It was easy to pick the word “king” as a title for God. But picking an adjective to go with it was much harder. I thought of “kind” right away, but I was concerned that it’s too much like the word “nice” – a bit on the vague side, and more about being pleasant than righteous. God is certainly kind – there are dozens and dozens of Bible verses that say so. But in many people’s minds I think “kind” is somewhat akin to “soft.”
There are not a lot of good adjectives starting with K, however. I thought of knowing as a possibility. (I considered Knowing Keeper based on Psalm 121:4-5.) Kingly might work if I had a different noun. Knightly doesn’t really fit, even if the virtues that make a knight knightly also apply to God.
Of course, there’s no rule that I have to come up with an alliterative pair to describe God for every letter of the alphabet. I don’t intend to do Q or X, and so far I haven’t come up with any ideas for Y and I’m not doing well on Z. But the image of King is a very prominent one in Scripture, so I didn’t want to skip it.
Today I looked up the word kind to get an official definition. “Generous, good” – that certainly applies to God. So do some of the words supplied as synonyms of kind: benevolent, compassionate, gracious, loving. But would I call God amiable? Or congenial? I know I wouldn’t want to use indulgent or softhearted. And humane just doesn’t sound right.
But I also found out something else interesting, about the etymology of kind. It is related to Old English cynn, meaning “family,” which became our modern English kin. Kind meant having the feelings that relatives have for each other. Since God is our Father, we are His kin, in a sense. But is He kind to us as our Father, rather than as our King?
Then I checked out the etymology of king. And I discovered that it may also be related to the word cynn. If so, it originally meant a leader of a group of people who were related to each other (as tribal groups were). So a kind king was someone who led a group of people related to him and felt toward them as relatives do toward one another. (Though from reading history, one doesn’t get that impression of most kings, even in the days when they were more tribal chieftains than rulers of sovereign states.)
Human kings tend to become somewhat distanced from their subjects, and would consider very few of them as relatives. There is a far greater gap between us and God – yet He chooses to make us His children and treat us as family rather than just subjects under His rule. Of course, being “kind” doesn’t mean He is always “nice” – far from it. But considering how poorly we often follow the laws of His Kingdom, He is very patient – and kind – to us.