Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise Thee. Psalm 63:3 (KJV)
Valentine’s Day traditions date back to the 5th century, and whether you love it or loathe it, it’s still going strong today and is a very lucrative time for card shops. Rummaging in the attic one day I stumbled upon an old box which contained a very bright pink Valentine’s card sent to me from my husband (then boyfriend). It was covered in xoxoxoxoxo – I mean, thousands of them, all around the edges and in between!
Have you even wondered about how an ‘X’ got to symbolise a kiss and an ‘O’ a hug? There are many theories proposed but there is a general agreement that it can be traced back to a time when few people could write and in place of their signature they would sign important documents with an ‘X’, to show that what they had written was true. ‘X’ was also a Christian symbol resembling the cross where Jesus was crucified and very similar to the Greek letter chi, which is the first letter in the word ‘Christ’. It thus symbolised credibility and trust. There is a lack of definitiveness about the history of ‘O’ but it does look like an embrace, doesn’t it?
As we think of love today, I challenge you to reflect on the Source of all love. In the Old Testament we find a word called hesed which is one of the richest, most powerful words. It is difficult to translate. No single word in English captures its meaning. Translators use words such as “kindness” and “loyal love”. We saw it in today’s verse, in the word “lovingkindness”.
In Psalm 136 the central message of the entire psalm is the truth that God’s lovingkindness or steadfast love (hesed) endures forever. Hesed is mentioned in every one of the twenty-six verses in Psalm 136. I love how it is translated in The Jesus Storybook Bible:
Never-Stopping, Never-Giving-Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.
God loves you with a never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love. It is a love which is immeasurable, steadfast and permanent. God says:
My love for you is forever. Psalm 136:1 (GNT)
Nothing can stop me from loving you. Romans 8:38-39 (GNT)
My love for you is greater than you can ever imagine. Ephesians 3:17-18 (GNT)
Happy Valentine’s Day!