with a use of its adjective chesid, translated “godly ones,” PSA 31:23.
PSA 31:19 How great is Thy goodness,
Which Thou hast stored up for those who fear Thee,
Which Thou hast wrought for those who take refuge in Thee,
Before the sons of men!
PSA 31:20 Thou dost hide them in the secret place of Thy presence from the conspiracies of man;
Thou dost keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.
PSA 31:21 Blessed be the Lord,
For He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city.
PSA 31:22 As for me, I said in my alarm,
"I am cut off from before Thine eyes";
Nevertheless Thou didst hear the voice of my supplications
When I cried to Thee.
PSA 31:23O love the Lord, all you His godly ones [chesid]!
The Lord preserves the faithful,
And fully recompenses the proud doer.
PSA 31:24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
All you who hope in the Lord.
Chesid - godly ones. The believer who is faithful to God’s commands is merciful and devoted. We must have the courage to follow Him.