the tattoo i didn’t get (yet)

I had planned to get another tattoo while home on furlough this past year.  I even had it approved by the wife.

I intended to get the Hebrew word, hesed, permanently placed on my wedding ring finger, perhaps even inside the outline of a ring itself.  My wife didn’t approve the 3/4 sleeve I wanted, and this was my second choice.  But I never got the tattoo.

I’m not sure if I ran out of time… or if I just didn’t want the tattoo all that much anyway… or if I felt that, because other individuals and churches pay our salaries, I shouldn’t spend money on a tattoo?*  I’m really not sure why I failed to hesedify my finger.  [It wasn’t because of Leviticus 19:28.]


A Quick List of Bible Verses Which (may or may not) Relate to the Issue of Tattoos — But Given Without Any Context or Commentary so I Remain Safe From Being Labeled a Heretic

So here’s that Leviticus 19:28:

Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves.
I am the LORD.

And here’s Isaiah 44:5, which is not my reason for wanting the tattoo — though it does seem to relate to the issue in question.

Some will say, “I belong to the LORD;” 
   others will call themselves by the name of Jacob; 
still others will write on their hand, “The LORD’s,” 
   and will take the name Israel.

And God’s the one with a tattoo in Isaiah 49:16:

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; 
   your walls are ever before me.


The Why of the Hesed Tattoo

My Hebrew isn’t great.**  [I took it during graduate school while working full-time and coaching a high school soccer team.  Hebrew was a night class, and we had games and practices.  I promised the teacher that, if he wouldn’t count the attendance policy against me, I’d study really hard on my own from the book and would be there for the mid-term and the final.  He agreed.  I went to class three times and ended up with a ‘C.’  I could kind of read Hebrew for about two weeks after the final — and then it was all gone except knowing my alphabet and a little vocabulary.]

But if I understand correctly, hesed is a Hebrew word for which there exists no English equivalent.  It deals with God’s love, while pointing to a covenant relationship.  Hesed represents kindness, steadfast love, loyalty, commitment, and probably some other ideas of which I’m not aware.

I like the idea of a second wedding ring, if you will (or rather a first), to remind me that my commitment to Christie, our covenant of marriage, and all the loving kindness present within that relationship is built upon the foundation of our covenant with the Lord himself.  And that I can only love Christie as Christ loves the church when I’m first completely and totally in love with my Father in heaven.  [I’m of the mindset that a husband shouldn’t love his wife with all his heart, as his love’s probably not any good in the first place:  how i love my wife.]

One of my favorite hesed passages is in Deuteronomy 7, but I’ll give you just verse 9 (read the larger context when you get a chance):

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love (hesed)*** to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.

I’m in covenant with God and Christie, and I might as well wear two rings.  That’s basically what I was thinking with the whole hesed thing.  Also, I plan, on the evening of the next full moon, to begin wearing a vial of Christie’s blood in a hemp necklace.


Voice a Complaint, Show Off a Tattoo, or Teach Us Hebrew

What do you think about tattoos: good, bad, ugly?  Do you have a tattoo?  If so, what does it mean; why’d you get it?  How old will your kids be before they can have their first tattoo?  [I’m thinking I’ll get Baylor a tear drop on her left cheek when she turns 3.]

And does anyone know Hebrew?  [I welcome more information about the word I want permanently placed on my hand.]

* Though I was just given some Christmas money by my mother and grandparents (who all love tattoos)…
** It’s not even mediocre.
*** Because I usually quote from the NIV, I have here.  However, the Hebrew text actually reads that God keeps his covenant AND hesed, not his covenant OF hesed.  I don’t know that the difference is great — just felt like I should say.  Anyway, I feel like this verse shows well the idea of love and kindness within a reciprocal relationship — hesed.


Filed under just thinking

7 responses to “the tattoo i didn’t get (yet)

  1. Danny Beebe

    Why not let your child decide on their own tatoos when they are old enough to know what they are doing with their bodies? I have nothing against them my son has two but they were his dession not mine , and why a tear?

    • randy morgan

      brett, i would respectfully disagree with danny. if you go ahead and get baylor the tear, then she will ahve street cred when she goes to the joint and no one will mess with her.

    • sorry, danny. street cred comes before fostering responsibility in my children. credibility over responsibility… always. that’s my motto.

  2. I thought about getting a tattoo while in China because I thought that was such a major thing to do at that point in my life. Now I’m glad I didn’t because looking back, it was amazing and great, but also very small in the scheme of things. I’ve never considered it again and now I think when I am old and wrinkled how strange it would look with my floral prints, hats and pearls.

  3. Pingback: Wednesday Link List « Thinking Out Loud

  4. Gayle Eimer

    I have a couple tattoos. Like yours (or the one you didn’t get–yet; or maybe you have by now 5 years later?) mine is a Hebrew word which is on the inside of my right wrist. It is the Hebrew characters for YHWH–Yahweh, the personal name of God which is transliterated in Scripture as LORD. You actually quoted the two verses in Isaiah which inspired my reason for getting it! It’s the idea that “I am my Beloved’s and He is mine”–God first carved my name into His hand, so I will write His name on mine.

    Names are powerful. They differentiate and distinguish us from others and are how we are most deeply known and identified. In Exodus 33 and 34, there is this whole conversation that God is having with Moses where Moses is asking God not to leave. God responds saying, “I know you by name and I look favorably on you.” Moses again begs God to stay. God agrees to remain with Moses saying “I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.” In response Moses pleads for more–to be shown God’s glory. Again, God agrees saying He will make all His goodness pass before Moses “and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you.” (New Living Translation) This is God saying to a man, “I know you by name, the most intimate parts of you. Now I will tell you mine and invite you to know the most intimate parts of Me.” And on Mt. Sinai, when God calls out His own name before Moses, He says “I am filled with unfailing love and faithfulness”– Hesed! God pairs His most personal name with that which distinguishes Him from all others. The two are inseparable, intricately intertwined together–Yahweh…Hesed.

    So those are my thoughts on tattoos and hesed. I’d say, it’s a good choice! And as another person commented here about being old and wrinkled with a tattoo, I hope to be able to share with my grandchildren how Yahweh showed up one day calling me by name, and how very faithful He has been in showing His lovingkindness to me.

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