Is this Hebrew word only found in the Old Testament? Is it a Hebrew term only used in reference to God?
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The Hebrew word anglicized as "hesed" expresses not merely an emotion or feeling, but involves merciful and compassionate action on behalf of someone who is in need. It is most commonly translated in English versions of the Bible as "lovingkindness". In the Old Testament, it refers most specifically to God's love and faithfulness toward His chosen people Israel. It is used in Exodus 20:6 to express the "steadfast love" of God toward those who love Him and keep His commandments. It is also used to express certain interpersonal reationships between humans, such as that shared by David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:3), or Ruth's kindness toward Boaz and Naomi (Ruth 3:10). God's display of this attribute finds its greatest example in the forgiveness and salvation that He made possible through Christ's incarnation, redeeming death, and resurrection.
Being very succinct, I would say, since the Bible is the story of Jesus, and Hesed is his portrait. For complete details, study the tabernacle in the wilderness. It is a picture propitiation. God has provided merciful expiation of the sins of believers through the death of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Hesed is God's overflowing goodness, His grace. God is ever faithful. Those who have faith, can begin to comprehend Him. Read the book of Hosea. Charis - John 1:17 = Jesus
The Hebrew word chesed can sometimes refer to kindness or mercy. It can also refer to faithfulness or loyalty. Most often it is translated as “steadfast love.” Chesed is often used as a characteristic of God. God’s chesed is an essential part of His character. When He appears to Moses, God describes Himself as abounding in chesed and keeping chesed for thousands. (Exod 34:6-7) 6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, 7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. His chesed is associated with His covenant love for Israel. In the Ten Commandments, God describes Himself as showing chesed to those who love and obey Him (Exod 20:6 -- 20:6 loyal love The Hebrew term used here, chesed, is variously translated as “steadfast love,” “grace,” or “lovingkindness.” It denotes loving favor, and is tied to the covenants. The translation “loyal love” may capture the meaning best. —FSB Deut 5:10-- 5:10 showing loyal love The Hebrew term used here, chesed, perhaps is best understood here as “dealing faithfully” (see 1 Sam 20:8; 2 Sam 9:1; 10:2; compare Deut 7:9). —FSB This description is echoed throughout the OT (Neh 1:5; Dan 9:4; Jer 32:18). Solomon praises God’s chesed that He showed to David (1 Kgs 3:5). He also asserts that there is no God that is chesed like God, fulfilling all His promises to David (1 Kgs 8:23-24). God’s chesed is often described in terms of His mercy or compassion. When the Israelites confess their sins in Nehemiah, they also note that God did not forsake the rebellious wilderness generation because He abounds in chesed (Neh 9:17-- 9:17 slow to anger, abundant in loyal love This echoes Exod 34:6-7 (compare Psa 103:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2). —FSB The term chesed is most prevalent in the Psalms. Believers are asked to focus upon chesed in praise (Pss 36:5; 59:17; 61:7; 89:1-- 89:1 Yahweh’s acts of loyal love The psalmist states his intention to sing of Yahweh’s chesed (“steadfast love”) forever. See Psa 25:10-- Psalm 25:10 —LEB Ps 25:10 “All the paths of Yahweh are loyal love and faithfulness for those who keep his covenant and statutes.” --are loyal love The Hebrew term used here, chesed, is one of Yahweh’s essential characteristics. When paired with emeth, the Hebrew word for God’s faithfulness (as it is here), chesed, describes God as absolutely dependable to fulfill His promises (see Exod 34:6 and note). —FSB The phrase “His chesed endures forever” is often repeated as a chorus of praise (Ps. 118:1-4; 136:1-26). Psalm 136:1 The second half of Ps 136:1 is repeated verbatim throughout the psalm. loyal love The Hebrew word used here, chesed—which refers to God’s covenantal love (see note on 25:10)—is rooted in His commitment to Israel that developed in a series of promises given to Israel’s great leaders. FSB; God’s chesed is also the basis of the psalmist’s trust (Ps. 130:7; 143:8-- 8 “Cause me to hear thy LOVINGKINDNESS in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.”). Chesed is also a characteristic God desires in His people—something He desires over sacrifice (Hos 6:6). Zechariah instructs the people to show chesed to one another (Zech 7:9). Micah explains that God requires justice, chesed, and humility (Mic 6:8). “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love MERCY, and to walk humbly with thy God?” The psalmist shows that God takes pleasure in those who trust in His chesed (Psa 147:11-- Psalm 147:11) (ESV) 11 “but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.” --Miles Curtis
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