Devotions on Song of Solomon 2:10-13, 8:6-7
July 27 – August 2, 2015
Monday, July 27, 2015
“My beloved speaks and says to me” (Song of Solomon 2:10a).
The Song of Solomon is a love poem about the love between two people. Most commentators justify its existence in the Bible by making it an allegory for God’s love. Though I don’t believe that was the original intent of the poem, I will use it in this manner—as an occasion for us to ponder God’s love.
Song of Solomon is a passionate love poem and that makes us uncomfortable. One reason might be that most of us are a little skittish about sex. We are also uneasy with the depth of intimacy that the two lovers seek. God seeks to be intimate with us. Of course not sexually intimate, but intimate in the idea of becoming one and intimate in the idea of knowing each other fully. That type of intimacy scars us (whether with another person or with God).
We’re comfortable singing, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Friendship is good; everyone needs a friend. We don’t even mind getting up early in the morning so that we can spend some time in our devotions and sing the classic “In the Garden.” Most of us know the refrain by heart. “And he walks with me and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own.” The intimacy of Song of Solomon is something else.
That’s the good news today, though. God is head over heels in love with us. God wants to have an intimate relationship with us. There is nothing that we can do to get God to change God’s mind. It’s scary, mind boggling and wonderful.
Loving in God, the depth of your love for us scares us, but we also know that it completes us. Enable us to open ourselves up to your love. Amen.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
“Arise my love, my fair one, and come away” ( Song of Solomon 2:10b).
Ah love, isn’t it grand. There is that time in a relationship where the passion of love runs strong. The couple can’t stand being away from each other. Whenever you see one you see the other. Friends are inadvertently excluded or cast aside as the couple seeks to be alone–together.
Through the years such passion may fade. The demands of a career and the responsibilities of parenthood keep the couple from being together. Still there is the desire to come away and in healthy relationships the effort is made to fulfill that need. Date nights are scheduled on a regular basis. Weekends away, when the grandparents or friends take care of the kids, are precious gifts.
The Lord beckons to us to “come away.” Many things may stand in the way of this happening. We may not think that it is important for our relationship. If it happens, it will take extra effort on our part. The invitation is always there, though. The God of all creation wants to be with us and calls to us to “come away.”
Intimate God, we hear your call. Help us to let go of the distractions and burdens of life and spend time with you–alone. Amen.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
“For now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone” (Song of Solomon 2:11).
Sargent Jose Ramos was thousands of miles away from the love of his life and his children. They were in Texas and he was in Afghanistan. He had been there for six months. He had his buddies–the men of his squad. They were a close group. They would give their lives for each other. But, they weren’t the love of his live and they were not his children. The days in Afghanistan were hot and the sun was merciless. For Jose, though, his life felt like winter–cold, dark and barren.
Winter comes at various times in our lives. There are times when we experience the winter of loss and grief. Loneliness and despair may descend upon us like a winter blizzard. Fear may make our hearts cold and God may seem to be distant.
Our situations don’t diminish the relationship. God still is present and God’s love is constant. Sargent Ramos and his beloved had the hope that in a few months he would be home and they would be in each others arms. We have the hope that the winter will pass and once again we will feel God’s embrace.
Unchanging God, in those times when life grows cold, keep us secure in the knowledge of your love and your commitment to us. Amen.
Thursday, July 30, 2015
“The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come” (Song of Solomon 2:12a).
The warm winds of spring breathe new life into the hearts to those worn down by winter’s chill. The bright sun, melting snow, appearance of flowers and warmer temperatures nurture a freshness, excitement and hope.
People celebrate the coming of spring in a variety of ways. Teenagers put down the tops of their convertibles and drive through town bare chested even with temps just above freezing. Golfers polish their clubs and book some time at a driving range. Shoppers are out looking for swimsuits, shorts, and the latest summer fashion. Life is good. It can’t be ignored. It has to be celebrated.
Perhaps there are some saints who constantly experience a spring in their relationship with the Lord. If they are, they are very rare. Most of us experience all the seasons: winter, spring, summer and fall. What a gift and what an experience of grace it is when we once again hear God speak to us. The joy is unsurpassable when we savor God’s embrace and we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are loved. It is not a time to be ignored or taken for granted. It is a time to celebrate.
God of creation, thank you for the seasons of life. May your words of love and your embrace bring a freshness to our faith, our service and our life as your disciples. Amen.
Friday, July 1, 2015
“Set me as a seal upon your heart” (Song of Solomon 8:6a).
In ancient times an inscribed ring or piece of jewelry was worn on a necklace and kept close to one’s heart. A person used it to sign legal papers and it was a mark of ownership. The seal signified a relationship–that one person had an intimate openness with another person. The rings exchanged by a couple during a wedding ceremony has a similar meaning.
For those of us who are part of the sacramental church, the seal that we wear upon our heart is the cross of Christ. It was placed on our forehead and chest by the pastor at the time of our baptism. It is God’s mark upon us; a symbol that reminds us that God has claimed us as his own. No one can see it, but we know that it is there and that it can never be removed.
Some of us make the sign of the cross–a seal upon our heart–during worship, before or after a meal, when we go to bed and when we arise in the morning. Like the ancient seal or the modern day ring, it reminds us that we are not our own, someone has claimed us as their own.
Holy Father/Mother you have claimed us as your own. Help us to live each day in that reality and to celebrate what you have done by our words and actions. Amen.
Saturday, August 1, 2015
“For love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave” (Song of Solomon 8:6b).
What is more powerful than love? Nothing! Love has stopped wars. Love has given life. Love has accomplished the impossible and performed miracles.
Examples of love’s power are all around us. We also have demonstrations of loves steadfastness. They may not be as common as we would like, but there are married couples who have journeyed through decades of life together. They have lived out the reality of a love that is constant in sickness and in health, when there are riches and when there is a lack there of. That love lasts until death and then continues in a different form.
God’s love is powerful in our lives. God’s love in the person of Jesus has reconciled us to God through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. That same love has given us strength to withstand the trails of life. It has forgiven us and given us the ability to forgive ourselves. God’s love has empowered us to take steps of faith and the journey along paths we could never have imagined. And, God’s love never ends. Where ours might end at death, God’s love transcends death. Not even death, as powerful as it is, can separate us from God’s love.
Loving Lord, we give thanks for your love and its powerful presence in our lives. May your love inspire us to love in powerful ,life-changing ways. Amen.
Sunday, August 2, 2015
“Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it” (Song of Solomon 6:7).
Manny believed that he had committed an unforgivable sin. He was driving his car when it was hit by a truck. Manny survived the crash with lots of bumps and bruises, but his three year-old daughter was killed. Manny plays the events that occurred before the accident over and over in his mind. He doesn’t know what he would have done differently, but he can accept the fact that he couldn’t prevent the accident. Manny is convinced that his daughter’s death was his fault and that God could not love such a person as him.
We have all said and done things that we not only regret, but for which we cannot forgive ourselves. These are times when we even doubt God’s ability to forgive us. We are certain that what we said or did has quenched God’s love.
Sometimes it is beyond our ability to believe that nothing that can quench God’s love for us. As the Psalmist writes, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end.” Secure in that love, the Holy Spirit can do great things through us. The Spirit can even empower us to forgive others–and forgive ourselves.
Precious Lord, grant us the ability to forgive others and ourselves and always to open our lives to be conduits of your love. Amen.