The Biblical Basis for Huey Lewis’s Lyrics
“The Power of Love”
Set me as a seal upon your heart,
As a seal upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death,
Jealousy as cruel as the grave;
Its flames are flames of fire,
A most vehement flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
Nor can the floods drown it.
If a man would give for love
All the wealth of his house,
It would be utterly despised. —Song of Songs 8:6, 7
Throughout his song “The Power of Love,” Huey Lewis borrows truth from the King of Love, Jesus Christ. To the merely casual listener, this truth may not be immediately obvious. Consequently, it is for the benefit of all those who have listened to this song but may not be sure how the lyrics support the message of my father’s podcast series “The Power of the King’s Love” that I now present the biblical basis for “The Power of Love.”
The power of love is a curious thing
The power of the King’s love is indeed a curious thing, well worth our searching out. As Solomon, the author of the Song of Songs, which is no less than a passionate song of human love between a man and his bride and a beautiful metaphor of the love between Christ and His bride, declares in another place, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter” (Proverbs 25:2). If you are a listener of my father’s podcast, then you’ve likely heard him say that in America, every man is king and every woman, queen, without subjects, except for their children. So then it is our glory to search out this curious matter of The Power of the King’s Love, which God has concealed in His Son.
In speaking of the King’s Love, let us clarify one thing: we must differentiate between the King’s love for us and our love for the King. The two are closely related and yet worlds apart. As the Apostle John wrote, “We love Him because He first loved us” (I John 4:19). If our love to the King and His love to us were put one on each end of a scale, the King’s love would utterly overthrow the scale, so incomparable is His love to ours.
Our love to Him is a reflection of His love. The clearer we see His love, the brighter will shine our reflection. The more we are filled with His love, the more we are freed to pour ourselves out in love’s abandonment of self-giving. If our love to Him and to others suffers stuntedness, it is fundamentally because of a vision problem. Let our prayer be that of the blind man, “Lord, that I might receive my sight” (Mark 10:51).
Make a one man weep, make another man sing
Because of the liberating Principle of Individuality, each one’s response back to his King’s love is unique. Also, as we are beings of change, even our responses vary according to our frame of mind and emotions at any given moment. The compassionate and tender love of my King often brings tears to my eyes, while at other moments the great joy that is mine through the knowledge of His love compels me to break forth in exultant praises to His name, singing with grace in my heart to the Lord.
Change a hawk to a little white dove
As well as being wise as serpents, we are commanded to be innocent as doves (Matt. 10:16), and only by the Holy Spirit and the redeeming power of His love poured out in our hearts are we, in our sin naturally savage, predatory, and territorial like hawks, transformed into such gentle, docile creatures. “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17).
More than a feeling, that's the power of love
I Corinthians 13 is ample evidence that the power of love is abundantly more than a feeling. Replete with verbs, this thirteenth chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians defines love as action. Love which does not act is no love at all. Love proves its power by action toward or for the beloved. Hence, we have the supreme example of love in the King, who proved His love for us by yielding His life for ours. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Tougher than diamonds, rich like cream
There is nothing tougher than the power of the King’s love. If He has set His heart on you, there is no way you’re getting away from His love. You can resist and kick against the goads all you want, but inevitably you will go down before the power of the King’s love. The Hound of heaven is relentless in His pursuit of those whom He has chosen.
Nor is there anything richer than the power of His love. His love is the only thing in the universe that can truly satisfy the longing heart. Every soul that enters this world is born with a God-sized hole in his heart. All of us have fallen into trouble of varying degrees, vainly attempting to fill this hole with everything else but God. But just like the satiation experienced from consuming an abundance of cream, when the longing heart finds and is found by His love, and the love of God fills that hole which was made just to be filled by His love, then the riches of His grace will satisfy and keep satisfying for all eternity.
