Passing the Love of Women
2 Samuel 1:26
I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant have you been to me: your love to me was wonderful…

There are few things in this sinful earth so thoroughly Godlike, so fragrant of Heaven, as true, unselfish friendship, which hopes all things, believeth all things, beareth all things: and we shall have not read this Scripture in vain if we only learn this one lesson — to try and help each other, to try and stand by each other, shoulder to shoulder, in the great rough battle of life, and to have for our friends a love so pure, so disinterested, so trustful, that like that of Jonathan, it "passeth the love of women." I might recall how for love of her country Joan of Arc armed her tender form and fought before Orleans, how for love of her husband Queen Eleanor sucked the poison from King's Edward's wound, how for love of perishing souls Grace Darling steered her boat through the waves of the wintry sea, and Elizabeth Fry braved the fever-haunted dungeons of Newgate to read Christ's Gospel to the prisoners, and Florence Nightingale flitted like a guardian angel round the beds of the bloody hospitals of Scutari. I might tell you of the deeds of saintly women who worked and suffered for Jesus Christ, and whose names are written in Heaven, of Dorcas who sanctified the needle by her labours, of the pure S. Agnes, of the gentle S. Margaret, of the simple peasant maid of Milan, S. Veronica; but I would lead you to contemplate a purer, better love than any of theirs, a love passing the love of women, the love of Christ which passeth knowledge. It is human nature to love something, the worst of criminals has often shown an affection for some thing or person, one of the most cruel and blood-thirsty leaders of the old French Revolution loved a dog. A man either loves the creature or the Creator, and whilst I would have you love God's creatures, aye, "the dumb driven cattle," and those creatures which we call in our pride the lower animals, as well as your fellow men and women, I would remind you that your greatest, highest, strongest love shall be for Jesus who loved you and redeemed you from your sins. We should love Him because He first loved us, and his love is shown(1) in the greatness of the undertaking to which it prompted Him, the Salvation of mankind. A greater work this than the creation, for God's pleasure we were created, but by God's pain and grief and suffering we were saved.

(2) Next, His love is shown in the humiliation which He suffered. He exchanged a throne in Heaven for a manger in Bethlehem, He gave up the peace of the untroubled courts of Paradise for the heat and clamour of a carpenter's shop.

(3) Again, His love is shown in the greatness of the suffering which He endured. The hardest part of trouble is its anticipation, and our Blessed Lord knew from the first what men should do unto Him.

(4) But once again, the love of Christ is shown in the greatness of the deliverance which it purchased, and the richness of the inheritance which it procured.

(H. J. W. Buxton.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.

WEB: I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan. You have been very pleasant to me. Your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.

Jonathan, the Model Friend
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