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Praise the Lord!
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever.
2 Who can utter the mighty doings of the Lord,
or declare all his praise?
3 Happy are those who observe justice,
who do righteousness at all times.
a little study from Linda
These verses have the three important Old Testament words in them! Righteousness, justice and hesed.
Hesed is translated here as "steadfast love". It is also translated sometimes as mercy, or loving kindness.
now, a quote from Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament Vol ii, p479. (slightly altered)
"In the Old Testament, hesed denotes an attitude of man or God which arises out of a mutual relationship. It is the attitude which the one expects of the other in this relationship, and to which he is pledged in relation to him. Thus the relationship of mutual hesed arises between relatives and friends, hosts and guests, masters and subjects, or others in covenant relation. Hesed is not primarily a disposition but a helpful act corresponding to a relationship of trust, and faithfulness as the appropriate attitude. The reciprocity of the hesed obligation is the content of a covenant. (1Sam20:8) Thus, the implied demand is a legal one. Both hesed and mishpat (justice) are demanded, as hesed is also connected with righteousness (tzedekah). As the hesed of a ruler protects his dominion, so hesed is what gives security to men in their mutual dealings.
If in human relationships the element of obligation may yield before that of favour, so on God's side hesed particularly comes to denote grace. God's hesed too, restes on the covenant by which He has freely bound Himself to the people, so that the righteous can appeal to God's hesed assuming that they for their part have kept their obligations."