If you’ve never read the Song of Songs with someone you love, you’re missing out on one of the greatest faith experiences Christianity has to offer. The Song of Songs is unabashedly serious, even at times quite sensual. Throughout its eight short chapters, an unnamed young man and young woman pursue one another through verdant fields and valleys lush with flowers. Their excitement to be together is palpable, captured in poetic stanzas like:
“Behold my beloved, here he comes. He is leaping over the mountains, bounding through the hills. He is like a gazelle, a young stag…and he calls to me: ‘Arise my darling, my perfect one, come away with me’” (Song of Songs 2:8-10).
And also like this:
“You have captured my heart, my own one, my bride. You have captured my heart, with one glance of your eyes, with one look at your décolletage. How sweet is your love, how much more delightful than wine!” (Song of Songs 4:9-10).
The pure delight this pair takes in one another can’t help but stir in us memories of love’s richness, especially when our lives were first touched with its magic.
Early Christian interpretations read the Song of Songs as an allegory of Christ’s relationship to the church. Recently, scholars have emphasized a natural reading of the book as celebrating the love between a man and a woman. This love, however, can be viewed as typifying the relationship between God and His people.
Although God is not directly mentioned in the Song of Songs, we can infer much about Him from the book. Behind the couple who exultantly rejoice in each other’s love lies God, who from the beginning, intended for a man to leave his father and mother and be united to His wife, so that man and woman “become one flesh." Here are four ways to hear the voice of God in the Song of Songs:
The Song of Songs is all about developing intimacy with the Lord. If you want to be able to hear God’s voice through the reading, study the readings closely by doing a little reading each day so that you develop the habit of spending time with the One who calls to you, “Come away my love.” The Song of Songs has been captivating hearts for thousands of years. Sometimes, it’s called the ‘Song of Solomon.’ But like ‘King of kings’ or ‘Lord of lords,’ the title ‘Song of Songs’ implies this song is the very best song of all because it is the love song of Jesus Christ. As you read, pray and ask God what He is telling you through each reading.
Understand the Depths of God’s Love
The parables tell of a bridegroom returning unexpectedly at midnight and of a king who held a wedding feast for his on. The prophets tell stories of a brokenhearted bridegroom who loves a faithless bride. And the poet sings of a great shepherd-king who fell passionately in love with a peasant maiden. The last love story is so intimate, it can readers blush. Yet, in a day of superficial relationships, it taps into the deepest longing of our hearts. We long to know and be known, to love and be loved, to cherish and be cherished. God’s love for us is passionate and He long for a passionate bride in return. The word passion has also come to mean the suffering of Christ, as His love was as intense for us that He went to the cross. If people could be awakened to see that the Bible is not a book of rules or heroes but a love story, it might finally penetrate our hearts. We can only hear God’s voice when we know His love.
Delighting in the Gifts God Offers
We usually remember God as the God of righteousness. But God is also the creator of beauty. God wants us to enjoy His creation, to appreciate beauty, to delight in His gifts for us. And one of God’s most beautiful gifts is that of sexual love in marriage. Song of Songs speaks to the power of sexual love: “Love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it way. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned” (Song of Songs 8:6-7). And this power strengthens the bond between the couple: “My lover is mine and I am his” (Song of Songs 2:16). We should give grateful thanks to God for the wonderful mystery of love and sexuality, and pray that He guides us into into using it responsibly.
Knowing the Biblical Definition of Love
Song of Songs is a beautiful poetic lesson on the importance of love. In the poem, we have the most supreme blueprint of what love is to be like. We learn that love means giving to one another. The man is not the lord over the women, or vice versa, but there is to be a mutual giving, one to another. True love is a fire that burns strongly, and love like that is a gift from God that is not to be treated lightly. This is one of the major reasons, for example, that the Bible treats divorce so seriously. Love means remaining loyal and faithful to one another, no matter what the circumstances. It would have been all too easy for the maiden to give in to the advances of Solomon, betraying her shepherd lover. She would have done no wrong in marrying the king, for she was a virgin. But true love is loyal and faithful, and she could not turn her back on the shepherd.
If we dig out truth for ourselves in the Song of Songs, we can experience great spiritual growth and better know God. If you desire greater intimacy with Christ, read and study the Song of Songs. It viscerally reaches places that might otherwise go untouched for a lifetime.