November 25

Reading: Song of Solomon 8

1   Oh that you were like a brother to me

     who nursed at my mother’s breasts!

     If I found you outside, I would kiss you,

     and none would despise me.

2   I would lead you and bring you

     into the house of my mother—

     she who used to teach me.

     I would give you spiced wine to drink,

     the juice of my pomegranate.

3   His left hand is under my head,

     and his right hand embraces me!

4   I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,

     that you not stir up or awaken love

     until it pleases.

 

5   Who is that coming up from the wilderness,

     leaning on her beloved?

     Under the apple tree I awakened you.

     There your mother was in labor with you;

     there she who bore you was in labor.

6   Set me as a seal upon your heart,

     as a seal upon your arm,

     for love is strong as death,

     jealousy is fierce as the grave.

     Its flashes are flashes of fire,

     the very flame of the LORD.

 

7   Many waters cannot quench love,

     neither can floods drown it.

     If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house,

     he would be utterly despised.

8   We have a little sister,

     and she has no breasts.

     What shall we do for our sister

     on the day when she is spoken for?

9   If she is a wall,

     we will build on her a battlement of silver,

     but if she is a door,

     we will enclose her with boards of cedar.

 

10 I was a wall, and my breasts were like towers;

     then I was in his eyes as one who finds peace.

11 Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon;

     he let out the vineyard to keepers;

     each one was to bring for its fruit a thousand pieces of silver.

12 My vineyard, my very own, is before me;

     you, O Solomon, may have the thousand,

     and the keepers of the fruit two hundred.

13 O you who dwell in the gardens,

     with companions listening for your voice;

     let me hear it.

14 Make haste, my beloved,

     and be like a gazelle or a young stag

     on the mountains of spices.

 

The reader of the Song of Solomon must admit that the song ends strangely.  It is difficult to know what to do with this chapter.  Maybe it is enough to observe that a marriage does not go like a movie.  In the best case, you get married and are deeply in love and begin to grow together, and then life is not what you expected.  Unanticipated events intervene and take you in directions you never imagined.

In verses 1-4 the woman continues her response from 7:10-13.  She now wishes that they could be like brother and sister in showing affection in public.  Apparently, in ancient Israel, this was frowned upon for the king and his queen.  She wants to be his friend as well as his lover.

Verses 5-6 are the king’s final words to his wife, lover, and friend.  It is a statement of the power and importance of love in a marriage.  Verses 7-9 are a series of proverbs that touch on aspects of romantic love.  Verses 10-14 are the woman’s final words reflecting on her husband, that he is better than all the property, vineyards, that she has gained.

As the book closes, mostly with the desires of the woman for her husband, I am reminded of the curse to the woman in Genesis 3:16, “Yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”  In the context of the Bible this is the opposite of a blessing.  Part of the result of sin is that a wife wants her husband in ways that he, because he is selfish, will not give to her.  You see this in many ways in every place on earth.

For married people, the most important way that you can honor the Lord is to love the one to whom you are married.  God put you there for that purpose.  This takes thought, sacrifice, words, effort.  Do not be a lazy lover.  It is never too late to obey God.