“…Love is strong as death, Jealousy (passion) is fierce as the grave (“sheol”: hell). 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.” –Song of Solomon 8:6-7
“Don’t you want somebody to love?” –Jefferson Airplane
Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all you have and are. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Just to get folks to come sing songs to God, without promises of reward and threats of endless punishment, is rather difficult. And if we loved “our neighbors as ourselves,” we surely would give more money to our neighbors, and we would touch lepers of every variety—sad people, grumpy people, boring people, and sinful people.
Just to perceive Love as a law reveals that we do not want to do what we should do—that is why we call it “a law.”
Just like “the Adam” who could not find his “helper,” and just like Eve who did not trust the Word of our Helper… we just do not love Love—love God—all that much, if at all.
The law gives knowledge of this evil, but it does not have the power to make any of us Good, and so we stand condemned.
“Don’t you want somebody to love?” No… not so much. But if we believed the Song of Solomon, I think we would.
The Song of Solomon is a set of erotic love poems.
If it has a plot, it is about a young bride surrendering her virginity—surrendering her “garden”—to a shepherd under a tree, a tree of breath (“tapuwach,” usually translated “apple tree’).
The “Song of Songs” (which means “best song”) reveals that:
#1. Love is desirable above all things.
#2. Love is more powerful than anything.
#3. Love desires you and cannot be stopped; it is the very flame of the Lord, our Shepherd.
No one told me that I had to desire my girlfriend (now my bride) when I was 17.
“God is Love,” which means real love is God. The word translated “love” in the Hebrew Song of Solomon is translated as “agape” in the Greek New Testament. To love Love is to desire God in himself and in those around you, as a young bridegroom desires his bride.
Love is desirable above all things and more powerful than anything. But we don’t believe that; that is why people hate this message.
King Solomon had an absolutely terrible sex life, but he recognized the substance in the sign and refused to give up on love; he sang that Love would not give up on him—Love (The Shepherd) is “fierce as hell.”
Solomon may have written the Song, but it is doubtful that he is the Shepherd.
Perhaps it is best to think of Solomon as the bride and Love as the Shepherd.
Maybe you have given up on love.
Maybe you have had love and lost love?
In the Song of Songs, the Bride keeps seeking and losing the Shepherd; perhaps he wants you to seek, just as you are sought.
Maybe you have loved, and it has been unrequited; you think your love is wasted.
Love is never wasted; it is strong as death. It is actually the death of death.
The first death is experienced when “the Adam” (humanity) takes the life of the Shepherd on the tree, and we hide ourselves in fig leaves and self-justification.
The second death is experienced when we return to the tree that now looks like a cross, and we see that what we have taken has always been given. We see the Shepherd lift his head and deliver up his breath—that is the breath that descends on the Bride at Pentecost and makes all things new; it is “the very flame of the Lord.”
The Lord has the “hots” for you.
“I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that you not stir up or awaken love before it pleases” (Song of Solomon 8:4).
If we experience the unmitigated, all-powerful, all-desiring, burning love of our Lord “before it pleases,” we experience his presence as rape rather than ecstasy, and refuse to surrender the garden that is our soul and the temple of our Lord.
And so, he takes us on a journey—a walk.
We return to the place we started and “know it,” (know him) for the first time.
For in the far country, in the valley of the shadow of death, we see the glory of God shining in the face of Christ as we take his life, and he gives his life, revealing the burning heart of our Creator—the fire that consumes hell and sets us free.
This “life” is not only a school of Love or an internship with Love; it is the Romance of Love that we would fall in love with Love and be finished in the image and likeness of God.
“And when I am lifted up from the earth (on the cross), I will romance all people to myself,” said Jesus.
Pierre Benoit believed that God the Father sang Song of Solomon 2:10-14 to God the Son as Jesus hung on the tree in the garden, just before he cried, “Into your hands I commit my Breath.”
Brennan Manning used to tell of praying for a dying leper named Yolanda.
Suddenly, her face shone with light, and she told Father Manning, the “Father of Jesus just told me that today I will be coming home. Brennan, this is what he said to me, ‘Come my love, my lovely one, come. For you, the winter is past… the season of joyful songs has come… Let me see your face. Let me hear your voice. Your voice is sweet, and your face is beautiful’” (Song of Solomon 2:10-14).
Yolanda was illiterate. But the Word was not dead to Yolanda.
He had risen from the dead, passed through her lips, and carried her home; she believed.
“You will Love.”
It is not simply a command; it is a prophecy and a promise from Jesus.
The sooner you believe, the sooner you will be home, and no longer stuck in hell.