GETTING THE MESSAGE/A story about true love

GETTING THE MESSAGE/A story about true love


The Song of Solomon can be an intimidating book because it isn’t easy to understand. It is a story about true love, a subject that gets our attention. We need to remember that this book is a setting forth of the love of Christ to his church and the church’s love of Christ.

The book is a song that uses poetry with evocative speech. It contains vivid metaphors meant to move our affections. The main metaphor is the intimacy of marriage, love between a man and his bride.  God has no sexuality of course, but the Lord uses the deep affection between a man and a woman in marriage to help us to understand the deeper intimacy there is between Christ and his people.

So the song points us beyond creaturely marriage to experiencing the union we were made and redeemed for: a union which comes from the knowledge and presence of Christ. Charles Spurgeon wrote: “This book stands like a tree of life in the midst of the garden, and no man can eat its fruit until first he has been brought by Christ past the sword of the cherubim and led to rejoice in the love that delivered him from death.” This book is for all Christians, single or married.

The book begins with the love the bride has for her husband: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine” (verse 2). The kisses of his mouth point to a deeper communion and the manifestation of his love. Kisses are also tokens of reconciliation. We love Christ because he first loved us. We have reconciliation because in his sacrifice we have peace.

When the prodigal son returned to his father, he was surprised at the joy and affection of his father because the son had sinned so wrongly against him. But his father ran to meet him, embraced him, and kissed him repeatedly. It is an amazing thing to think of receiving this kind of embrace from Christ, given our defiling nature. But Christ died for us so that we could know such a love as this.

His love is “better than wine.” Wine has an inevitable effect. Christ’s love is a kiss of acceptance. There is light that comes with knowing Christ, but along with it is a deep measure of love. This has an inevitable effect on the believer. There is no higher motivation for you to honor Christ in what you do than his love for you. Too much wine will hurt us, but we may drink fully and freely of Christ’s love.

In verse 3 we read, “Your anointing oils are fragrant; your name is oil poured out; therefore the virgins love you.” Anointing oils were used to install the high priest, kings, and prophets into office. The gift of the Father is Christ, the Anointed One. The Holy Spirit was given to Christ without measure. He is our high priest offering the sacrifice of himself. He is our king who rules over us and conquers all our enemies. He is the great prophet who proclaims glad tidings from God to us.

The “virgins” are the redeemed, who were unfaithful but now have been made pure by the blood of Christ. So we love his name. It is like sweet smelling ointments. All his attributes give us cause to praise. His name is Jesus because he saves us from our sins. He is Immanuel, God with us. He has given us the deposit of his Spirit that cannot be lost or perish. If you call on his name, you owe fidelity to his name, that the name of Christ is above every name.

In verse 4, you see the longing of the believer to be drawn ever nearer to Christ: “Draw me after you: let us run.” Running engages the whole body; running with Christ engages the whole of your being. It signifies purpose and focus. We don’t have the strength for it, and many things hinder us and would draw us away from Christ.  The Lord will sometimes let us see ourselves and our weakness to show us our need of him as he did with Peter. Then we pray, “Draw me, O Lord, that I might run with you.”

“The King has brought me into his chambers” (verse 4), means an answered prayer for deep communion. It also means we will see Christ in due time. Then we will know the unsearchable riches of Christ in a way we can never have here. But we have the taste of heaven now. How foolish we would be to lose our souls for this poor world.

The Rev. Chris Shelton is pastor of Union’s First Presbyterian Church.

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