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Day 167 – Thru the Bible
Today we complete Song of Songs!
Song of Songs 5 – After Jesus quoted Genesis 2:24 in His argument against easy divorce, He added His simple summary, “So they are no longer two but one flesh,” and the God-centered application, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6). In Song of Songs 4:6–5:1, we have the Song’s most vivid description of this pure “flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23) joining—the “undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4) yet aflame wedding night, whose expressions of intimacy are reflective of the grace we require.
Verses 5:2–3 is worlds apart from 6:3. While 5:2–3 is dominated by selfish thoughts, 6:3 concludes with mutual selflessness: “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” Initially the physical aspects of each of the two lovers result in personal ecstasy that makes the pain of separation unbearable (4:1–5:16). But then, the chasm of the lovers’ separation (perhaps caused by selfishness and symbolized in the strange aspect of the bride’s dream [5:6–8]) is bridged by self-denial (5:16; 6:2–3, 10–12).
Jesus will ultimately epitomize the self-denial that results in a more perfect union. In humility He “emptied Himself” and “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death . . . on a cross” (Philippians 2:3–8). Your marriage is designed to look like Jesus’ crucifixion, where selfless love and selfless submission collide for the sake of another (Ephesians 5:22–33). The result is that both husband and wife can say, “God has given me a lover whose care sings to me the story of our salvation—of God having reconciled selfish sinners through His selfless Son.”
How does Jesus’ selflessness lead you to worship and praise Him?
Song of Songs 6 & 7 – The word “beautiful” occurs sixteen times in the Song, four of those times in this passage (6:4, 10; 7:1, 6). All four occur in the man’s descriptions of his bride’s body. In this way the groom gives his bride her beauty by his assessment of her. Beauty is not known if it is not appreciated. Our Lord’s delight in the beauty of the human body in marriage is only a dim reflection of the measure of grace He extends to us by calling sinners holy—all through His grace. He gives the beauty He relishes and then credits us with its possession.
Yet the beauty of the Lord—“the beauty of all things beautiful,” as Augustine put it—transcends the beauty of the body. Ironically, what is most captivating about the incarnation (“in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily”; Colossians 2:9) is that Jesus “had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him” (Isaiah 53:2) and yet He was “beautiful and glorious” (Isaiah 4:2) when crucified upon the tree. Yes, let us “behold the King in His beauty” (Isaiah 33:17), a marred beauty that has made many marred sinners beautiful through faith in Him (Isaiah 60:9).
How do you see the beauty in those around you and ultimately in Jesus?
Song of Songs 8 – Marriage is an exclusive, lifelong commitment (Matthew 19:6; Romans 7:2–3). The reasons for this commitment are found in verse 6. The two images—“death” and “the very flame of the Lord”—are both images of permanence. (We think also of the burning bush that was not consumed and the flaming sword of the angel perpetually guarding the garden of Eden.) This is the only mention of “the Lord” in the Song (the Hebrew for “flame” is likely related to the Hebrew for “the Lord” [Yahweh]). Since the marriage relationship of the Song reflects the values of our God, we are here made to understand that He intends for covenant relationships (including His with us) to be permanent—not revoked by the imperfections of any party to the covenant.
Similarly, there is a permanence to our covenant relationship with Jesus, which is not only until death (“till death do us part”) but which overcomes death (“O death, where is your victory?”; 1 Corinthians 15:55). Because Jesus is “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25), we who believe in Him are “sealed” by the Spirit “for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).
The Song ends with a vignette on virginity, love still unknown, followed by a picture of the two lovers wanting to touch but not yet touching. Thus, we are left with the same kind of longing that opened the Song (1:2).
This longing leaves us longing for more. The Song intentionally ends abruptly and inconclusively because the love story is not done—the life of love for these two is only at its beginning. The many chapters of the full story of the married couple have yet to be written—where love will deepen and strengthen in the marriage that God intends.
Feeling the longing we all have for a deep and strong love that makes us one with another is a path for the gospel. This Song prepares our hearts by making them long for the deepest and dearest love that only God can provide. In this way, this Song of Songs makes us long for God’s greater love song in our lives and the story that is not yet done at this point in the canon of Scripture.
Viewed from the perspective of the whole Bible, this longing leads its readers forward to Isaiah, where God’s gracious redemption of His people is as clear as anywhere in the Old Testament. From Isaiah we journey finally to Revelation, which ends as the final Song ends: “Let us rejoice and exult and give Him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His Bride has made herself ready” by keeping herself “pure” (Revelation 19:7–8). Then, Jesus/the bridegroom says, “Surely I am coming soon,” and the church/the bride says, “Come” (Revelation 22:17), “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).
The only truly perfect love comes from the One also knows you perfectly, Jesus. How does knowing you are fully know and unconditionally loved bring joy to your soul?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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