Daily Devotional for Small Group Discussion: *Gasp!*

Daily Devotional for Small Group Discussion: *Gasp!*

July 10, 2017
Written by Quinn Caldwell

Discussion Questions:

If you've read the Song of Songs (aka Song of Solomon) before, what did you think it was about?  Human sexual love?  Divine love?  Something else?  Both?

How did you feel as you read the paragraph that begins, "God, actively trying to…"?  Why did you feel that way?

What relationship does human sexual love have to divine love?  In what way, if at all, is the desire two humans might feel for each other like the desire God and humans feel for each other?

Psalm 119:161-168

Song of Solomon 2

I am a rose of Sharon,
    a lily of the valleys.

As a lily among brambles,
    so is my love among maidens.

As an apple tree among the trees of the wood,
    so is my beloved among young men.
With great delight I sat in his shadow,
    and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
He brought me to the banqueting house,
    and his intention toward me was love.
Sustain me with raisins,
    refresh me with apples;
    for I am faint with love.
O that his left hand were under my head,
    and that his right hand embraced me!
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
    by the gazelles or the wild does:
do not stir up or awaken love
    until it is ready!

Springtime Rhapsody

The voice of my beloved!
    Look, he comes,
leaping upon the mountains,
    bounding over the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle
    or a young stag.
Look, there he stands
    behind our wall,
gazing in at the windows,
    looking through the lattice.
10 My beloved speaks and says to me:
"Arise, my love, my fair one,
    and come away;
11 for now the winter is past,
    the rain is over and gone.
12 The flowers appear on the earth;
    the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
    is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree puts forth its figs,
    and the vines are in blossom;
    they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
    and come away.
14 O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
    in the covert of the cliff,
let me see your face,
    let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet,
    and your face is lovely.
15 Catch us the foxes,
    the little foxes,
that ruin the vineyards—
    for our vineyards are in blossom."

16 My beloved is mine and I am his;
    he pastures his flock among the lilies.
17 Until the day breathes
    and the shadows flee,
turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle
    or a young stag on the cleft mountains.


*Gasp!*

"The voice of my beloved!
    Look, he comes,
leaping upon the mountains,
    bounding over the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle
    or a young stag.
Look, there he stands
    behind our wall,
gazing in at the windows,
    looking through the lattice.
My beloved speaks and says to me:
"Arise, my love, my fair one,
    and come away…" - Song of Songs 2:8-10

I used to scoff, pretty hardcore, at certain ways of reading the Song of Songs.  "Christ and his bride, the Church?  Boooo, allegory! Tune in and get liberated, squares: this is about sex, pure and simple."  I loved that my Bible contained a naughty celebration of human love, of sexual desire.  I still do.

But while taking the Song at face value is naughty and lovely in one way, old-school allegory may be even more so: if the characters in the story are God and the church, or God and humanity, or God and you, then the story presumes an equality between the two so profound that it really ought to shock the pants off anybody paying attention.

God, actively trying to get me to have some alone time in the woods.  Jesus, finding me attractive enough to seduce me (calm down; we're reading allegorically now, remember?).  The Spirit, abandoning the comforting of the world long enough to whisper sweet nothings through my keyhole.  Oh, my.

Or maybe it's the other way around.  Maybe God's the one locked in the house, and I'm the one trying to coax God out into the open.  Maybe God's the demure one, torn between decorum and desire for me.  Maybe my gazelle-leaps and stag horns make the creator of the cosmos want to rip open the heavens and go bounding through the fields with me.

I used to think that allegory was just an imaginative attempt to tame the Song's naughtiness.  But the truth is, for sheer shock value, two random people falling in love has nothing on a God that is as besotted with humanity as ours is.

Prayer

God, your love is enough to make even the least prudish of us clutch our pearls in wonderment.

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