“I am tired, Beloved, of chafing my heart against
The want of you; Of squeezing it into little inkdrops,
And posting it. And I scald alone, here, under the fire
Of the great moon.
~Amy Lowell, “The Letter”
Being in love and in a wilderness – is there any more wrenching place to be? In the first several verses of the Song of Songs we experience the Shulamite woman in the very chambers of King Solomon. But now a few verses later she is away from him and feeling the distance. Oh, what is one to do with the fire that love kindles? .
To varying degrees we all relate to the frustration of separation. Built into every fiber of our being is a longing for intimacy and closeness. In the beginning of the world this was not an issue, when in the first creation garden the woman was inside the man and together they were securely fastened in continual and perfect communion with each other and with God. But in a master plan of hope,¹ that included us in Christ, God took Eve out of Adam. The “one” became “two”; fragmented by matter, distance, and time. It was almost enough to turn the paradise into a wilderness; and that’s not even speaking for what sin, fear, and shame soon caused!
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick: but when desire is fulfilled it is a tree of life.” Prov.13:12 .
The power of love…
There is a scene in the movie “Conspiracy Theory” that struck me awhile back. Mel Gibson is in a helicopter watching the love of his life played by Julia Roberts running for her life from a chasing assassin. The pilot says to him, “You shouldn’t watch this. She is a woman without hope.” Mel Gibson, who knows her well, responds, “You haven’t seen her run.” . Hope is powerful.
Hope can turn a wilderness into a paradise. Hope gave the woman in this movie wings. And for the Shulamite, hope motivated her to write a note to her Beloved and then patiently wait for one to come back!
“Tell me, the one who my soul loves. Where do you graze? Where will you lay down at noontime? Why should I be one who is veiled wandering beside the flocks of your companions?” Song 1:7 .
The movement of love…
From what I gather in researching the background of the Song of Songs, the very wealthy Solomon owned numerous herds of animals and vineyards which he leased out.² The Shulamite’s brothers were likely hirelings who made their sister do their work for them. While Solomon may have occasionally visited these sites to check on them and receive dues, most likely agents were used. I can see the Shulamite using one of these men to carry her note to Solomon. .
I really like the image of this. God’s love, as revealed in Christ, is not a dispassionate doctrinal concept. His love is like passion – it has action, and it is continually passionate for the object of its passion. And while separation is inevitable as long as we are contained in these mortal bodies, we are invited to “draw near to God, and He will draw near to you,” James 4:8. In the case of the Shulamite and the King, there are times they appear to use the current ‘technology’ of the day to help bridge the gap between each other. Jamal Jivanjee once said, “Nothing communicates relational freedom, love, and a desire to know another like a thoughtful question.” .
If any of this resonates with your heart today, including the question in the song below, I pray it comforts you to know that Solomon sends an answer back to his bride as to where he will be for her, and how she can find him. From this we can be assured – the Lord’s heart is responsive. It is impatiently patient to be with His Bride as well.
P.S. To be continued.
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¹ Romans 8:20 / ² Song 8:11, 1:6