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Hesed: The Steadfast Love of God 

An Advent reflection for Thursday, December 21st by Rev. Dr. Cynthia P. Stewart 

Selected passage for reflection: Psalm 125 


Psalm 89: 1-4, 19-26 New Revised Standard Version

I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord,[a] forever;    with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.I declare that your steadfast love is established forever;    your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.

You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one;    I have sworn to my servant David:‘I will establish your descendants forever    and build your throne for all generations.’ ” Selah

19 Then you spoke in a vision to your faithful one and said,    “I have set the crown[e] on one who is mighty;    I have exalted one chosen from the people.20 I have found my servant David;    with my holy oil I have anointed him;21 my hand shall always remain with him;    my arm also shall strengthen him.22 The enemy shall not outwit him;    the wicked shall not humble him.23 I will crush his foes before him    and strike down those who hate him.24 My faithfulness and steadfast love shall be with him,    and in my name his horn shall be exalted.25 I will set his hand on the sea    and his right hand on the rivers.26 He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father,    my God, and the Rock of my salvation!’


The Psalmist starts with a call to give honor and praise to God with your mouth to sing. When was the last time you had a praise party? It could have been in church, in your car, walking down the street, at your desk, in your home, and so many other places. God is always seeking for us to give praise and honor to the faithfulness that God has shown in our lives. The Psalmist says we are to do this “forever.” If you notice, the word “forever” is mentioned (3) times. That means that God is looking for his children to open their mouths, sing a song, say a prayer, give thanks, and share what is going on in their lives. God wants to hear your voice. This also shows that God is “forever” with us and will never leave us or forsake us. I have a long commute each day getting to work, so this is the perfect time for me to be in communion with God, to talk about what is going on in my life as if God is a friend or family member riding in the car with me. 

Let’s look at the word “steadfast love.” Many will ask, so what does that mean? This is a word that resonated with me during the pandemic as I navigated various changes that were taking place in my life. I realized that God’s love for me was unwavering; it never changed. I remember in seminary, I learned that the Hebrew word was ‘Hesed.” What stands out is that it means “love in action.” It is not static but fluid. God loves us every day, no matter what is going on in our lives, God’s love never fails. An example of this is in Isaiah 54:10, which states, “Though the mountains be shaken, and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love (hesed) for you will not be shaken.” This is our reassurance when life has twists and turns that for many of us come unexpectedly that God still loves us unconditionally. 

Reflect on how you have experienced the steadfast love of God. What does it mean for you to be loved by God? What is your image of this steadfast love? Are there challenges where you might need to receive the steadfast love of God? 

Lastly, what happens after you have given praise and worship to God? Look at verses 19-26, where God promises the following: 

  • The blessing of strength

  • The blessing to sustain you.

  • The blessing of anointing oil upon your head

  • The blessing of protection from evil and oppression

  • The blessing of exaltation

  • The blessing of vindication from your foes

  • The blessing of faithfulness and mercy

So how does it end? The Psalmist says to God ‘You are my Father,   my God, the Rock my Savior.’ This is the great end of your time with God. Now let’s respond. 


Read the scripture a few times and write down words or phrases that stand out to you. 

What are you feeling? 

What is a challenge you might be experiencing? 

What questions are coming up? 

Now spend time imagining God’s steadfast love towards you. 

Take these things to God in prayer. 


Listen to this song, which calls us to “breathe” – link. Sit in your comfortable place, close your eyes, and listen to the words. Journal about your experience. 

About the author

Rev. Dr. Cynthia P. Stewart is a Spiritual Director who will complete her Advanced Spiritual Direction Internship in 2024 through Loyola University Chicago where she is also a Director of Experiential Learning and faculty for Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health. She is an adjunct professor at North Park Theological Seminary. For the last five years, she has conducted a Wednesday 5am women-only prayer call. Spiritual retreats are also her calling from God.

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