“Inexpressible” Review

My review of “Inexpressible” by Michael Card, focusing on God’s hesed love for his people.

Goals of the Book:
Do you, off the top of your head, know what the Hebrew word hesed means? You might not, considering that English Bibles translate the word in a multitude of different ways. But what might we think about God, and how he feels about us, when we capture what his hesed looks like for us?

Of course, we’ll never be able to capture the depth of that kind of love God has for us. But thanks to Michael Card, we might start to see it more consistently in the Bible and start to appreciate it on a new level. Hesed, generally translated “covenant love” or “consistent love”, is a deep and powerful concept, one well-deserving of it’s own book. Thankfully, Card walks us through the process of translating the term and applying it to our own lives.

Why Should We Care?:
We always wonder if the Lord loves us when X is true. X could be, “I’m a sinner” or “I committed this specific sin” or “I don’t go to church as often as I should”, etc. But how would your relationship with the Lord change if you started to think, primarily, in terms of the Lord’s love for us? How would it change if God’s love became the primary lens through which we view our relationship? Studying the word hesed is a wonderful way to understand the Lord’s love for us throughout Scripture, seeing concrete examples of this kind of love and the Scripture’s consistent witness to his love for us.

“Hesed: When the person from whom I have a right to expect nothing gives me everything.”

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Book:
As I alluded to above, I appreciated Card’s careful attention to both biblical theology and the breadth of the biblical narrative. Sometimes, we hear that God “loves” us, but these abstract statements may not mean much for us. But studying Ruth, and seeing examples of hesed love? Now, that’ll change your life.

I also appreciated a really early discussion on the laments in the Psalter and how hesed plays into biblical lamentations. I wish I could quote it in full, but I’d rather point you to the book that I recommend you purchase 🙂 Essentially, Card looks at the book of Lamentations/Jeremiah, and Psalms 13 and 89 to show us how God’s covenant love for us is the turning point that changes our grief into celebration and love.

I also appreciated Card’s honesty in translating hesed. He notes that it is not an easy 1:1 translation from Hebrew to English, and the translation comes with some of its own issues. Etymologies are not always helpful in translation, nor are simple word studies. Card can lay this out for us without bogging us down with too many technical details that would bore his popular level readership. (This gets major brownie points from me!)

Like I said above, I highly recommend this book. If you’re struggling with God’s love for you, are interested in a word study with touches of biblical theology, or want to explore new dimensions to who God is and how he relates to us, this is the book for you. You can read more about the book here on IVP’s website, or you can order it on Amazon here.


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