Song of Solomon is one of the briefest books in the Old Testament with only one hundred seventeen verses organized into eight short chapters. However, as its other name, Song of Songs, implies, this book is treasured as one of the loveliest in the Bible. Perhaps because it focuses on the theme of love as our highest calling or because the springtime story of a young couple’s romance engages us. Today’s passage in particular evokes spring’s contribution to the couple’s love. And as the man invites the woman to “come away,” his words draw us deeper into their love story.
In whatever way the text draws us, we cannot help but notice its difference from the rest of the Bible. Take a moment simply to lay your thumb on the outside of the pages of your Bible and gently fan through them. As you glance at the pages that pass by, you’ll see many pages covered with text. But in the middle of your Bible, you’ll glimpse white space. That’s where the poetry lives. Song of Solomon appeals to us not just as a story but as a book of poetry.
While the psalms carry a didactic quality, Song of Solomon presents narrative poetry. Poetry in general, and this text in particular, can open us to the renewing power of love. It invites us to look more intimately at ourselves, our relationships with others, and our relationship with God. And what better place than a holy text like the Bible to discover the mysterious power and presence of poetry!
God of mystery, your love comes in Bible poetry. May we hear your sacred language. Amen.
The poetry of Song of Solomon is thick with romantic imagery, and most scholars agree that these lines mean what they say on the surface; they are written from the author to the beloved. Psalm 45 echoes the refrain of admiration and desire. Such desire is not wrong if it is awakened at the proper time, as the author of Song of Solomon says elsewhere. James argues that ethical living is done not in word but in deed. True religion is not putting on a show but displaying mercy and controlling the tongue. Jesus rebukes some of the religious leaders in Mark on this very account because they talk of obedience to God but do not live it out. What we say and what we do should match.
• Read Song of Solomon 2:8-13. The narrative poetry of Song of Solomon invites us into the Bible in a way that differs from other texts. How does God speak to you through this poetry?
• Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9. Intimate human love can reflect God’s love. How do your relationships honor the gift of love?
• James 1:17-27. How do you bring God’s love to those who need it?
• Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23. Are you simply going through the motions of faith, or is your heart close to God?
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