Song of Songs: Day 8

Night of Separation After the Wedding

by

Today's Text: Song of Songs 5:1-16, Psalm 128:1-6, Colossians 3:12-17

Text: Song of Songs 5:1-16, Psalm 128:1-6, Colossians 3:12-17

Love makes me uncomfortable. It makes me feel vulnerable and exposed, like the whole world can read my innermost thoughts. Love catches me off guard, it clouds my decision-making, it questions my motives. Love causes me to frantically build walls, and then love tears them all down. Love feels risky. I’m uncomfortable with risk.

In chapter 5 of Song of Songs, our young couple is newly married and experiencing all the highs that come with that emotional milestone. But, as is true with human love, the highs are accompanied with lows, the pendulum of emotion often swinging dramatically between the two.

Many scholars believe this passage to be the description of a dream. So while Shulamith may not literally be searching the street for her love or beaten by the city guards, her vivid description helps us understand her emotional state. Her deep love for Solomon makes her feel euphoria, that “intoxication” with love promoted by the narrator in 5:1, as well as desperation, the lovesickness that comes with these overwhelming feelings (5:8).

The part that intrigues me most about this passage is what Shulamith does with this range of emotion. She does not camp out in either extreme, but rather chooses to confirm, once again, her love for her beloved. Even amid her emotional struggle, she recounts her bridegroom’s attributes, summing them up in one telling declaration: “This is my love, and this is my friend” (5:16). She returns to and affirms their love, despite the vulnerability it demands.

Is this picture of the “work” of love—this constant turning and returning when emotions run awry—what we expect when we think of love and happiness? I’m not sure it is. Take Psalm 128, for example. Too often when I come to Scripture, I want to sit in a safe place like verse 2: “You will be happy, and it will go well for you.” Great! Let’s stay here, yeah? But the psalmist makes it clear that true happiness is not a destination, a place where we arrive and set up camp. Instead, he exclaims, “How happy is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways!” (v.1).

Happiness involves a posture of fearing and following God. He is the God who teaches us that love is active, not passive; the God who made the ultimate demonstration of His love by laying down His life for ours (Romans 5:8).

This world is passing away, and even those vows exchanged between a couple hopelessly in love, like our bride and groom in Song of Songs, aren’t certain (Matthew 24:35). Promises of love and the realities of relationship involve emotional and circumstantial trials, with bright highs and dark lows. Only the vows made by God Himself are certain to last.

The good news is, God did make vows to us. Those vows are called a covenant, and Christ is our down payment of its fulfillment (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). We can love one another because He loved us first (1 John 4:19).

God’s love for you and me is more than a feeling; it is a choice. He planned, from the beginning of time, to rescue us from sin and darkness, from false loves and shame. Even in our most intimate of relationships, we rely on Christ’s perfect love to enable us to love—today, and tomorrow, and all the days after that. Thanks be to God.   

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  • “…God who teaches us that love is active, not passive.” This line touches my heart today. My husband and I have been married for almost 8 years – together for 12 – and we have certainly had our angry moments toward one another. We’ve been able to keep going forward by making the active choice to love each other like God loves us. This is such a good reminder, making the active choice, even when it’s difficult!

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  • Keri McCue

    I think it’s so wonderful to really and truly understand the covenant love we have with Christ. I think we tend to just skim over the word covenant. It’s lost its weight it seems. But when we focus on that word, that promise given to us. And when we understand what true covenant love means, it should humble us and bring such a joy to our lives!!

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  • My interest in this text was renewed recently. My husbands aunt (who has become like an aunt and a mentor to me) has never married and does not have children. She is in her 50s and is still waiting for the husband she prays the Lord will bring. I am so blessed to watch her wait on the Lord, trusting him completely with her future. But in all of that – she LOVES Him, LOVES the Song of Songs and knowing how her God loves and pursues her in such an intimate way. I have been inspired to seek out what this Love looks like for myself. I am like many of the women who have said this book is not their favorite, or that the romance and imagery of this book does not capture them thoroughly. I have an earthly husband whom I love – who is wonderful and handsome and often – I forget I was made for a GREATER love. I have loved this study into the heart and mind of God for his bride, and the revelation that my perspective on romantic love, even intimacy with my husband, is more sacred than I currently understand.

