Text: Song of Songs 4:1-16, Proverbs 4:23, Revelation 22:1-5
I once had a box of love letters that I kept way past their expiration date.
The author of the letters was a boy I knew when I was a teenager. We lived in different states, met at a church event, and “dated” – or something? – long distance for a while, seeing each other only a handful of times. This was back when high school kids didn’t have email addresses and dinosaurs roamed the earth, so letter-writing was our primary means of communication. You know—paper and pens, envelopes and stamps.
I kept those letters long after the boy and our young relationship faded away, and thinking back on it, I’m not exactly sure why. It wasn’t because I was pining for the boy himself—I hardly knew him, after all. I think I kept them because of my feelings for feelings.
I liked remembering the anticipation the distance between us created, and the way my stomach did flips each time his handwriting appeared in my mailbox. I liked recalling the connection I felt as I read his letters, even though they were about normal things like school or work or car trouble. (He drove an Acura, my high school dream car. You can see the appeal.)
Love—even faint glimpses of it—forces us to feel. Romantic love awakens our senses, making us keenly aware of our built-in longing for intimacy and connection. Maybe this is one of the reasons God included this human love letter in the middle of His divine love letter to us: to wake us up.
As we read today in Chapter 4, Solomon could hardly contain himself when it came to Shulamith. He enthusiastically praised every part of his beautiful bride, comparing her hair to “a flock of goats,” her brow to “a slice of pomegranate”—even rejoicing that she has all her teeth! We roll our eyes at the absurdity of his metaphors because we know his bride was human and imperfect, but at the same time, we get it. Whether we’ve experienced the thrill of romantic love firsthand or just blushed at the thought of it, we can imagine the weightless feeling that comes from a stolen glance, or the electricity of a first kiss.
Reading this love song out loud makes me uncomfortable, like I’m eavesdropping on a private conversation. But you know what? It does not shock or embarrass God. He created us for relationship and established boundaries in which those relationships can flourish and honor Him. Solomon is finally joining with his bride, and we don’t have to be embarrassed about it. The Bible celebrates it!
Love, relationships, and yes, even sex, remind us that we are alive—created by a God who loves us, and created to love each other. We misuse and abuse His gifts—and pain, tears, and shame result when we do—but the gifts themselves are good. Solomon is right to rejoice.
Love and its songs are grand, but there is only one love that fulfills our expectations. Christ’s love for the Church has no blemishes or flaws; He never falters or forgets. And while love here on earth comes with its share of heartache and tears, the fulfillment of our heart’s truest desire will not disappoint. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There won’t be death anymore. There won’t be any grief, crying, or pain, because the first things have disappeared” (Revelation 21:4).
There will be no more eye rolling, no more shame—only the ultimate joy and perfect peace that comes from being in the presence of God. We are most alive when we are joined with Him.