In college, a friend and I led a Bible study in our dorm room. I felt strongly that the study was to be on the book of Song of Songs, though I didn’t know much about the book–other than it was “romantic”. What I discovered in that study radically revealed to me the undying love God has for us, His dearly beloved.
On the first day of the Bible study I could hardly contain my excitement. My enthusiasm, however, was quickly shattered by a cynical student in the group. As I explained the introduction of the book, she rudely interjected:
“How can we trust that King Solomon really loved this bride, since he had like 700 wives and 300 concubines?”
I was completely stumped. My co-leader and I were totally unprepared for that question.
After a bit of fumbling, I managed to say that the main point of the Song of Songs was to not focus on the imperfect love of humans, but to direct us to the perfect love of Christ. She didn’t seem too convinced, and never came back to the Bible study.
So what can we learn from this obscure book in the Bible that so many people conveniently skip over? What can we learn from a young king who valiantly declares,
“How beautiful you are, my darling!” (Song of Songs 1:15),
but later in his life utters the words “Everything is meaningless!” (Eccl. 1:2)
The truth is, human love will always fail us. Even the best relationships fall short of the glory of God. But our broken relationships continually point us to the One whose love will never falter; whose love will never let us down. Over the years as I have continued to study the book of Song of Songs, I have discovered that this is a book worth studying, whether you are married or single.
Sprinkled throughout the book are hidden gems of truth that shine with the incomparable love of God.
An Ancient Love Story
It is obvious that the Song of Songs is a beautiful love story between a man and a woman. Bride and bridegroom. Husband and wife. King Solomon (the valiant lover), poetically declares his love for a beautiful Jewish maiden (the beloved Shulamite woman). She responds to the king’s advances and adds sweet harmony to their love song, echoing her heart-felt desire for him.
Throughout the pages of this beautiful song is a love story of the century. A story of desire and delight. Of harmonious matrimony and the sensual pleasures God created for husbands and wives to enjoy within the protective hedges of marriage.
Coupled between these pages of desire and delight are three powerful truths about true love.
1. True Love is Protective
The Shulamite woman likens her knight in shining armor to an apple tree among the trees of the forest (Song of Songs 2:3). Strong and sturdy, the shade of his protection covers her from the scorching rays of the sun. In the same way, Jesus, our perfect Bridegroom, shelters us with the power of his unfailing love.
Love always protects… 1 Corinthians 13:7
The love of God shades and shields us from the enemy with his protective banner of love.
Let him lead me to the banquet hall,
and let his banner over me be love. Song of Songs 2:4
2. True Love is Worth Waiting For
Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you
by the gazelles and by the does of the field:
Do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires. Song of Songs 2:7
This strong plea is repeated by the Shulamite bride two more times in the book of Song of Songs. She urges her fellow maidens to wait for love’s perfect timing. The Hebrew word for love in this verse most likely refers to sexual desire (source). Oftentimes in our culture, waiting to fulfill one’s sexual desires until marriage is an antiquated, unpopular notion.
Mainstream media encourages us to indulge in our sensual desires any time we please. But what the world doesn’t tell us is that “following our hearts” instead of following God’s Word only leads to pain and heartache. Instead of arousing love in our timing, true love waits for God’s good, pleasing and perfect will for our lives (Romans 12:2).
3. True Love Never Fails
The end of this love song concludes with the resounding melody of the strong, unrelenting love of the king and his fair maiden. In chapter 8 his beloved bride describes the great power and depth of true love. Likewise, our Lord sings over us in reverberating echoes throughout the pages of the greatest love story ever told.
So I believe that there is a great deal we can learn from this timeless book. Lessons about love, marriage, and how no human affection will ever compare to the vast depth of the love of God.
As we enter this season of “love” during Valentine’s day, remember that the greatest love song is the very words of God. Allow His powerful, unending, unrelenting love to wash over you today, and sing back to Him in joyful praise!