Just about every man remembers the first time he got “the talk”—that awkward introduction to “the birds and the bees.” These talks are usually embarrassing because Dad or Mom (or son) is painfully uncomfortable even broaching the subject.
In the same way, it can be uncomfortable to read or write about the Song of Songs because the imagery is often overtly sexual. At times it feels like God accidentally let some French poet slip a few excerpts of his romantic verse into the pages of Scripture. Indeed, Song of Songs is so graphic that Jewish kids were not allowed to read it until they were 13 years old.
But here we are, my friends. And we are in a passage that fits that bill. Here, it seems Shulamith is taking significant romantic initiative toward her husband. If you didn’t know the historical context, you might think she’s whisking him away on a weekend trip to Napa Valley. This scene is full of intimate dialogue and straight-up seduction on the part of the wife. How do we read a passage like this?
Any time marriage is discussed in the Bible, we should first remember that marriage reflects Christ’s love for His Church (Ephesians 5-22-33). As a picture of the gospel, marriage is always saying something about God.
So when we come across passages like these, we should perhaps move into what feels like even more awkward territory and dwell on how the intimacy between these two lovers reflects the relationship between Christ and His bride, the Church.
Notice that throughout Scripture, there is a call for men to lead and initiate in marriage. As Christ is the servant-leader to His bride, so His bride is a servant-helper to her Husband. This doesn’t mean, of course, that the bride has no role to play in cultivation and initiation. In the same way, Christ’s bride is not merely a passive recipient of devotion or love. No, we’re active participants.
More than a sex talk, this passage joins others in calling us to seek and pursue Christ as active agents in discipleship (Proverbs 8:17; Psalms 27:8; Matthew 7:7-8; Acts 17:27; Hebrews 11:6; et al.). As Luther said, “We’re saved by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone.” As Shulamith ferociously pursues her husband, we should also ferociously pursue Christ.
Written By Brandon D. Smith