International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
luv-ing-kind'-nes (hecedh): "Lovingkindness" in the King James Version always represents this word (30 times), but of hecedh there are many other renderings, e.g. "mercy" (frequently), "kindness" (38), "goodness" (12). The word is derived from chacadh, meaning, perhaps, "to bend or bow oneself," "to incline oneself"; hence, "to be gracious or merciful." the English Revised Version has not many changes, but in the American Standard Revised Version "lovingkindness" is invariably employed when checedh is used of God, and, as a rule, "kindness" when it is used of man, as in Genesis 21:23 Judges 1:24 (the King James Version "mercy," the Revised Version (British and American) "deal kindly"); Ruth 3:10 2 Chronicles 32:32; 2 Chronicles 35:26 (the King James Version "goodness,"); margin "Hebrew: kindness" the Revised Version (British and American) "good deeds"); Job 6:14, etc. Of the uses of the word as on man's part toward God, the only occurrences are: Jeremiah 2:2, "I remember for thee the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals," etc.; Hosea 6:4, 6, "Your goodness (the Revised Version margin "or kindness") is as a morning cloud," "I desire goodness (the King James Version "mercy," the Revised Version margin "Kindness"), and not sacrifice," which last passage may denote kindness as toward man.
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" (Exodus 20:6), "showing lovingkindness (the English Revised Version "mercy") unto thousands of them that love me"; Exodus 34:6, "slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness (the English Revised Version "plenteous in mercy")"; (34:7) "keeping lovingkindness (the English Revised Version "mercy") for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin" (compare Numbers 14:18); Micah 7:18, "He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in lovingkindness" (the English Revised Version "mercy"). This quality in Yahweh was one by which He sought to bind His people to Himself. It is greatly magnified in the Old Testament, highly extolled and gloried in, in many of the psalms (Psalm 136 has the constant refrain, "For his lovingkindness endureth forever"). In Deuteronomy 7:12 it is associated with the covenant, and in 2 Samuel 7:15 with the covenant with David (compare Isaiah 55:3, etc.). It was something that could always be relied on.
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 Micah 6:8, "to love kindness" (compare Zechariah 7:9, "Show kindness and compassion every man to his brother"). The want of it in the nation was a cause of Yahweh's controversy with them, e.g. Hosea 4:1, "There is no truth, nor goodness (checedh) (the King James Version and the English Revised Version "mercy"), nor knowledge of God in the land"; Hosea 12:6, "Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep kindness (the King James Version and the English Revised Version "mercy") and justice, and wait for thy God continually." Cheyne (Encyclopedia Biblica) regards checedh as denoting paternal affection on God's part, answered by filial and loyal affection and brotherly love on man's part (philadelphia in the New Testament).
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).
W. L. Walker