Text: Song of Songs 7:1-9, Ephesians 5:22-30, Revelation 19:6-10
I have to admit, today’s reading was a hard one for me, and not because of the descriptive language. As it’s been said throughout this study, Song of Songs can be read as an allegorical text—a poem that parallels God’s love for Israel and points toward Christ’s love for the Church. When I read Song of Songs 7:1-9 in light of Ephesians 5:22-30, I noticed a depth to Christ’s love for us that I hadn’t really considered before, and, if I’m being honest, am still grappling with now.
For some reason, it’s easier to formalize Jesus’ love for us, the Church—to think of Him as a benevolent politician who cares for His people. It’s easier for me to keep Christ’s love at a distance, to imagine Him standing at a podium, rather than by my side. But this is not the type of love we see in Song of Songs.
If the way Solomon speaks of his bride is any indication as to how Christ views us, His bride, then He’s in no way a distant politician waving to a crowd. What we see in Chapter 7 is a deep, intimate, and passionate affection.
Solomon and Shulamith have been reconciled after a time apart, and upon their reuniting Solomon praises his bride’s body and character. He knows every inch of her, every curve and feature. Not one part of her goes unnoticed, unpraised, or unaccepted. Solomon has nothing to say about Shulamith but adoring words of love, devotion, and awe. She is “the handiwork of a master” (Song of Songs 7:1).
This is what made me feel uncomfortable while reading these verses. To allow yourself to be loved in this way takes an incredible amount of vulnerability. To be examined and aware of your every flaw and sin, then be told you are the exact opposite of how you see yourself—that you’re actually the beloved and beautiful handiwork of a master—is a truth that can sometimes be harder to live with than the lie of shame.
Yet, this is what Christ’s passionate affection means for us. As Ephesians 5 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25-27).
Because of Jesus’ atonement for our sin, this is who we now are: holy, blameless, without stain or wrinkle.
There is an element in our relationship with Christ that requires great vulnerability from us if we are to fully experience His great love. For the striving, earning, and achieving Christian—as well as the guilt-ridden one—this may be one of the greatest challenges of the Christian life: to let ourselves be loved by Him. To allow Him to examine us and declare us good and right and lovely in His sight.
I wonder what would change in your life and mine if we allowed ourselves to bask in Jesus’ love for us, as Shulamith does in Solomon’s—to just sit in it and learn to accept and embrace it. I wonder how we would see ourselves, those around us, and how it would change our relationship with our Savior.
I pray this is the new truth we walk in today: that we would see the purity and passion in Christ’s affection for us, and that we would walk in confidence as His beloved.