This post is part of a reflective Lenten series, originally published as Facebook posts on my personal account.
Lenten practice, day #17.
Reference: Songs 3:1-11
The first section of this chapter (verses 1-5) details the plight of the bride who cannot find her lover. She searches everywhere–her own chamber, first, but then she even goes out into the streets, looking everywhere. She puts herself in danger (it’s not exactly safe for a young woman to be wandering the streets at night by herself) to find her love, and to no avail. The watchmen come and find her as they’re patrolling (they had watchmen for a reason–again, potentially dangerous situation) and they try to protect her, but instead she only asks if they’ve seen her lover. They reply that they haven’t, and she goes off–presumably sent back home by the men patrolling–and lo and behold, her lover finally arrives.
At the end of this bit, she again repeats the refrain “I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and hinds of the field, Do not arouse, do not stir up love before its own time.
Do you see what she’s warning here? She tells of how she would sometimes grow anxious–she would desire for her love to be in her arms (at that, in her bed) with her—so much that she would go about looking for him. She rashly put herself in dangerous situations, even, yet nothing. But then, almost as soon as she stops anxiously looking, he appears.
This entire section is simply emphasizing the popular adage, “You’ll find love when you stop looking for it.” Simple, wise advice that has always held true for me and always comforted me greatly.
Next, the chapter describes the bridegroom.
It’s interesting, it describes him in two ways: 1) On his own and his own regal dignity and beauty, and 2) in terms of his wife.
Today, we see a lot of images of women which indicate that their worth is based on a man. They become valuable in terms of who they’re dating or who has interest in them rather than inherently wonderful in their own right.
Here, we see a more healthy balance: the lover is both wonderful because he simply is, and he is wonderful because his wonder is further enhanced by the love of another. (In this particular chapter, a parallel description isn’t given of the bride, but the title of the next chapter makes me think it’s coming.) This–inherent dignity and enhanced wonder–is how God created us to be and how we should see ourselves.
Also, just as an ending note: I love the verse “Look upon King Solomon [symbolic for the Groom] / in the crown with which his mother has crowned him.” In other words, using more modern terms: “Look up on this handsome bridegroom, with the beauty his mother has allowed him to marry!” It’s truly a wonderful testament to seeing the bridegroom as son and the bride as daughter! (TOB! TOB! TOB!)