Song of Solomon 4:1-7: The Passion of Love
October 19, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Remember that we are interpreting the Song of Solomon through the lens of both human, idyllic, wedded love, and also divine love. For discussion on why and how, see the introduction to this book on October 16.
In terms of human, idyllic, wedded love, consider the experience of love. There is much in this part of the Song of Solomon that is frankly sensual and filled with images of the sexual enjoyment that God gives those in marriage. This part of the Bible is an important witness to God’s view of sex as something to be enjoyed as he created it. God is not against sex; he wants us to enjoy sex within his created intention. Sex is like fire: good in a fireplace, bad burning down the house. Our culture encourages us to make two equal and opposite errors with regard to sex. We either indulge it so that we are the equivalent of someone whose appetite for food is utterly unregulated and it causes medical problems as a result. Or we become prudish and interpret God as being anti-sex. But we all know there are certain appetites, desires, and experiences which are only good within the appropriate context and in the appropriate amounts. Food would be one example. Another example would be exercise. Exercise is good for you, but it is possible to exercise so much that you do damage to your body, your knees, your joints, even your heart. Or consider water. We need water to survive. But you can drown in water, or drink so much water that you destabilize your bodily system and have life threatening water intoxication. It is not irrational, then, to consider the appetite for sex as something similar. Good, yes; to be enjoyed, yes. This part of Song of Solomon (and in many ways the whole book) celebrates the gift of sex. But to be enjoyed within God’s intended boundaries.
The implications for this are huge. If you are married, do what you can to enjoy sex. Take seriously Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 7:5 not to deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a short time. Pursue each other sexually. Enjoy each other. You might find this part of Song of Solomon a good aphrodisiac! But at the same time, this Song is about sex that is intended to be enjoyed within marriage. Keep the fire within the fireplace. Do not let your eyes linger long on those of the opposite sex to whom you are not married. Develop habits of thankfulness for your spouse so that you can see them as the gift they are for you.
In terms of divine love, also consider the experience of love. It is rare for us these days to think of God’s love in these kind of intense ways as described in this Song. We are spiritually impoverished because of it. God loves us with a passion—read the book of Hosea. He has a covenant commitment to us. And you can experience him, know him, enjoy him. Heaven is like a wedding banquet. Or, to put it better, a wedding banquet in this world is just a little bit like what heaven is, but heaven is far, far better. The church, and the individual Christians that make up the church, are together the bride of Christ. We are loved by him. Don’t think of this in physical, sexual terms. Think instead that the physical sexual delights are just a shadow, a pale illustration, of the real delights of the love of God. And pursue his love with a passion!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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