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The Song of Songs: Chapter 8

As Solomon brought his love song to a close, he once again gave the predominant voice to the woman. Her long sequence in the dialogue actually begins in Song 7:9. We will pick it up in verse 11. The woman repeats: “Come, my lover, let us go … let us spend … let us go…” (7:11, 12) Her repetitive words emphasize spending time together. Indeed, several images at the end of this song evoke the passage of time or time spent together: another season of spring, new and old, and delicacies stored up for her loved one. Her language suggests that spending time together is the nourishment needed for love to flourish and, by consequence, a marriage to grow strong. We see that “oneness” with her husband through the image of them together — she is leaning on him, her “lover” — and they are coming out of the desert. (8:5)

In Bible times, the only men that a woman could touch in public were her father and her brothers. She wasn’t allowed to be seen touching her husband because touching between spouses was perceived to be sexual in nature, and therefore, such touching was not something the public should see…” By mentioning her male family members, it was as if “she was saying, ‘I wish I could love you in public with the same passion I have for you in private. I’d like to love you passionately twenty-four hours a day and in every setting.”

Note the reference to the passage of time. The context and missing phrase now give verse four a slightly new slant. The reference to “gazelles and does of the field” seems to relate to images of youthfulness; its absence here suggests that she is no longer as young as she used to be. In this light, her “charge” appears to speak of her experience in the difficulty of love. This verse’s previous two appearances advocated restraint, something that can be very hard to do. Even though she can now fully give in to her passions after marriage, loving another isn’t always easy. The love song as a whole evokes images of longing and conflict.

Nonetheless, the love song overwhelmingly sings the praises, the rewards and the abundant fulfillment that comes in loving another. Love is, after all, God’s gift to us; we may know it and experience it because of who He is. (1 John 4:16) The woman uses fervent language in verses six and seven to evoke how very strong it is. It is most definitely a spark that leads to the passion of the bedroom, but not always. In marriage, love is also – and maybe more so – the commitment of a “seal,” a stamp, a guarantee, an assurance, a covenant. Faithful commitment is not drudgery, but is “a release to enjoy the fullness of love and joy in a relationship. With faithful commitment comes emotional strength, healing, growth and peace.” True love never gives up. Then, joy and peace may abound.

Key Verses:
“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned.” ~ Song of Songs 8:6-7

Questions to ponder:

  • How would you describe your track record of support, friendship and faithfulness in a relationship? How can you improve in these areas?
  • When you look back over the most important relationships in your life, how can you see God at work in them?
  • If you are married, how did you see God bring you together in the first place? How do you and your spouse complement each other now?
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