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Song of Solomon – “God’s Gift of Love”

Chapters 7-8 – “Set Me as a Seal Upon Your Heart”

The final two chapters are an unmatched celebration of love.  As we see this outpouring of joy and commitment we need to be reminded that God is love and nothing can ever separate us from his love revealed in Jesus Christ (I John 4:16; Rom. 8:38-39)   

I. “I am my beloved’s and his desire is for me” – 7:1-13

We have an outpouring of images here.  The entire body of the lover is being celebrated.  The erotic imagery is all too clear.  What are we to make of this?

One way to look at it is to see the physical aspects of the lover as symbolic of her overall nature and character.  What the Beloved is saying is that he loves everything about his lover.  She of course is more than a physical example.  The Beloved desires her in every way possible.  It is not just her physical charms.  It is her companionship that he is ultimately praising.

Their love is acted out on several ways.  They go together into the fields (v. 11), in the villages, to the vineyards (v. 12).  There is a reference to mandrakes which were thought to increase fertility (Gen. 30:14-21).

The point here is that the couple are sharing all of life.  The fields can symbolize work (planting, harvesting).  The villages are the places where they live, where homes are located.  Then they go into the vineyards, symbolic of the joy of life (Ps. 104:15).

The beloved then is not simply viewing his lover as someone to be admired or, for that matter, to be enjoyed sexually (vv. 7-9; Proverbs 5:18-19).  What we have here is a picture that goes back to the beginning of creation.  The woman is a helper, indeed a partner.  This was God’s original intention in creating Eve (Gen. 2:18).

We can now ask, what is the spiritual application of this text?  What is being praised here are all the physical features of the lover.  Each one is valuable.  All are important.

The New Testament parallel to that is Paul’s description of the different parts of the human body as an illustration of the different gifts of believers who are the body of Christ (I Cor. 12:12-31).  Paul mentions the foot, the hand, the ear and the eye.  Each has its role to play.  Yet the parts are all very distinct.  A hand and an eye look completely different.  Yet the body could not function without both of them playing their critical role. 

Paul goes on to say that God gives greater honor to the inferior members.  If one member suffers all suffer.  If one member is honored “all rejoice together with it.”  So it is with the body of the lover.  Each part is celebrated often in glowing terms.

The application here is that every single member of the church is important.   No one is expendable.  No single individual is more or less important than the others. Every part of Christ’s body has a beauty attached to it.  Every single aspect of the body should be celebrated.

II. “Many Waters Cannot Quench Love” – 8:1-1

We come now to the final celebration of love. This chapter begins with what is a glowing celebration of the beloved.  This is a total picture of intimacy, a complete sharing of two selves.  We may initially pause at the brother/sister imagery between the two lovers.   The best way to understand this is to see it as a desire on the part of the lover (the woman) to want to have spent her whole life with the beloved, to have known him as part of her mother’s house (v. 2).  This whole passage is full of intense imagery, spiced wine, the juice of pomegranates.  The point is that love is not to be taken lightly.  The refrain is repeated, “do not stir or awaken love until it is ready!”

The book ends with a praise to love and its power.  Love is strong as death.  Its passion is fierce as the grave.  It flashes like a raging fire.  Many waters cannot quench it.  No amount of wealth could be given in exchange for it.

There is a reference here to “a little sister.” This goes back to the phrase about not awakening love prematurely.  The little sister is to be safeguarded until she is grown and ready.   The lover then speaks of herself.  She will bring peace to Solomon.  She herself is the vineyard, more valuable than the thousands of Solomon and the hundreds of his servants.

We are back in the gardens, symbolic as we have seen of the original Garden of Eden.  She calls out to her beloved once again “upon the mountain of spices.”  This is the love that is strong as death.

           This book, like the entire Old Testament, points forward to two realities we encounter in the New Testament.  Both refer to the love of God.  God loves the world and sends us Christ not to condemn us but to save us (John 3:16-17).  The love of Christ however is far stronger than death.  His resurrection shows that death is defeated (I Cor. 15: 54-57).  The second reality is that God is love (I John 4:8-9).  This give us boundless hope and confidence.

In a sinful world love can be difficult.  There can be hurt, pain, even separation.  However, God’s love in Christ overpowers everything (Romans 8:38-39).

Praise the Lord!

Questions for Us –

  1. Why is it important to realize that every part of the loved one is beautiful?
  2. Have you learned anything new about love from studying this book?
  3. How does Christ’s love enable us to live joyful and confident lives?

Next Study – I Corinthians chapter 1 – “The Foolishness of the Cross”