Stronger and harder than a bad girl's dream
Yes, there is nothing stronger nor harder than the power of the King’s love. Not even sex can come even close to equaling the intense power of His furious, vehement love for His bride. It was this passion that carried Christ to the cross. This love is as strong as death, nay, even stronger. Death could not hold the King when He gave His life for His bride. So pure, so holy, so selfless was His love that Death had no power over Him. In resurrection glory and power, the King lives and reigns today forever, love permeating every sovereign act He ordains on His land.
Make a bad one good, make a wrong one right
Only the power of the King’s love can thoroughly make bad men and women good and make wrong men and women right. It is true that human love can produce an appearance of this for a time, but it is solely by a loving work of His Holy Spirit that this can be accomplished in deed and in truth in the lives of sinful men and women.
Power of love that keeps you home at night
Literally and figuratively, it is this power that keeps you home at night. Filled with this love of the King, you will no longer possess the desire to go wandering abroad in search of other loves, other entertainment, anything to try to satisfy the longing that is deep within the heart of every man, woman, boy, and girl to be loved and to love.
You don't need money, don't take fame
Don't need no credit card to ride this train
So how can we receive and experience this glorious love? Can we buy it? Can we earn it by doing good deeds? By being “a good person”? No! A thousand times no! This love—the greatest, grandest thing that has ever existed, does exist, or will ever exist, that has no beginning and no end—is FREE! Is that not enough to cause us to glory in the King forever and ever? His cross is how He mediates His love to us. His cross is the chief symbol of His love. His cross, and the price He paid on it, is how we get to freely receive and experience this love. Yes, that’s how passionate our good God is. So great was His love for us that He gave His only beloved Son so He could redeem us forever from the bondage of our sin, that which held us from living abundantly in the glorious light and liberty of His love. And this love can eternally be ours by repenting of our sins, believing that King Jesus is alive today, and confessing Him as our Lord, our Sovereign, having all authority to command us and dispose of us as He wills (Mark 1:15; Acts 3:19; Rom. 10:9).
It's strong and it's sudden and it's cruel sometimes
Oh, it’s strong, and it’s sudden alright. You can never tell when the King may decide to pour out His love on someone. It can occur in the blink of an eye. One day someone might be lost in the uttermost depths of sin. The next, the love of God has revealed His Son in him, and though he once was blind, yet now he sees.
Consider Saul, who became known as Paul. That man was as blind to the light of Christ as a stillborn child is to the light of day. But when it pleased God to reveal His Son in him on the road to Damascus, the Lord gave him no warning beforehand. He apprehended him of a sudden, and from that day Saul became a debtor and a bondservant to the power of the King’s love.
Indeed, this love can even be cruel at times, at least from our limited perspective. The King’s love for us is so pure, so true, even jealous, that He cannot stand the least blemish in us. It is true that He already sees us as perfect in Christ, in our standing with Him, and this occurs immediately when we are born into His family. But at that self-same moment He begins the process to transform us in actuality into that which we are positionally.
My blemishes He will not see
But loves the beauty that shall be.*
It is this beauty that He is relentless in perfecting in us. Applying His cross to us, He will spare no means—pain, grief, loss, whatever it takes—until Christ be formed in us. At times this can appear cruel.
To quote Elisabeth Elliot from her book Passion and Purity, “Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that does not show itself in protection from suffering. The love of God is of a different nature altogether. It does not hate tragedy. It never denies reality. It stands in the very teeth of suffering. The love of God did not protect His own Son. That was the proof of His love—that He gave that Son, that He let Him go to Calvary’s cross, though “legions of angels” might have rescued Him. He will not necessarily protect us—not from anything it takes to make us like His Son. A lot of hammering and chiseling and purifying by fire will have to go into the process.”
But it might just save your life
That's the power of love
That's the power of love
The power of this love is the only thing that can ultimately save anyone’s life. Having revolted against such a kind and gracious King, there is nothing that can save us from punishment except for the love of the King Himself. No one can be saved from the wrath to come but by the power of the King’s love through His Son Jesus Christ. In one sense, His love in the person of Jesus Christ saves us from Himself, from His wrath and judgment that we justly deserve for our insufferable rebellion against such a good God. It is this power of His love evinced in the cross of Christ, and this alone, that can save one’s life for all eternity.
