Psalm 108 (Psalms on the Trail)

Psalm 108

“For your steadfast love is greater than the heavens,

and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.”  Psalm 108:4

Reflection:  This psalm is a bit of a strange one in that it has borrowed chunks from two other psalms— Psalm 57 and Psalm 60.  So if it sounds familiar, it is.

No matter.  The repetition gives an opportunity to talk about chesed, the Hebrew word that is translated here as steadfast love, but in other translations comes out as loving-kindness, mercy, faithfulness, goodness.  It is one of those words that simply doesn’t translate easily into English because it has so many layers and stories wrapped up in it.

God’s chesed, originally a word about a covenant, is used for the covenant love between God and God’s people. But as we follow the stories, God’s chesed  is a persistent love that will not let the people of Israel go in spite their biblical history of wandering and turning away.  God loves even when Israel doesn’t.   The term chesed when referring to God has developed in richness to include mercy and forgiveness when it became apparent that, if God was going to continue a relationship with God’s covenant people, one main thrust of the chesed would involve mercy, forgiveness and a whole lot of stick-to-itiveness.  It is not surprising that the ancient Greek translation (Septuagent) of the Hebrew scriptures translated chesed with the Greek word charis or “grace.”

We hear so much about grace in the Christian scriptures, particularly in Paul’s letters.  The grace we have found in the love of Christ is deeply engrained in us (speaking from a Lutheran tradition).  Even people who aren’t sure if they have any faith left will sing “Amazing Grace” at times of community crisis.  Yet the origins of understanding this Christ-like grace are already embedded here in the Psalms within that, hard-to-pin-down, mysterious, encompassing word chesed.   Perhaps it’s not surprising and possibly it is for our benefit that we must draw on a community of words to help grasp the mystery of God’s chesed relationship with us.

Suggestions:

1. Take this verse with you and ponder its meaning for you throughout the day.  What do you notice?  What do you wonder?  When was the last time you celebrated God’s  chesed, steadfast love?

2. Or read all of Psalm 108 and see where these verses fit in.  

3. Or comment with a photo of your own that is a window of this verse’s meaning for you.

Tomorrow’s psalm will be Psalm 109:1.

Starting January 1, 2016, for 150 days I am posting a daily psalm verse with a photo that is a visual meditation on the text for me.  Each day a verse from the next psalm is chosen until all 150 psalms have been featured.   To participate you may subscribe to my blog at http://elainedent.net or “friend” me on Facebook and watch for the daily links to blog posts.  Disclaimer:  I am not a photographer and most of the photos are from a cell phone or small camera while hiking the Appalachian Trail or the C&O Canal/Great Allegheny Passage Trail.

Comments

  1. This touches my heart in so many ways….I am so very thankful for God’s steadfast love…