The Greatest Love Song

    One of the most beautiful songs ever written, and my personal favorite book in the antilegomena, is the Song of Solomon. There is far too much in this short song to unfurl in a single treatise, but I am struck as I read it by certain passages. 

    For those who are new to this song I'll summarize it briefly. Our song follows a poor working woman (the Shulamite woman) who has fallen in love with the king of the land. He likewise falls for her and raises her out of her poverty and marries her, showing her off to the people of the land as his beautiful bride. She begins the song by telling us how people see her as lowly (tanned by the sun from her work in the fields and scarred from her labors). She sees herself as average and pines after the heart of the wise and kind king whom she loves from a distance. Our king responds by raising her up as the most beautiful woman in all the land, the apple of his eye and the whole of his heart. He comes to rescue her and whisk her away to be his forevermore. They end the song in the embrace of loving marriage and celebrate with all the people to partake in the joy they have together. To truly see the depth of their love for each other, hear the words each says of the other. 

"I compare you, my love
To a mare among Pharaoh's chariots
Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments
Your neck with strings of jewels"-King (Song 1:9-10)
"My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms
in the fields of Engedi
Behold you are beautiful, my beloved, truly delightful
Our couch is green;
The beams of our house are cedar
Our rafters are pine

My beloved is mine, and I am his;

He grazes among the lilies.
Until the day breathes
and the shadows flee,
turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle
or a young stag on cleft mountains." -Shulamite (Song 1:14,16-17, 2:16-17)
"Behold, you are beautiful, my love,
behold, you are beautiful!
Your eyes are doves
behind your veil.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
leaping down the slopes of Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes
that have come up from the washing,
all of which bear twins,
and not one among them has lost its young.
Your lips are like a scarlet thread,
and your mouth is lovely.
Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate
behind your veil.
Your neck is like the tower of David,
built in rows of stone;
on it hang a thousand shields,
all of them shields of warriors.
Your two breasts are like two fawns,
twins of a gazelle,
that graze among the lilies.
Until the day breathes
and the shadows flee,
I will go away to the mountain of myrrh
and the hill of frankincense.
You are altogether beautiful, my love;
there is no flaw in you.
Come with me from Lebanon, my bride;
come with me from Lebanon.
Depart from the peak of Amana,
from the peak of Senir and Hermon,
from the dens of lions,
from the mountains of leopards.
You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride;
you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes,
with one jewel of your necklace.
How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride!
How much better is your love than wine,
and the fragrance of your oils than any spice!
Your lips drip nectar, my bride;
honey and milk are under your tongue;
the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
A garden locked is my sister, my bride,
a spring locked, a fountain sealed.
Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates
with all choicest fruits,
henna with nard,
nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon,
with all trees of frankincense,
myrrh and aloes,
with all choice spices—
a garden fountain, a well of living water,
and flowing streams from Lebanon.
Awake, O north wind,
and come, O south wind!
Blow upon my garden,
let its spices flow.
Let my beloved come to his garden,
and eat its choicest fruits
."-King (Song 4:1-16)
    Hear how they speak about each other! Hear how their love and adoration for each other overflows! A woman so enraptured by the strength and fortitude of her beloved, a man captivated by the beauty and grace of his wife. Two hearts entwined in mutual respect and admiration, raising each other up and proclaiming their love to all who can hear. 
    This is an incredible example that can teach us two very important lessons. First, God, as the husband of the church, has a deep and profound love for the beauty of his church. Just as the Shulamite woman saw herself as lowly (she talks several times about being tanned and scarred from her hard work in the fields), we are lowly and weak before the throne of a holy God. Yet, just like the king, God sees us as tall, strong, and beautiful. In His eyes we are clothed with the sun, arrayed in gold and silver, spotless and pure as the driven snow. The love that this king has for His beloved is a small glimpse into the love that God has for His people.
    Second, it is a picture of the love of a husband and wife. The vision cast by the king in this song is the view every man ought to have of his wife. She should be the north star in his sky, the most beautiful woman in his world. His wife is his greatest treasure, his closest confidant, his helper, his friend. Her voice is the wind beneath his wings, and her belief in him gives him strength in the hardest of times. For the woman, her king is her fortress, strong and fearless. He is the hunter, the provider, and her rest from the troubles of her day. She pines after his touch and revels in his protection and provision. In her eyes, he is the rock she builds upon and rests atop, and his love gives her strength and confidence. When she hears him tell the world how he sees her, she lights up to be the love of his life. 
    This song speaks to us on so many levels. It is the story of the love between two people, that shows us the love of God for His people, and the example of the ideal for a husband and wife. What makes this so beautiful is the passion, the realism, the way it flows so naturally from one person to the next. Each one receiving the love of the other, and pouring back into them with their own love. May our relationships continue to grow and mirror the love between God and His people, until our marriages mirror the greatest marriage in history.
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