I have been spending the past five weeks studying through the book of Ruth with my small group. The book of Ruth is probably my favorite book of the Bible because I studied through it during my college single years (and even my single adulthood). The book embodies so much of the loving relationship between Ruth and God, Ruth and Naomi and then later between Boaz and Ruth.
God uses the word hesed to describe his own character. The type of characteristics that we should embody as His own.
"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 loving kindness and truth; who keeps loving kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin." -Exodus 34:6
The act of hesed is often demonstrated from one person to a more vulnerable party.
The act of a covenant-keeping love is the key theme in the book of Ruth.
Ruth followed Naomi. She gave up everything for her, took on a new faith, and worked to provide for her mother-in-law. After Ruth's husband died, she had not obligation to Naomi. Naomi even urged her to leave, yet Ruth stuck by her side. She offered her a loving kindness unlike any other. She remained loyal to Naomi as she gleaned the fields and provided for her. Hesed requires sacrifice because it is not an emotional love (like I love chocolate cake... or anything chocolate). Hesed is an act of pure deep faithfulness and loyalty.
Hesed best embodies God's love because human commitments and good intentions often fail. However, God is the only one who can say, "I WILL NEVER leave you or forsake you."
"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” -Deuteronomy 31:6
As I worked through the study, I loved the way that it introduced the actions of the book as hesed. I knew then that I would get hesed as one of my next tattoos. I just didn't think that it would happen less than three weeks later.
The greatest example of God's hesed is sacrificing His One and Only Son for our sake, for our benefit and for the fact that as a sinful being that we sometimes cannot help ourselves.
As I dug deeper into the book of Ruth, it wasn't about this romantic book of fairy tales like its sometimes embodied, but it was about a faithfulness of a loving God. A love with character and commitment.
Thank you Lord, for your loyal love. Thank you for your loving kindness, I pray that these symbols on my arm help me to forever remember that you are faithful. May I remember that you meet my every need, even when I fail to worship you. May I never be fearful of the future, but may I remember your love to pull me through each and every circumstances. May I rest continually in your loving kindness. I pray that I continue to learn how to offer a hesed love to those I encounter. May my future husband love me with hesed. May hesed become so engrained in my character as I strive to serve you, follow you and lead for you.
Another reason I want to do a foot washing ceremony with my husband on our wedding day because that would be the perfect example of hesed. A humbling, beautiful and outward expression of our love for Christ and our love for each other and our commitment to forever together.