“The Song of Songs”

The book in the bible which we call “The Song of Solomon” opens with the words, “The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s”.  when we consider the huge number of songs that have been written since the beginning of the world, surely the title, “The Song of Songs” is rather ‘over the top’. I do not agree. For me, there is nothing like this song among all songs ever written. It is not an easy song to ‘get into’, but perseverance will be rewarded. What is it all about?

It is about the relationship between Christ and the believer, who, in the Song, is a lowly woman from Shunem. It is particularly about Christ’s love for the believer, his intense interest in her, and the various ways that he uses to intensify the love of the believer for Himself. He does this with great success. This is shown by the strange words in 2:5 and 5:8, “I am sick of love”, meaning, of course, ‘I have a sickness, and the cause is love’. I consider that this small statement is very important in understanding the Song. It tells us so much about the christian life: it is an intense longing for Christ’s company. Not that that longing is ever enough, it is not, but it is a longing which yearns for more longing. Hence the christian life is a sickness: the sickness of love. Yet it is not a sickness without hope of satisfaction. We read about  that in the New Testament: 1 John 3:2, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is”. Christ is represented in the Song by King Solomon. There is also a third party, the “daughters of Jerusalem” who, by their questions represent interested outsiders, so bewildered by the intensity of the love of this woman for a Christ she had never seen; they just cannot understand it.  Yet their questions bring out the intensity of the believer’s love.

I would recommend to anyone who seeks some entry into the Song of Solomon,  that they take a good straightforward conservative commentary, such as that by Burrowes, and go through it, making light pencil notes in the margin of bible such as ‘She’, ‘He’ or ‘Doj’,  to indicate who is speaking at any point. These notes will become invaluable for many years to come whenever one is reading through the Song.

It helps, when we are reading the Song, to keep before us that there are differences between eastern logic and sensitivities, and those of the western  world. An example of  this is the mutual descriptions of their respective appearances.  These differences are very difficult for us to understand. Personally I think it may have something to do with what we end up with when we try to describe the indescribable.

We should have no problem with the fact that there is a sickness involved in being a christian. This is because  the sickness of the christian is no ordinary sickness. In normal life sickness is not something that one desires; but this sickness is not like any other sickness. This sickness is a delight to have, and the more intense the sickness, the more the delight;  and the  more Christ delights in us. Why does the believer say during her frantic search for her Beloved in chapter 5, verse 8, “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that  ye tell Him, that I am sick with love”? Because she knew that that was what He wanted to hear.

 

 

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“A Good New Year”

Two days ago I was purchasing a newspaper, and as I took my change from the shop assistant, I said, “Thank you, and have a good new year”. His response was, “Well, I hope it is better than the last one”. Then I remembered, from a previous conversation, that he had had some considerable sadness in his personal life during the past year. Rebuking myself for being so clumsy, I said, “I understand what you are saying, and I hope and pray that this year will be a better one for you”. He said,  “Thanks”, and we parted. I would like to have said more, but the shop was very busy.

However, our short conversation set me thinking: ‘What would I consider a ‘good’ new year? For anyone who does not know Christ as Lord and Saviour, the answer is easy. They must, above all things, strive with all energy and single-minded determination to get RightWithGod in 2018. This quest must stand on the fundamental truths revealed to us in the bible. We must confess that we are sinners, that our sins separate us from God and that our salvation is in His hands to give or to withhold. The bible is absolutely clear about this: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3 : 23). The wonderful thing about lour present this life is that God has made an amazing provision, not for the righteous, but specifically for sinners. In the words of John 3:16, the best-known verse in the bible, we read, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten, Son that whosever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life”. Two things are clear from this verse. Firstly, that all human beings in their natural state, are doomed to perish, as those who are under the judgement of God. Secondly, that God has made an amazing provision for all who will trust in Christ as Lord and Saviour. They will instantly be made Right with God and will not perish. God is a God of great mercy to all who earnestly seek Him: “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him” (Psalm 103: 11).

Now, what about a good new year for the believer who has already been made RightWithGod through Jesus Christ? This is much  more complex; but permit me to make a few simple suggestions:

1.  Avoid all occasions of sin. This means avoiding company, entertainment, books magazines, programmes etc that pollute your mind and imagination. These things come between you and God.

2. Seek and cultivate the company of God. When alone try to meditate upon the glory of the Trinity: the love of the Father, the suffering of the Son and the help of the Holy Spirit. For this purpose seek times when you are alone, rather than avoid them. Matthew Henry said, “The christian is never less alone than when he is alone”. There is no enjoyment possible to man in this life like the enjoyment of  God.

3. Do not look for an easy life. As a christian trials and afflictions are not empty and meaningless. God puts them there for a purpose. Try and interpret the trial when it comes, and see the hand of God there, and ask God for a submissive, accepting frame of mind. Have confidence that God has a clear purpose in view, of which we, for now, can only understand a little.

The list could go on. I felt sorry for my shop assistant friend, and I felt helpless. My hope would be that he would humble himself and receive Christ, and find  meaning in all his trials

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