by Brandy Webb
Hosea 6:6 (emphasis mine):
For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings (NKJV).
For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings (NASB).
For I delight in loving-kindness, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings (Darby Bible).
I know it may be redundant to put three different translations of one scripture, but I wanted to show the different terms that translations used for the word checed, which means goodness and kindness. I don’t know about you, but I like reading different translations because sometimes it can give more depth to a scripture. For instance, if I read the scripture with the word mercy, I think of that term in how we treat each other. Yet, if I read it with the term loyalty, I think of being loyal to God, so how we treat Him. If I read it with loving-kindness, I think of how we treat God and how we treat each other. I do believe that despite the differences, they are all saying the same thing. God desires us to love Him, to be merciful, and to get to know Him fully.
This scripture is not very long, yet it has so much in it, so much so that Christ referred to it a couple of times. He referred to it at the calling of Matthew, when the Pharisees were angry because he was eating with tax collectors. When he heard their grumblings, he stated, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’” (Matthew 9:12-13). He referred to it again to the Pharisees when they grumbled against Him for plucking grain and eating it on the Sabbath. He rebukes them and states, “If only you had known the meaning of ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:7-8).
Why would Christ refer to this scripture twice? Well, I am no Biblical scholar, but I will share my idea because if we can live a life that fulfills this scripture we will fulfill the desire of God for our lives. Regardless of which English translator captured the true essence of the Hebrew word checed, all three point to a truth. If we are merciful, we will live lives that are examples of who He is, which will require us to get to know Him deeply, so that we know who He was and is. If we are loyal to God, we will believe in Him regardless of what is going on in the world. We will be loyal to His Word as truth, regardless of the many skeptics out there. If we are loyal to Him, we will strive to get to know Him, also. If we live lives of loving-kindness then we will fulfill the greatest commandment to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul, and to love our neighbor.
These are the things that the “Biblical scholars” of Jesus’ time forgot. These are the things that Israel forgot. God the Father and Jesus want our hearts. They do not need sacrifices and offerings; everything belongs to them already. They want us to be part of their family. They want us to love them, be merciful, be loyal, and to get to know them intimately. Isn’t that what we desire also? May we not forget the weightier matters of God’s words by worshipping Him in rote traditions. Let us all strive to live lives that fulfill Hosea 6:6.