Lovingkindness, hesed in the Hebrew, is one of my favorite words in the Scriptures. It is part of the Lord's self-revelatory declaration in Exodus 34:6, where not only does the Lord declare that He possesses it, but that He abounds in it. It is a vastly rich and nuanced word, and has a depth of meaning and a breadth of application as you can see through its use in the OT. Read through its definition in the Word Study or Vines dictionaries and you will see what I mean.
What makes it this way, though, is pretty simple when we boil it down to its essence. Lovingkindness is God's love in action. It is His love exhibited in and through His actions towards His own. It is His strength, mercy, compassion, grace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, steadfastness, commitment, gentleness, benevolence, truthfulness, and favor towards His children, those with whom He is in covenant. We see it expressed in the command in I John 3:18, "Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and in truth." God loves in deed and in truth...His love in action...and we are to love as He loves; in other words, we are to express His love through our actions. We also see an example of this in Ephesians 2:4-5, "But God, being rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ." His love for us moved Him to be merciful to us and make us alive in Christ, despite our sinfulness. So we see His lovingkindness toward us in His saving us. His love was put into action to bring about our salvation, and His love was expressed through His mercy toward us.
The Psalms, especially Psalm 136 are replete with the use of lovingkindness. It is also used seven times in Psalm 119, and I want us to go through those and see how it relates to the Word of God.
Psalm 119:41...God's lovingkindnesses (notice the plural) come to us in salvation, and that salvation according to His Word.
Psalm 119:64...The earth is full, overflowing with the lovingkindness of God. God has built His lovingkindness into the earth and all it contains, and all that is available to man in and through His creation. The knowledge of the Word helps us understand and appreciate all He has provided for us in this world. Reminds me of I Timothy 6:17...God supplies us with all things richly to enjoy, and He does this through His creation, and it is part of His lovingkindness towards us.
Psalm 119:76...The comfort that His Word brings to us, in any and all circumstances, is part of His lovingkindness to us. God wants us to be comforted and has provided that through His Word of truth.
Psalm 119:88...God's lovingkindness renews, refreshes, and revitalizes us so that we will be strengthened to keep His word.
Psalm 119:124...Not only does God deal with us according to His Word (Psalm 119:65), but dealing with us according to His Word is also dealing with us according to His lovingkindness; and in His dealings with us, He teaches us His Word. His teaching us His Word, the taking of the Word and making it part of the fabric of our life, is His love in action towards us. Psalm 51:6 tells us that God desires truth in our innermost being and as part of His lovingkindness towards us He takes His truth and makes it a part of us. Wow! What a blessing! What a God!
Psalm 119:149...His hearing our voice is due to His lovingkindness towards us. In another Psalm it tells us that He inclines His ear to hear our prayer. God's response to our prayer is in accord with His lovingkindness, and in accordance with His Word through which we are refreshed, renewed, and revitalized.
Psalm 119:159...Here the Psalmist is saying, "Lord, in the exercise of Your love for me, take into account my love for Your Word, and deal with me accordingly." What great faith and confidence the Psalmist has in the lovingkindness of God towards him. This is a man who knows and trusts his God. A great example for us.
In Psalm 34:8 we are exhorted to taste and see that the Lord is good. In Psalm 119:68 we see that the Lord is good and does good. His goodness is expressed toward us in His acts of lovingkindness, in other words, His lovingkindness is good, and He does not withhold it from us, but lavishes it upon us. This begins with our salvation, and will be continued in the ages to come as He shows the surpassing (which means it is more than we can comprehend) riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:7).
Father, help us to know and understand Your lovingkindnesses toward us. Cause us to see them. Help us to not take them for granted. May we be grateful now and for all eternity for Your active love for us.