First, may I say: A very happy Mother’s Day to all who have mothered anyone! Many of us, myself included, have reaped the benefits of a compassionate Mum. Although compassion is a strong quality in all good mothers, as many unfortunately know, not all mothers are good mothers.
[YHWH:] “Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion [meh-rakhem] on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.”
For anyone out there who just can’t celebrate the mother they were born with, YHWH announced that He would never forget the compassion that you are due. YHWH would be the mother you did not have. He would wrap you up in His arms and pour His mercy out onto your life.
Maybe it’s the pessimist in me, but it appears that this world is severely lacking in compassion… and I am as much a part of the problem as everyone else. We’re so plugged into our tribes and allegiances that we turn our backs very easily on those who do not align with our sense of moral high-ground.
When it comes to compassion, or the people’s lack of it, YHWH used the prophet Hosea to make a point: YHWH has compassion even on those who have no allegiance to Him.
Hosea was called upon, by God, to marry a woman of infidelity. The marriage would be a symbol of God’s relationship with His people. YHWH was the faithful husband and the people were His cheating spouse. The people greedily took the benefits of their Creator-Husband, but they chose others gods to have a relationship with.
Hosea married Gomer, a prostitute, and they had a son, Jezreel (meaning ‘God’s seed’ or ‘God sows’). Two other children (the text does not imply they were Hosea’s) were born: a daughter, Lo-Rukhamah (meaning ‘No Compassion’) and a son, Lo-Ammi (meaning ‘Not My People’).
Hosea 1:6, 8-9
Then she [Gomer] conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. And YHWH said to him, “Name her Lo-rukhamah [No-compassion], for I will no longer take pity [have compassion: a-rakhem] on the house of Israel, that I would ever forgive them…
…When she had weaned Lo-rukhamah, she conceived and gave birth to a son. And YHWH said, “Name him Lo-ammi [Not-My people], because you are not My people, and I am not your God.”
That’s a strong statement from YHWH… No Compassion and Not My People! But like a devoted husband, YHWH (and Hosea) would not abandon them. YHWH would forgive the unforgiveable and He would create a new marriage covenant with His people. He would take them back as His bride, regardless of their infidelity… He would sow the seed again (for Jezreel); He would have compassion (for Lo-rukhamah); and He would the gather the people as His own (for Lo-ammi):
“Therefore, behold, I am going to persuade her [the neglectful bride], bring her into the wilderness, and speak kindly to her.
Then I will give her her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope. And she will respond there as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she went up from the land of Egypt.
And it will come about on that day,” declares YHWH, “That you will call Me my husband [Ishi] and no longer call Me my Baal [my Owner/Master: Ba’ali]. For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, so that they will no longer be mentioned by their names.
On that day I will also make a covenant for them with the animals of the field, the birds of the sky, and the crawling things of the ground. And I will eliminate the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and will let them lie down in safety.
I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in favour and in compassion, and I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know YHWH.
And it will come about on that day that I will respond,” declares YHWH. “I will respond to the heavens, and they will respond to the earth, and the earth will respond to the grain, to the new wine, and to the oil, and they will respond to Jezreel. I will sow her for Myself in the land.
I will also have compassion [w-rikham’ti] on her who had not obtained compassion [et Lo rukhamah].
And I will say to those who were not My people [Lo ammi], ‘You are My people! [Ammi attah].’ And they will say, ‘You are my God!’”
Every human being has the potential to be a beautiful reflection of God. We were made in His image, meaning that we were meant to be a reflection of God on this planet. Some do that better than others… but everyone, not matter what kind of life they’ve lived, has the potential to be a beautiful reflection of YHWH on this planet.
If we do not show compassion, then we are hindering people from becoming the humans they were created to be… and that’s on us!
We are God’s people and a touch of compassion does a lot of good to bring people back to the family of God. It’s more effective than any sermon or song or revival meeting. Showing compassion to those in need has a deep impact… and it’s hard to forget. Showing compassion is reflecting YHWH and that’s what we all ought to strive for:
Teach me Your way, YHWH; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.
I will give thanks to You, Lord my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify Your name forever.
For Your graciousness toward me is great, and You have saved my soul from the depths of Sheol.
God, arrogant men have risen up against me, and a gang of violent men have sought my life, and they have not set You before them.
But You, Lord, are a compassionate [rakhum] and gracious God, slow to anger and abundant in mercy and truth.
Turn to me, and be gracious to me; grant Your strength to Your servant, and save the son of Your maidservant.
Show me a sign of good, that those who hate me may see it and be ashamed, because You, YHWH, have helped me and comforted me.
For more on the Hebrew rendering of COMPASSION, click below:
2 thoughts on “Revisiting COMPASSION: Rakham”
Hi Sarah Once again, what a beautiful reading especially on Mother’s Day! Thank you for the teaching. Kathy and I miss you guys very much and so wish to see you soon! Maybe we’ll set something up on that we just come together and have a coffee or lunch sometime soon, or when we’re in Charlottetown we can have lunch with you! And happy Mother’s Day! Love Dennis and Kathy
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Awww… thanks Dennis (and Kathy). I’d love to do lunch in C’town… It’s always nice to have a chance to get out of the office and have a nice lunch out! 🙂 l