The Dancing Puritan

Saturday, February 16, 2013

That's Not a Lie, That's Love.

Image fromSteve Lipofsky
Michael Jordan turns 50 tomorrow. For years analysts have been on the search for the next Michael Jordan. Even with the extremely talented players that make up the NBA there is no one quite like Jordan. It might be said that out of all the basketball players during and since Michael Jordan's time that he stands out as the very best. He is unique. Other basketball stars are like players on the Washington Generals compared to Jordan.

Solomon was fond of making comparisons in his writing. His comparisons were not of the negative sort instead they resulted in confidence. He wrote of his beloved, as a lily among brambles, so is my love among the young women (Song of Solomon 2:2). In other words, all other women are like brambles compared to his girl. She is a lily. A bramble is a vine or shrub and it is prickly. It is rough and wild. The lily is cultivated and more refined.  It has six overlapping petals at the base, which form a trumpet shaped flower. It is soft, delicate and beautiful.

When Solomon surveyed the world of women (and he was good at that) he found them all to be wild, unkempt, prickly brambles compared to his soft, delicate, cultivated, refined and beautiful lady. She was a lily.

When we think of making comparisons we lean towards the negative. Sometimes a person is stupid enough to verbalize a negative comparison such as why can't you be more like your brother? But often the comparisons are secret. The woman thinks, I wish my husband were more like Thelma Lou's husband. You get the idea.

Yet comparisons can have a very positive impact.

Solomon is not attempting to slander all the other girls in his world. He is engaging in private conversation with his girl. He is not saying that all other ladies are worthless and void of beauty. He is simply saying to his girl something like this: In my eyes you are the cream of the crop, the best of the best and the lily among the flowers.  

What was Solomon not doing?  He was not conducting a scientific experiment. He did not look at a chart with all of the measurements of the other ladies in his region and develop a mathematical formula that led him to conclude that the features of his lady scientifically were superior to the other ladies. That is not the way love thinks. The thoughtful husband is not thinking, My girl has better legs than Juanita down at the Diner. Juanita's legs are the right length and have perfect dimensions. But my girl's legs, based on my exact scientific calculations, surpass even Juanita's legs.

Solomon is not speaking as a scientist.  He is speaking as a lover.  He is not concerned with Juanita's legs. He has a single eye that is focused on the woman that he loves.

The result of Solomon's comparisons (see also 1:9) was that his lover was confident. She said of herself, I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys (2:1). Positive, heart-felt comparisons inspire confidence.

And she says of Solomon, As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow and his fruit was sweet to my taste (2:3).

The apple tree is a rare find in the forest. The image brings pleasant thoughts like shade and sweet fruit.  The woman gladly sat beneath the apple tree. The other guys may have been muscular and manly but none of them were comparable to her apple tree that provided protection and nourishment. She did not sit around fantasizing about the scientifically superior taller trees. She, like Solomon, spoke the language of love.

Did Solomon and the lady lie when they spoke in such comparative language? To quote the great country-music-singing philosopher Brad Paisley, That's not a lie, that's love.

Day Two for those of you who took the Song of Solomon letter writing challenge yesterday!