The Dancing Puritan

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Love Songs

The Song of Solomon is a love song. Sometimes the man sings. Sometimes the woman sings.  Sometimes a chorus of ladies sings.  All sing love songs.

The songs are all about the love between a man and a woman.

Love songs are filled with many poetic pictures/images/symbols.  The pictures, though not always literal, always describe actual experiences.  It may take some creative thinking but if you examine the songs long enough you will eventually scratch through to the meaning of the symbols. Yet, mostly, the songs are not to be examined. They are to be sung.

Our language needs more poetry, more prose, more music.

Sometimes we need the straightforward language of the Apostle Paul when he says, Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her... (Ephesians 5:25). His language is straightforward and his illustration is powerful. There is no flowery language in Paul's statement. He says directly that husbands are to love their wives.  His illustration is staggering, as Christ loved the church. We get it--right away.  A husband is to love his wife in the same manner as Christ loved the church. He is to love his wife sacrificially, specifically and with a sanctifying objective (as the context will bear out).  The husband is to lay down his life in loving his wife. He is to love her in a manner distinct from his love for anyone else.  He is to love her with a view towards her holiness.  To love her like that he needs the gospel to transform and inform him. And his love illustrates the gospel (as does the entire marriage).  Paul's language packs a punch. He writes, Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord...and let the wife see that she respects her husband (22,33).

Solomon says the same thing but in a different way.

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 (Song of Solomon 2:3).

The message is the same as Paul but the language is more flowery. It is more musical.  Solomon, via the woman, says that the husband is a protective tree that provides sweet fruit.  You might say that the husband is the head of the wife and he nurtures and cherishes her (Ephesians 5:29). He keeps her safe and provides her with a sweet life. The wife submits to and respects her husband by sitting in his shadow and enjoying his fruit.  What brings greater honor to the giver of a gift than enjoying the gift that is given?  The woman honors her lover by receiving his good gifts of protection and nuture. She honors him by delighting in him.

Sometimes I need the gut punch of Paul.  Often I need to love songs of Solomon.