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  • Does anybody have thoughts on the promises of Psalm 128? Literally taken, they are not always true. I know people who fear the Lord and yet have terrible family struggles. My study bible describes the theme of the Psalm as God is the true head of the home and that this Psalm was sung at Israelite marriages and called the marriage prayer. Indeed He is the true head. But what does it mean when a man fears the Lord but his wife is not a fruitful vine and his children are not like olive shoots around his table? .

    • cheshirelizzy

      Regarding struggles of believers: Happiness in this life is not based on our outward circumstance but inward graces. With Christ, the godly man or woman can weather the most terrible of storms, as many have done in the past and continue to do. Yet, God remembers our frame, that we are dust, and that there is still grace to be had when we sit in dust and ashes, proclaiming our nakedness before Him.

      Regarding the fruitful wife: If God allows, this verse is literal for those blessed by God with one or more children. Every child is a peculiar, unmerited gift from the good Lord and should be treasured as such.
      However, even the barren womb can be a fruitful vine. A woman who serves others in practical and spiritual means can be the mother of hundreds and thousands, especially as she grows in true wisdom and knowledge. She will be fruitful if she seeks consolation in her God and Saviour. She will be made useful for His Kingdom when she will not run after the glittery vain things of this world. In a manner, this woman will be more fruitful than the woman who bears ten children and cares not for their spiritual state.
      A comfort to those who mourn their barrenness: God knows your heart and what you desire and what you need. We do not always know why He allows this but it is good to remember we cannot see the end from where we stand. He will provide either the literal fruit or the spiritual fruit. Let him decide as we acquiesce. Never, ever blame Him for what happens in our fallen world and live in hope that He is good and right and true and will be so to you. Our usefulness in this sinful world is totally dependent upon His grace and we will only be fruitful when we are so.
      Let whatever state in which we find ourselves find us in contentment with our portion and hungry only for more of Himself.

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  • I’ll have to admit this is one of the hardest study I have done with SRT so far. I find it very difficult to appreciate Song of Songs, the imagery and style, and maybe it is my personality, but I just can’t see what’s the big fuss about love (obviously am not one who makes a big fuss about Valentine’s Day either) and how it relates to our walk with God. I had to rely heavily on my study Bible and study it like a text. Academically. Intellectually, I get it. It is like an allegory of God’s love for us, Christ’s love for His Bride, which is His Church. But I am finding it very hard to relate.

    • Angela

      In addition, I also have trouble relating the Song of Songs readings to the other Bible passages.

    • Claire

      Thank you, I so agree

    • Adrienne

      I agree that love seems overrated at times. As a girl who’s engaged, it can be a struggle sometimes to lack appreciation for the mushy gushy side of love. But there are people out there who connect very deeply with the romantic love that we read about in Song of Songs. The Bible is written for all, applicable for all. The challenge for people like us who don’t pour over love sonnets is to step back and ask what God is teaching us. Obviously love is very important to Him because it’s mentioned so many times in the Bible, and He includes this love story in Song of Songs. Even if there is no other reason, love should be important to us because it is important to God. Sure, we might not connect with it in the same way as some others, and that’s okay. I’m challenged to recognize that there is value to experiencing the love of God at the level as described in Song of Songs because He is the author of such love. So maybe it will take effort and feel uncomfortable at first, but there is a treasure–even for the non-lovey-type of people–in store for everybody. I hope this study continues to open our eyes to God’s purpose in love.

    • cheshirelizzy

      Personally, I believe the Song of Songs is only spiritual and is only about Christ and His Church. Solomon was no great example of a husband (for he had 899 other wives).
      In this way, it jives perfectly with the rest of Scripture and experience.
      His going away from us after a time of affection signifies a time in separation from Him, due to our sinful leanings (even after conversion, these are many). It is similar to when He retreated to a ship to have relief from crowds or when he went alone into the desert and was tempted by Satan.
      Sometimes it is difficult for us because He has retreated himself (not forsaken us, mind you!). We must go deeper into our desire for him and seek him with our WHOLE hearts, not just to improve outward circumstances or our attitude toward them. We must seek him as a person, love him as a person. We must have absolute sincerity of true religion if we are to be blessed with a deeper relation with him and this only comes with feeling His absence for a time. Again, we are dust and He knows this and is long-suffering (patient) with us.
      When we find ourselves searching for Him and unable to find him, we keep searching until our beloved comes to heal us of our sickness of love.
      When we come-to, like the Prodigal Son, we search him out again, that we might find our delight again. And He, like the father, sees us afar off and will have arms open and is read to received us.

