“… Love is as strong as death … many waters cannot quench love …” (Song of Solomon 8:6-7)
All the wonder and wildness and bewilderment of this crazy thing called love is put down for us in Song of Solomon. Essentially, this book represents a collection of heart-bursts from a bride and her husband.
I list the bride first because she has the most to say in this series of idylls. Graphic and picturesque language spills out of the characters portrayed here. For this reason, it is titled “the Song of Songs” in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament.
Song of Solomon hearkens back to the beginnings of mankind, to the days in the Garden when the Man and the Woman talked with the Voice who walked with them. Eden was a place of trees and flowers and fruit and creatures of the earth and the sky.
Adam was positioned there and given work to do. Cultivation of the scene was what God had in mind – that what is meant by the holy assignment given in Genesis 2:15 – “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”
Another instruction directed toward the original human beings was this one: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Union and creation, joy and care were to rule in their lives.
Song of Solomon excels in the expression of fruitfulness, I believe. That’s why there are so many references to the things of nature. The ultimate result of fruitfulness is fruit, of course – propagation and multiplication.
Galatians 5:22 tells us that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. …” All of these are relational words; words that define how we are to treat others and ourselves.
Simply put: Love creates.
Love ushers in mood and atmosphere and connection and intimacy. All of this expressed in the proper time and context produces life. Sow seeds in gardens and fields and what comes forth is beauty and food. Sow the seeds of true love in the rooms of the house and what will come forth are children. Families, healthy, fruitful families are formed in the design of the Creator.
Read through Jeremiah and see just how fundamental this reality is to what God wants for His world. The chosen people did reap the whirlwind for their idolatry and disobedience. Judgment in the form of invasion came and thousands of them were taken away from the Promised Land and deposited in Babylon, the city of the conquerors and a society riddled with pagan practices and shrines.Song of Solomon was inspired and written to us to rekindle our fires of love – in our marriages, in our homes, and in our congregations. Click To Tweet
The prophet got a sure word of encouragement for these captive ones, however. Jeremiah’s instruction from the Lord was this: “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease” (Jeremiah 29:5-6).
Get back to the root of what you were made for, Jeremiah was telling them. Be fruitful. Build your homes and families and care for your fields. Return to love. That’s the essence of these words.
In Revelation, Ephesus was an assembly of believers in Asia Minor with a legacy and a holy history. But something went awry with the people of that church. Rapid growth and a high standing came to this group. This church acquired a reputation as a spiritual center under the ministries of Paul and Timothy and John, to name a few.
Jesus, however, looked upon the heart of the assembly and saw something missing: “… I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. …” (Revelation 2:4-5). This is along the lines of what Jeremiah told the Jews in Babylon; and these words also take us back to what God told Adam and Eve.
First love, real love from Him, is fruitful and from such fruitfulness comes more and more and more love. And, in my opinion, Song of Solomon was inspired and written to us to rekindle our fires of love – in our marriages, in our homes, and in our congregations.
Song of Solomon almost sounds to me like a crazy sort of romantic comedy. Both bride and groom are out of their minds over each other. The descriptions they speak out seem insane and irrational.
Love’s funny that way goes a favorite song of mine.
For instance, the husband describes his wife as having hair like a flock of goats, teeth like little sheep, a neck like a tower, cheeks like pomegranates, and a belly like a heap of wheat. The bride talks of being captivated by her man with his dark wavy, raven-like hair, with arms like bars of gold, with legs set as pillars, and with lily lips that drip myrrh.
At the last, the wife exclaims: “His mouth is most sweet, and he is altogether desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend” (Song of Solomon 5:16).
This utterance comes in the midst of a difficult moment related in the couple’s story. The bride was searching for her beloved after she had spurned him one evening. When she came to the realization and sensed her missed opportunity, she sought him with help of the “daughters of Jerusalem.”
We could describe these daughters as sacred friends. They asked the right question in the midst of her distress. “What is your beloved more than another beloved, O most beautiful among women?” (Song of Solomon 5:9). They got her thinking about him in all of his glory and soon she knew just where to look for him. “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine; he grazes among the lilies” (Song of Solomon 6:3).
What should we take from all of these passages? A sense of our Beloved Jesus Christ and His way with us, that’s what.
We, the Church, are One with Him. We are His Bride. We await the Marriage Supper celebration defined in Revelation 19.
There are times when we are unfruitful, dull, and insensitive and we do lose the fire of our first love in certain seasons.
Love is stronger. It answers death and brings revival and resurrection to us as we consider afresh the Person of Christ.
We have friends we can turn to when we feel like this. These friends are the pages of the Scriptures where we read of His great and steadfast love for us. He never leaves us; He never forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5).
Church life brings us into an extended family with a multitude of counselors. Spiritual daughters and sons, our sisters, our brothers, tell us the Truth and point us toward home, even when we’re seemingly imprisoned in a strange and evil world.
Yes, even in troubles, we can see Him grazing among His lilies. We are the ones He clothes with His righteousness and peace.
We are the Bride of Christ. His Strength and His Beauty are what we wear and we “laugh at things to come” (Proverbs 31:25).