Today is Valentine’s day. Saint Valentine, a 3rd century martyr, is patron of lovers and happy marriages celebrated in our society with chocolate, flowers and cards.

I imagine that since the 3rd century our idea of a ‘happy marriage’ and ‘love’ has changed significantly as have our ways of celebrating. But some things do not change. In the bible one of the Hebrew words for love is ‘hesed’. A notoriously difficult word to translate because it covers a different range of meanings than our various words for love.

If you are reading the Psalms you stumble on ‘steadfast love’ or ‘goodness’ or ‘loving kindness’ it might all be ‘hesed’. A Dutch bible translator, Pieter Oussoren, translates ‘friendship’. The refrain of Ps.118 is: ‘Yes, for ever is his friendship’ and Ps 36: 7 ‘How precious is your friendship, O God!’ Friendship is what I will celebrate today in my marriage and in all those other relationships not forgetting friendship with God. Something St. Valentine might recognise.

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