First time you feel it, it might make you sad
The more you realize the King’s love, the more you will love Him. And the more you love Him, the more you will adore Him and worship Him for the beauty of His holiness and His cosmic mercy and faithfulness. And the more you adore Him for His holiness and His mercy and faithfulness to you, a sinner, the more you will grieve over your sin, so contrary to Him. The degree to which you know the King’s love is the degree to which you will grieve over that sin, which crucified Him. The more precious Christ is to you, the more horrible will sin be to you.
But even as you weep over your sin, you will experience at the same moment in equal measure deep joy over His full and free grace. What a paradox—this mixture of joy and sorrow, both made more poignant by the other, in speechless gratitude to the King for His great love.
Next time you feel it, it might make you mad
As you grow closer and closer to His great heart, every beat of it resounding with love, you will experience righteous anger at the defilement of His land with the sins which are so prevalent across its face—atrocities such as the murder of the unborn, pornography, fornication, adultery, divorce, dishonor to parents, sodomy, the rejection of one’s biological sex, and the abdication by men and the supplanting by women—how the wrath of the King must blaze and His heart break at these and other sins, committed daily on His land. The clearer you see the love of Christ which led Him to the cross, there shedding that precious blood by which we were washed, sanctified, and justified from the guilt which once clung to us as grave clothes on a corpse (I Cor. 6:9–11; I John 1:7), the deeper will be your hatred of sin and the more zealous your righteous anger at the defilement on the King’s land as a result.
But you’ll be glad baby when you've found
That's the power makes the world go 'round
When the King brings you to the understanding that the power of His love is what makes the world go ’round, you will be filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Love is the motivator of all good things. It was love that motivated God to create the world. We know that behind the creation of the world and the beginning of all things was His will, His design, His purpose, but behind all that was a great burning heart of love.
It was Love that spoke the world into existence. It is Love that sustains all living things; Love that holds all the world today by the word of His power; Love that restrains His hand from having destroyed this groaning, corrupted creation already.
It is Love that brings the sun up every morning with fresh mercies streaming from every ray; Love that leads the moon to reflect that mercy in the night; Love that sets the stars in the sky to ordain the seasons; Love that nourishes the earth with the waters of heaven; Love that nurtures the tender leaf and bud.
It is Love that paints the sky with His rainbow, rightfully His to which sinful man can lay no claim for his cause, perverted as that cause is. It is Love that causes Him to remember whenever He sets His bow in the sky His everlasting covenant with all living creatures that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. Yes, He remembers this even today when God knows that what this world deserves is just that.
It is Love that gives the precious gift of intimate love between man and wife, the greatest reflection of the love of Christ for His Church.
Yes, it is Love that thought of and planned all these things. It is Love that does all this daily. It is Love that has done all this since He created time and Love that will continue doing this until He brings time to an end. Every particle, every atom, is charged full of the King’s love. This is the power that makes the world go ’round.
They say that all in love is fair
Whatever you do, if it is done in the King’s love, is fair, for love does no harm to one’s neighbor. “Let all that you do be done in love” (I Cor. 16:14). Love is the fulfillment of the law (Rom. 13:8–10; Gal. 5:14).
Yeah, but you don't care
But without the energizing power of the Holy Spirit, no one would care to know the King’s love, dead as we are in trespasses and sins without Christ.
But you know what to do (to do)
When it gets hold of you
When the power of the King’s love grips you and you come under His Lordship, His authority, He will teach you what to do. Filling you with His Spirit, He will guide you and instruct you in the way that you should go, and, following in His steps of love, you will know what to do (2 Cor. 5:14, 15; Luke 9:23, 24).
And with a little help from above
You feel the power of love
You feel the power of love
Can you feel it
We don’t just need a little help from above to feel that power, no, not even a lot of help from above. Indeed, we can’t feel that power of the King’s love at all unless we are completely aided by His Spirit, the One who is called the Helper (John 14:26; Rom. 5:5).
