[The Song of Solomon is a poetic, ancient middle eastern expression of the God-given pleasures of physical love in marriage. Without ignoring this primary reference as a marriage enrichment guide, Christian devotional writers have gleaned rich insights into how the love of the groom and bride is a fitting symbol of the love relationship of Christ His ‘bride’–all true believers. As Paul noted, “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Eph. 5:32, 33). In this article, mission leader, Hudson Taylor, celebrates the love of Jesus through these comments on Song 8:6-7. Now put yourself in the role of the ‘bride’ who responds to the Redeemer’s compassion.]
He takes delight in her beauty, but that is not so much the cause as the effect of His love; for He took her up when she had no comeliness. The love that has made her what she is, and now takes delight in her, is not a fickle love, nor need she fear its change. Gladly does the bride recognize this truth, that she is indeed His own, and she exclaims:
“Set me as a seal upon Thine heart, as a seal upon Thine arm:
For love is strong as death;
Jealousy (ardent love) is cruel (retentive) as the grave;
The flashes thereof are flashes of fire, A very flame of the Lord.”
The High Priest bore the names of the twelve tribes upon his heart, each name being engraved as a seal in the costly and imperishable stone chosen by God, each seal or stone being set in the purest gold; he likewise bore the same names upon his shoulders, indicating that both the love and the strength of the High Priest were pledged on behalf of the tribes of Israel [Exod. 28:15-30]. The bride would be thus upborne by Him who is alike her Prophet, Priest, and King, for love is strong as death; and jealousy, or ardent love, retentive as the grave.
Not that she doubts the constancy of her Beloved, but that she has learned, alas! the inconstancy of her own heart; and she would be bound to the heart and arm of her Beloved with chains and settings of gold, ever the emblem of divinity. Thus the Psalmist prayed, “Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.” It is comparatively easy to lay the sacrifice on the altar that sanctifies the gift, but it requires divine compulsion–the cords of love–to retain it there. So here the bride would be set and fixed on the heart and on the arm of Him who is henceforth to be her all in all, that she may evermore trust only in that love, be sustained only by that power.
Do we not all need to learn a lesson from this? and to pray to be kept from turning to Egypt [humanistic resources] for help, from trusting in horses and chariots, from putting confidence in princes, or in the son of man, rather than in the living GOD? How the Kings of Israel, who had won great triumphs by faith, sometimes turned aside to heathen nations in their later years! The LORD keep His people from this snare.
The bride continues: “The flashes of love are flashes of fire, a very flame of the LORD.” It is worthy of note that this is the only occurrence of this word “LORD” in this book. But how could it be omitted here? For love of GOD, and GOD is love. To her request the Bridegroom replies with reassuring words:
“Many waters cannot quench love,
Neither can the floods drown it:
If a man would give all the substance of his house for love,
It would utterly be condemned.”
The love which grace has begotten in the heart of the bride is itself divine and persistent; many waters cannot quench it, nor the floods drown it. Suffering and pain, bereavement and loss may test its constancy, but they will not quench it. Its source is not human or natural; like the fire, it is hidden with CHRIST in GOD. What “shall separate us from the love of CHRIST? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?. . .Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creation (R.V. margin), shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in CHRIST JESUS our LORD” (Rom. 8:35-39).
Our love to GOD is secured by GOD’S love to us. To the soul really rescued by grace, no bribe to forsake GOD’S love will be finally successful. “If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be condemned.” Freed from anxiety on her own account, the happy bride next asks guidance, and fellowship in service with her LORD, on behalf of those who have not yet reached her favoured position.
From Hudson Taylor, UNION AND COMMUNION: THOUGHTS ON THE SONG OF SOLOMON, Section 6_vi. Originall published by R. & R. Clark, Edinburgh through THE CHINA INLAND MISSION, LONDON.
“J. Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) was an English missionary to China. Founded the China Inland Mission which at his death included 205 mission stations with over 800 missionaries, and 125,000 Chinese Christians.” -www.wholesomewords.org
Bracketed content added by JBW. Quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.