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Song of Songs 8:6

Song of Songs 8:6
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Song of Songs 8:6, “…love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD.”

During the “poetry” section of my morning readings, I’m working through Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs, which I like better). There’s long been debate on how to interpret this book, and that question largely comes down to whether we ought to take it as a description of literal, physical intimacy or an extended allegory about God and His people / Christ and the Church. In this situation–as a professor of mine used to say–I think that both are gloriously true.

I don’t think we can realistically deny that SoS is about physical intimacy, and–without getting into the debate–I also think that it is presenting physical intimacy (and the anticipation of that intimacy) within the context of marriage. There is much to learn about the heart of God for marriage in this book….but, precisely because it IS about marriage, I think we also have to read it–at it’s deepest level–as communicating something of the spiritual intimacy between YHWH and His elect (Ephesians 5:25ff most clearly settles that point for me).

With that in mind, as I’ve been reading through SoS, the physical, literal meaning of the poetry has been my first consideration, but then beneath that–and, indeed, informing and giving significance to that–I’ve also been looking for the truths it reveals about God’s heart of covenant love for His people.  And it’s in light of that second consideration that this picture is drawn.

8:6 is an important verse for SoS. Not only does it come at the climax of the couple’s marital passion, but it also unites the concepts of love and death, jealously (aka, warring love for the beloved) and the grave, and lastly, it supplies the only mention of YHWH’s name (in abbreviated form) in the entire book.

Much could be said about the implications of this single verse….but for now, I’ll just say that we see the full fruition of these concepts at the cross, where YHWH’s supreme love (for both His own glory and His chosen bride) are poured out to the point of death. And so potent, so pure, so resonant with the goal of reality is the wine of the LORD’s passion that it shatters the old wineskin of death and is vindicated as stronger and fiercer than the grave. How happy we are to be the people–the Beloved–of such a God!