“Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold, you are beautiful! Your eyes are doves behind your veil. Your hair is like a flock of goats leaping down the slopes of Gilead” (4:1). Solomon is in love with his bride. Can’t keep his eyes off her. What’s the old adage? “He only has eyes for her!” You know, you think about it, and many of the world’s religions do not extol romantic love. Marriages are arranged for this and that purpose. Women sometimes are mere possessions in the houses of their husbands. But the Bible exalts romantic love between a husband and wife as a great ideal.
Not only that, but the Bible reminds us that we, as Christ’s church and bride, are loved with a special love. And the imagery works both ways. Not only does Christ’s love for us show us how we are to love one another, but the love between a husband and wife shows how we are to love Christ. There’s just something tender and amazing about the love between Jesus and us, his people. And the relationship we have with him, and he with us, is unlike anything offered by other religions. Ours is grounded in grace, and thus, love, not mere obedience or ritual or ceremony, is front and center in our relationship with God. He desires from us, not animal sacrifice or money or ceremony, but first and foremost, our hearts. Just like Solomon and the Shulammite woman!
Jesus, the very thought of thee
with sweetness fills the breast;
but sweeter far thy face to see,
and in thy presence rest.
Jesus, our only joy be thou,
as thou our prize wilt be;
Jesus, be thou our glory now,
and through eternity. --Bernard of Clairvaux (11th century)