My Lent Words 19: Show a litle kindness

Hesed is a word that is translated usually as ‘kindness’. But the feel of the concept underlying in Hebrew culture is something like ‘faithful as to a covenant bond, the love which displays itself by sticking to a promise whatever the cost.’ It is a description of God’s love for us and a quality that he longs to find us.

When Naomi in the book of Ruth is widowed and her two grown-up sons also die leaving her with two daughters-in-law to support in a foreign land she says to the daughters-in-law:

‘Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show kindness to you, as you have shown to your dead and to me.’ (Ruth 1:8)

The idea of showing kindness to the dead is very odd. What she is saying is that they are acting like family and sticking with a covenant between family members above and beyond the call of duty.

When in the mysterious passage in chapter three Ruth offers herself to Boaz by lying at his feet his response is:

‘The Lord bless you my daughter … this kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier’. (Ruth 3:10)

He is not speaking of kindness to him, she had nothing to offer, but her showing hesed to Naomi in accompanying her back to Israel from her own land of Moab.

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