Daily Reflections May 3, 2017
Song of Solomon 8
As we reflect on the final chapter in this unique book, let’s consider it according to two categories: What does this chapter teach us about marital love? And what does it teach us about Christ’s love?
First, and most obviously, this chapter addresses marital love. These lessons are concealed to a degree in cultural norms that don’t carry over into our day. Consider for instance verse 1:
“Oh that you were like a brother to me
who nursed at my mother's breasts!
If I found you outside, I would kiss you,
and none would despise me.” (Song of Solomon 8:1 ESV)
What the Beloved desires is not a romantic relationship with her brother but an ability to publicly express the affection she feels toward her Lover. It was common and appropriate in the author’s culture to kiss one’s sibling in public. It is a beautiful thing when a husband and wife love each other and are not afraid to express their love for one another in the public sphere. Husbands who wrestle with public displays of affection, take a lesson from God’s Word and give your wife a kiss in the supermarket this week.
The following verses go on to describe the love that is reserved for the privacy of the home. The clear references to sexual intimacy can catch a new Bible reader off guard at first glance, but the inclusion of this book and of these verses reminds us that sex is part of God’s design and that it is good for us. That being said, intimacy belongs within the confines of marriage and so the warning is reiterated for the third time in this short book:
“I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
that you not stir up or awaken love
until it pleases.” (Song of Solomon 8:4 ESV)
Love is fierce, and like a roaring lion it is nearly impossible to corral it back into its cage once it has been set free. How many of our world’s problems would be solved if we would collectively heed this advice? Do not awaken love until its time.
Finally, while it is certainly true that this chapter is written specifically to address marital love, it is also true that we can learn a great deal about Christ’s love. Jesus Himself said that the Scriptures all speak of him. We find this is John 5:39:
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39 ESV)
So, what does this text teach us about Jesus? The Bible presents the church as the bride of Christ. How comforting than are verses 6-7? Here we see love described as jealous and unquenchable. Like a husband who sees his bride in the arms of another man is Christ when he sees his people worshiping idols. When we give our affections to lesser things – be they wealth, pleasures, or people, Jesus burns with a righteous jealousy. He loves his bride. He has set the seal of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14) upon our hearts, and he has pledged himself to us. We are His and He is ours.
We understand in the context of marriage that love is powerful and wonderful. Let this chapter remind you of the gift of marital love, and let it also remind you of the fierce love that Christ has for his people.
Pastor Levi denBok
Salvation is never about what we’ve done to merit acceptance before a holy God, but rather, about the merits of a perfect Saviour on our behalf. Hebrews 8 tells us of the superiority of the New Covenant inaugurated by Jesus’ superior ministry as our Great High Priest. He is the mediator of a better covenant through his better sacrifice (see 1 Timothy 2:5). He serves in a better sanctuary and brings us better promises (8:8). In Christ, the Old Covenant is obsolete; the glorious New Covenant has come!
Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. (Hebrews 8:1-2 ESV)
We have a High Priest who paid the ultimate price for our redemption. With Aaron’s line, priests could only stand in God’s presence; their task was never complete. The completion of Jesus’ sacrifice is certain for our King and High Priest is now seated at the right hand of Majesty (see also 10:12, 12:2).
Unlike Aaron’s line who offered regular sacrifices, Christ once for all offered himself. The death of Jesus fulfilled what the Old Testament sacrificial system foreshadowed. By his death, Jesus brought the New Covenant and its superior promises into effect.
The Old Covenant was not faulty, but it was incomplete. It was merely a shadow that pointed to the glory of the true substance. It declared God’s standard but couldn’t provide the power to live up to that standard. Humans were not able to keep their pledged obligations. Their obedience was short-lived and pitifully incomplete. They broke faith with God and broke away from the covenant (see Exodus 24:3).
The law was never intended to be the means of salvation, but rather a teacher that drove people to a knowledge of their sin. In his justice and wrath, God disciplined his people and sent them into captivity. In his mercy, God promised a glorious future restoration. Six times in verses 8-12 he says, “I will”.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Hebrews 8:10 ESV)
God unilaterally established a new covenant with his people. Rather than the law being externally written on stone tablets for us to obey, He promised to give us a new heart and a new nature. He promised to give us the desire and the power for a godly life. The New Covenant does not depend on our faithfulness to God, but solely upon God’s faithfulness to us in Christ. With the hymn writer we praise God for such amazing grace and pray for his abundant mercy as we journey onward.
O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Associate Pastor Jody Cross