The Hebrew does not say "He guards The-Covenant and-Kindness" -- this is a good example of why you can't do a direct word-for-word substitution and call that a translation.
One particular issue with Hebrew is that it has a much smaller vocabulary than English, so while Hebrew may use the same word to express three different senses, in English there may be three different words to use. Or more, and it would be an incorrect translation to use the same english word in all the situations, so there is not a single english word that maps to each Hebrew word.
In this specific case, the verb at issue is shamar, which has as a gloss "guard, protect, keep, obey" and that's just for starters.
But how it is translated in English requires choosing different English words based on the context.
For example, in Genesis 17.9, a correct translation is "Thou shalt keep my covenant", not "thou shalt guard my covenant", although if you did say "guard", most english speakers would, with some effort, be able to figure out you were trying to say "keep".
Similarly, in Gen 24.6, a correct translation of shamar is "take care to do", as in "you must take care that you do not return my son there". One would not say "you must guard that you do not return my son" even though if you did say that, most English speakers would be able to figure out that you meant "take care to do".
Also in Exodus 10.28, a correct translation of "shamar" is "Be careful", as in "Be careful not to see my face". Again, you would not translate this as "guard" even though if you did use "guard", most people would, with some effort, figure out you meant "Be careful".
So in general, translating cannot be reduced to a word-for-word substitution. It is very dangerous to take a basic knowledge of Biblical Hebrew and start "improving" translations done by teams of scholars.
The second tricky word here is "chesed", which again has a broad semantic range. The Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament has a 10,000 word article on chesed, dividing interpretation into broad categories, which I will summarize here:
- secular usage: reciprocal loyalty, kindness, mutual care, with an emphasis on mutuality and activity (e.g. rendering aid, demonstrating loyalty, etc), often used with kin or those in a dependency relationship (ruler/servant).
In view of the impressive evidence for the mutuality of ḥeseḏ, we may
venture the conjecture that even in cases where the context does not
suggest such mutuality it is nevertheless implicit, because we are
dealing with the closest of human bonds. In the case of Abraham and
Sarah (Gen. 20:13) as well as Orpah/Ruth and Mahlon/Chilion (Ruth
1:8), it is the relationship between husband and wife; in the case of
Israel and Joseph (Gen. 47:29), it is father and son; in the case of
Laban/Bethuel and Isaac (Gen. 24:49), it is next of kin; and in 2 S.
16:17, it should be noted that Hushai’s relationship to David is
called that of a “friend” (rēaʿ). e. Finally, it is worth noting that,
of the passages just discussed, Gen. 24:49; 47:29; Josh. 2:14 use the
phrase ḥeseḏ weʾemeṯ. This expression is generally (and correctly)
understood as an hendiadys, in which the second noun ʾemeṯ (→ אמן
ʾāman) emphasizes the permanence, certainty, and lasting validity of
the demonstration or promise of ḥeseḏ. The same phenomenon is
expressed by the phrase ʿaḏ-ʿôlām in Jonathan’s request that after his
death David will not cut off his ḥeseḏ from the house of Jonathan for
ever (1 S. 20:15). That demonstration of ḥeseḏ includes the element of
ʾemeṯ is also shown by the use of šqr, “deal falsely,” as an antonym
in Gen. 21:23.
- chesed as reference to good deeds:
a. Before we can summarize our observations, the other occurrences of
ḥeseḏ in secular usage should be mentioned, to round out the picture
that has been sketched. The active nature of ḥeseḏ is underlined by
the use of the verb ʿāśâ in Zec. 7:9 and Ps. 109:16. Similarly, the
pl. ḥasāḏîm in 2 Ch. 32:32; 35:26; Neh. 13:14 refers to the “good
deeds” of Hezekiah, Josiah, and Nehemiah; in Neh. 13:14, this phrase
is reinforced by the explanatory clause “that I have done for (ʿāśâ +
be) the house of God and its furnishings.”
In addition, however, the element of doing mišpāṭ comes very much to
the fore in this group of occurrences. In Mic. 6:8, mišpaṭ and ḥeseḏ
appear in parallel in the statement of what God requires of mankind.
Hos. 12:7(6) says the same: “Hold fast to ḥeseḏ and mišpāṭ.” And on a
throne established upon ḥeseḏ shall sit a judge who seeks mišpāṭ and
ṣeḏeq (Isa. 16:5). We have what amounts to an interpretative
elaboration of the concept mišpāṭ when the absence of ḥeseḏ and
similar concepts spoken of in Hos. 4:1 leads in v. 2 to swearing,
lying, killing, stealing, adultery, and murder. In like manner, the
requirement of Zec. 7:9, “Render true judgments (mišpaṭ ʾemeṯ), show
ḥeseḏ and raḥamîm each to his brother,” is interpreted in v. 10: “Do
not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and
let none of you devise evil against his brother in your heart.” And
according to Ps. 109, forgetting to show ḥeseḏ leads to persecution of
the poor and needy (v. 16), together with love of cursing and dislike
of blessing (v. 17). Those who act according to this divine
requirement can therefore be called ʾanšê-ḥeseḏ (Isa. 57:1; Prov.
11:17 [sg.]); in Isa. 57:1 we find the ṣaddîq in parallel, and in
Prov. 11:17 the “cruel man” (ʾaḵzārî) is cited in contrast. It follows
from these principles that iniquity (ʿāwōn) can be atoned for through
ḥeseḏ and ʾemeṯ.
- religious usage:
Our observations to this point illustrate the great semantic range of
the word ḥeseḏ in religious usage. The recipients of God’s kindness
include Abraham (Gen. 24), Jacob (Gen. 32:11), the men of
Jabesh-gilead (2 S. 2:5f.), the anointed of Yahweh (2 S. 22:51 par.
Ps. 18:51), David (2 S. 7:15; 1 K. 3:6; 1 Ch. 17:13; 2 Ch. 1:8),
Job (Job 10:12), Ruth, Orpah, and Boaz (Ruth 1:8; 2:20), but also the
thousand generations of the devout (Ex. 20:6; Dt. 5:10; Jer. 32:18).
His kindness can mean success in finding a bride (Gen. 24:12, 14, 27),
increase in possessions (Gen. 32:11), active aid in the
establishment of a dynasty (2 S. 7:15; 1 Ch. 17:13; 2 Ch. 1:8), or
success and prosperity in general (2 S. 2:6; cf. 15:20). This variety
shows that in demonstrations of divine ḥeseḏ we are dealing with the
same phenomenon as in human actions. The recipients and manifestations
of God’s kindness largely coincide with secular usage.
The above is only a small sample of different examples of English translation targets for chesed.
In light of the above, we should see now how the major translations approach the use of shamar and chesed in this passage, with all translations using "keep" for shamar, but some translations emphasizing
- the mutuality aspect of chesed (e.g. God reciprocates with love and faithfulness those who love him and are faithful to him)
- the good deeds aspect (kindness, mercy)
- still others the faithfulness aspect.
The following are some examples of how this passage is translated:
And I said, “O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments,
And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments
I said, “O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments;
I said, “O LORD, God of Heaven, great and awesome God, who stays faithful to His covenant with those who love Him and keep His commandments!
And I said, “O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments;
And I say, ‘I beseech thee, O Jehovah, God of the heavens, God, the great and the fearful, keeping the covenant and kindness for those loving Him, and for those keeping His commands,
I said, “O Yahweh God of the heavens, the great and awesome one who keeps the covenant and loyal love for the ones who love him and for those who keep his commands.