The Book on Human Love
This Sunday witnesses the start of an exciting fall season at Central. This week the stage is being set; the choir, orchestra, bands and vocalists prepped so that we are ready to go for the start of our Fall Series entitled, "Naked and Unashamed."
This 8-week series is a journey through the Old Testament book of Song of Songs, also known as Song of Solomon and Canticles. Song of Songs is a collection of ancient Hebrew love poems celebrating the experiences of a lover and his beloved as they taste the beauty, power, agony, and joys of human love. Our teaching team have been working with Brad and I to enure we get the most out of this unusual text! Song of Songs has been a difficult book for Westerners since the first century. It is frank, vivid and honest about the relationship between a man and a woman. On Sunday I am going to set the context for the series. I’m really excited about the message opener and I’m thankful to Wibke for her part in making this work! Join us Sunday for that!
I thought that I'd whet the appetite, so to speak, by sharing a few words of introduction to the book to prepare us for the weekend. I do this because I’m fairly certain few are those who have ever heard a sermon series on Song of Songs! In the comments section below, let me know the last time you heard a series on Songs! No comments = no sermons!
In the book, a man falls in love with a woman. Some suggest that the book is Solomon’s reminiscing about Abishag, the woman who took care of David in his final days. Solomon fell in love with this young, compassionate and beautiful girl, who 1 Kings 1 is careful to say had no relations with David. Abishag was Solomon’s first love and first wife, someone who captivated his heart and sent him on the quest of consuming love. We don’t know whether this is the background but this book is the only book in the Bible where human love is the main theme. This makes some uncomfortable. However, there is no obvious religious content in the book. There are no references to law, grace, sin, salvation, or even prayer. In fact, there is not even a single, indisputable reference to God in the entire text. This puts the book firmly in the poetry classification (love poetry), written to both inspire and remind people of the power of human love.
A great example of the exhortatory and cautionary nature of the book are the familiar words of Songs 8:6-7:
Some of you may well think of a bridge to a song that is floating around in churches today. We’ve sung it hear at Central once or twice. That song takes the words of Songs 8:6-7 and applies them to our relationship with God. In its context, however, the words apply to the power of human love. This is the main theme of the book; from the opening kiss to the couple's closing hike through the mountains human love is on display.
In a world where the narrative on human love has been, is being and will continue to be discussed, disected and distorted we sense that the time has come to teach about the power of human love from God's perspective. We do this not to name, blame and shame but to proclaim the power of human love as it should be experienced.
We can't wait for Sunday. Hope you'll be able to join us in person at 9 or 10:45 or through our online campus.
Tomorrow I'll share a few words about why this uncomfortably detailed little book about human love is included in the Bible in the first place.
Until then ...