Saturday, April 8, 2017

Jesus Expresses His Love to His Bride, the Church

"Behold, you are beautiful, My love,
     behold, you are beautiful!
Your eyes are doves
     behind your veil.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
     leaping down the slopes of Gilead.

You have captivated My heart, my sister, My bride; 
     you have captivated My heart with one glance of your eyes,
with one jewel of your necklace.
     How beautiful is your love, My sister, my bride!"

- Song of Solomon 4:1, 10 

Have you ever read the Song of Solomon? If you have, have you ever heard a sermon on it? Most people reading this problem answered "yes" to the first question. But I would be surprised if anyone answered "yes" to the second. I haven't. And it's a shame, really. The Puritans had commentaries on the book, and preached on it, and used references from it in their literature. No doubt that was because they had a beautiful understanding of it as a love poem, not between Solomon and a Shulamite woman, though it is couched in those terms, but rather as an allegory of the relationship between the divine Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, and His Bride, the church. Notice the terminology in Revelation 19:6-10 which makes that metaphor explicit

Song 4:1-15 is an especially beautiful passage, of which I quote a portion above. In it, the Bridegroom expresses His love for the Bride. We often talk about the love of Jesus for the church, and we should! It's a wonderful thing to consider our experience of the love of our divine Savior. The difference is that this passage isn't about our experience of His love, but rather of His experience of loving us. We don't talk about that. What is His subjective experience of love toward us?

In Solomon's words above, we can see that His love is no burden to Him, but rather a delight! How extraordinary it is to imagine that the Almighty God delights in loving us, His people, knowing what sinful wretches we are!

We see another description of this in Ezekiel 16:8-14: "When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of My garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made My vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became Mine. Then I bathed you with water and washed off your blood from you and
anointed you with oil. I clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with fine leather. I wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk. And I adorned you with ornaments and put bracelets on your wrists and a chain on your neck. And I put a ring on your nose and earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour and honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord God." However, we must be humbled by the knowledge that the very next verse describes the spiritual adultery by Israel that dominated the rest of her history. In fact,the rest of the Bible, from Ezekiel 16 to Revelation 19 might be thought of as the story of Israel's rebellion and adultery and God's spiritual work of restoring her through the Gospel (see especially the Book of Hosea). In Ezekiel 16 she rejects her bridal glory, but in Revelation 19 she is restored to it.

No comments: