Read Song of Solomon 7
Focus on verse 2
I understand that poetic license is supposed to give writers the freedom to use words in ways that bring pictures to our mind to help us visualize more clearly what is being described. Anyone who has become familiar with classic literature is aware that many of these descriptors are entrenched in the culture and age within which they were written. For example William Shakespeare’s works are commonly accepted as some of the greatest literature of the 16th century, if not of all time. A person who is unfamiliar with Shakespearian English might have a difficult time understanding some of the 16th century word pictures and thereby miss much of the beauty, humor, wit and wisdom of Shakespeare.
In today’s reading Solomon continues describing the love of a husband and wife in the language and word pictures of an eastern Semitic culture that existed more than two thousand years before Shakespeare. I recall a music video called “Baby why not me” created by Christian comedian and musician, Mark Lowery in which he exploits the language of the Song of Solomon in a humorous fashion. I can only imagine how my wife might respond if I attempted to compliment her by telling her that her belly is like a heap of wheat, or that her hair looks like a flock of goats! Somehow that doesn’t seem to create the same picture in current American culture as I presume it did in the time and culture of Solomon.
One of the keys to effective communication is context. Most things that are taken out of their context can be easily misunderstood. I might have had the most sincere intention of complementing my wife by comparing her belly to a heap of wheat, but outside of the context of the Song of Solomon, it would most likely be misunderstood, and would likely rather be taken as an insult. A more culturally contextualized compliment in contemporary American culture might be to say, “your belly is like a six pack”, but even that could be misunderstood in the wrong context.
What I believe the Song of Solomon can teach us – if we can get beyond the archaic language – is that God created us to be passionate in our relationships, particularly in the romantic relationship between a husband and wife. This might also apply in a spiritual sense to the relationship God desires to have with His people…not in an erotic sense, but more that its okay and possibly even commendable to allow our feelings to be engaged in our relationship with God. For some of us descriptive poetic language helps us to engage our emotions. For those among us that don’t get it… it might be music, or art. The point is not what it might be that engages our passion for God; the point is that our passion for God gets kicked into gear by something! Our job is to figure out what that something might be and then allow God to use it.