  • Gracenjoy

    Only the vows made by God Himself are certain to last. This spoke to my heart. I have avoided commitment to another because I can’t see how I can trust it to last. This statement makes me see I need to trust God not another person and He will take care of me and guide me to make the right choice. Needed this. I have such a hard time trusting people but God is safe and has proven His love for me over and over with His care taking and showing me the way. Thanks Amanda.

  • Such a beautiful passage to really study and think about. I think the world has taken the word love for granted and changed the true meaning of it. I’ve heard many stories about people who have given up on their marriage and in some cases, it’s what was needed… but it breaks my heart that people have begun to lose their fight for the one thing that’s most important. Love and marriage is so different than what it was years ago. We were never guaranteed a perfect life which clearly indicates that relationships aren’t going to stay in the honeymoon phase forever (even though that’s what we desire). I think what people fail to realize is that those same trials and obstacles that our placed in our relationships really do make us stronger if we stay and fight. How can you not love yourself, your spouse and even God MORE after overcoming something like that. I think those are the moments, especially in a marriage when you really put your faith and vows to the test. God didn’t promise us perfection, but He dd promise us peace and HIS perfect love<3

  • Tochi Heredia

    How faulty is my love. Even with the best of intentions I hurt and resent those I claim to love. Lord, use me as a conduit for your perfect love.

  • Sometimes when I read this it reminds me how beautiful love is when we consider the one we love even while we sleep. So often, love quickly settles into a comfort and our lives and relationships become habit. In looking at the idea that this is a dream, her concern over treating her love with great care is so evident. I would guess that dreaming about a delay in answering him at the door would raise a worry in her heart because it is the last thing she wants to do. She doesn’t want to upset him and upon realizing that she inadvertently did, she seeks him immediately to reconcile the situation and his heart … kind of the “I want to shout it from the top of the mountains, tell the world, enduring anything” kind of moment because what is most important to her is that he knows how much she loves him, how much he means to her.

    I would venture to guess that most marriages begin this way. Our concerns for our beloveds are so that we do whatever we can to ease their burdens and reflect love but somewhere along the line, comfort sets in and our burning desire to care dwindles to a flicker. We must take great care that we recall the attributes that first “awoke love” in us. We got to remember to put on “compassion, kindness, meekness, humility and patience” in our daily efforts, in all situations and we will fail to do that we must seek forgiveness, regardless of the circumstance.

    It would have been easy for the Shulamith to become irritated at his response, toss up a hand and hold him in contempt of thought. How often do we do that? When the loves in our lives respond adversely in turn … We find we are dissatisfied with their interpretation and leave them to settle themselves. But how much better to humble ourselves, disregard our take on the “conflict”, recognize we’ve caused hurt in some capacity and move swiftly to seek forgiveness. This was and remains a most difficult portion of marriage. I know firsthand, many times my thoughts have gone to the “well, he ….” when my only concern should have been my response, not his. My standard of response, my standard of love, my standard of humility should always be Christ with my husband, hurt feelings and all measure of right or wrong aside. Marriage is such a beautiful gift from God, it would be entirely naive to enter into it without realizing that it may also be the most attacked. Where there is great emotion, there is also capacity for great destruction. We must take care to see the good, to speak the good, to walk out the good remembering what God desires for us in marriage. May we all be Shulamith, humbled before others over our love for our husbands. Prayerful daily that I seek humility in love over my sweet husband!

    • ~ B ~

      Whoops, I should have read-through … “We HAVE got to remember to put on “compassion, kindness, meekness, humility and patience” in our daily efforts, in all situations and WHEN we will fail to do that we must seek forgiveness, regardless of the circumstance.”

