יִשְׁלַח מִשָּׁמַיִם וְיוֹשִׁיעֵנִי חֵרֵף שֹׁאֲפִי סֶלָה יִשְׁלַח אֱלֹהִים חַסְדּוֹ וַאֲמִתּוֹ
“He will send from heaven and save me, he will put to shame those who trample on me [Selah] God will send forth his steadfast love and his faithfulness.” (NRSV)
• steadfast love חֶסֶד
• faithfulness אֱמֶת
And, what can be said? There is a great depth of meaning here. These words are deep and beautiful because of the meaning they gain through their frequent use in the Scriptures. The nature of God’s deliverance may not be known in detail. It never is. But, we know how God acts. We know something of God’s character. “God will send forth his steadfast love and his faithfulness.” That’s all we need to know.
(Pronounced “hesed” with a hard, harsh, gutteral “h.”)
This is an amazing word. It cannot be translated. The translations that we find, like “kindness” or “love” or “steadfast love” or “long-suffering” cannot begin to convey the depth of meaning here. This is steadfast, unyielding covenant love that does not forget and does not give up. This is the love that remembers the covenant of blessing long after the covenant partner has forgotten. This is the love that anguishes over a wayward nation. “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? … My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender.” (Hosea 11:8 NRSV). This is the love of a shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep to search for one that is lost (Matthew 18:12-14). This is the love of a Father who yearns to be reconciled with his prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). To say that this is God’s loyal, unfailing love, is not to say enough. It goes beyond loyalty. It goes beyond expectation. It goes beyond obligation. God remembers me when I have forgotten God.
“O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.”
(Pronounced “’emeṯ” — the first letter of the word being some lost and long-forgotten sound.)
This word signifies what is reliable, what can be depended upon. It signifies both “trustworthiness” and “truth.” God is the highest and most trustworthy reality in my life. God is the greatest of all truths — the One from whom everything has come. Far from being something to fear, such Truth is my hope. God is the Truth behind all truths. God is the originating truth. The sun (from my perspective) rises every morning because God is faithful. My life is upheld moment by moment by the God of Truth, the God of Reality.
“Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessèd, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great Name we praise.
“To all, life Thou givest, to both great and small;
In all life Thou livest, the true life of all;
We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
And wither and perish—but naught changeth Thee.”
Here is the only hope I have: a faithful God — who does not forget God’s own people. I trust God to answer my prayers and meet my needs as God alone sees fit. I cannot manage or dictate the ways of God. But, I need not fear. “God will send forth his steadfast love and his faithfulness.”
in the midst of my fears and uncertainties,
Remind me of your unfailing, un-forgetting love,
Remind me of your Truth and reliability.
I rest my case with You.
I trust you for all that is good.
Do I deserve blessing or correction?
I do not know.
I know that You are faithful
I know that you are True.
Do what You will.
Send forth your steadfast love.
Send forth your Truth.
This is all I ask.
I trust in You. Amen.