There’s something shocking in Song of Songs.
I know, that’s kind of a commonplace these days. “Song of Songs says things you’d never believe were in the Bible.” For example, one of my favorite parts of scripture is Song 7:7-8, which I can’t link because then this blog would be NSFW.
I understand: if you’ve heard enough spicy sermons out of Song of Songs, it might not be as shocking to you as it would have been otherwise. But wait.
Because, traditionally, Song of Songs has been described as a picture of Christ’s love for his Church. Let’s suppose that’s true. It might also be a how-to manual for godly sex, as it certainly seems to be in places, but let’s just suppose that fifteen or seventeen centuries of interpretation isn’t hopelessly 100% wrong.
Are you with me? “Are we tracking?” Okay. Then consider what we read in Song of Songs 6:5. The man says to the woman:
Turn away your eyes from me, for they overwhelm me /
Your hair is like a flock of goats leaping down the slopes of Gilead.
I’m not sure what the bit about goats and Gilead says about hair — something extremely flattering, I’m sure — but the rest is pretty clear. Anyone who’s been in love — or even infatuated — knows that feeling. It’s the “I want to ask you to the dance but I have to look at my feet when I do it” feeling. The “I really like you, or think I do, but I’m so overcome by the butterflies in my stomach I can’t actually look you in the eye to say so” feeling.
But consider: this verse is the man speaking to the woman. That would make it Christ speaking to his Church. Can you imagine Jesus the same kind of feeling looking at us — at you and me and the rest of the church — that we’ve experienced in our relationships? The sweaty palms, the stomach doing flip-flops, the stealing-looks-then-looking-away-before-eyes-meet? Jesus? Nervous?
How many of us look at Christ’s church the way he does? Wow.