Song of Songs

 In Pastor Jeff's Blog

You are my private garden, my treasure, my bride, a secluded spring, a hidden fountain. Your thighs shelter a paradise of pomegranates with rare spices – henna with nard, nard and saffron, fragrant calamus and cinnamon, with all the trees of frankincense, myrrh, and aloes, and every other lovely spice. You are a garden fountain, a well of fresh water streaming down from Lebanon’s mountains. – Song of Songs 4:12-15.

In the first Confirmation class I ever taught I told the students, “This year we’re going to read a book together. It’s filled with epic, bloody battles, murder, betrayal, comedy and sex. Sound good?” They all agreed (except for that one kid who was always a stick in the mud). When I took out the bible they all looked at me like I was crazy and almost with one voice they asked “Where’s the sex?” (Did I mention that this particular class was mostly boys?). I opened to Song of Songs and read a chapter. When I finished one boy, in wide-eyed wonder, asked, “Is that really in the Bible?” Suddenly they were all quite interested!

Song of Songs is a celebration of passionate, erotic love. It’s pretty steamy stuff! On one level it’s a beautiful and moving expression of the joy that two people have found in one another and, quite frankly, a celebration of the gift of sex. And that would be enough, but many biblical interpreters see even more. They see within this poetic masterpiece a reflection of God’s passionate love for us. And that insight takes these eight chapters to a whole new level.

God, in Christ, relentlessly pursues us. God’s love is passionately expressed through self-sacrifice. And God seeks union with us. Through baptism and the Holy Spirit God we experience a mutual indwelling – Christ in us and us in Christ, a new incarnation. It’s no wonder the New Testament uses the image of marriage to describe the relationship between Christ and the Church.

Now pause for a moment and consider what it means that God pursues you with the relentless passion of a young lover. Don’t just think about. Let that truth make its way to your heart. And then ask yourself, “How would I live differently if I believed that I was loved that passionately and profoundly?” I think that’s what Song of Songs intends to teach us.

It was enough to get Confirmation kids interested in reading the Bible. Perhaps it can fuel your worship and devotion too.

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN

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