The rain is falling. It is cold outside. I am sitting at a cafe in Cleveland, GA. Country music is playing over the loud speaker. It is small town Georgia. Everyone that walks by greets me. Georgia folks are friendly.
Since I am not at home this morning I had to deliver my Song of Solomon letter to Lori via email.
Why have I not been often writing letters to my dearest friend, prior to the last eight days? I have no good answer. You know.
Perhaps the eight days will lead to twenty-one days, will lead to sixty days, and the good thing of letter writing will become a habit. Letter writing to Lori should happen till death us do part. Let me rephrase that. Letter writing to Lori can happen. I get to write letters to her. It is a delight.
Eight days of letters has also meant eight days of The Song of Solomon (SOS). Why did God give us a book about kissing, perfume, wine, flowers, fruit, vineyards, gardens, and apple-trees? Why a book that provides graphic detail about how a man feels, thinks, and sees his beloved? Our English versions of the Bible do not really capture the graphic nature of SOS. Why a book that gives us, what we might imagine, should have been the private thoughts of a woman in love?
I know the answer. It is simple. God is good. God is generous. God is kind. God is not stingy. He gives good gifts.
His gifts are to glide over lips and teeth (7:9). Taste buds are for tasting, eyes are for seeing, ears are for hearing, and air is for breathing.
God did not create the world as a museum for tourists to press face to display windows and nod their heads while encountering foreboding signs that read, Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch. No! God gave flowers, fields, streams, mountains, valleys, milk, honey, perfume, wine, and fruit so that we can handle, taste, and touch. God is not glorified when all that we do is admire his gifts and then walk away. Imagine giving your wife a lovely necklace and she simply says, It is beautiful, but no thanks. What an offense.
God is glorified when we kiss our spouse with the kisses of our mouth. He is glorified when a wife purposefully puts on perfume to draw her husband to her side. He is glorified when we swirl the wine of love all around our palate. His gifts are to be received, savored, and enjoyed.
There is a form of religion that consists of man-made regulations. It focuses on the exterior while leaving the heart unchanged. It appears to be wise. The adherent of such a piety is admired for his rigor, his discipline, and his soberness. However, such a person has not tasted the goodness of God. He has not really smelled and enjoyed the sweet perfume of his wife. He may have sniffed at her the way a beast does his prey —but he has not really smelled. He does not know how to say, You have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. How much better is your love than wine. Your lips drip nectar, my bride; honey and milk are under your tongue... (4:9-11)
The person focused merely on externals sees flowers, hears background music, and then passes by the vineyard. But he is convinced that a serious believer is one who fights the urge to feast. He nibbles at the plate but leaves the meal largely untouched. Or he devours the meal as a savage and fails to savor the spices. His regulations or his thoughtlessness forbid true enjoyment.
In a world of toil, sorrow, and grief, God gives the music of Solomon. He reminds us that though this world is fallen and groaning for final redemption—that it still reflects his glory, his beauty, and his goodness.
In the midst of sickness, death, birth, marriage, gain, loss, and the duties of life—God paints with color, he offers song, he provides smell, and he sets a table for his children in the banquet hall of love.
We glorify him when we drink, when we eat, when we taste, and when we enjoy his gifts. The gifts are not the end-all. The gifts glorify the gift-giver. They are not to be refused. They tell us that God is great and God is good.
Yes, God gave perfume because God is great and God is good. Enjoy life to His glory!
Ray Rhodes, Jr. is president of Nourished in the Word Ministries, pastor of Grace Community Church and the author of several books. Mostly, he is a husband, daddy, and grandaddy. To schedule Ray to speak for your next event friend/message on FB Contact Ray