Under an apple tree doesn’t sound like it would be the most comfortable of settings for love, does it? But when the mood strikes and the opportunity is there, it can be a thrill to share your love in unexpected places. Too often we limit ourselves. Imagine how many opportunities you’ve missed to make a beautiful memory under the stars, or in a deserted parking lot, or even in your backyard in the middle of the day! The “where” isn’t important. It’s the reckless abandon to show your lover how much you want him/her.
I also learned that the apple tree was a familiar symbol for love in Solomon and Shulamith’s culture. It was the sweetheart tree of the ancient world. So maybe the reference wasn’t meaning an actual tree at all. In other words, it could be love was awakened at the right time. The time for romance can be different for different people. Sometimes there will be pain if the couple’s timing is off. We always want to be in tune to our mate’s needs and sensitive to appropriate timing.
So, what is love? Some say it is a surrender. We give in to the heart and let our emotions rule. Shulamith asks here, “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm.” I remember singing a song for a wedding once with these words. What was she asking? Was she asking to be identified as his possession or having his approval, like a “seal” would be on an official document? I don’t think so. But I do think she wanted to make an impression on him, be remembered, be treasured. Figuratively, in the Old Testament, a seal was used to represent something of great value you would want to keep forever.
When we love someone, we want it to last forever. Our thoughts become consumed with the other’s well-being and happiness. They become our “whole world.” What do you make of this, “For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave.” Love certainly has a power that can hold its own to the distractions of this world. When we wed, we vow “until death do us part” which would seem to indicate that love should stand the test of time. The jealousy here is more about the passion and depth of connection we feel. It doesn’t necessarily mean the feelings of resentment and mistrust so often associated with what we think of as jealousy.
“Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it.” What is the flame burning in your soul? Who lights your fire? I like picturing love like a flame. Sometimes it’s raging hot, and other times smoldering a bit. Life happens and can zap us of our feelings of passion. As long as our love has a flicker of a flame, it can always be rekindled to burning bright.
“If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.” Now we know where the lyrics and also movie, “Can’t Buy Me Love” may have come from. It’s true. Money doesn’t buy love. Money can buy a lot of things for our enjoyment, but love is not for sale.
What about you? What is love to you?
Let’s pray … Thank you, God for showing us what love is all about. Thank you for loving us so much that you sent your Son, Jesus to die for us. May I live my life in gratitude for your love and love you in return more than life itself. In Jesus’ name. Amen.