This post is part of a reflective Lenten series, originally published as Facebook posts on my personal account.
Lenten practice, day #19
Reference: Song 5:1-16
The beginning of chapter 5 is actually a continuation of the groom’s discussion of his lover as locked garden and sealed fountain, so let’s move on to the next part.
The only really significant thing I have to say about that is the very last line: “Eat, friends; drink! Drink freely of love!” Again, the entire book is about lovers, sure, but it’s also a giant metaphor for the love between Christ and his Church—the love we are ultimately called to in heaven. (If there’s anything that we’ve learned about the Bible at this point in history, it’s that there are always multiple layers in Scripture. Divine inspiration will do that to you.) So this line is the ultimate invitation: it reminds us that we are CREATED to participate in the perfect, unfathomable love of Christ and he WANTS us to drink freely of that extravagantly wonderful love.
I can’t say enough about that. If only I could transfer to your minds what I’m talking about—it’s not something I fully understand, I’m not saying that—it’s just that the simple words “perfect, unfathomable love” are so…inadequate and empty on the screen. The concept (even the bit I’m grasping that is just a reflection of the reality) is SO HUGE, and SO DEEP, and *SO WONDERFUL.*
My Bible points out that the next part of chapter 5 is really a parallel to chapter 3 (day 17). Without that pointer I probably would have just chalked it up to déjà vu. To be honest, I don’t quite understand what to make of this mini-narrative. It’s similar to before, but the roles are reversed and the ending is a bit different (at least until chapter 6).
The way the groom pursues his bride is wonderful! How he prepares himself—every part of himself—in the hopes of becoming worthy of her! And again, the reference, “my sister!” How important that outlook is to the dignity of one another. The first time I was called “my sister” by someone I was interested in and attracted to, I was freaked out. I thought I was being friendzoned. But over time and we got to know each other better and I grew to understand him—eventually he straight up told me that it was a reminder to him to treat every woman as his precious sister, regardless of his feelings for her. This helped prevent him from lusting over the women around him or entertaining impure thoughts about them. Having such an outlook and self-control would not only protect his heart and his mind but also the women in his life and ultimately his future wife.
Another interesting part is the way the Bride tries to differentiate her lover from others. Upon losing him, she calls to the DJs (see earlier posts) to find him, and they ask how they would recognize him—what is distinct about him?
Her response is certainly less than helpful but conveys an important point: she sees in her lover things that others would not necessarily see. They are traits that upon hearing them, wouldn’t help anyone else pick him out. “[He] is radiant and ruddy…His eyes are like doves beside running waters…”
The points this makes are:
- Christ is majestic! He is wonderful and glorious! Period.
- Christ is majestic! He is wonderful and glorious—but not everyone can see it. It takes the eye of one who is committed to love (to willing the good of the other) to recognize the lover when he is there.
- Love isn’t empirical. It’s not something that you can just add up and measure and affirm the existence of.
- Sometimes love is seeing the extraordinary in the absolutely ordinary (the DJs couldn’t pick this guy out).
- Many, many more things that are more theologically centered, others that are more anthropological, still others psychological…ugh I can’t list them all. And the ones I did list aren’t even the important ones. I just—thoughts everywhere.
What did you get out of verses 9-16?