      • C Gunckel

        Thank you B…..I need to read this as a daily reminder of what my love for my husband should look like.

      • Nads

        Desperately needed your comments today…thank you Lord for using ~B~.

        • ~ B ~

          Morning, Nads. Hope all is well in your world today. Prayerful over you friend!

      • Hope

        B, this is hard. Thank you for being that girlfriend that speaks difficult and necessary truth.

    • Heather (MNmomma)

      What a powerful reminder….thank you so much B……<3

    • Lana

      Thank you, B. Our daily commitment to God strengthens our daily commitment to ourselves and others. I’m so blessed to have you, the SRT community, and these devotionals as a daily part of my life.

      • Jamie

        I really needed this! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

      • ~ B ~

        Absolutely. Our daily commitment to God …. I am equally blessed by you and this community Lana! Love having SRT.

    • Katie

      This is so convicting! Thank you for these wise words

  • Churchmouse

    I appreciate the long list of Solomon’s attributes listed by the Shullamite woman. She essentially describes him as one in a million! A challenge for me today to appreciate my own husband more. While she describes his physical attributes, Paul in the Colossians verses reminds us of Godly virtues as well. Oh that I would value these virtues in my husband and pursue them harder for myself. Physical beauty will fade but Godly virtues make us beautiful from the inside out and last forever.

    • Heather (MNmomma)

      Amen! I know I need to do this more!!! Thank you!!! <3

    • Lana

      Amen! Sending you lots of love today. I don’t comment that often anymore because I’m still working on being more quiet (lol), but I just wanted to drop in and say thanks for all your wisdom. I’ve learned so much from you!

  • Christina

    I would add that no matter the circumstantial trials, our vow keeping is possible because of God’s great faithfulness and vow-keeping toward us. We often won’t keep a vow simply because of making it, but trusting and fearing God and allowing His Spirit to work in us by His Word makes it possible to keep the vows we make no matter the uncertainty. We are faithful to our spouses because He is first faithful to us.

  • Couldn’t be more apt. My (ex?) husband is beginning divorce proceedings against me after 7 years of marriage, and is now living with the woman he had an affair with. God has been so faithful these past few weeks in showing me that His love will never fail me or forsake me. I am so so grateful for His faithfulness and have no idea where I’d be without it.

    • Elisabeth7291

      Sarah, I’m so sorry.

    • Stacy

      Sarah, this is almost exactly my story. I wish we lived close so we could meet for coffee. It’s been almost two years since I found out about my husband’s affair. They are now engaged and getting married later this year. And you are right – God is so faithful. Cling to Him and don’t let go. Praying for you sweet friend.

    • Sarah_Joy

      Saying a prayer for you and Stacy this morning.

    • ~ B ~

      Sarah, I have been where you are and I am so sorry for what you are enduring. I’m so thankful that you have felt God so vividly in this, He will not fail you in this. You are not alone. I am always reminded of the Lyrics, “Higher than the mountains that I face. Stronger than the power of the grave. Constant through the trial and the change, One thing… Remains, yes
      One thing Remains. Your love never fails, it never gives up It never runs out on me” for Jesus Culture. Prayerful that you feel this in incredible ways over the coming days, months and years.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_KXsMCJgBQ

    • Lana

      Sending you lots of love today, Sarah! God will give you beauty for ashes. He’s already promised this to you. And I hope the beauty he does give you is so great, it overwhelms your soul with love.

      • Sarah

        Standing on this promise! I wear a crown ring now on my ring finger as a reminder that He’s promised me a crown of beauty for these ashes!

    • Katalina

      God will never leave you Sarah! I’m sorry you’re going through this but God has a plan for you and I’m so happy you’ve seen how faithful He is <3 praying for you

    • Sarah

      Thank you everyone. Your support and prayers mean more than you can imagjne! Xxx

    • Allee Armstrong

      I am not going through this but I have a very close friend who is. I’ve been surprised by how often this turns out to be the case, and I am saddened by that. But I am thankful you have stayed looking toward Him and chosen to do this study. I keep wanting to recommend it to my friend, but I don’t know if it’s all too fresh.

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