Who are the people you love? Name them and praise God for them.
1 Solomon’s Song of Songs.
2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth –
for your love is more delightful than wine.
3 Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
your name is like perfume poured out.
No wonder the young women love you!
4 Take me away with you – let us hurry!
Let the king bring me into his chambers.
We rejoice and delight in you;
we will praise your love more than wine.
How right they are to adore you!
5 Dark am I, yet lovely,
daughters of Jerusalem,
dark like the tents of Kedar,
like the tent curtains of Solomon.
6 Do not stare at me because I am dark,
because I am darkened by the sun.
My mother’s sons were angry with me
and made me take care of the vineyards;
my own vineyard I had to neglect.
7 Tell me, you whom I love,
where you graze your flock
and where you rest your sheep at midday.
Why should I be like a veiled woman
beside the flocks of your friends?
8 If you do not know, most beautiful of women,
follow the tracks of the sheep
and graze your young goats
by the tents of the shepherds.
9 I liken you, my darling, to a mare
among Pharaoh’s chariot horses.
10 Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings,
your neck with strings of jewels.
11 We will make you earrings of gold,
studded with silver.
12 While the king was at his table,
my perfume spread its fragrance.
13 My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh
resting between my breasts.
14 My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms
from the vineyards of En Gedi.
15 How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes are doves.
16 How handsome you are, my beloved!
Oh, how charming!
And our bed is verdant.
17 The beams of our house are cedars;
our rafters are firs.
2 I am a rose of Sharon,
a lily of the valleys.
2 Like a lily among thorns
is my darling among the young women.
3 Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest
is my beloved among the young men.
I delight to sit in his shade,
and his fruit is sweet to my taste.
4 Let him lead me to the banquet hall,
and let his banner over me be love.
5 Strengthen me with raisins,
refresh me with apples,
for I am faint with love.
6 His left arm is under my head,
and his right arm embraces me.
7 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.
Yes, this is a song that expresses love and physical desire. But held within the embrace of God’s Word it also speaks to us of Christ’s love for us and our love for him.
In these verses, we meet the beautiful young woman who is ‘deeply, madly’ in love (1:2–4). Despite her sun-darkened skin (1:5,6), her beauty has caught the eye of the man who has fallen in love with her: ‘How beautiful you are, my darling!’ (1:15). Their love is reciprocal (2:2,3).
What is evident in these verses is the girl’s irrepressible longing for the one she loves. Shifting our perspective onto our own place in God’s story, her example questions us about our longing for the presence of God. Whilst the relationship is personal, yet it is in the context of relationship with friends – who join in celebrating this love (1:4). Who is supporting your relationship with God? Who are you walking with as they seek him?
At times, the young man seems playfully elusive: ‘Follow the tracks of my sheep and perhaps you’ll find me’ (1:7,8)! Sometimes it may feel as if God has gone missing. But we can be sure that ‘his banner’ over us is love (2:4), he claims us as his own.
Deeper Bible study
‘Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.’1 Picture these beautiful words describing the person and work of Jesus. Love him.
When you fall in love, you feel ever so slightly mad. You are unexpectedly overwhelmed by dreams and changing emotions. You find yourself in sensory overload as colours and scents, tones and textures blast your consciousness. It is exhilarating and exhausting, all at the same time. (Or so they say!)
‘Kiss me’: words of pleading and passion launch us headlong into this poem of desire. Although it is not always certain who is doing the speaking, this woman is often the initiator, expressing her longings more explicitly than her lover. Here as she calls for a kiss, a full, lingering kiss, that connection releases an explosion of sensuality: the touch of his lips on hers, his arms holding and embracing her, the taste of wine and apples and raisins, the fragrance of sweet perfume and myrrh, the sound of his beautiful name, the words that play and praise, tantalise and tease, the vast array of sights in expressive face and fluttering eyes, brilliant jewels and shining gold, fertile vineyards, mouth-watering banquet and luscious countryside.
As the poem frolics merrily between arousal and anticipation, we also see vulnerability. It is inevitable in the journey of lovers. This country woman has been made to work long hours in the unforgiving Middle Eastern sun by her unsympathetic brothers. Consequently, without the luxury of beauty spa treatments, she is burnt and a little unkempt. Her insecurity is compounded by her lover’s absence: where is he and will she be able to find him? The chorus of friends act as confidantes, reflecting and drawing out her fevered thoughts. Yet the shadow makes this blossoming love all the brighter, as lover and beloved come together, adoring and safe, protecting and protected.
Lord, why did you make us capable of experiencing emotions of such danger and delight? Teach me to linger over your multi-coloured, multi-faceted world in worship today!
1Ps 85:10, ESV
Bible in a year
Read the Bible in a year: 2 Chronicles 29,30; Ephesians 6
Pray for Scripture Union
A number of Lifepaths were planned for last week including Malvern, Malmesbury and Brinkburn. Give thanks for the impact of Lifepaths and pray for a lasting influence on those who have attended over the years.