Song of Songs 1:1-4:16; 2 Corinthians 8:16-24;
Psalm 50:1-23; Proverbs 22:22-23
Song of Songs 1:1-4:16
When I was around ten or eleven years old I was taken to a movie. I don't remember much about the movie, but what I do remember is that in the movie a man was in bed with a woman and they were naked under the sheets. Back then bedroom scenes on film were rare. Television shows routinely showed married couples having twin beds in their bedrooms, i.e. I Love Lucy. Kissing between couples was usually a peck on the cheek or one passionate kiss and embrace. Any affection shown on screen was between people who were fully clothed. Sex outside of marriage was almost never portrayed in a story. While sexual intimacy has become commonplace in current media, at that time I was completely embarrassed by what I had seen on screen. I peeked in on something that was meant to be private and sacred. Shame filled my heart and I drew back in guilt. The intimacy of a man in bed with a woman was not to be violated by outsiders. In this day and age we so far from treating images of sexual relationships as sacred that my reaction as a young girl seems almost absurd.
Commentators of the Bible agree that the Song of Songs, which was written by Solomon, contains four different and important meanings:
- The glory of wedded love. This book shows us the sacredness of the marital bond and the passion that is a part of this type of bond.
- The love of God (Jehovah) for Israel. The Bible often portrays Israel as the wife of God and Israel's unfaithfulness as a breach in a marital relationship.
- A picture of Christ and his Church. The Church is portrayed in Scripture (Eph. 5, Rev. 21) as the bride of Christ. Jesus refers to himself as the bridegroom on many occasions. This book takes us into the honeymoon and beyond.
- The communion of Christ with the individual believer. This book is a manual for the passion that each believer in Jesus should feel for the Savior. Jesus is passionate about us. We must experience His love, deeply. This book gives us a good way to think in those terms.
The story is of a Shulamite girl, who works in the vineyard and has become sun tanned. In our day, a sun tan is a badge of honor, but in this day, having dark skin because of working outside all day was a mark of humility. The Shulamite girl represents anyone who is working for their salvation. This is a picture of Israel, the Church, and all individuals who are working for their salvation. Are you relying on your good works to get you into heaven? If so, you are like the Shulamite girl at this point in the story.
One day, a handsome shepherd appears. He falls in love with the girl. He is completely intoxicated with her and she with him. This shepherd smells of frankincense and myrrh. If you have never smelled a bar of soap that is scented with frankincense and myrrh, you should try to do this. What a wonderful aroma! It is not hard for us to see the imagery of Christ in this shepherd. Jesus is our Good Shepherd. Jesus was given both frankincense and myrrh as an infant by the wise men, who came from the East in search of the Messiah. Jesus was also anointed with myrrh at his burial. Frankincense and myrrh remind us of the beautiful fragrant offering God gave us when Jesus was born to live a perfect life and when he died sacrificially for our sins. His birth and death should draw each of us individually to Jesus, our perfect, unconditional lover.
Jesus is our handsome Shepherd, who ends our need to work in the vineyard. He brings us to his palace of love and lifts the burden of having to please God through our own efforts. Matthew 11:28 says, "Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
The chorus cries out that his love is better than wine. How true it is that the joy we receive from Christ cannot compare to the joy produced by alcohol. A person may feel temporarily happy when they have a glass of wine, but the feeling of knowing Christ does not leave a person with a headache the next day.
The woman wonders where the shepherd is leading his flocks this day. The shepherd is obviously away from his bride and she is wondering about how he is working and what he is doing? Do you wonder about the methods that Jesus uses in the Church? Do you wonder if certain people really are part of his flock? There is a mystery to the work of Jesus as our Good Shepherd.
Notice in chapter 1 verse 13 that the woman says her lover is like a sachet of myrrh lying between her breasts. Is Christ (his birth and death) settled like a lover in your heart?
The bride waits for her husband who is off, but returns in the Spring (chapter 2:12). This pictures Christ's resurrection. Jesus was gone briefly in death (the winter), but returns in the Spring with resurrected life. She cries out, "Arise, my beloved, my fair one and come away with me." (vs. 13). Have you asked the resurrected Christ to come away with you? He wants this desire from you. He wants you to want him.
In chapter 3, we see the young woman roaming the streets of the city in search of her lover. Where has he gone? It is nighttime and she is lonely without him. A little while later, she finds him. Isn't this the state that the Church is presently in? Aren't we wandering in the nighttime as our love is seated in heaven? There will be a reuniting of the Church (bride) with Christ (bridegroom) in the future. We will embrace him face to face. We see the chorus describe the groom coming like a cloud in the desert. He smells of frankincense and myrrh. He comes as a king with his bride. This, my friends, is a picture of our King of Kings and Lord of Lords as he comes back to earth with His bride, the Church.
In chapter 4,we get a description of Jesus' heart for his bride. It is a picture of a man who feels that his bride is perfect in every part. He describes his heart as being ravished by her. The woman is his treasure and he is overcome by her beauty. She is his private garden and a quenching fountain. She provides living water that satisfies his thirst. Do you think of yourself as this to Christ? Do you understand his desire to be with you? You ravish Jesus' heart.
His bride calls out for him to come into her garden and eat its choicest fruits. Oh, for this type of intimacy with the Lord! Passion shared and enjoyed. Do you invite Jesus to have this sort of intimacy with you? Have you given him the deepest part of yourself?
2 Corinthians 8:16-24
The Apostle Paul was a man of impeccable character. Today, he confirms to the Corinthians that as he and Titus carry the offering for the poor saints in Jerusalem, they will be honorable before the Lord in how they handle the situation. They will not indulge in taking a little money for themselves and profiting from the gifts of others. Boy, do we need this type of attitude in the modern Church. How many men and women are attempting to personally profit from gifts meant to minister to others. Jesus is watching.
This psalm speaks of the Lord returning and judging the world. Only God can reveal the way of salvation.
The Lord is the defender of the poor.
What did you learn today? Please share.