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Monday, April 18, 2011

Findinf God Is Like Falling In Love, Lessons from Song of Solomon

Finding God Is Like Falling In Love

Lessons from the Song of Solomon

We were having lunch with a Religious Studies professor from a local Christian college and for twenty minutes the professor had been discussing the importance of keeping our Christian doctrines pure. We Christians are proud of our moral code and of our belief system, he declared. We find God through the traditions and doctrines of the church that have been carefully passed down from generation to generation, he insisted. We must guard against any departures from the correct interpretations and we must continue to honor our rich heritage.

My eyes glazed over. The good professor lectured on but I couldn’t concentrate on what he was saying. Of course we shouldn’t allow heresies to creep into our faith. But it seemed to me that he was describing our living faith as a dry academic dogma! I sensed that he was comparing finding God to finding the correct answer to a problem? And all the time I felt like finding God was more like falling in love!

And I’m not the only one to wonder if perhaps the believer’s mysterious relationship with God is more like falling in love! Scripture tells us that believers are the bride and the body of Christ. (2 Corinthians 1-2) (1 Corinthians 10:16) And we read in the Bible about God’s great love for us and about the Holy Spirit wooing and drawing us to Him. (John 3:8and 16 and Acts 5:14) That sounds a bit like romance now doesn’t it? And when we turn to the Song of Solomon the whole book from beginning to end is about two lovers in love. Jewish scholars have long believed the Song of Solomon to be an allegory expressing the love relationship between God and His chosen people. And for centuries the Christian Church saw the book as reflecting the love between Christ and the Church.

The Song of Solomon begins with: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth – for your love is better than wine. Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, Your name is an ointment poured forth: …”(Song of Solomon 1:2-3) And the rest of the book continues with the bride praising and romancing her bridegroom and the bridegroom praising and romancing his bride. The young couple is so deeply in love.

The bride proclaims: “…I sat down in his shade with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting table and his banner over me was love. Sustain me with cakes or raisins; Refresh me with apples, for I am sick with love.” And “I am my beloved’s and his desire is toward me.” (Song of Solomon 2:3b-5 and Song of Solomon 7:10))

And the bridegroom answers: “You are all fair, my love, and there is no spot in you.” And “You have ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse: You have ravished my heart with one look of your eyes, with one link of your necklace. How fair is your love, my sister, my spouse. How much better than wine is your love…. “ A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed….” (Song of Solomon 4:7, 9,10,12)

Since the bride is represented here in this love song as her bridegroom’s garden she exclaims: “”Awake. O north wind, and come, O south! Blow upon my garden that its spices may flow out. Let my beloved come to his garden and eat its pleasant fruits.” (Song of Solomon 4: 16) If the bride here is an allegory for the Church or the believer, could this verse represent the believer praying that the Holy Spirit (represented in Scripture as wind) blow into her life or give her power to bear the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, etc? Isn’t it true that the Holy Spirit lives in the believer and continually enables the believer to bear fruit? Fruit that will please our Lord.

The bridegroom answers: “I have come to my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey: I have drunk my wine with my milk.” And: “O my love, you are as beautiful as Tirzah. Lovely as Jerusalem. Awesome as an army with banners! Turn your eyes away from me, for they have overcome me.” (Song of Solomon 5:1a and 6:4-5a)

If the bridegroom here is an allegory for Christ and the bride represents the Church, or if it is God and His people, then these verses are telling us that somehow we matter deeply to our Lord, that He is in love with us and we are attractive to Him. I don’t know about you, but I can’t even begin to take it all in.

If nothing else, the Song of Solomon teaches us that we don’t have all the answers when it comes to our relationship with the Lord. In the third chapter of Song of Solomon the bride is walking the streets at night looking for her bridegroom. She has lost him and is asking the watchmen of the city to help her find him. Like this anxious bride searching for her bridegroom, we too are not in control of our relationship with God! Sometimes He is elusive and seems to hide and there is no three step program to hurry Him back. Our spiritual life is a mystery. There is no easy formula to follow in being a Christian other than believing and obeying and listening for the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. We can’t put God in a box.

But God holds us and keeps us through the Holy Spirit in this sacred relationship, mysterious as it may be. When we have once found the Lord there is no where else to go. His love is the best and somehow we know it. The Song of Solomon tells of a night when the bride was looking for her bridegroom and the daughters of Jerusalem asked her why he was so special to her. “My beloved is handsome and ruddy, Chief among ten thousand,” she replies. (Song of Solomon 5:10) And soon after that she found her bridegroom and she exclaimed: “Scarcely had I passed them when I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go…” (Song of Solomon 4:3)

The bride tells it like it is. There is no other. Her bridegroom is the best. She held him and would not let him go. And that is the way it is when we have a relationship with the Lord. There is an ecstasy in the relationship that is beyond compare. Finding God is like falling in love.

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