Thinking Out Loud

December 8, 2020

Words About a Word Which Doesn’t Translate

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:26 am

Book Review: Inexpressible: Hesed and the Mystery of God’s Lovingkindness by Michael Card

Having greatly appreciated Michael Card’s Biblical Imagination series — four books on each of the gospels — I was more than interested to take a look at this 2018 title which looks at one word, a Hebrew word which does not have a direct equivalent in English, requiring translators and Bible commentators to invent the compound word lovingkindness

I was in no way disappointed. Michael Card brings the gift of exposition to the matter of what students of the Bible at all levels call word study to a concept which is at the heart of our faith because it is central to the character and heart of God.

Just as his series on the Gospels was based on the text as rendered in the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), Card uses the newer Christian Standard Bible (CSB) here, but in the appendices to the book shows not only every instance of the Hebrew word’s appearance in the text, but also a scorecard for how (and how often) each of the current major English Bible translations render the word.

Some of those include:

  • mercy
  • steadfast love
  • faithful love
  • unfailing love
  • kindness
  • covenantal love

and are revealed in the stories of David, Ethan, Moses, Jeremiah, Hosea and various interactions that Jesus had with different people. On the last example, I cannot overstate the extent to which Jesus is hesed personified.

Most of the chapters are quite short, so this is another title to add to the list of books you can give you that person who isn’t a huge reader, as they can read it devotionally over a period of three weeks.

I don’t have a book-reviewer relationship with the publisher, InterVarsity (IVP), so I’ve bought the four Michael Card books mentioned here including this one. That said however, finishing Inexpressible has left me hungry for four other backlist titles he’s written which are still available.

Takeaway: Jesus is hesed personified.


For my initial review of the series on the gospels, written in 2014 after finishing two of them, click here.

Six years later, I finished the other two books in the series. For my take on the series from May of this year, click here.

September 27, 2018

A Worship Liturgy on Sin and Forgiveness

For the past few months, Ruth has increased her role as a contributor to Christianity 201. For last Sunday, she provided not only text, but two images and two song suggestions. After taking the time to format everything, I decided to share it here as well.

by Ruth Wilkinson

Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He gave it to them and said,
“Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood that establishes the covenant; it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins…”
Matthew 26:27‭-‬28 HCSB

There are a number of words in the Bible that are translated to our English word “sin.”

Different words that paint different pictures of different behaviours, but that all have one thing in common — they describe things in our lives that come between us and the God who loves us.

Things like:

  • Missing the target (hamartano) – because sometimes we really do try our best, and still fail;
  • Wandering, going off the path (planay) – because sometimes we stop paying attention, and suddenly realize we’ve gone off course;
  • Defiance, Rebellion (parabaino) – because sometimes we just choose say no to God. Or to say yes to something that is not for our best.

As we take some time to pray through this prayer for forgiveness either out loud or silently,
listen for His still, small voice and what He might want you to see in yourself.

Then take a moment of silence and talk to Him about it.

Lord, forgive me.
For the things I’ve done impulsively, without thinking.
For the things I’ve done gradually, over time.
For the places I’ve gone that I had no business going.
Forgive me, Lord.

For the things I’ve held tightly that I should have dropped or given away,
For the things I’ve given away that I should have held sacred.
For the things I’ve let go that I should have fought to keep.
Forgive me, Lord.

For the things I’ve said or typed, the links I shouldn’t have clicked.
For the times I’ve kept silent or stood off to the side when I should have spoken up.
Forgive me, Lord.

For the ways I’ve used or put down other people, or held myself more highly than I ought.
For the things I’ve taken that were not mine to take.
Forgive me.
Forgive me.
Forgive me, Lord.

This leads to our second word…

There are a number of words in the Bible that are translated to our English word “forgive.”

Different words that paint different word pictures of how God responds when we ask what we have just asked.

Pictures like:

  • Drop, send away (aphiemi) – because He promises to send our sin to the bottom of the ocean, to the depths of the wilderness, never to be even remembered;
  • Cover, make peace (kaphar) – because He reaches his hand to shelter us from the justice we’ve earned and to reconcile us to himself;
  • Pick up and carry (nasa) – because he takes our burden, pays our debt and sets us free.

And says… “You are forgiven. Let’s start fresh.”

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