As I’m hovering over my reading in Song of Solomon this morning, I realize I’ve kind of come full-circle.
As a newer believer, I didn’t know what to make of the Song. Seemed kind of out of place. If the Scriptures were the word of God, this just didn’t seem to fit. If the Bible was for religious instruction, the Song seemed out of place. So I read it allegorically. Conceding that it must be full of types and pictures way beyond my immature believing mind to comprehend. I was more concerned with just getting through it, then thinking I could really understand it.
And then, at some point, probably after some exposure to the basics of hermeneutics (principles and rules for how to interpret the Bible), when I read the Song I would read it literally. The words making more sense, the concepts becoming more relatable, the storyline emerging more clearly. But honestly, still not quite getting why it had been preserved as Holy Writ.
And now, while I probably still read it literally, I think about it more allegorically. While the love story it portrays is beautiful, the love story it foreshadows is awe-invoking.
Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold, you are beautiful! . . . .You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you. Come with me from Lebanon, my bride . . .
(Song of Solomon 4:1, 7-8a ESV)
Love is blind. That’s the only conclusion you come to if you read this literally. I get that a guy’s gonna look at his girl and think, “You’re beautiful.” She’s not gonna be his girl very long if he doesn’t. And it makes sense that, if he plans on marrying her, he tells her that she’s beautiful . . . repeatedly . . . over and over again. I even get him becoming all gushy at times and blurting out, as he spins on his heals, “Your altogether beautiful!” That everything about her, everything, is pleasant to behold. Love is to be expressed and confessed. It’s what you’d expect a lover to do.
But, to say “there is no flaw in you?” Really? Flawless?
No blemish? No spot? Not even a minor defect? Even though the sweet lady of this love story had been forced by her brothers to work in their vineyards in the hot sun such that she had become very “dark, because the sun has looked upon me” (1:5-6)? You don’t spend time working a vineyard, working among the vines in the blazing sun, and not develop a few scratches, one or two sun spots, or a bit of cut up and wrinkled up skin. Only way you read this literally, and buy the “no flaw” part, is to conclude love is blind.
But what if you chew on this allegorically? What if it’s a picture of another bridegroom-to-be and him fawning over his betrothed? Well then, the mind goes into a cross- referencing mode . . .
. . . Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
(Ephesians 5:26b-27 ESV)
Without spot. No sign of a wrinkle or any such thing. Not even a blemish. Flawless. That’s the bride the Christ beholds as He whispers, “Behold, you are beautiful, My love, behold, you are beautiful! You are altogether beautiful, My love!”
Paul tells us to try and grasp the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ–to seek to know that which “surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:18-19). And I’m thinking that, this morning, the Song is a catalyst for doing that.
Before Christ, the Bridegroom, His betrothed, the church, is flawless. Not because love is blind, but because He sees this work in progress as the work completed when she is presented before Him. A work not dependent on our best intentions and self-cleansing efforts, but a work He has begun and has promised He will complete (Php. 1:6).
A work founded on the cross, where He paid the price for our redemption and shed His blood for our cleansing. The work begun when, through His sovereign determination, He graced us with ears to hear, eyes to see, and a new heart to receive. The work sustained through the sealing of the Holy Spirit, who leads us into truth, and patiently forms within us the very nature of the Son of God. The results of the work guaranteed through that sealing, assured that one day the Bridegroom will present His Bride to Himself. And that, flawless!
O’ the love of God. How can it not take our breath away? How does it not humble and yet invigorate at the same time? How does it not prime the pump of awe, wonder, praise, and worship?
Flawless. Really? Yeah, really!
Because of grace. For His glory!