We’re nearing the end of our journey through the Hebrew words that we translate as “hope” in the Old Testament. Our next word, kesel, will at first sound like it is totally unrelated to hope. Maybe a reference to a popular television show will help us unravel it so we can understand the concept better.
kesel is used in the Old Testament (KJV) as “hope” only 3 times. It is also translated as:
- flank (6); folly (2); loins (1); confidence (1)
For He established a testimony in Jacob,
And appointed a law in Israel,
Which He commanded our fathers,
That they should make them known to their children;
That the generation to come might know them,
The children who would be born,
That they may arise and declare them to their children,
That they may set their hope in God,
And not forget the works of God,
But keep His commandments…
(Psalm 78:5-7 NKJV)
I mentioned what may be strange examples of other definitions of kesel. It seems like a pretty random idea that it would be used as a word for hope, doesn’t it?
Then I began to think about what it means to have a gut feeling about something. You know what I mean; it’s that gnawing in the pit of your stomach that gets to you in certain situations or when dealing with issues or investigating truths. You have this – thing, this feeling – deep inside and you cannot get away from it. We call it a gut feeling. I think the writer here was talking about the same thing.
In our culture we talk about the heart as the seat of our emotions. In the Old Testament culture, it was the loins, the bowels. When struggling with something, dealing with it on a personal level, you could say that there was a battle within one’s gut to make it right.
What popular television series could help us understand this gut feeling? If you’re a fan of NCIS, you’ve already figured it out. One of the key characters is Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. He is known for his gut feeling that nags at him, leading him down different leads. There are times when all of the investigative evidence screams that his gut is wrong, but when he trusts it he knows he will be led to the truth.
The example above is from Psalm 78. It talks about God setting up a testimony so that the generations to follow would not forget God but hold their trust in Him. The goal was to embed God so deeply within them that they could not get away from Him, regardless of contrary teaching or difficult circumstance.