When their eyes met for that first time at the well she completely captivated his heart and he knew it was love. It was not an infatuation, like the lust of the flesh that, too often, controls a man prone to give in to his fallen nature. But it was genuine. He was so attracted and his attention captivated that the seven years he was willing to work to secure her hand in marriage seemed but a few days. His love was powerful. It overwhelmed his thinking, feeling and choosing so that even when beguiled by his conniving uncle, he did not think to retaliate for the wrong he suffered. Instead, he chose to work yet another seven years, all the while longing for the day when she would be his to have and hold. His was a liberating love that did not insist on having his way but rejoiced in truth; it was an enduring love that was never irritable, resentful, envious, proud or boastful; but it was strong, patient, tender, and kind. His love for her never failed though he was ultimately forced to work fourteen years for her hand with nothing more than a promise from her ruthless father and the glance that captivated his heart.
The above is not a description of the love King Solomon had for his Shulammite shepherdess, although it could have been (Song 4:9). Rather, it is a portrait of the love Jacob had for Rachel, which was won by a glance into her dark and lovely eyes (cf. Genesis 29:9-19). What is described here, in Solomon’s Best Song moves past his description of her physical beauty (vv. 1-7) and envisions the consummation of love on their wedding night.
Formerly her lips and mouth were described in terms of beauty (v.3), here they are described in terms of taste (v.11). His metaphors (nectar, milk, and honey) bespeak a delightfully sweet and sensual, yet completely wholesome kiss. It is a portrait of the intimacy he anticipates with his bride-to-be. Milk and honey are often paired together in the Bible and reference the promised land (cf. Exodus 3:8). So too does he imagine the promise of their oneness to be completely satisfying. More than the effects of wine, the thought of their physical intimacy is exhilaratingly exuberant (v.10) and arouses his intense desire. A garden is an inviting place for young lovers to explore the depths of their affection and in the ancient Near East is often associated with a woman’s sexuality. Her garden and spring (v.12) is locked, indicating she reserves herself exclusively for her lover. The abundance of her choicest fruit (v.13) anticipates the magnitude of fulfillment and satisfaction they will experience when their love is consummated. Fragrantly flowering plants and vegetation (v.14) extend the garden-fountain metaphor revealing the arousing quality of her sexuality.
The metaphor of this impassioned love (not yet consummated) easily compares to God’s love for Israel, as well as Christ’s intense love for His church. Even a cursory glance at Christ’s love reveals the extreme concentration He lavishes on His bride-to-be. It was not an infatuation. He longed to be with His bride from eternity past and in the process of time demonstrated the intensity of His undying devotion by offering Himself for her in spite of her fallen nature.
Christ’s love for His bride is genuine. He willingly worked to redeem His bride from the auction block of sin. We now understand by His word that a thousand years are but a moment in comparison to eternity with Him (2 Peter 3:8). His love is powerful, because greater love than His no one else has demonstrated (cf. John 15:13). So powerful in fact, when the clarion call echoed throughout heaven He responded: “Here am I, send Me!” (cf. Psalm 40:5,6; Hebrews 10:5). His thinking is motivated by love (Jeremiah 29:11); His feelings are dominated by love (Hebrews 12:2); And His will is subordinate to His love, for in the intensity of suffering He cried out saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 2:42). His love is liberating in that we are freed from our carnal nature by the stripes He suffered. His love is unfailing, “even if we are faithless, He remains faithful, He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).
How do you respond to His love so perfect? Do you have the same intense desire to fulfill His passion? Is your love genuine, powerful, liberating and unfailing? Is your garden locked and reserved as you await the final consummation (Rev. 22:1-5)? How does the magnitude of your concentration on His word compare to the love He lavishes on you? Are there rivers of living water cascading from within the depth of love He has already deposited in your spirit? Has His love transformed your carnal nature? His is the Most Perfect Love. How will you reciprocate it?