You won't feel nothin' till you feel
You feel the power
If you haven’t felt the power of the King’s love, then you have felt nothing at all. There is nothing on the King’s land that comes close to that power. So gracious is the King that even those who have never acknowledged Him as the King of Love, worthy of our dedication and obedience, have still experienced in some measure the wonderful power of His love:
Have you ever felt the comforting touch of the sun gently caressing your skin? Been lost in wonder gazing at the stars, breath caught away by the effulgence of the full moon? Felt the briny ocean spray in your face and breathed the bracing, salty air? Stood on a mountain height and beheld the surrounding view with awe? Been transported with delight in the midst of a wooded scene in spring, enraptured by the chorus of singing birds and the youthful beauty of budding and flowering trees? Been captivated by the crystal clearness of a dewdrop, like a rare gem in its simple yet exquisite beauty? Have you ever stepped outside after a prolonged session indoors and simply breathed the pure, clean air? Relished the sensation of luxurious grass between your toes? Rejoiced in the thrilling crash and roar of lightning and thunderstorm from the secure shelter of your warm home? Have you ever inhaled the perfumed fragrance of a rose? Been enthralled by the ethereal beauty of a rainbow? Enjoyed the dripping, juicy sweetness of a peach? The pleasing crunch of an apple, with just the right combination of tart and sweet? Fondled an adorable puppy and delighted yourself in its innocent capers? Known the intimate love between man and woman in its gentle purity? Held a newborn child and marveled at her perfection?
If you have experienced any of these, then you have felt the power of the King’s love. Yes, even if you have never known Him personally, even if you live in open rebellion to Him, you have tasted in some measure of that power of the King’s love which makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Every good and pure feeling flows from this power.
Just feel the power of love
That's the power
That's the power of love
You feel the power of love
You feel the power of love
Feel the power of love
When the King sets His love on you, reviving you from the death of sin all humans are born into and elevating you to the status of the King’s son or daughter through His perfect sacrifice, you will definitely feel its power.
But above all, the power of the King’s love is so much more than feelings. Yes, we feel His love everywhere in His world around us, for God is everywhere, and God is love. But what about when we don’t feel His love? What then? What about when the sun is obscured behind clouds of thick darkness; when the heavens withhold their showers of blessings; when all is parched and dry within; when you can’t see any beauty around you for the mist of tears blurring your vision? When you’re passing through the valley of the shadow of death; half-drowning in the floods; scorched by the fires of affliction; pierced with the nails of the cross, enduring the cruelty of His love? What then?
When you can’t feel the power of His love at all, when feelings fail and reveal their transitory nature, it is the knowledge, not the feeling, of the power of the His love that is your rock, your sure foundation. Where can you find this knowledge? In the very Word of the King Himself—
Jesus loves me—this I know,
For the Bible tells me so….**
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4–7).
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or destress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:31–39).
“The Bible tells me so.” The assurance of His Word that you are loved is your confidence. He has said, and it is so. He is not a man, that He should lie (Num. 23:19). You cannot rely on feelings, but you can always rely on the sure Word of the Rock of Ages. Our feelings and moods change, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). When you don’t feel the power of the King’s love, fix your hope on the solid assurance that your King’s unchanging love for you is just as strong, just as free, just as full in this your season of darkness as during your past seasons of light. “I hope in Your word,” affirms the psalmist repeatedly (Psalm 119:81, 114, 147).
Who among you fears the LORD?
Who obeys the voice of His Servant?
Who walks in darkness and has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the LORD
And rely upon his God. —Isaiah 50:10
We have been searching out in Huey Lewis’s song this glorious matter of The Power of the King’s Love. We have seen that this song, though not openly declaring it, is jam-packed with the truth of King Jesus Christ.
But how can the power of the King’s love be searched out by a few pages or by one blog post? As an old hymn says,
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.***
May the King of Love grant us clearer vision day by day “that [we], being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that [we] may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:17–19).
*Hannah Hurnard, Hinds’ Feet on High Places.
**Anna Bartlett Warner (1859), “Jesus Loves Me.”
***Frederick Lehman (1917), “The Love of God.”