Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Shulammite shepherdess, conclusion

Yesterday we discussed how the Song of Solomon was a beautiful and pure (but honest) passage of poetry that described the commitment and delight of man and woman.

Many scholars feel that we've not heard the deepest message of the Song unless we read it as an expression of the relationship and communication between man and God; some say more than this, it's the communion between Christ and His church.

And perhaps they are correct -- if we look at one of the earliest Jewish books, called Targums, we see this in the preface:

                  This is the Song of Solomon, the prophet king of Israel, which he sang
                   before Jehovah the Lord.

So, it's indeed possible that this passage isn't just a human love song. This could be a song about his own relationship to Jehovah; the early church fathers viewed it in that light.

Remember when we touched on the book of Ecclesiastes? When you read that book, you read of a man's search throughout his world for something that would satisfy his heart. All humans have a longing in their hearts for something real, something true, something larger than themselves. Personally, I believe that God put it there. He instilled that longing so that we would search for Him.
Let me get back on track here . . . the message of Ecclesiastes is that if a man (or a woman) gains the world, it just isn't enough.  If we gain the world, our hearts are still empty, because our hearts are so much greater than the object of our love. But our Lord is so mighty, so merciful, so loving, that the heart in love with Him will never be able to fully know the depths of His love, concern, and care. Christ is even greater, larger than our hearts.

Each and every passage in this passage of poetry, then, can be reverently considered at this higher level -- the level of a heart totally sold out and committed to the Lord. And if we take it that way, it matches up with other teachings that we are familiar with. It reveals, too, that marriage is a key to human life.
Why did I say that? Are people who are not married supposed to be discouraged by that?
Let's think about this. Paul says in Romans that we were "married" to our old life of sin, and that when we become Christians, we begin what will be a battle for mastery of our lives. The whole story of the Bible is that it's either God Who masters us, or the devil. We cannot give ourselves to both of them -- there must be a choice, just as when a man or woman chooses their life mate. Does that make sense now?

That's why when we read in this poetry about the delight that the bride and bridegroom experience with each other, we are reading a beautiful description of what God intends the relationship to be, between Himself and each one of us. That's why we see this commandment in Matthew:
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  38 This is the first and greatest commandment. (Matthew 22:37)
It's the "first and greatest" commandment, because out of that flows everything else!

In Ephesians, we see this:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . . (Ephesians 5:25)
And we see this:
This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:32)
The love of a husband and wife is just an earthly picture of the love between Christ and His church -- between Christ and the believer.

One day the whole world will experience the springtime of Song of Solomon 2:11-13a:
See! The winter is past;    the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth;    the season of singing has come,the cooing of doves    is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit;    the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Our Lord Jesus Christ will return at last, to claim His bride: the church, the believers who are committed to Him.  How much better is this, than to be "married" or mastered by the devil, who is constantly looking about for those he can control:
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (I Peter 5:8)
He is our adversary; Jesus is our Advocate.  Satan, and the old life of sin, are our opponents; Christ is our Champion, our Beloved Jesus!

The devil wants to carry us away; our Savior wants to protect and save us. Let's devote ourselves anew to a real and committed relationship with Him!


Cathy said...

Amen, sweet sister!

Ramblingon said...

I am trying each day to do that, Sister.