This weekend we celebrated our Forty-Forth Anniversary in an unusual way. Take-out food adorned Wedgewood Stoneware amidst a table set with wine glasses and candlelight for a romantic evening. Due to pandemic precautions, we had decided to eat at a favorite restaurant that featured patio seating but the fire raging in our beautiful mountains precluded that arrangement. While one of the most informal anniversary celebrations ever for us, the evening was still romantic as we toasted to the years God has given us.
When Sunday morning rolled around, we settled in for our online church service. Our youth pastor delivered a tender message from the book of Ruth. He focused on the relationship of Ruth and Boaz comparing it to God’s “Hesed” love for us. When he mentioned the word, tears glistened in my eyes unexpectedly. Just the word evoked tears although I don’t remember being familiar with it.
The beautiful Hebrew word encompasses all one desires from love. Faithfulness, loyalty, steadfastness, strength. The qualities continually proclaimed in Psalm 136 and throughout the history of the Israelites as they followed that day’s worldly ways. Not much different from today. They would stray from God’s commandments, His love, their worship of Him alone. When they were defeated, God would bend down to them and restore them to Himself because of His “Hesed” love.
My thoughts stirred around our marriage. How often have I witnessed my husband Tom’s steadfast love for me? Times when I’ve stubbornly dug in my heels, struggling for my way against his. Or times when I went through illnesses of body and soul, tearing me apart, he was by my side encouraging and comforting me. Most recently, I’ve been on a three-month writing project that is just the tip of more to come. Hubby has handled grocery runs, doing dishes, and jumped into cooking dinners the best he could. We had a cooking lesson tonight. Did I understand his faithful love was a reflection of God’s “Hesed” love?
Our pastor described how Hesed love involves a growing together rather than a falling into love. It’s a pursuing love. A loyal giving of oneself for the other~as Christ gave His life for us. It also involves loyalty. He highlighted how Ruth showed trust in the character of Boaz. By lying at his feet on the threshing floor, she proved her faithfulness to this landowner who was a relative that could redeem her and Naomi (her mother-in-law) from their plight. Boaz revealed his faithfulness by protecting Ruth from other men there and covering her with the corner of his garment. Then he sent her off in the dusk with an apron full of barley.
In Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, it says “Marital love is often related to “Hesed.” Marriage certainly is a legal matter, and there are legal sanctions for infractions. Yet the relationship, if sound, far transcends mere legalitites. The prophet Hosea applies the analogy to Yahweh’s “Hesed” to Israel within the covenant (e.g., 2:21). Hence, “devotion” is sometimes the single English word best capable of capturing the nuance of the original.”
How many ways has Hubby shown his devotion to me and covered me under his protective arms? There I’ve found comfort in tears, solace in disappointing circumstances, and hope for the dreams we share. In the same way, when I lay my fears, disappointments, and dreams in Our Heavenly Father’s arms, I’m trusting in His faithful hands and protection over me.
Another image mentioned was God’s banner over us as love. Certainly reflected in the garment Boaz spread over Ruth. And the blood of Jesus spread over us. God’s love is for us, not to control us. It’s not based on us returning love to Him (which brings us joy) but on Him pursuing us in love.
Our marriages are to be a reflection of God’s “Hesed” love to the world so others will be drawn into His faithful, steadfast, loyal love. God’s desire is that all might taste of His love and be satisfied. It’s a challenge but with God’s love, I pray our marriage in the upcoming years will shine God’s “Hesed” love to others.
From My Heart to Yours,
Linking with Mary Geisen #TellHisStory