Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Watch Out For Little Foxes

Song of Solomon 2:1-17

“I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.

“As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.” (Song of Solomon2:1-2)

Both singers describe the woman as native wildflowers.  An artist was troubled that her paintings of wildflowers didn’t look quite right.  A more experienced artist pointed out that she was painting them as perfect flowers while the real ones had pieces eaten away by insects and petals that had been damaged by the wind and frost.  A big part of their beauty actually comes from those flaws that make them unique.   That they are surrounded by stickers and weeds emphasizes their beauty. 

We are often told love is blind.  The truth is that real love sees the person’s flaws and foibles as part of the person and loves them anyway.  Infatuation sees the person as perfect and usually turns away when they get close enough to see the flaws.  Until we can accept and appreciate those flaws, understanding where they come from, we cannot truly love the person.    The best part is that God loved us while we were still sinners and his enemies, before we bloomed.   

“As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons.  I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.  He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” (Song of Solomon 2:3-4)

The woman’s lover is not just another man.  He is as different as an apple tree surrounded by juniper and pine trees.  He stands out even from a distance.  She can be content sitting in his shade and enjoying the fruit he produces, and has no desire to look for something more.  She hardly even sees them, as Abimelech told Sarah in Genesis 20:16, “…behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other…”

Contrary to what the poets and songwriters have said, Christ is not he rose of Sharon or the lily of the valley.  He is not just an imperfect flower among a bunch of thorns.  He is the apple tree in the middle of the forest, and if we love him we hardly even notice what the world offers.     

“Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love. So 2:6 His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me.  I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please. ” (Song of Solomon 2:5-7)

When we are sharing periods of intimacy with one we love, we want tit to go on and on, and resent anything that interrupts it.  In love, the focus is not on the sex act itself, but on the touching and holding and making emotional connections.   Sexual gratification is only a pleasurable side benefit.   By focusing on the sex act itself, the world has missed out on real love, with even the sex act soon becoming meaningless. 

Unfortunately, the focus on emotional highs and activities has had a similar effect on the church.  People are no longer experiencing the day to day pleasures of intimacy with Christ.  Before long even the emotional highs get old and they begin to look elsewhere. 

“The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.  My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, showing himself through the lattice. ” (Song of Solomon2:8-9)

When we are deeply in love, just the sight of the loved one gives a thrill of pleasure, like seeing a deer crossing a field or peeking over the fence at us so that we hardly dare move for fear of driving him away.   

“My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.  For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.  O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.” (Song of Solomon 2:10-14)

When we are truly in love we want to share everything with our beloved.  Even a dandelion in the lawn or a bird singing is so moving and the budding fruit trees and garden crops hold such promise and seem so wonderful, and the best part is sharing them with someone you love. 
“Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes. (Song of Solomon 2:15)

It is fairly simple to build a fence to keep large animals like cows or horses out of your garden.  Unfortunately, little foxes can go through holes in the fence the cows can’t.  In addition they may dig under or climb over it, and the nicer the and more productive the garden is the harder they will try to get in.  They must be caught and dealt with individually.
In a similar way, it is fairly simple to guard a love relationship, whether for the Lord or for a mate from big things such as adultery or turning to another religion.  It is far harder to protect against the little things that annoy us.  As one marriage counsellor described it, far more divorces start with frustration over things like which way the mate puts the toilet paper on the roller or how they fold the towels than with some major event.  Such attitudes are very invidious and can sneak into even the best relationships.   Like the little foxes, once they get in, they continues to multiply until the relationship is destroyed, if they are not dealt with.   

“My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies.  Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether. ” (Song of Solomon2:16-17)

It is stealing to take away something that belongs to somebody else, whether you sell it or give it away, or just lock it up where they can’t get it.  When we mate, we become one flesh and no longer belong to ourselves.   We no longer have the right to act unilaterally.  We have taken on responsibility for our mate’s wellbeing as well as our own.   We have become co-dependent in that both lives are dependent on the actions of both parties.  Unfortunately, psychologists have redefined the word to refer only to the feeding of negative emotions, giving it a bad connotation.    

1 comment:

  1. I enjoy the emphasis you have rightly placed on Song of Solomon. It shows what love can be like between husband and wife, accentuating its many parts. I'm glad to see that you aren't attempting to spiritualize the passages and change them into saying something other than what they are plainly conveying.