Thursday

08 December 2016

“I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys. 2 As a lily among brambles, so is my love among maidens”. (vv. 1-2)

Psalm: Psalm 45


Background

The Song of Solomon is a love poem that celebrates the physical and emotional relationship of human beings. The Song is placed as a continuation of 'Wisdom literature' and is sometimes attributed to Solomon himself, although if Solomon is the author then clearly the dating has to be very early (10th century BC). But most scholars opt for a date between the 5th and 3th century BC.

The ancient Church father Origen wrote: "I advise everyone who is not yet rid of the vexations of the flesh and blood and has not ceased to feel the passions of this bodily nature, to refrain from reading this book and the things that will be said about it"! You have been warned!

This is a poem about the discovery of love; about a deepening relationship that finds its expression in all sorts of emotional and physical ways. It is a wonderful celebration of human love and sexuality. Falling in love, being in love, discovering a soulmate, developing that relationship is exciting and wonderful and glorious. Sometimes even God's people need to cast off a tendency to puritan prudishness and take human intimacy out of the shadows and celebrate it as a gift from God.

Here is just a single thought from these verses. Ponder upon the rich imagery this passage offers.

The "rose of Sharon" and "lily of the valley" were flowers common to Israel. Perhaps the girl is saying, 'I am nothing special; no different from all the others around us'. The response of 'Solomon' is beautiful, declaring her to be as "a lily among brambles": unique, beautiful, refined and delightful. He uses the language of love to encourage, celebrate and appreciate. If we take nothing else from this poem, we take that. Never take another human being for granted; never let them diminish themselves; never shy away from words that build up and which articulate the value and delight that we find in others.


To Ponder

  • Awkward or awesome? How do you feel about the presence of the Song of Solomon in Scripture?
  • Is there a 'lily among brambles' to whom you should express your love today?
  • Brambles choke and suffocate the life from other plants. Look out today for an opportunity to cut away life-limiting brambles from another person by your kindness. 


Bible notes author: The Revd Mark Dunn-Wilson

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