All night long on my bed
I looked for the one my heart loves;
I looked for him but did not find him.
I will get up now and go about the city,
through its streets and squares;
I will search for the one my heart loves.
So I looked for him but did not find him.
The watchmen found me
as they made their rounds in the city.
“Have you seen the one my heart loves?”
Scarcely had I passed them
when I found the one my heart loves.
I held him and would not let him go
till I had brought him to my mother’s house,
to the room of the one who conceived me.
Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you
by the gazelles and by the does of the field:
Do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires.
- Song of Solomon 3:1-5
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
- 1 John 2:9-11
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
- 1 Corinthians 13:13
In preparing for yesterday’s post about love becoming hate, I did a lot of research, but as the writing progressed, I hardly used any of it. The word “love” is mentioned 686 times in the NIV, 425 times in the Old Testament and 261 times in the New Testament. There are five books of the Old Testament that do not have the word “love” in the NIV: 2 Kings, Obadiah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Haggai. Only one book of the New Testament does not mention the word “love.” Sorry, Acts. This only includes the words “love, loves, or loved,” “Loving” is mentioned 5 times in the Old Testament and 4 times in the New Testament.
The book that mentions the word “love” most often is, of course, Psalms, with 157, but then it is a book of hymns and there are 150 psalms. The top five books in the Old Testament, regarding mentions of “love” are Psalms (157), Proverbs (31), Deuteronomy (29), Song of Solomon (26), and Hosea (26).
So many people say that they do not like the God of the Old Testament, because of the wars and wrath mentioned throughout. But when you consider that there are more than 10 mentions of love in the Old Testament per book and there are less than 10 mentions of love in the New Testament per book, maybe they are not really noticing. And when so many of the books are history books, that makes the ratios even more impressive, especially noting that the one book of the New Testament without the word “love” in it is a history book, Acts.
Of the New Testament books, the top five are John (39), 1 John (27), Romans (18), 1 Corinthians (17), and Ephesians (17). But then if you removed 1 Corinthians 13, you would lose just over half of those mentions of love, and even in that chapter about half of the thirteen verses do not have the word “love.” Note: Verses 5 and 7 are among those, and both use “it” in meaning love, so please do not get technical on me.
Although fifth on the list of Bible books using the word “love,” 1 John must be the love letter of the Bible, with 5.4 mentions per chapter. The Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs, if you prefer) has 3.25 mentions of “love” per chapter and is a book dedicated to love. Then, when considering the times “love” is mentioned per chapter, 2 John (4) and 3 John (3) are right there with them.
So, if you are counting, John mentions “love” more often, per book, than does Paul, but since Paul has more letters, and they are all letters, Paul mentions love more often, 122 times over 13 letters compared to 81 times over 3 letters, one gospel, and one book of prophecy for John. It shows that love is a major theme of John’s writing. He never refers to himself in his Gospel, only as the disciple that Jesus loved, and John mentions the names of the disciples more often than in the other Gospels.
Many theologians suggest reading the Gospel of John for new converts to Christianity in that there is more divinity in the Gospel than in the synoptic Gospels, but there are more mentions of “love” as well. In John’s Gospel, he mentions the word “love” more often than the other three gospels combined, yet only Mark is shorter in length, considering chapters. I do not feel that to be an accident or coincidence. You cannot express divinity of the one true God without talking about love.
I brought up the subject of the “Fear of God” in Sunday school. I talked of Richard Blackaby saying that in losing our fear of God, we lessen our thoughts regarding sin, as if sin was no big deal when we have no fear of God. I described how God was so magnificent that we would shiver in fear if we saw God, even a small glimpse. I had to also mention that even though God is bigger than we can imagine, brighter with light than we could imagine, each attribute infinite in scope, those attributes also include Love. God loves bigger than we could ever imagine.
In writing love letters to my wife, I am not called the “Cheese Man” for nothing. My poetry is “cheesy.” Okay, I am called the “Cheese Man” because our younger son’s eldest was one year old during the nine months that they lived with us. Each day when I drove into the back yard after a hard day of work, my wife and daughter-in-law would tell him, “The Cheese Man is here.” Our grandson would run to the refrigerator door and hug the door as I walked in the back door. The top priority was getting a sharp knife and slicing him a thin slice of cheddar cheese.
But my cheesy poetry had a good rhythm, usually, maybe too much. It rhymed. It rhymed a lot better than some of the stuff I hear on television. Ouch!! But I think the reason why my wife likes my poetry is that it comes from the heart and, in weaving specific events into the poetry, it reminds her that we did those things together.
That feeling of togetherness rings true in my cheesy poetry, but it rings true in the beauty of the Bible as well.
God wishes to have a relationship with people who seek their true love as Solomon describes in the Scripture above. And if you do not know how to read the Song of Solomon, try thinking about how Jesus describes the Church, the body of all true believers, as being the bride of Christ, then you can read the Song of Solomon as the love story between God and His church. We should individually and collectively seek the one we love, God. And if we do not love God more than anything else, do we really have God in our heart? John’s first epistle spends a lot of time establishing that test of our faith: Do we love God? Do we love one another?
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.