The Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; Numbers 6:25 ESV
Gracious - The Hebrew word is hanan. This single word describes an elaborate picture. It creates an image of two parties; one who has a gift to give and the other who is in desperate need of the gift. However, the imagery does not convey the idea that the giver patronizes the recipient with the needed gift. There is no suggestion of condescension here. Rather, the picture is one of a deep, heartfelt concern on the part of the giver so that the gift is granted not from anything that the recipient may negotiate or earn but out of compelling mercy. When the Old Testament uses this verb of God, it conveys the idea of God’s unmerited but nevertheless unlimited love for His children. God willingly favors us with His love and blessings entirely because He chooses to pour His mercy upon us.
The reason we need mercy is the result of our rebellion toward His unfailing love. From any other perspective, this would be the last reason to grant favor. After all, we have done everything contrary to God’s intentions and wishes. Nevertheless, God loves us even though we have treated Him as an enemy.
In some sense, hanan is the precursor to hesed. Hanan establishes a relationship that did not exist. The giver acts. The recipient is invited to enjoy favor. The bond is offered. When it is accepted, hesed applies. God first loved us. When we accept that love, we accept the ensuing obligations. But hanan comes first.
Those of us who struggled with addictive behavior, whether drugs or relationships, anger or depression, are closer to knowing the full meaning of this verse than anyone else. We know the true depth of our rebellion. Our inner selves were at war, not only with God, but also with all authority and even with our internal desire for health and peace. The amazing fact of recovery is that God loved us even when we hated Him and ourselves. He loved us when we were in the midst of our worst rebellion. He wanted nothing more than to be gracious to us, simply because we were lovable to Him. The joy of recovery is that we are beginning to experience true graciousness in our lives, for ourselves, for our relationships and for God. Living has become a stairway to serenity.
First, the proposal. The offer. The promise. Then the wedding vows.
Are you celebrating His proposal?
Topical Index: hanan, gracious, Numbers 6:25