8 April 2017Song of Solomon 8:5b-7
“Many waters cannot quench love, neither can flood drown it. If one offered for love all the wealth of one’s house it would be utterly scorned.” (v. 7)
Psalm: Psalm 136:1-19
The writer of the Song of Solomon was not an idealist, and was well aware of the cost lovers must pay for defying social norms. Love does conquer all, but there is a price to be paid. For love to survive it will have to survive the forces of cultural beliefs, family traditions, outside opinions and the lovers' own strengths and weaknesses. The poet seems to be happy to support the woman's desire to love whom she chooses while, at the same time, respecting the power that custom, tradition and attitudes have to distort even the most loving attempts to reform and change minds.
The Song of Solomon is both for the contemplative and the realist. It demands quiet reflection and honesty from its readers. It invites us to explore the complicated world of emotion and feelings which clash with inherited values and tradition. Nothing in this poem is simple or straightforward.
The central message for us is concerned with the power and the politics of love. The poem lays out the risks of loving and challenges the reader to wonder if love is worth the cost. The recurring narrative theme of the Bible is that the power of divine love subverts religious and political systems that oppress and exclude human beings because of their gender, sexuality, beliefs, social standing and all the other reasons we find to justify why we are in but 'they' are out.
The love of God, expressed supremely in the crucified Christ, subverts everything that stands in the way of human beings receiving that love and yet the love was expressed in terrible suffering. Loving as God loves is certainly not a soft option.
- What have you learnt about love from the Song of Solomon?
- What is the challenge here for you as you approach Holy Week and Good Friday?