I was asleep, but my heart was awake.
It is the voice of my beloved who knocks:
“Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled;
for my head is filled with dew,
and my hair with the dampness of the night.”
I have taken off my robe. Indeed, must I put it on?
I have washed my feet. Indeed, must I soil them?
My beloved thrust his hand in through the latch opening.
My heart pounded for him.
I rose up to open for my beloved.
My hands dripped with myrrh,
my fingers with liquid myrrh,
on the handles of the lock.
I opened to my beloved;
but my beloved left, and had gone away.
My heart went out when he spoke.
I looked for him, but I didn’t find him.
I called him, but he didn’t answer.
The watchmen who go about the city found me.
They beat me.
They bruised me.
The keepers of the walls took my cloak away from me.
I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem,
If you find my beloved,
that you tell him that I am faint with love.
How is your beloved better than another beloved,
you fairest among women?
How is your beloved better than another beloved,
that you do so adjure us?
My beloved is white and ruddy.
The best among ten thousand.
His head is like the purest gold.
His hair is bushy, black as a raven.
His eyes are like doves beside the water brooks,
washed with milk, mounted like jewels.
His cheeks are like a bed of spices with towers of perfumes.
His lips are like lilies, dropping liquid myrrh.
His hands are like rings of gold set with beryl.
His body is like ivory work overlaid with sapphires.
His legs are like pillars of marble set on sockets of fine gold.
His appearance is like Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.
His mouth is sweetness;
yes, he is altogether lovely.
This is my beloved, and this is my friend,
daughters of Jerusalem.
Where has your beloved gone, you fairest among women?
Where has your beloved turned, that we may seek him with you?
My beloved has gone down to his garden,
to the beds of spices,
to pasture his flock in the gardens, and to gather lilies.
I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.
He browses among the lilies. (World English Bible)
God is love. God rejoices over you.
There is a reason why so many people in this cruel and calloused world are unloving and unkind: They are unaware that God loves them.
If we neither believe nor know God’s infinite love for us, then our words and our actions will reflect more of hate than love. God really truly does love you and me. This is crucial. Do not forget this. Believe it. Live it. Enjoy it. Know it. Tell it to yourself until you are thoroughly bathed in it, because it is more wonderful than any ‘70’s sappy love song could ever describe it.
I believe the small book of Solomon’s Song of Songs too often gets a weird hermeneutical spin of literalism from modern-minded simpletons. For nearly all of history, this poetic ode to love was understood as an allegory of divine love for humanity – and the believer’s reciprocal response.
When the beautiful text of Scripture says I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine, and that his desire is for me, it is a wonderful way of communicating that God’s love for us is not abstract, distant, or detached. (Song of Songs 6:3, 7:10)
The truth is: We belong to God. The Lord’s desire is for you and me. God has an intense and overpowering longing for you. Let the deep desire of God for you shape and form your thoughts so that fear is replaced with faith; loneliness with enjoyment; the fickle nature of others with satisfaction; praying as duty with praying because I want to be with the God who loves me so much.
Oh, how we need a vision of God singing over us with joy! Yes, God loves you that much! Grab a hold of what the prophet says:
The Lord will take delight in you with gladness.Zephaniah 3:17, NLT
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
Even the most unlovely of people are made lovely through God’s persistent and pursuing love for them. You are being wholly seen every single day by the infinite gaze and eternal compassion of God, who watches our every step with delight.
Christianity does not “happen” simply by knowing some beliefs about God, as if it is a mere contractual signing-off on a doctrinal statement. Rather, Christianity “happens” when individuals experience the white hot burning love of God in Jesus Christ.
Jesus came not only for those who skip church and only occasionally read their Bibles. Christ came also for the hard-hearted prick, the immoral adulterer, the strung-out addict, the terrorist, the murderer, and for all those caught in bad choices and failed relationships.
“I have not come to call respectable people, but outcasts.” (Matthew 9:13, GNT)
“Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life.” (Matthew 28:19, MSG)
“You will be witnesses for me.” (Acts 1:8, GNT)
“Love each other in the same way that I have loved you.” (John 13:34, GW)
All Christ’s words and actions are because of the Lord’s intense desire to love the world, and to love it through the divine beloved people of God.
God’s love is never based on our performance, or how good we look to others; it is never conditioned by our moods. The love of God only looks longingly at you and me with the potential of what we can become in Christ and cares for us as we are. It is a world-altering revolutionary thought that God loves me as I am and not as I should be.
God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us! (Romans 5:8, GNT)
Despite the erosion of church attendance, the majority of people still believe God exists. Conversely, however, many people do not believe God really loves them. We are in a crisis of love. People need to know the God who is pure Love.
Christianity never begins with what we do for God to make ourselves lovely. Christianity always starts with what God has done for us, the great and wonderful love that exists for us in Christ Jesus.
It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, easy marks for sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this. (Titus 3:3-8, MSG)
All the wrong turns in the past, the mistakes and the moral lapses, everything that is ugly or painful, all melts in the light of God’s acceptance and love for us.
If the consuming passion of Christ’s followers is not showing God’s love, then we have lost both our mission and our first love of Jesus. Perhaps we must let time evaporate, as we bow at the foot of the cross, and experientially know the great love of God in Christ for us and for the world.
May it be so, to the glory of God.