1 Nephi 19:9 — LeGrand Baker — Testimony of the Savior

1 Nephi 19:9  

9 And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men.

“Lovingkindness” is usually written as one word in the Psalms, and is often found in tandem with the phrase “tender mercies.” The word translated as “lovingkindnesses” is from the Hebrew word hesed.{1} The Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament shows the power of that friendship/relationship:

We may venture the conjecture that even in cases where the context does not suggest such mutuality it is nevertheless implicit, because we are dealing with the closest of human bonds.”{2} An explanation and clarification of their phrase, “dealing with the closest of human bonds,” is found in a new version of Strong’s Concordance. It reads, “hesed, unfailing love, loyal love, devotion. kindness, often based on a prior relationship, especially a covenant relationship.”{3}

Even though the hesed relationship described in this psalm is between the king who speaks the words and Jehovah to whom he addresses them, it must be remembered that in the Israelite temple drama the king represented every man in the congregation. Therefore, the hesed relationship described here also evokes the terms of the covenant between Jehovah and each worthy man. That being so, it follows that this same hesed relationship also exists as an eternal, fraternal bond of each man with Jehovah, perhaps with their prophet/king, and most certainly each other. Consideration of the this-worldly continuation of those fraternal relationships brings us back to Peter’s assurance that “brotherly kindness” (philadelphia) is prerequisite to making one’s calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:1-11).

6 Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses [hesed, plural]; for they have been ever of old (Psalm 25:6).

Here is another example of where the phrase “of old” is a reference to the Council.{4} The prayer bears testimony that he knows that his and Jehovah’s hesed relationship is now even as it was in the beginning, at the Council in Heaven, and remains forever—unchanged:

The ancient Israelites and early Christians prayed with their arms lifted heavenward. Psalm 143 associates such prayer with the Lord’s hesed:

6 I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land.
7 Hear me speedily, O Lord: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.
8 Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness [hesed] in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee (Psalm 143:6-8).

In the Psalms, that power is often associated with the Israelite king’s temple and coronation rites.{5} In the 36th Psalm it is the “fountain of life.”

5 Thy mercy [hesed], O Lord, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.
6 Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, thou preservest man and beast.
7 How excellent is thy lovingkindness [hesed], O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.
8 They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.
9 For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.
10 O continue thy lovingkindness [hesed] unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart (Psalms 36:5-10).

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FOOTNOTES

{1} Katherine Doob Sakenfeld of Princeton University Seminary wrote a dissertation on “hesed” in which she argued that it meant “to do what is expected of one.” With regard to the covenant, God does what is expected (keep his covenant promises); man should also maintain “hesed” (keep his covenant promises).
Katherine Doob Sakenfeld, The Meaning of Hesed in the Hebrew Bible: A New Inquiry (Missoula, Montana; Scholars Press for the Harvard Semitic Museum, 1978).

{2} G. Johannes Botterweck and Helmer Ringgren, eds., trans. David E. Green, Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, 15 vols. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1986), article about hesed, 5:45-48).

{3} John R. Kohlenberger III and James A. Swanson, The Strongest Strong’s, Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), Hebrew dictionary # 2617.

{4} Examples of scriptures that use the phrase “of old” as reference to events in the Council in Heaven are: Deuteronomy 32:7-8; Psalms 25:6-7, 68:32-33, 93:1-2, 102:24-25, Micah 5:2 is another example. The most convincing modern example is D&C 76:6 “from days of old” and its parallel “from the council in Kolob” in Joseph Smith, A Vision, Times and Seasons, February 1, 1843.

{5} Other psalms were hesed is translated as lovingkindness are: Psalm 17:6-8, 48:9-10, 51:1; 36:5-10; 40:2, 11; 63:3; 69:11, 16, and 103:1-4. In Psalm 25: 7, 10 hesed is also translated as mercy.
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