In the forty-eight years since I was first ambushed by Jesus…and in literally in the thousands of hours of prayer, meditation, silence and solitude over those years, I am now utterly convinced that on Judgment Day the Lord Jesus is going to ask each of us one question, and only one question: “Did you believe that I loved you? That I desired you? That I waited for you day after day? That I longed to hear the sound of your voice?” [See Song of Songs 2:14]
This week’s passage in The Song of Songs should help to persuade you of the Lord’s love for you. He calls to each of us, asking us to come away with Him.
This week may we respond to Him, and come away, contemplating His words of love to us
in Song of Songs 2.
I see myself in the bride in The Song of Songs — moving in and out of the wilderness, trusting and then retreating. What is so encouraging to me is the bridegroom’s faithfulness to her. So often it amazes me that God loves me, for He knows the darkness in my heart, my wilderness wanderings, my infidelities. Yet in Him, I am beautiful. So He asks me to arise and come away with Him, for, incredibly, my voice is sweet to him, and my face is lovely.
I know last week was challenging. Jonathan Edwards is not an easy read, and yet some of you got through it and had rich comments! C. S. Lewis said The Song of Songs is for the more mature — and some of you may find this overwhelming, but I hope you’ll give it one more week. Come away with Him each day this week, read these verses aloud, and respond as a cherished one would respond to the wooing and words of this Lover who is beyond beautiful and whose word is trustworthy. The Song of Songs is key to our trust in God’s love. If after this week you feel it is still too hard or not the right time for you, then I encourage you to find another study during this time.
We will also hear a fascinating panel of three men from The Gospel Coalition talking about preaching Christ from the Old Testament — and they address their struggle with the Song of Songs at length. Each of these men believe that Christ is the heart of the Bible, and the gospel is the heart of Christ — and yet, there is still this struggle because The Song of Songs is so sexual. (My favorite on this panel is Alistair Begg who said he was simply afraid to preach on The Song of Songs for he wasn’t sure he understood it. I’d so rather have that in a pastor than an arrogance that rushes headlong and misinterprets a passage.) Because there is so much controversy on The Song of Songs, we must be discerning. I have been so excited to see you each asking the Lord, “What is true here?” I was so encouraged by responses from both those who have been with us for years and newcomers that show me you are really thinking, contemplating, and discerning truth. Here are two perceptive comments from two newcomers who each gave persuasive reasons for seeing The Song of Songs as starting with Christ and his bride before applying it to earthly love:
Jill: Can we really apply any concept to marriage (or any loving relationship) without first understanding who we are and what love is?
Staci: I had been taught most of my Christian life that this book was strictly for dating leading into marriage. It wasnt until this bible study did I see the meaning of God’s love for us. It’s like my own veil has been lifted, I was the dark one seeking for true love. So for that, I feel so many are missing out by only viewing Song of Songs as relating to marriage. I honestly can not look at the book any other way now other than God and his love for me. I talk about it every chance I get with other women.
I have loved how you are comparing Scripture with Scripture, how you are reading with discernment, and not just assuming that even respected theologians are right all the time. None of us are! But what I am seeing is a confidence in God’s love for you rising, like the morning sun.
1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?
2. Read The Song of Songs 2 aloud, listening particularly to the voice of the Bridegroom. If a verse quickens you, stop. Then share it here and why it impressed you. You may also want to listen to this to warm your heart. Imagine the Lord singing to you:
Monday/Wednesday: Bible Study
3. In The Song of Songs 2:4-5 what pictures of protection, love, and intimacy are painted concerning the Bridegroom’s love for his bride?
The Song of Songs 2:8-9 reminds me of a scene from Ever After, for indeed, the gospel is a Cinderella story. Drew Barrymore, who plays the Cinderella in Ever After, appears at the ball. She has been transformed but does not yet believe she is beautiful. She is unsure of how the prince will respond to her, and tells herself: “Breathe, just breathe.”
Yet when he sees her, his world stops. The dance floor parts, as if in obedience to his gaze, and then he runs, like a gazelle, leaping and bounding. Nothing can keep him fromn her.4. Read The Song of Songs 2:9-14 (Aloud!)
A. What evidence of love do you see in the Bridegroom in verses 8-10?
Richard Wurmbrand, with Voice of the Martyrs, has a commentary on The Song of Songs (The Sweetest Song) in which he tells how those being tortured and martyred found strength in The Song of Songs to face their suffering. He tells story after story of saints clinging to verses from this book — and then faced horrible deaths with joy, knowing they were going to their wedding feast with their Savior. Concerning the above passage, Wurmbrand writes of the comfort of knowing sin is forgiven and the time of flowers and spring has come. He talks of the comfort of knowing Jesus stands and listens, hearing not only your earnest pleadings, but your anxious thoughts, the ever attentive Lover of your soul.
In John Eldredge’s Epic he quotes Song of Songs 2:11-13 in the context of the time when Jesus will return to earth and make all things new. It doesn’t seem a stretch to me at all to see symbolism in the turtledoves, who were the sacrifice (instead of a lamb) of the poor. As we become turtledoves, presenting our bodies, our lives, in surrender to him, then the fig tree blossoms, and the vine is filled with glorious fruit. One day this will be made complete. We are only glimpsing His power and love in us now, but there is coming a time when the winters of depression, rebellious children, terminal illness, death, and broken hearts will be over and we will be glorious and sinless. Can you even imagine? Trusting these promises helps us surrender now, like a turtledove on the altar.
B. Contemplate verses 11-13. What do you see?
C. What does your Bridegroom tell you in verse 14? How does this speak to you?
5. Dialogue with the Lord in prayer. He wants to hear your voice. Read what He says to you — and then respond. If you think our reading over your shoulder will alter your response, then do it privately.
A. He says: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away.” You respond:
B. He says: “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” You respond — with however His Spirit leads you.
6. What danger is there to our relationship with the Lord, and to the fruit that will come from that intimacy? (Song of Songs 2:15)
Listening to a Panel on Christ-Centered Preaching. Elizabeth gave me this link to three men I respect from The Gospel Coalition talking about preaching Christ from the Old Testament. They talk about The Song of Songs starting at around 20 minutes. But the whole discussion is fascinating, if you have time. They obviously feel Christ must be in it, yet struggle. I have wondered if men struggle more than women, as their sexual passion can be so physical, whereas women tend (and I know this is a generality) to see more of the intimate relational side. Yet obviously there are men from the past, and from the present, who believe it is first and foremost about Christ and the church. (Link)
8. If you had time to listen, what are your thoughts?
9. What is your take-a-way and why?