Some things are lost in translation. One language is always limited when it comes to expressing the nuances of another. Therefore, some meaning is lost during the process of translation.
Many biblical scholars feel that this is what happened with the word often translated into the phrase, steadfast love. In Hebrew, the term is ḥeseḏ. Different translations render the word as lovingkindness, mercy, kindness, goodness, and favor.
One of these places (and there are many) is Psalm 33:22.
Let’s look at a few popular translations:
Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, just as we hope in You. (NKJV)
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you. (ESV)
Let thy lovingkindness, O Jehovah, be upon us, according as we have hoped in thee. (ASV)
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you. (NIV)
Each of these translations is different, which can be distressing to some. I, however, find this to be beautiful, absolutely beautiful.
Human translators can err in their work. That’s why we go back to the original language. This word, ḥeseḏ, so rich in meaning, can not be expressed in just one English word. These words are synonymous in ways, yet only touch the depth of meaning of ḥeseḏ. And EVERY word fails as it tries to express the greatness of God’s love. God’s love is beyond our imagination and comprehension.
Paul desired for believers to know “the width and length and depth and height” of God’s love. He admitted that this great love “surpasses knowledge,” but he prayed that we might come to experience that amazing, unfailing love and be securely rooted and grounded in it (Ephesians 3:17-19).
God’s love is enduring. It is a covenantal love that will last forever. His love is actionable. It can be felt and experienced as more than a concept. It is tangible and palpable. In His love, He is merciful, kind, forgiving, and long-suffering. God’s love is unfailing, unconditional, unshakable, and unending. No matter how we try, we can never fully comprehend ḥeseḏ, God’s great love.
So, is it steadfast love, mercy, or lovingkindness? It’s all of this and so much more. And the ḥeseḏ love of God is still being poured out for you.
For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but My steadfast love shall not depart from you, and My covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10
As I always say, the Word WORKS! We are walking in WHOLENESS, OBEDIENCE, RIGHTEOUSNESS, and KINGDOM SUCCESS through the Word of God!
Your friend in the journey,