Ruth: 3:1-9; a study on chesed – lovingkindness, mercy, devotion.
Title: Ruth: 3:1-9; a study on chesed – lovingkindness, mercy, devotion.
Chesed: lovingkindness, mercy, grace, love, sacrificial devotion. It is the devotion of God’s in mercy to those who will to follow His way. God also demands that chesed be in us.
In the second commandment of the ten, we noted that chesed was given by God to those who loved Him and kept His commands. Therefore, it is specific to them that do so. God loves the unbeliever and He gives the unbeliever His life through the cross and subsequently through the gospel, and we are to do the same. We are not to neglect the agape love towards the wicked while we also extend our sacrificial loyalty to those who live to follow Christ.
Chesed is used of God much more than it is used of man, by far. It is used 247 times in the OT. We noted it used by God of Himself on Mt. Sinai, the first time He spoke with Moses on the mount. After the incident with the golden calf, added to chesed was forgiveness and truth. We have begun to see chesed paired with emeth (truth) in Psa 40. They are so paired 20 times in the OT. Think of what sacrificial, merciful devotion would look like without truth. It would become so misguided as to become perverse and evil.
Chesed and emeth (truth) together.
Like a banquet, lovingkindness and truth have been offered to all mankind. Those who believe the gospel are equipped to receive and see them, and if they do see them, they will gladly walk in them.
Without truth, chesed has no guiding principle with which it will have maximum, timely, and poignant impact.
We find the same combination of lovingkindness and truth in Psa 40. The entire psalm is testimony to chesed, both in David and then ultimately in his Son Jesus Christ. This psalm brings us closer to its understanding. God gives His love to the world, but those who love Him and obey Him, actually see, experience, and walk in the grace, mercy, and devotion that God has, and because of that experience, they give chesed to others.
God gives grace to the humble. If we are going to see chesed in our own hearts, we must see it in God first, and for this we must be obedient, as Ruth is, “All that you say, I will do.”
Psa 40:1 For the choir director. A Psalm of David.
I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me, and heard my cry.
Psa 40:2 He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay [water with a bottom of deep clay];
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
Psa 40:3 And He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear, And will trust in the Lord.
Psa 40:4 How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust,
And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.
From this verse we contrasted those who do not make the Lord their trust with those who do and ultimately with Jesus who did so perfectly.
What a deep lesson is learned when we behold the Man and we compare Him to those whom we behold who refuse to make God their refuge. These are real life examples which become so challenging to our own day to day lives. Jesus’, David’s, and Ruth’s lives had eternal impact, while the many examples of those who do not take refuge in the Lord have only a fleeting life without meaning. Think of the ten spies who surveyed the Promised Land compared to Caleb and Joshua.
Psa 40:5 Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which Thou hast done,
And Thy thoughts toward us;
There is none to compare with Thee;
If I would declare and speak of them,
They would be too numerous to count.
David sees those who trust in God as extremely happy, and they are those who can look to the future and see God’s gracious rule, not only in their own lives, but in the lives of all who trust in God.
Once again we see the futility of counting God’s blessings towards us. If we tried to make a list, we would miss too many. Plus, a list has a beginning and an end, but the blessings of God are eternal, without beginning or end. We focus on the blessings of God needed for the moment, and the next moment, and the next, but we look at these blessings as God sees them and also how they are intermediates between us and God. There will be much more coming soon on the true form of possessions.
Now David moves from the wonders too numerous to count to the one wonder that is inscrutable, yet the Spirit is working in David in a way he does not yet see.
Psa 40:6 Sacrifice and meal offering Thou hast not desired;
My ears Thou hast opened;
Burnt offering and sin offering Thou hast not required.
Psa 40:7 Then I said, "Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me;
Psa 40:8 I delight to do Thy will, O my God;
Thy Law is within my heart."
The open ears of David turn rapidly to the incarnation of Christ and its culmination in His one true sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.
The Spirit of God was using David’s pen and life for this prophecy though David did not know it. What David relates as the lovingkindness and truth from God, is embodied fully in the person of Christ.
David’s ears were opened. He heard the message of obedience above sacrifice, meaning animal sacrifice, whereas Saul did not.
Samuel said to Saul, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.”
The same is true of Ruth. She was obedient. And ultimately, the same was true of our Lord, who unbelievably took upon the form of a servant and became obedient to the point of death.
It is interesting that the line, “My ears You have opened” is sandwiched between the parallel lines about levitical offerings. Something more than animal sacrifices is required and David has ears to hear that. He can’t know all of the details concerning it, but it depends on obedience. David writes of his own obedience, but fortunately it will not depend on David’s obedience, but on the One who will end all sacrifices.