|Volume 17 Number 2 February 2015||
“But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). “Love never faileth” (1 Corinthians 13:8). Love prompted the greatest Gift ever given (John 3:16). “Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15).
The Greek vocabulary of the first century had a variety of words to express love. The term “agapao” (verb form) was a love of the will, a decision to do good toward others. “Phileo” had a shade of meaning more toward the emotional side, a love of tender affection. A compound of this word with “adelphos”(the word for “brother or “kinsman”) formed “Philadelphia,” brotherly love. “Storge” most commonly was used to describe love of parents toward children and children for parents, thus family love. “Eros” is a word that gave rise to our English word “erotic,” sexual love.
In our modern English, we must ask the one word “love” to serve all the usages just described. We “love” our spouses, our children, ice cream, a ball team and our dogs! How confusing!
Many modern marriages disintegrate when one or both partners say, “I don’t love you anymore!” Sadly, the reason this occurs is often because the marriage was built in the first place upon either “eros” and/or “phileo.” When someone speaks of “falling in love,” the implication is obvious. The emotional and/or sensual element was the driving force. Though at the altar the two spoke of commitment, the fact is, if you can “fall in love,” then you can “fall out of love!”
In contrast to this vacillating love, God commands, “Husbands, love your wives” (Ephesians 5:25). Here the word used is that love of the will, a deliberate decision. If more husbands would sustain activities that were in the best interest of their wives, more marriages would last. “Wives, be in subjection to your husbands” (Colossians 3:18). This would be a whole lot easier if the man was practicing unselfish love.
“A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34). Who do you love and with what kind of love?
King David was known as “the sweet psalmist of Israel” (2 Samuel 23:1). The 19th Psalm is attributed to him. It is a storehouse of fascinating truths. The Psalm can be neatly divided into three parts. We shall assign a key word to each section. Verses 1-6 – Creation, verses 7-10 – Revelation and verses 11-14 – Preservation. Please open your Bible and read this Psalm before continuing.
In his youth, David spent many nights out under the stars guarding sheep. This first section speaks poetically of how the night sky seems to cry out in testimony of God’s creative genius. Though no verbal word is heard, the stunning view is powerful evidence. Compare Romans 1:20. The earth’s orbit in relation to the sun is depicted. The first rays of morning are “as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber” (v. 5), and orbit is likened to a strong runner traveling his “course” (v. 5).
While the creation provides a non-verbal generic message indicative of a Designer, the Bible provides specific literary instructions. The Creator’s written revelation is called “law,” “testimony,” “precepts” and “commandment” (vv. 7-8). It is “perfect,” “sure,” “right” and “pure” (vv. 7-8). The desirability of His Word is above fine gold, and it is sweeter than the droppings of the honeycomb (v. 10). Dear reader, don’t allow your pursuit of wealth to rob you of enjoying the sweetness of God’s precious Word.
God’s Word provides valuable warning, and there is “great reward” to those who obey (v. 11). It has been said, “To be forewarned is to be forearmed.” Warnings heeded can yield preservation. Those who ignore the warnings find themselves enslaved to various sins (e.g., gambling, drunkenness, fornication, etc.).
The words of the closing verse ought to be the prayer on the lips of all humanity. “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Jehovah, my rock, and my redeemer” (v. 14).
These words were recorded about 3,000 years ago, but they still deserve our reading and contemplation. Anyone who scrutinizes the universe ought to be impressed with its organization; the Greeks called it “cosmos,” indicating orderly arrangement. The great God who designed our environment also provided mankind with an instruction book for our preservation.