Tim Keller wrote, ” The ecstasy and joy of sex is supposed to be a foretaste of the complete ecstasy and joy of total union with Christ. The moment we see Christ face to face …. we will be naked, yet so delighted in [our nakedness that] we will be unashamed …. The Lord God will look at us through Jesus and say, ‘I love you.’…Great sex is a parable of the Gospel—to be utterly accepted in spite of your sin, to be loved by the One you admire to the sky.”
I love Song of Songs. I adore it. This little 8 chapter love song is by and far my favorite book in the Bible. Crazy, huh? Out of everything in the Bible, I cannot stop reading this one book. I have had my fingerprints all over it, my eyes caressing its words every day for over 14 years. It’s such an enigma as to God’s story in it. God’s name doesn’t appear in the whole book. The story line is erratic, behaving much more like an actual song than a concrete story. It mostly shuns the discourse of historical facts or mindful theology, opting instead to beg the reader to enjoy the erotic words and imagery. It desires the reader to feel pleasure in the words. It’s erotic art and it’s very clear about that fact to the reader. God wrote this book and stuck it in his Bible for us. I do think it can bring important lessons and thoughts to marriage. I think it does celebrate marital love. But I really doubt that the central purpose of Song of Songs is for your or my marriage. I think the paradigmatic essence of Song of Songs is the pleasures available to us in a deep love relationship with God, through Jesus Christ.
I love what Tim said there, “We will be naked [before God], yet so delighted in [our nakedness that] we will be unashamed.” Do you know the joy that I think he’s getting at here? There is a feeling of joy, of release and abandon, when you are bare before another. It’s almost like a giddy feeling right before taking that first plunge on a fast roller coaster. It’s ecstasy and joy in the fact that you are about to be known and to know another, fully and completely. We crave this knowing. Even going barefoot is a symbol of this. Remember when God told Moses to take off his shoes? There is something naked and enjoyable, even thrilling, about being bare, even just barefoot, as we sit at our Jesus’ feet. It says, I’m all yours and I’m not going anywhere. My shoes aren’t even on. I’m staying here with you. For you to enjoy me and do with me as you desire. I am all yours God. As John Piper once said in a sermon on Hosea,
“Hosea 2:14-23 is one of the tenderest and most beautiful love songs in the Bible…In the context of a broken marriage being renewed with the fresh vows of betrothal must not the words, “and you shall know the Lord,” (v. 20) mean,you shall enjoy an intimacy like that of sexual intercourse.”
Knowing was a way to express sexual oneness in Biblical Hebrew. Adam knew Eve (Genesis 4:1). Knowing someone is an intimate process. You know things about them no one else does. You know what the breath of her nose smells like in the afternoon, the scent of her skin and hair, the sight of her body, the touch of her hand. These are things a lover knows about his beloved after being one with her. Both sexually and relationally. This is what God, and Piper, is getting at in Hosea. We will know him. Not just academically. Not just mentally. No, we will know him intimately. We will know him as, Ann Voskamp once wrote, “Spirit skin to spirit skin.”
This is the loveliness of Song of Songs. It’s a book of knowing. It’s a book lush with knowing of the beloved.
“Your lips are as sweet as nectar, my bride.
Honey and milk are under your tongue.” 4:11
“Your rounded thighs are like jewels.” 7:1
“Your breasts are like two fawns,
twin fawns of a gazelle.” 7:3
“I sit in his delightful shade
and taste his delicious fruit.” 2:3
It’s knowing. God wrote this wanting the reader to know these two lovers. And know them intimately. To know the most erotic details of their lovemaking. To know the most personal parts of who they are. These lovers in the pages of the Song are bare before us. As John Piper wrote,
“And his goal in creating human beings with personhood and passion was to make sure that there would be sexual language and sexual images that would point to the promises and the pleasures of God’s relationship to his people and our relationship to him. In other words, the ultimate reason (not the only one) why we are sexual is to make God more deeply knowable.”
To bring it home, he wrote Song of Songs so that we can know him more. Because God desires to be known intimately by us. Song of Songs is to reveal to us the intimacy God desires with us. Because we are reading our love song with him when we read Song of Songs. It’s intimacy so deep that he calls us the body of Christ (1 Co 12:27) and the bride of Christ (Rev 19:7, 2 Co 11:2)
For a lot of us who have related to God in a more reverent manner, not pursuing intimacy, this can be very off putting. It was to me at first as well 14 years ago. My advice: ask Jesus about it and let him cultivate the intimacy himself. He will. He will cause a fire to burn deep down within. His passion for us is so wild, so overwhelming, so desirable. He wants to share that with you forever. Which is why we are betrothed to him. Why our destiny is to marry him.
The applications are endless. For singles, it gives the Source of the joy they may be searching for in a human mate. The longing, the desire, the ache to be one with someone else, not just physically, but spiritually and mentally, can be sated. Not through a person, who can only do it temporarily, but through our eternal source, our God himself. You don’t have to wait for that one person to enter your life to have this joy! Because that one special person is the image of the actual Special Person who wants to be your Beloved. For us married folk, you don’t have to rely upon your spouse to fulfill everything you want. In fact, your spouse was never intended to fill that hole in your life anyway. They were intended to be a joy above all others in this world, but completeness is only found in oneness with our God Jesus Christ. No one else, no where else. It allows us to lift the burden of needing our spouse to come through for us, to meet our every need, and allows us instead to love them without the burden of filling infinite holes in our soul.
As mind blowing as this intimacy is, remember back to John 17 when Jesus is praying to our Father for his people. He asks our Father,
“I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one,Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity.
What intimacy Jesus desires for his church! Imagine the depth of intimacy between the Son and the Father, deeper than any oneness earth has to offer. Yet, it is this depth of oneness and closeness and intimacy that Jesus desires for his Beloved to share within herself, within her church.
As John Eldredge wrote on this, “Is it not the nature of true love – to be generous in love? This is something of the reason that married couples long to have children; they want others to share in their happiness. The embrace of lovers does not stay confined to the lovers; rather, it builds a home, it fills a household. And so our longing for intimacy reaches beyond our “one and only.” We come to discover that others mean so very much to us.” How true is this? And so yes in many ways we absolutely experience God as Lover one on one. But in many other ways, and ways when we arrive in our Father’s house for eternity, this love will be made one with the family of God.
We see not just a Lover and a Beloved, but we see a family, the family of God. A family rich in love, where all are known deeply and enjoyed by others. We see lovers and beloveds, brothers and sisters and friends…it’s a world of love, blossoming out of the very heart of our God, which wanted us so badly he drove his own Son to the cross to make this happen.
I found a lot of these wonderful quotes at Ann’s blog here.
Blessings to you my friends. Remember your Jesus loves you deeply, passionately, madly.
Hope you have a wonderful day! You are treasured in his eyes!