“The voice of my beloved! Look, he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Look, there he stands behind our wall, gazing in at the windows, looking through the lattice.” (Song of Solomon 2:8 – 9)
I have a choice of two different Old Testament passage this week, from different parts of the bible. But when you look at their foundational elements they are very much the same.
“So now, Israel, give heed to the statutes and ordinances that I am teaching you to observe, so that you may live to enter and occupy the land that the LORD, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the LORD your God with which I am charging you.” (Deuteronomy 4:1 – 2)
We know the occasion of this second passage from Deuteronomy – the Hebrews were being readied to cross over into the lands that Yahweh had promised them. Moses was telling them to use due diligence and to be faithful to the Lord God and to the commandments and teachings the Lord God have given to them. The faithful was being ordered and commanded of them because . . . . well, because that was the type of relationship that the Hebrews expected to have with their Lord God.
“My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” (Song of Solomon 2: 10 – 13)
But what if the Lord God spoke as a lover inviting the beloved to come and dwell with the Divine. What if the plea for faithfulness was spoken as the fidelity that is between two lovers? What if the desire for exclusiveness was born of intense love and unwillingness to let anyone else be loved and love as deeply as the Divine? Do you think the Hebrews would have strayed?
Instead, they heard this . . .
“You must observe them diligently, for this will show your wisdom and discernment to the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and discerning people!” For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is whenever we call to him? And what other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just as this entire law that I am setting before you today? But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children–” (Deuteronomy 4:6-9)
It should surprise no one that the bible commentators (for the most part) see the Song of Solomon through (as I have come to call it) the lens of the New Testament. Of course (they say) it means Christ as the lover and we the church & believers as the beloved. And quite honestly for my purposes here, that works. Other times I may emphasis the romantic passionate nature of the Song of Solomon. But then the Divine that I believe in is a romantic passion God. So what if the Lord God at the crossing over to the promised land spoke with passion and deep sentiment of love? Would the story of Israel and Judah be different?
How does the Lord speak to you, beloved reader? With authority and command? Or with love and passion? Does it make a difference in how you would respond and act? Ponder this. Shalom!