Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Love of God

This Saturday, the world celebrates Valentine's Day, in which we all give little trinkets to someone we "love", whether it be school children sharing tacky cards with drawings of Cupid and red so-called "hearts" or adults buying chocolates and roses for their beloved. But is this really what love is? Where did it originate?


We are told in the Epistle of First John "God is love" (1 John 4:8) The Bible tells us many ways in which God expresses his love to us, which you can find if you do a search of the scripture. (A good start would be at Bible Gateway.) Then, many hymn writers and other Christian musicians have penned words which express that love as well. This week, I will attempt to post my thoughts on several of those.

One of my favorite hymns is "The Love of God", which was found written on the wall of an cell at an insane asylum in the early 1900s. The author obviously has all his senses when he wrote it, or else he was inspired by God at the time.

Here are the words:

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.


O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

When years of time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men, who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.


Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.


The first two verses define the love of God in as good a way as any definition ever penned outside of scripture. Cyber Hymnal says the last verse is a translation of a 1050 A.D. Jewish poem. I love that verse. Once, I was driving through Iowa on a sunny summer day. The corn was tall and abundant, and the sky stretched out as far as the eye could see. I was reminded of this hymn, thinking of how much writing one could do on such a huge page. Then I though of all the water on earth -- 75% of the surface of the planet! That is a lot of ink!

Oh the wonder of the love of God!


Anne of The House said...

Thank you so much for your blog. I found it while searching for spanish translation for the hymn 'The Love of God'

I am the wife of a Pastor who has started church on California. Our vision is to bring the Gospel to anyone we can. Here in the San Joaquin Valley, our community is mostly Mexican.. I have so much to learn (a I am pasty-white and have only ever spoken German besides English) and know very few words of Spanish. (My husband knows quite a bit more)
Tomorrow I will be singing The Love of God because i am burdened to tell it... tell the weight of it... the truth that you said so well.. that love originates with God because He IS love! I can only try to wrap my words around it. This hymn is so beautiful! Tomorrow we will be having an Evangelist to church who is a great addition to our work. I hope to honor him by putting te wrods up on the wall in Spanish.

by the way, do you know a Spanish translation that will do it justice??

Thank you so much for your blog.
God bless you!

Peter L said...

Thank you for writing, Anne. I pray you and yout husband can reach the Mexican community with God's love.

As for the hymn in Spanish, I do not know of any translation off hand. CyberHymnal, where I got the info, has a long list of Spanish hymns, but not "The Love of God".