Song of Solomon 1-4, Psalm 12
When I reflect back on how important I viewed God before coming into a relationship with Jesus in my late 20's I'm amazed at how different those views were then. If asked if I believed in God, I would have unemotionally and without passion responded, "Yes". I would have responded with the same enthusiasm as if being asked what my favorite color or sports team was. When I share with others now, I often hear the same response. As though taking a multiple choice test, many will mark the box as believing in God and consider themselves Christian. If asked to elaborate further, the most common replies are: "I go to church", "I was raised to believe in God", "I am Catholic (or whatever other denomination they were raised)", etc. This is why most mistakenly think that they "believe" in God. Belief in God is not merely a mental assent of acknowledgment that you accept Him. When Jesus is asked which is the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:36-37, He responds by saying, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind". Notice this was Jesus' response to the greatest commandment not the greatest suggestion. Jesus does not give us the option of unemotionally checking the box as believing. We are either all in or not in at all.
There are a multitude of ways to read the Song of Solomon. There is the direct way of seeing this as the romantic relationship between a husband and his wife. It can be seen as an allegory describing God's love for Israel. Another allegory is it can be read as the love that Christ (The Bridegroom), has for us, His Church (The Bride). For those interested, pastor Dave Brewer from our church (CCOB) recently presented from John 14:1-3, describing how Jesus and His Bride perfectly fit all the aspects of the Jewish Wedding Ceremony as practiced in those times. Notice the emotions described by His bride in Song of Solomon 1:2,4, "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth-For your love is better than wine...We will run after you." In 2:3, we read, "Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods, So is my beloved among the sons. I sat down in his shade with great delight, And his fruit was sweet to taste." He goes on to say in 2:14, 16 "O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, In the secret places of the cliff, Let me see your face, Let me hear your voice; For your voice is sweet, And your face is lovely...My beloved is mine, and I am his...". Notice the fervor that she seeks Him in 3:1-4, "By night on my bed I sought the one I love; I sought him, but I did not find him. "I will rise now, " I said, "And go about the city; In the streets and in the squares I will seek the one I love."...When I found the one I love. I held him and would not let him go,". This is the degree of passion we should have concerning our daily relationship with Christ.
God knows how easily divided our devotion is, which is why He tells us to deal ruthlessly with those that compete with Him. When entering the Promised land the Jewish people were to destroy every person and idol related to the pagan practices which inhabited the land. They ignored this edict and suffered the consequences. Concerning sin, Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount tells us to deal harshly with our sinful ways, even using the analogy of plucking out our eye and cutting off our hand in Matthew 5:27-30. Concerning our struggle with legalism which destroys grace, Paul uses the example of Hagar in Galatians 4:21-31, and tells us to cast her away. But we often struggle because rather than casting away, we flirt with the opposing side. Our spouses would never and should never tolerate our flirting with the opposite sex. Why do we believe that God tolerates this? By flirting with everything else that competes with our relationship with Christ, we have diminished our relationship with Him to one of obligation, devoid of emotion or passion, which amounts to no real relationship at all. When we consider that God loved us so much that He sent His very best, His only Son, Jesus, to come to earth to suffer and die for us, so that one day we, His Bride, could enter into the fullness of the Marriage relationship with Him, our Bridegroom, shouldn't our response be like that of the bride described in Song of Solomon. Shouldn't He be the foremost desire on our hearts? Let us pray to cast off all distractions which prevent us from loving Jesus the way we should.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: