In the last two articles we were talking about the qualities of God that lead a man to accept salvation. The next two articles will focus on another progression of how faith works and what it is based on. The love of God leads men to want to go inside the fence. There are 5 words that we will look at that are related to what we call “faith.” So many times, people want to know what faith is and how to have it. After this explanation of the word pictures, you will know more about how to explain this rather difficult concept.
We begin with a word for trust in Hebrew: chasah.
Chasah is another “fence word” so the letter of khet or kheth is a familiar one. So is the second letter, samech or semkath, which is the pictograph of a thorn or support. The third letter is hey or he and is one of my favorite letters. It shows a man with his arms up or raised and it means behold, or revealed.
The simple meaning of the word picture is: the fence of support revealed.
The action behind the verb chasah is to flee for refuge. It is an action one takes when there is danger and a need to be protected. The English word “house” actually sounds very much like this word. There are many uses of this verb in the Psalms. Here’s one in Psalm 57 when David was fleeing from Saul.
Psalm 57:1 ESV
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge [chasah]; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge [chasah], till the storms of destruction pass by.
The fleeing for refuge is often described as seeking protection in the cleft of a rock, or under the shadow of wings, or describing God as a shield. Since this is a fence word, I picture the arms of God’s mercy, lovingkindness, compassion and love waiting to receive a person as soon as he comes running to the fence for protection and refuge.
Psalm 144:2 ESV
he is my steadfast love [chesed] and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge [chasah], who subdues peoples under me.
Being with my grandchildren always teaches me something about being childlike in faith. When Sam who is 4 and a rough tough boy falls and hurts himself, he runs first to his Daddy, his Abba and cries out for help! He wants to be picked up and sheltered and prayed for and trusts that his Dad will do whatever it takes to make it all better.
Psalm 18:2 ESV
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge [chasah], my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
A related noun to chasah is the word for lineage. The family line is what supports a person.
The Aramaic word is not a direct match to chasah. The closest Aramaic word is gawas and its word picture is “feet connected to support”, which is very similar. A key verse to see this use that paints the same picture as chasah is Heb 6:17-18.
Hebrews 6:17-18 (MGI)
Because of this, God especially wanted to show to the heirs of the promise that his promise would not change, so he bound it with oaths,
that by two things that are unchangeable in which God is not able to lie, we who have sought refuge [gawas] in him may have great comfort and may hold fast to the hope that was promised to us,
The two things that are unchangeable are God’s oath and who he is. He is love! Therefore, we can flee for refuge to his arms. This is the first picture of faith: to flee for refuge to God who is unchangeable and faithful (a rock) for protection and safety. His promises are backed up by all he is. He is not able to lie!
When we discussed chesed, God’s lovingkindness, I mentioned that there is a Hebrew word for trust which means “inside the surrounding fence.” This is the next word for trust in Hebrew which is batach.
The letter we have not seen before is tet or teth -- a circle with an x in the middle and is the pictograph of a basket. It means surrounding or what the basket contains. So the simple meaning of the word picture for batach is inside the surrounding fence. When we run to the fence to find God’s lovingkindness, the point is to then go INSIDE. Again, this word for trust is often used in the Psalms. In English translations, it is important to distinguish which kind of trust is used in Hebrew, chasah or batach, because both words are translated trust, but have different meanings.
The action for batach is to cling, or sometimes it is described as to throw down on one’s face. Both actions paint vivid pictures. Cling has the idea of something sticking, like “cling peaches”, sticking to the seed in the center, or cling like a melon to the vine. If the other action is used --after fleeing and getting to shelter, you throw yourself down and go “whew!” I made it! – and then you do everything in your power to remain in that place of safety. When we do this kind of trust, there is a surge of confidence, which is often how this word batach is translated.
Psalm 91:2 KJV
I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge (related to chasah) and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust [batach].
Batach is a reliance on God and being fully persuaded that God will do what he says he will do. His faithfulness and truth are the reasons we can rely on Him fully. Probably the best passage to understand this word is in 2 Kings 18 and 19 where the Assyrian Rabshakeh challenges the value of Hezekiah’s trust in God and where God shows that He IS totally reliable and that it was right for Hezekiah to have confidence in him. Batach is use 20 times in those chapters and parallel passages.
A famous verse is in Proverbs.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV)
Trust [batach] in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.
The parallel Aramaic word is tekel (LWM #2665) and it is also not a direct match to batach, but has the same idea of having confidence or relying on God, especially in answers to prayer. I encourage you to take the Aramaic concordance and look up the verses with tekel and tuklana, its related noun, and they will show the application to the church today of batach. We are not battling physical enemies, as much as spiritual ones and need to remain inside the surrounding fence.
This is the beginning of the progress of faith -- flee for refuge to God who is the rock and then have confidence that He will be faithful to all He has promised.