Summary: Paul tell the church at Corinth that love is the way.
A More Excellent Way
In chapter thirteen the Apostle Paul writes about the more excellent way, or what he had in view, in the close of the former chapter, namely, charity, or, as it is commonly rendered love. The word charity to most meant almsgiving, but charity in its fullest and most common meaning, is the love God has for man.
In the latter part of chapter twelve Paul talked about the gifts that God had placed in the church, and ended by saying, "But covet earnestly the best gifts; and yet I show you a more excellent way.
He starts chapter thirteen with, "If I have the ability to speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." And went on to say that if he had the gift of prophecy, and understood all mysteries, and had all knowledge and faith to say to the mountains be removed, and has not charity, Paul said I am nothing.
The more excellent way for the believer is to have the love of God shed abroad in our hearts. Mountain moving faith is wonderful, bestowing goods to feed the poor is commendable, but without love it is meaningless. If love is left out of our endeavors, then the most costly services we might offer is of no value.
John chapter three and verse sixteen says it all, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son. That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Penciled on the wall of a patient's room in an insane asylum after he had been carried to his grave were these word. "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."
A man by the name of Frederick M. Lehman found those words penned on the wall and sit down on a wooden chair and wrote the Refrain, "O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure, the saints' and angels' song."
The scripture teaches us that greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for a friend. In this message I want to share you the love of two women and the love of a son.
In the book of second Samuel, chapter twenty-one we have a story of a mother who had great love and respect for her two son. Her name is Rizpah, meaning the stone. She was a concubine of Saul and to their union two sons were born.
There was a famine in the land, their crops were burning up the streams and brooks were dry, the cattle were dying and King David wanted to know why, so he inquired of the Lord. And the Lord answered, saying, it's because of Saul and his bloody house, who have abused and misused the Gibeonites.
Now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, they were a remnant of the house of the Amorites, and the children of Israel had made a peace pact with them. Yet, Saul in his zeal for Israel mistreated many of them. And breaking the agreement caused a famine in the land. When one breaks an agreement it brings despair, division and death. David must now make a decision.
So David calls the Gibeonites together and asked, "What shall I do for you, and wherewith shall I made the atonement, that you may bless the inheritance of the Lord?"
The Gibeonites said to David, we don't want your silver nor gold, nor houses, nor land. We are not asking you to kill any man in Israel. And David said, "Whatever you say, that will I do for You."
They answered the king saying, the man that consumed us and plotted against us that we would not be able to remain in any of the coasts of Israel. We want his seven of his sons to make sport of.
In keeping his word David delivered seven of the sons of Saul into the hands of the Gibeonites. This was done because of the Lord's oath that was between David and Jonathan the son of Saul, and two of those seven sons belonged to Rizpah.
I have no doubt when the Gibeonites received the sons of Saul they said it's party time. They were seeking revenge and wanted to get even with Saul. They will send runners throughout the camp telling the people to come together it time for us to settling of scores.