King Solomon had ‘seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines’ (1 Kings 11:3). In matters of the heart, King Solomon was not lacking, or was he? Nehemiah observes, ‘Was it not because of marriages like these that Solomon king of Israel sinned? Among the many nations there was no king like him. He was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel, but even he was led into sin by foreign women’ (Nehemiah 13:26). Though Solomon had his shortcomings, God had endowed him with ‘wisdom and very great insight’ (1 Kings 4:29). ‘He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five’ (v32). Of all the 1,005 songs he wrote, one was named the Song of Songs, and it was about . . . you guessed it- love. Solomon caught a glimpse of a love he had never seen before, even with the many wives and concubines. The love was so great that he composed it to be the chief of all songs, and captures it in a vivid and symbolic way.
The scene opens with a woman among her shepherd friends. She catches a glimpse of a King, and it is love at first sight. As He passes by, she catches His scent and exclaims, ‘Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like fine perfume poured out. No wonder the maidens love you!’ (Songs of Songs 1:4). Her friends also agree with her and similarly praise the King, ‘We rejoice and delight in you; we will praise your name more than fine wine’ (v4). But something in her has been evoked and a fragrance is not enough, she wants to know Him more. But she is conscious of herself; ‘Do not stare at me because I am dark, because I am darkened by the sun’ (v6). Still, she is determined to know Him. She asks which route the King has taken, and her friends respond, ‘If you do not know most beautiful of women, follow the tracks of the sheep’ (v8).
This Hallmark–like scene (only better) that King Solomon paints is a divine revelation of the budding and growing relationship one has with the lover of our soul, Jesus Christ. The journey to knowing Christ is a personal yet intimate affair that could only be described in the most intimate of unions, marriage- where ‘the two become one flesh’ (Mark 10:8). Everyone catches a glimpse and scent of Christ, but some like the maiden spring up and follow Him. Her friends remark of His splendour but are not moved to any action. Likewise, some hear about Jesus and remark, Yes I believe in Him but stop there. They do not seek to deepen their relationship with Him- to see Him face to face, to talk to Him intimately and to follow Him. Those who seek to draw closer to Him are at first scared because of our sins which have tainted us, but like the maiden, we soon realise that His grace outweighs our sins, and so we press on toward Him.
Before the maiden reaches to Him, the King had already took notice of her and loved her from way before- even when she hadn’t seen Him. He says, ‘I liken you, my darling, to a mare harnessed to one of the chariots of Pharaoh’ (v9). Jesus immediately sees our sin and bondages before we even personally know Him, but still considers us His darlings. He sees we are bound and are used to drive the enemy’s agenda, like a horse yoked to a chariot of the opposing forces. But, our lover, our King tells us, ‘We will make you ear-rings of gold, studded with silver’ (v11). When we come to Jesus, He bestows on us ‘a crown beauty instead of ashes’ (Isaiah 61:3).
When the King invites the maiden for a meal, she watches Him for she does not quite know Him and doesn’t know what to expect. But she makes an observation; ‘While the king was at his table, my perfume spread its fragrance. My lover is to me a sachet of myrrh resting between my breasts’ (v12-13). While in God’s presence, we notice that we are saturated and then reflect His radiance, like how fragrance from a perfume is spread. We notice that our Spirit man is being quickened, it is coming to life and that we have something in us, something like a sachet of myrrh in our hearts. We start to see ourselves different. We see our splendour and say like the maiden, ‘I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys’ (2:v1). Her Lover adds, ‘Like a lily among thorns is my darling among maidens’ (v2). Jesus, while reassuring us of our beauty in Him warns us to be careful for we are ‘like sheep among wolves’ (Matthew 10:16).
At the early stages of loving our King, we don’t yet see the price we have to pay. Like the maiden, we are love-struck and exclaim, ‘I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste. He has taken me to the banquet hall and his banner over me is love’ (v3-4). As we eat the fruit of Jesus’s love and feast on His Word, we are strengthened. We don’t know yet that we are strong enough, and like the maiden we say, ‘I am faint with love’ (v5). But the Lover charges her, ‘Arise, come my darling; my beautiful one, come with me’ (v13).
The King then takes the maiden to a vineyard and beckons her, ‘Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom’ (v15). Once we become His disciples, Jesus immediately charges us with a commission saying, ‘I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you’ (Luke 10:19). We see the need for He shows us how the enemy and his demons (foxes) have wreaked havoc in the world (vineyards). By fulfilling his commission, we destroy the works of the devil (catching foxes), as Jesus instructs and watches over us. Like the maiden, we notice, ‘My lover is mine and I am his; he browses among the lilies. Until the day breaks and the shadow flees’ (v16-17).
In as much as the maiden loves the King, she restrains herself. However, she still has a longing for Him; ‘All night long on my bed I looked for the one my heart loves; I looked for him but did not find him’ (3:v1). She finally sees him again and remarks, ‘when I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go’ (v4). Likewise, Jesus, our Lover, promises us, ‘When you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you’ (Jeremiah 29:13-14). The maiden now sees the King in a glorious revelation of His splendour and majesty. The King also marvels at her beauty. He knows each of her being and describes her as an expression of creation; ‘your eyes are doves, your hair is like a flock of goats . . . your teeth are like a flock of sheep . . . (4:v1-2). He adds, ‘All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you’ (v7). When we are in Christ Jesus, He sees us as spotless, for His blood cleanses us from sin and makes us His bride.
‘I will love them freely’ ~ Hosea 14:4
Watch: First Love by Kari Jobe ft. Cody Carnes – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ji2u-_gEANo