27 September, 2023

September 24 | The Lord Speaks

by | 18 September, 2023 | 0 comments

Unit: Song of Songs 
Theme: Speaking of Love 
Lesson Text: Song of Songs 1:1-8; 2:4, 16-17; 8:6-7 
Supplemental Texts: John 10:11, 28-29; John 15:9-17; Revelation 19:6-9 
Aim: Contemplate Jesus’ epic and exuberant love for his people, and worship him. 

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Download a PDF of this week’s lesson material (the study by Mark Scott, the Application by David Faust, and Discovery Questions by Michael C. Mack): LOOKOUT_Sept24_2023.

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By Mark Scott

It was not uncommon for God to elevate the conversation. Jesus would often do this to take the conversation where he wanted it to go. For instance, when speaking with the woman at the well, Jesus offered her living water. She didn’t understand, so she replied, “You have nothing to draw [water] with” (John 4:11). But Jesus essentially told her there were two different kinds of water. He offered her spiritual water (i.e., salvation). Consider Caiaphas. He wanted to kill Jesus so that the whole nation would not die (John 11:50). But God took his words and made them prophetic of Jesus’ death for all the children of God.  

The conversation can be elevated in the Song of Songs, as well. For centuries scholars have wrestled with the “natural” meaning of the book. Is its meaning to be understood literally or figuratively? It clearly contains both. The question is, “Can the meaning of the book be extended?” An earlier voice from church history must have thought so. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153) preached from this book for 16 years and got only to chapter 3. That can be done only by extending the meaning to a higher level (e.g., the love God has for his people is likened to the passionate love a husband and wife have for each other). With this book of the Bible, we can reason from effect to cause (though the utmost care must be taken—lest the author’s intended meaning be compromised). If human love is joy unspeakable, then it must have come from somewhere beyond itself (i.e., God himself). So, the Lord can speak through the voices of the man, the woman, and the friends. While Song of Songs 1:1-8 and 2:16-17 have been studied in previous lessons, they are used again here in their extended meaning. 

How Sweet It Is
Song of Songs 1:1-4

There probably is nothing sweeter than love. That sweetness can be likened to a kiss. A doctor once remarked, “Do you know how many germs are transferred when people kiss?” The patient responded, “What a way to die.” Twice in these verses love is likened to the sweetness of wine; a third instance likens the sweetness of perfume to love. The woman desires to share that love with her husband in his chambers.  

God’s love is also sweet. The psalmist said, “Thy lovingkindness is better than life” (Psalm 63:3, King James Version). Paul taught that God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that he has given us (Romans 5:5). Ah, the sweetness of the Holy Ghost becoming our holy guest. 

Not Worthy! Not Worthy!
Song of Songs 1:5-8

When an athlete makes a great play, teammates will sometimes bow down and cry, “Not worthy! Not worthy!” They are feigning humility to say they are not worthy to play beside such a fine athlete. The woman in the Song of Songs suffered from a similar poor self-image. She was especially conscious of her suntanned skin. Her dark skin color was the result, of course, of working outside all day long. This being her lot in life, she felt unworthy of the king’s love.  

All believers in the Lord Jesus surely have felt the same way. Paul reminded the Roman Christians that Christ had died for them when they had felt most unworthy. In fact, it was while they were still sinners that Christ died for them (Romans 5:8). The worthiness was in the lover—not in the loved.  

Song of Songs 2:4, 16-17

More than one high school or college student has been charged with PDA (or public display of affection). There is a time and place for everything, of course, and while proper decorum needs to be observed, sometimes love just needs to be declared publicly. The woman wanted everyone at the king’s banquet table to know that the king’s banner over her was love. It is not wrong (and it actually is proper) to cry out in public, “Hands off. This woman belongs to me.” She wanted him to come to her in the presence of others. 

God’s salvific act on our behalf did not occur in a corner (Acts 26:26). He publicly displayed his love for all people (Galatians 3:1). A cross at the crossroads outside of Jerusalem was hard to miss. 

Stronger than Spinach
Song of Songs 8:6-7

For decades, parents have tried to get their children to eat spinach by telling them it will make them strong like Popeye. No kid bought it. But love is powerful (certainly more powerful than the effects of spinach). Love is as strong as a government seal, as strong as death itself, and as strong as a blazing fire. No amount of water can wash love away. No wealth comes close to the value of real love.  

The hymnwriter said it strongly, “Could we with ink the ocean fill; And were the skies of parchment made; Were every stalk on earth a quill; And every man a scribe by trade; To write the love of God above, Would drain the ocean dry; Nor could the scroll contain the whole, Though stretched from sky to sky” (“The Love of God” by Frederick M. Lehman).  


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