The Way God Describes Himself

Aug 25, 2021 | Devotionals

“The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin.” (Exodus 34:4-5)

I recently found out that one of my very best friends is pregnant. 

For days and weeks and months, she’s been anticipating this season of growing a tiny little human inside her belly. She bought furniture for her home office last year knowing that it would soon be transformed into a nursery. Before her baby was even conceived she loved it. She eagerly and delightedly prepared a place for it to one day grow and flourish. 

That feeling I’m talking about? In Hebrew, it’s rahum we-hanun. In English, it’s compassion

In Exodus 34, we have a golden little verse where God describes himself to Moses. He differentiates who he is from all the other gods of the time, and the first thing he says is that he’s rahum we-hanun. This Hebrew word typically has the idea of a mother looking down at her infant child with adoration.* Heaps of parental love, mercy, and compassion that just well up in the form of taking care of, preparing a place for, and loving on a tiny helpless human.

*If you want to read more about this, check out the book God Has a Name by John Mark Comer. Such a good read.

I borrowed a book from Ryan Leeds’ library last year (if you know Ryan, you know he has a library) called Quiet Talks on Prayer by S.D. Gordon, and the way Gordon explained God’s character stuck with me. 

“God is so much more in His loving planning than the wisest, most loving father we know. Does a mother think to her child’s needs, the food, and clothing and the extras too, the luxuries? That is God, only He is more loving and wiser than the best of us. I have sometimes thought this: that if God were to say to me: ‘I want to give you something as a special love-gift; an extra because I love you: what would you like to have?’ Do you know I have thought I would say, ‘Dear God, You choose. I choose what You choose.’ He is thinking about me. He knows what I am thinking of, and what I would most enjoy, and He is such a lover-God that He would choose something just a bit finer than I would think. I might be thinking of a dollar, but likely as not He is thinking of a double eagle. I am thinking of blackberries, big juicy blackberries, but really I do not know what blackberries are beside the sort He knows and would choose for me. That is our God.” (42)

Now, I know this language can be a little outdated, but man do I often forget that THIS is who God is! 

The things keeping you up at night, He knows them and he wells up with compassion for you in them. (1 Peter 5:7)

The uncertainty you have about where to work this winter, He has immeasurably more for you as you follow him! (Ephesians 3:20)

The weight of the pandemic and how it’s grieved you, He knows and he longs to comfort you in it. (Matthew 11:28-30)

In a time of turbulence on all sides, political unrest, uncertainty about the future and about the upcoming North American winter season, in the middle of 40-day long lockdowns, God is still this exact same God. 

He is compassionate. And gracious. And merciful. And forgiving of every single time you turned from him. Every single time. He abounds in love for you. He has been and will be faithful to you and His word. Period.


  • What has been weighing heavily on you recently? How does remembering God’s character help you process them?
  • Is there anything you feel guilty about before God? Remember, He looks down at you like a mother lovingly looks down on her child! And he forgives every single moment of wickedness, rebellion, or sin. Confess to him and receive his love and forgiveness!
  • Take some time this week to read Exodus 34:3-5 and Matthew 11:28-30, then go to God with the things that have been weighing on you.

By Alie Heenan | Copper Mountain, CO


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