Monday, July 29, 2013

Marriage From God's View: Part 13: Song of Songs, Chapter 8

"If only I could treat you
   like my brother,
one who nursed
   at my mother's breasts,
I would find you in public
   and kiss you,
and no one would scorn me.
I would lead you,
   I would take you,
to the house of my mother
   who taught me.
I would give you spiced wine
   to drink
from my pomegranate juice.
His left hand is
   under my head,
and his right hand embraces
Young women of Jerusalem,
   I charge you:
do not stir up or awaken love
until the appropriate time."

In biblical days, women were not to show affection in public with any man who was not their father or brother.  Here she seems to be wishing she could demonstrate her love for him in public; thus, the reference to wishing she could treat him as her brother.  At the end of these lines, she again admonishes young women of Jerusalem not to awaken love before its time.  She knows the strong hold love can have on the young, and she advises it is not prudent  to admit or show love until they are ready for marriage.

"Who is this coming up
   from the wilderness
leaning on the one she loves?"

These are the local women who are again watching her.  They see her coming back with Solomon, the one she loves.  He is strong, and she is leaning on him.

"I awakened you under
   the apricot tree.
There your mother conceived
there she conceived and gave you birth.
Set me as a seal on your heart,
as a seal on your arm.
For love is as strong as death;
ardent love is as unrelenting
   as Sheol.
Love's flames are fiery flames---
the fiercest of all.
Mighty waters cannot extinguish
rivers cannot sweep it away.
If a man were to give all
   his wealth for love,
it would be utterly scorned."

Here are some of the strongest words describing the strength of love in the entire Song.  She implores Solomon to set her as a seal on his heart and his arm.  The King's seal was specific to him and she wants to be as bound to him as that seal would be to whatever he placed it on.  She goes on to describe love as strong as death; and ardent love is unrelenting....inescapable.  The flames of love are fiery.....the fiercest flames of all.  Not even water can drown love, nor can rivers destroy it.  Nothing is stronger than love. 

"Our sister is young;
she has no breasts.
What will we do for our sister
on the day she is spoken for?
If she is a wall,
we will build a silver parapet on it.
If she is a door,
we will enclose it
   with cedar planks."

These speakers above are ambiguous, but it seems to be speaking of a young girl before she is married.  They are hoping she will remain pure (as a wall or a door) until she is given in marriage.

"I am a wall
and my breasts like towers.
So in his eyes I have become
like one who finds peace.
Solomon owned a vineyard
   in Baal-hamon.
He leased the vineyard
   to tenants.
Each was to bring for his fruit
1,000 pieces of silver.
I have my own vineyard.
the 1,000 are for you, Solomon,
but 200 for those who guard
   its fruits."

This stanza references Solomon's harem (a "vineyard" in Baal-hamon) with the eunuchs in charge of it.  The Shulamite's vineyard is her own physical body reserved for her love alone.

"You who dwell
   in the gardens---
companions are listening
   for your voice---
let me hear you!"

Solomon is calling upon her to speak to him so his friends can hear.

"Hurry to me, my love,
and be like a gazelle
or a young stag
on the mountains of spices."

The book ends with the bride calling to her husband to hurry to her "like a gazelle" or a "young stag". 

As I have said before, much has been written about The Song of Songs being representative of Christ and His church.  I accept that, but I also see it as God's model to us of marriage.  He uses intimate details to describe the bride, and I don't believe that is merely for the benefit of describing the Church's intimate relationship with Christ. 

Next series:  Faith, Hope, Love