For bibliography see Love.——JAM
LOVINGKINDNESS (חֶ֫סֶד, H2876, goodness, kindness; LXX usually ἔλεος, G1799, mercy, compassion, pity; also φιλανθρωπία, G5792, love for mankind, (loving) kindness of God). Kindness originating in personal attachment; tender and benevolent affection; esp. the loving care of the Creator for His rational creatures. (Originally “lovingkindness” was two words; the combination was coined by Coverdale.)
“Loving-kindness” occurs thirty times in the KJV but only once in the RSV (
Sometimes the RSV trs. ḥesed as “loyalty” or “kindness” but almost always “steadfast love”; whereas the KJV and ASV usually render ḥesed as “lovingkindness” or “mercy.” In the ASV ḥesed invariably appears as “lovingkindness” when it refers to God; but usually “kindness” when it concerns man (e.g.,
Ḥesed in the OT signifies an attitude of either God or man born out of mutual relationship. Hesed is the attitude that each expects of the other, e.g., master/subject, host/guest, friend/relative. Primarily ḥesed is not a disposition but a helpful action; it corresponds to a relationship of trust. Hesed in a sovereign protects his dominion; ḥesed gives men security in their mutual dealings.
Ḥesed also denotes “kindness” or “help” received from a superior. The meaning fluctuates between “obligation” (covenant), “faithfulness,” and “love” or “grace.” Frequently ḥesed is associated with forgiveness and is almost equal to “mercy” or “mercifulness” (
When ḥesed refers to God it indicates in general the divine love flowing out to sinners in unmerited kindness. On the divine side ḥesed comes to designate particularly grace. In a religious sense the ḥesed of God always signifies His merciful and faithful aid. (This restricted meaning is expressed by éleos.) God has promised ḥesed; one may expect it but dare never claim it.
Ḥesed is an essential and distinctive quality of God; but it should also characterize God’s people (
In later Judaism ḥesed is used to designate human kindness and pity. The rabbis employed ḥesed to signify the act of love; exhortations to mercy occur frequently. Especially, ḥesed means God’s mercy.
“Lovingkindness” is absent from the KJV NT, but equivalents are “mercy,” “goodness,” “kindness,” “brotherly love,” and maybe “grace.”
G. Vos,(1948), 276; W. G. Scroggie, The Psalms, IV (1951), 201; M. Luther, Selected Psalms III, Vol. XIV of Works (c. 1958), 24, 28, 50f., 55, 105, 166, 201, 241, 254f., 272, 275, 320; J. J. S. Perowne, The , II (1966), 204.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
When used of God checedh denotes, in general, "the Divine Love condescending to His creatures, more especially to sinners, in unmerited kindness" (Delitzsch). It is frequency associated with forgiveness, and is practically equivalent to "mercy" or "mercifulness" (
Being such an essential and distinctive quality of God, the prophets taught that it should also characterize His people. It is part of the Divine requirement in
The word "lovingkindness" does not occur in the New Testament, but as its equivalents we have such terms as "mercy" "goodness," "kindness," "brotherly love" (see special articles).