This is an excerpt from a sermon that Justin preached at the Aroma Church, Taipei, Taiwan on August 12th, 2018.
Song of Songs is a book that’s all about LOVE. It explores the relationship between a man and a woman through their own eyes. This is poetry, it’s an actual song, and verse one in some English translations even translate the Hebrew to say, Song of Songs, the best or greatest of songs, by Solomon.
It’s a super interesting book and over the many years people have talked about its purpose in the Bible quite a lot. It’s the only book of its kind in the Bible, so naturally some people wonder if it should be part of the Bible! After all, you’ll see as we dig in, some of parts of this song are steamy.
Just check out Song of Songs 6:5-6
Turn your eyes from me; they overwhelm me. Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of sheep coming up from the washing. Each has its twin, not one of them is missing.
Okay, so the song can get very descriptive. Sometimes in a really weird or awkward way. As I prepared this sermon I even had some moments where I really didn’t feel like reading further. It felt too personal… There are references to places, and spices, and peoples that we can’t really imagine, too… so this can make the book difficult to engage with. It’s important to remember that Hebrew metaphors are not always visual. So take time to imagine using your other senses like smell or touch when you read through this these texts.
This book has been so confusing for many that scholars have even argued over whether it’s allegory (as in the story is not true, but points to something else) or literal (as in this is a true narrative). Regardless of what actually is, we do know one thing. This book is in the Bible for a reason. This is divinely breathed romance. This is a story which celebrates what wholesome pursuit of love looks like and it follows the couple from what appears to be dating to maturity in marriage.
So, what can we learn from this book? Why is it even important? What do we as individual people have to learn from a book about love?!
Song of Songs 8:6-7 NIV ‘Love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned.’
As strong as death, unyielding as the grave. Love is dangerous friends. It has the power to destroy, but it is also powerful and beautiful like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. As humans we desire love… we are born with a desire to love and to be loved. If one were to give away all wealth for love, it would be utterly scorned. Love is not something to be bought, it’s a mysterious, divine gift from God. Just like… Jesus.
This narrative, this song, is in the Bible for the same reason as every other book. It points to Jesus. For some here, this is a story of how we should be pursuing and loving another human here on earth with exclusive devotion and pure satisfaction. But this is not God’s plan for many… and possibly even for some of you. God uses marriage between a man and woman as an illustration for how Jesus Christ and his global Church are one.
So while this is a story about humans pursuing other humans, it’s also a story about a King pursuing his people. Just like the woman anticipates her husband’s arrival in Song of Songs, so too there has been historic anticipation for this King… And he’s arrived. King Jesus has arrived and he’s sought after you!
Will you pursue Him? Will you surrender your whole self to Him? Will you express your delight in your King?
Brothers and sisters, I want to end tonight with this invitation. We serve a great, great God. He is worthy of every honor and all glory. Just like a husband delights in the beautiful words his wife uses to encourage him, so does God delight in our actions and thoughts that point toward our satisfaction in Him.