Wednesday 01 April 2020

Bible Book:
Song of Solomon

I sought him, but did not find him; I called him, but he gave no answer. (v. 6b)

Song of Solomon 5:2-8 Wednesday 1 April 2020

Psalm: Psalm 102:12-28


Like yesterday’s passage, this one is often read as a dream (given that the speaker “slept, but my heart was awake” v. 2). Unlike Song of Solomon 3:1-5, where the dreamer’s longing for her lover is fulfilled, this passage paints a much darker picture – the woman’s lover knocks on the door but is gone by the time she opens it. Once again, she seeks him on the city streets – but this time, fails to find him, and the guards (whom she simply passes by in 3:3) beat her and take her coat.

This passage presents the darker side of longing. We sense the woman’s frustration as she and her lover pass like ships in the night, and the physical pain of seeking what cannot be found. By the end of the passage, she is “faint” (v. 8) and “wounded” (v. 7).

For many years, the Song of Solomon was read by both Jewish and Christian traditions as an allegory – for the love between God and the people of Israel, and/or the love between Christ and the Church. This should not allow us to ignore the fact that the Bible contains rich, erotic imagery that celebrates the gift of human sexuality (Verse 4 of today's passage is perhaps particularly striking!). But the language of this section, coupled with yesterday’s, can help us to express the pain of seeking the God we love, seemingly without success. The Bible – perhaps especially the Psalms – acknowledges that, sometimes, God can seem distant and our seeking can leave us feeling bruised. “O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.” (Psalm 22:2) The vivid language of the Song of Solomon can help us to express our own experience – not just of romantic love, but of the human heart that is restless until it finds its rest in God.


To Ponder:

  •  Read Professor Clive Marsh's recent blog. In the current COVID-19 pandemic, how and where have you experienced God? In our confusion and fear, has God seemed distant – or close at hand? Have you experienced God's love in the kindness of others?
  • The poet Saint John of the Cross draws heavily on the imagery of the Song of Solomon to express a sense of longing for God during the "dark night of the soul". Take a look at some of his poetry, and see if his descriptions resonate with you.



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