Saturday, November 9, 2019

Song of Songs: Delighting in Beauty

"Your navel is a rounded goblet that never lacks blended wine. Your waist is a mound of wheat encircled by lilies" (Song of Songs 7:2).

The Song of Songs progresses from Solomon’s courtship of his bride through the early days of their marriage. In chapters 1–2 we find Solomon wooing the Shulamite maiden, and her affectionate response to his advances. In 2:4 and 3:6 we find Solomon taking her to the palace to present her to the court.

Then in chapter 4 Solomon praises her beauty as she stands fully dressed and veiled. He mentions her beautiful eyes, her raven hair, and what he can see of her body as it moves beneath her garments (4:1–5). He even says that she smells good to him (4:10–15—a locked garden is one that captures good scents).

Chapter 5:1 says that the marriage has been consummated. The new wife yearns to be with her husband, but he is about his business (5:2–6:3). Later in the day Solomon remembers her beauty and longs to be with her also (6:1–9). Next we find her public presentation before the people as their queen. They fall in love with her and want to see her more often (6:10–13). In chapter 7 the newly married couple is alone, and Solomon admires her physical beauty in privacy. The language in chapter 7 is naturally more intimate.

What we see throughout the Song is the delight that both the husband and the wife take in each other and in each others’ bodies. There is no hint of comparison here, as if the husband compares his wife’s body to other women he has known. His eyes are for her alone. Happy is the man who has never known another woman intimately, and so has no basis for unwanted comparisons.

The negation and depreciation of the human body, which is still present among some Christians, is characteristic of pagan culture, but not of the Bible. The Bible teaches us that God made human beings in His own image, as the crown of His creation. While God is a Spirit without a physical body, in some ways our physical bodies do reflect His beauty and glory. We should delight in this and in one another within the strict confines of marital privacy. Both clothed and unclothed, adorned and unadorned, scented and unscented, married couples should regard the loveliness of one another.

The abundance of exposed flesh in our public marketplace today makes it difficult for most spouses to believe their spouse only have an eye for them, and vice versa. With Job, covenant with your eyes (Job 31:1) that you will not gaze or long for someone outside of your marriage partner.