Title: Ruth: 3:1-9; a study on chesed - lovingkindness, mercy, devotion.
Lovingkindness often demands sacrifice for the sake of others.
Last night we noted Jesus’ last night as an example. There were other options for Him, like calling angels to His aid, but He chose the Father’s way. As He said to Peter, “It must happen this way.”
Chesed - dsjis used 247 times in the OT.
A brief survey of the word will suffice to reveal to us how important it is, and to implore us to have it upon our hearts at all times. This is where knowing what it is to be Christian, or being in Christ, affects itself in our thoughts and actions towards others.
Chesed is used in the second commandment. It refers to God’s dealings with those who love Him and keep His commandments.
EXO 20:4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.
EXO 20:5 You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,
EXO 20:6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
God loves the world, but those who oppose Him do not see His kindness since God is kindness.
How does a person who rejects God and opposes His law see God’s steadfast love? It is impossible for both things to coexist in a person’s soul. How could anyone hate Him and see His kindness? It is not that some are excluded from God’s lovingkindness by God, it is that they reject Yavah and therefore do not ever see His love or kindness. God said that He is evident in creation in Rom 1. This means that His kindness has been shown to the world; to every person in every generation, but not all have seen it, being blinded by their own pride or ambition or lust.
Man rejects the obvious loving-kindness of God and violates the second commandment.
ROM 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
ROM 1:19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
ROM 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
ROM 1:21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
ROM 1:22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
ROM 1:23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
ROM 1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them.
After the commandments of God were broken by making the golden calf, God still shows chesed to Israel, yet still punishing the evil.
One might ask, if God is going to judge evil than how can He continue to give lovingkindness? The answer lies in God’s consistency, in that He cannot change. If evil was judged sometimes and not at other times then who is to say that God is faithful to keep His covenant promises? Evil is judged and that is proof that chesed will never leave the faithful. God judged in death those who would not repent of the golden calf worship and He spared those who did. God does not change and so to those who love Him, chesed is theirs every day of their lives. Judgment becomes the seedbed of hope.
EXO 34:1 Now the Lord said to Moses, "Cut out for yourself two stone tablets like the former ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets which you shattered.
EXO 34:2 So be ready by morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to Me on the top of the mountain.
EXO 34:3 And no man is to come up with you, nor let any man be seen anywhere on the mountain; even the flocks and the herds may not graze in front of that mountain."
EXO 34:4 So he cut out two stone tablets like the former ones, and Moses rose up early in the morning and went up to Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and he took two stone tablets in his hand.
Think of the solemn character of this walk up the mountain as compared with the first one, before Israel sinned.
EXO 34:5 And the Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the Lord.
EXO 34:6 Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;
EXO 34:7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations."
As in vs. 6, lovingkindness (chesed) and truth (emeth) are paired together 20 times in the OT, much like “grace and truth.”
We have recently seen one in Psa 25.
PSA 25:8 Good and upright is the Lord;
Therefore He instructs sinners in the way.
PSA 25:9 He leads the humble in justice,
And He teaches the humble His way.
PSA 25:10 All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth
To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.
Lovingkindness and truth have been offered to all mankind, but only those who believe and receive them gladly will see their path and walk in them and with them.
We find the same combination in Psa 40. The entire psalm is testimony to chesed, both in David and then ultimately in his Son Jesus Christ. It goes beyond being nice or kind. 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. 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.
This echoes Jeremiah. We will pause this psalm here.
JER 17:7-8 "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord
And whose trust is the Lord. "For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream
And will not fear when the heat comes;
But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
Nor cease to yield fruit.