The Love of God.
2 Samuel 21-22, 1 Corinthians 13
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13 ESV
We tend to sentimentalize love. It can easily become the sweet and saccharine staple of Valentine’s cards and Hallmark made-for-TV movies. But real love is about much more than hearts and cherubs, sweetness and sentimentality. The kind of love God exhibits and expects from His people is not for the weak. It is not a byproduct of our emotions that shows up as a warm feeling or simply as a response to being loved by another. Love is an active, aggressive, powerful force that can manifest itself in a myriad of ways. As David grew older and more reflective, he couldn’t help but see the loving hand of God all over his life. In 2 Samuel 22, he paints a vivid picture of his God, that is really an expression of his understanding of God’s love for him. David describes God as his rock, fortress, deliverer, refuge, shield, salvation, stronghold and savior. He writes of responding to his cries and rescuing him from trouble. God provided him with security, strength and skill for battle. It was God who gave him victory over his enemies. David knew that his kingship was all God’s doing. He fully understood that any success he had experienced was due to the hand of God in his life. And all of this was simply a visible expression of God’s love. David wrote, “Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever” (2 Samuel 22: 51 ESV).
What does this passage reveal about God?
God is love. It is the essence of His being. All that God does is filtered through His love. God can do nothing without love. Even His judgment is an expression of His love. Love is not an attribute that God possesses, but the very nature of who He is. So when God rescued David from his enemies, it was an expression of His love for David. When God punished David for his sin with Bathsheba, it was because God loved David enough to teach him the life lessons he needed to learn in order to be the king God intended him to be. When God allowed David to spend all those years in exile, living under the constant threat of death at the hand of King Saul, it was because God loved David and wanted to prepare him for his future kingship by allowing him to go through a period of trial and training. God loved David and this fact did not escape David as he looked back on his life. He could SEE the love of God expressed in a variety of ways. God’s love appeared as protection and provision. It could be seen as strength for battle, deliverance from difficulty, stability in the midst of uncertainty, victory over enemies, and peace in the midst of the storm. God’s love was far from sentimental. It was practical, powerful and undeniable.
What does this passage reveal about man?
Paul gives us a wonderful description of the kind of love that God expects to see from those who claim to be His children. It differs greatly from the self-centered, what’s-in-it-for-me kind of love we see modeled by the world. The love Paul writes about in 1 Corinthians 13 is the love of God. It is heavenly, not earthly. It is spiritual, not natural. This kind of love is indispensable and non-negotiable. Without it, everything we do becomes worthless and without value. Life lived without love is pointless. Words spoken without love become meaningless and just so much noise. Knowledge without love leaves me ignorant. The ability to perform miracles is a waste of time if it is not based in love. Even the willingness to sacrifice my life, if it is not done out of love, is in the end just wasted effort. Love is the most important thing we experience from God and it is to be the most common attribute that we express as children of God. Love is not self-centered. Love is not done for the sake of payback or mutual satisfaction. It is selfless, sacrificial, patient, enduring, hopeful, abiding, and all-encompassing. It is not just an emotion. It is a way of life. It is the way of God.
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
The best way to measure my own love is to look at the love of God. That’s what David did. He saw the loving hand of God all over His life. He had learned to see God’s love in every area of his life. David didn’t just see God’s love when things went well or when everything turned out the way he expected. He saw God’s love in his difficulties. He saw God’s love revealed as patience and constancy. David saw his own strength and skill for battle as an expression of God’s love. Love is sometimes best expressed in ways that aren’t recognized as love. Loving discipline is not always welcome, but it is necessary. “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Hebrews 12:6 ESV). Preparing someone to handle the difficulties of life and allowing them to go through them on their own is an expression of love. Watching our children endure hardship is hard to do as parents, but sometimes it is the best way we can show our love to them. Allowing them to learn life lessons through personal experience may be the most loving thing we can do for them. Love ultimately has the best interest of the one being loved in mind. Love is not based on how the other one WANTS to be loved, but on what will be best for that individual in the long run. Love must be measured from God’s perspective, not our own or anybody else’s. What would God have us do? How would God have us love? It will almost always involve sacrifice and selflessness. It will be focused on the one being loved. It will expect nothing in return. It will endure. It will be patient. It will hope for the best. It will sacrifice.
Father, Your love for me is amazing. Your constant, consistent, unwavering love shows up in so many ways in my life every day. Show me how to express that same kind of love to others. May my life be characterized by the kind of love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men