His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me! I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases. – Song of Solomon 8:3-4
These two lines appeared together yesterday in chapter 2, and today make another appearance near the end of the Song. Perhaps they are an ancient hook, meant to ground the Song in the ear of the listener. Maybe the line “…that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases” – that appears thrice total – was a well-known refrain of deep, implicit meaning at the time it was written. Or it could just be a lyrical exhortation, meant to be just mysterious enough to encourage contemplation.
Nonetheless, they indicate a consistent poetic hand that has a story to tell. As I cautioned yesterday, opinions that this Song is a metaphor for God’s relationship with His people must still contend with the language in which it is framed. There is a breadth of simile connecting the natural world with the marriage chamber. Perhaps you’ve noticed that physical attributes – outward beauty and strength – dominate the celebration.
The musical conversation continues today and, even if your translation does not parse the speakers explicitly, it’s usually possible to tell whether it is the bride, groom, or their friends that is speaking. Chapter 4 is the groom’s answer to the bride’s song that we read yesterday, and the remaining dialogue shifts between adulation and longing. Listen closely for the moment of dawning wisdom of chapter 8, the only mention of the LORD anywhere in this Song, which exerts: Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.
Our verse for this week is Ephesians 6:12: For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Song of Solomon 4 through 8. Now let’s read it!
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.