If you are like me, when you first read today’s text you wondered, “now what’s happening?” We’re not used to seeing the traditional Hebrew custom of marriage playing out. It’s when the groom will pick up his bride and take her from her home to his own. The one “who is sweeping in from the wilderness” is indeed our bride. Can you imagine how she was feeling in this moment? The wedding procession had begun at last!
The king may or may not have been with her during her long travel from her home in Lebanon. However, he surely sent protection to assure she safely arrived at the palace. Sixty military men, presumably dressed recognizably, all providing for the escort of their soon-to-be queen.
Was she dreaming or awake? Apparently, there is something about the text that has led scholars to believe Shulamith was dreaming of missing her man. Whether dreaming or awake, her intense love for Solomon is sure. She was missing him something fierce. Have you ever been separated from the one you love?
Our daughter was separated for nearly two years from the man she was dating when she lived in Africa and he was in California going to seminary. I am sure she had some nights laying in bed dreaming of the day when they would be back together again. Long distance relationships can be hard. Shulamith would likely endure many nights after their wedding when the king would be away on “kingly” business.
Remember how eager young love can be? We don’t need to be young ourselves to experience the newness of love and the tingly attraction of a relationship. After all, each new relationship starts with a spark. How quickly that turns into a flame (if ever) depends on how we nurture those relationships.
We see some fantastic inspiration in today’s passage. Our king is very enthusiastic about his love. “He is leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills.” I remember the first days of my courtship with David. The days between calls or weeks between times we could see each other seemed like an eternity. The anticipation that bloomed made each encounter so much more enjoyable.
We have a couple different scenes in our text today. It would appear we are lounging at the table one minute, laying in a field of grass the next, and then whisked away back to the banquet hall. No matter the location, the love of these two people seems to be growing every minute. They can’t get enough of each other. They share their words of affirmation. Their attraction is real.
I remember when David and I were courting. We were known to have “googly eyes” for each other, just like these two are. Just reading the words takes me back to those first days. David was able to see a beauty in me that I couldn’t. My first marriage had ended badly after years of abuse, both physical and verbal. I had such a low opinion of myself I couldn’t imagine how I could be love-able. Yet, he saw through to the real me inside. I see that Solomon is doing the same for young Shulamith.
We’re about to embark on a new discovery of the wedding gift God gave to a husband and wife. As we read through these beautiful and sometimes odd descriptions of lovemaking and how best to cherish our spouses, remember the intention. It’s a love song of a couple, King Solomon and his bride, Shulamith. Some say this is an allegory for God’s love to his people. It can be both, and when we truly enjoy each other as God intends, we can’t help but thank him for loving us that much that he gave us such a gift.
Being part of Scripture, we can be certain that God intends for us to see the beauty in sexual relations within marriage. So much of what we see on television, in steamy novels, and in other forms of media would lead us to believe that sex outside marriage is okay, that perversion is normal, and that sexual escapades are open season. I could go on and on. Rather, God created sex for more than procreation, and it is certainly not dirty or perverted. He wants us to enjoy it, treasure it, and be blessed by it. Could I be so bold to say, sex is holy?