Be still for a few moments. Turn your thoughts to finding God.
8 Listen! My beloved!
Look! Here he comes,
leaping across the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
9 My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.
Look! There he stands behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
peering through the lattice.
10 My beloved spoke and said to me,
‘Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
11 See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
12 Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.
13 The fig-tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me.’
14 My dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the hiding-places on the mountainside,
show me your face,
let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.
15 Catch for us the foxes,
the little foxes
that ruin the vineyards,
our vineyards that are in bloom.
16 My beloved is mine and I am his;
he browses among the lilies.
17 Until the day breaks
and the shadows flee,
turn, my beloved,
and be like a gazelle
or like a young stag
on the rugged hills.
3 All night long on my bed
I looked for the one my heart loves;
I looked for him but did not find him.
2 I will get up now and go about the city,
through its streets and squares;
I will search for the one my heart loves.
So I looked for him but did not find him.
3 The watchmen found me
as they made their rounds in the city.
‘Have you seen the one my heart loves?’
4 Scarcely had I passed them
when I found the one my heart loves.
I held him and would not let him go
till I had brought him to my mother’s house,
to the room of the one who conceived me.
5 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you
by the gazelles and by the does of the field:
do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires.
6 Who is this coming up from the wilderness
like a column of smoke,
perfumed with myrrh and incense
made from all the spices of the merchant?
7 Look! It is Solomon’s carriage,
escorted by sixty warriors,
the noblest of Israel,
8 all of them wearing the sword,
all experienced in battle,
each with his sword at his side,
prepared for the terrors of the night.
9 King Solomon made for himself the carriage;
he made it of wood from Lebanon.
10 Its posts he made of silver,
its base of gold.
Its seat was upholstered with purple,
its interior inlaid with love.
Daughters of Jerusalem, 11 come out,
and look, you daughters of Zion.
Look on King Solomon wearing a crown,
the crown with which his mother crowned him
on the day of his wedding,
the day his heart rejoiced.
'As I write, spring is arriving. Trees are bursting into leaf, blossom brings promise of brighter days and fruitfulness (2:11–13). So, the young couple, full of joyful anticipation, walk through this time of delights and anxieties, rejoicing in their pre-nuptial celebrations (2:7; 3:5).
The first poem (2:8–17) tells of the man’s search for his beloved (vs 9,10). He calls to her and they walk the hills until sunrise (2:17). Take a moment to think of God’s searching love for you. In the following poem (3:1–5), the girl has a sleepless night – perhaps she is dreaming! She cannot find ‘the one my heart loves’ (3:1). Desperate, she takes risks as she looks for him – then is surprised by his presence (3:4). Remember dark moments in your life when God has surprised you by his nearness.
The last poem (3:6–11) describes a wedding procession. It’s not so much about expensive arrangements, but richness of relationship. Here is love (3:10); here are safety and joy in the midst of community (‘prepared for ... terrors’, 3:8) and family celebration (3:11).
Our Christian perspective takes us to the ups and downs of our own relationship with God. We can rest assured: there is safety and joy in his love.
‘My beloved is mine and I am his’ (2:16). Rejoice in God’s love for you now.
Deeper Bible study
‘Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me’ (v 13). Imagine yourself getting up from where you are and coming to God in loving abandonment.
‘Come!’ The girl by the window catches the first glimpse of her man and repeats word for word his seductive invitation. Bounding like a stag over the horizon, he calls out: ‘Come and play! Leave the safety of home, the drudgery of winter cold. Come: indulge yourself in this fresh new world of joy and lightness and colour.’ Joining nature at play, there is a vibrancy, an energy in just being together surrounded by an awakening world of fun.
‘Come and find’ is also part of exploration and growing intimacy. The flip side of hide-and-seek is the panic of not finding. That gentle teasing tussle between time apart and time together delivers pain and misunderstanding. Night-time and insomnia bring uncertainties to the surface in fantasies and dreams. No wonder she clings to him so tightly lest she lose him again.
‘Come and look’ is the cry of those enveloped in the wonder of love. If doves and cherry blossom and spring flowers form a choir of praise, the whole world must party. The mirage of king Solomon’s wedding procession adds a sense of grandeur to this courtship, almost a blessing. Indeed, every prospective bride and groom feel the gold dust of royalty and splendour – and they want everyone to share it.
Come and play! Come and find! Come and look! For each invitation, timing is crucial. Light-hearted playful fizz won’t sustain a relationship long term. Anxious searching and clinging must give way to rest and trust. Ostentatious trumpeting of romantic delight will ultimately distance friends. The bubble will burst. In the meantime, play may alleviate self-doubt and the public show will establish the exclusiveness of the couple’s relationship. The awakening of love, the ripening of a deeper commitment needs time to unfold.
Pray for couples you picture in any of these situations.
Bible in a year
Read the Bible in a year: 2 Chronicles 31,32; Luke 1:1–38
Pray for Scripture Union
Pray for all the young people who were due to attend the Rooted retreat last weekend. Pray that during lockdown they will continue to find ways of exploring their faith and living it out in everyday life.