Behold, he comes,
leaping over the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Behold, there he stands
behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
looking through the lattice.
My beloved [the Bridegroom] speaks and says to me [the Bride]:
“Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
and come away,
for behold, the winter is past;
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
The fig tree ripens its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
and come away.
(Song of Solomon 2:8-13 ESV)
Song of Solomon stands as a beautiful and pure depiction of God’s intended “marital bliss” between a husband and wife. The reader is taken from the betrothal period through the ancient wedding ceremony and feast. It is fascinating to watch how the Bride experiences peace and delight, and is actually transformed by the love of her husband. (Men are we listening?)
However, there is also found in the pages of the beautiful poetry something more. The pure, transforming love mentioned here is more than just that of a groom for his bride. Song of Solomon is a portrait of Christ’s love for His Bride and in return, the Bride’s love for her Bridegroom. As Henry Law has written:
“The significance of this portion of the inspired volume stands on a pinnacle of clearness. It is conspicuous as a cloudless sun. It exhibits the mystery of mysteries--the Heavenly Bridegroom's love--and the response of the believer's heart. It may without irreverence be said, that the Holy Spirit could not find a worthier theme. Heaven alone can embrace its breadth and length, its depth and height. It baffles all power of human mind to conceive it. No tongue of eloquence can express it. Wondering angels desire to measure its boundless infinitudes. To grasp its history requires super-human mind.”
Throughout Scripture, God has portrayed Himself as the Bridegroom pursuing, loving and winning the heart of His Bride. This is evident in the Old Testament as the Lord looked on Israel as His own. And as Israel plunged headfirst into worshipping other gods, God rightfully viewed her unfaithfulness as adultery. Jeremiah would write: “Surely, as a treacherous wife leaves her husband, so have you been treacherous to me, O house of Israel, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 3:20). What should leave us all speechless (because we are NO better than the people of Judah and Israel) is that in the middle of this adulterous affair, God declares that He will continue to pursue His Bride and will again win her heart. We read in Hosea:
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
And there I will give her her vineyards
and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,
as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.
“And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ (Hosea 2:14-16 ESV)
The culminating act of this great love is seen in the Heavenly Bridegroom’s selfless act of laying down His life for His Bride, the Church (see Ephesians 5:25-32), and one day (soon) Christ will return for His Bride and take her to be with Him forever.
Now let’s go back to Song of Solomon. As we read through Solomon’s greatest song, there is one aspect that should grab our attention—how the Bridegroom’s love captivates and transforms His Bride. She views His love as being better than wine, better than life itself. The Bride delights in the fact that her Beloved’s banner over her is love. In other words, He is claiming her as His own, identifying with her, and publicly proclaiming His undying love for her.
In return, she (remember this is God’s chosen people, the Church) can think of no one else. She only wants to be with Christ. Even the sound of His voice, sends shivers of excitement up and down her spine. The Chorus echoes these feelings by announcing: “We will exult and rejoice in you [the King]; we will extol your love more than wine; rightly do they love you [the King]” (Song of Solomon 1:4 ESV).
Rightly do they love Him. For those who have truly experienced Christ’s redeeming love, rightly do they love Him. It is the appropriate response, not to be diminished by any illicit lovers. And this love is not a sapless, unmoving, yawning passion. The Church is “sick with love” (S of S 2:5; 5:8), she goes weak at the knees, and wants the enjoyment to continue—she even asks to be sustained (S of S 2:5). If the Church is away from her Beloved, she will not sleep until she has found Him (S of S 3:1-4).
If we are experiencing anything less than this, then there is something out-of-kilter. We are not living under His nurturing sun and rain. There may be other “lovers” or we may have slipped into dead orthodoxy. Whatever the cause, we must do anything, no matter what the cost, to return to the banqueting table to be with our Lord.
As Solomon’s song ends, we see it follows the format of all contemporary pop songs—they never end (the studio engineer simply fades out the volume). May this be true of our relationship with our Heavenly Bridegroom.
O you who dwell in the gardens,
with companions listening for your voice;
let me hear it.
Make haste, my beloved,
and be like a gazelle
or a young stag
on the mountains of spices.
(Song of Solomon 8:13-14 ESV)