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News for Monday, May 19, 2014

Sunday School Lesson — Explore the Bible
May 25: Invest in the Best
By Aubrey Hay
retired, TBC staff


Focal Passage: Song of Songs 5:2-8:14

In this last lesson of the Song of Songs, we approach once again the subject of the enigmatic nature of the book with its varying views of interpretation. In this final lesson we are faced with some questions that are not answered, but the one consistent and recurring theme is certain; it describes the love of a maid and a man. In short it describes the most powerful force in the world. It is as old as the human race and as new as today. Biblically understood and practiced, it is God’s blessing to us; but misunderstood and misused it is a destructive force that we face.

Solomon and the maid were now married, but immediately there is a period of separation, where the maid, longing for her husband relates her distress at his absence. Her wedding night was full of disappointment and danger, for as she sets out to find her husband she is accosted by the guards who beat her and take her cloak from her (ch. 5:7). Perhaps this was a dream rising out of the anxiety she felt without her husband, but at any rate, seems out of place that on the night of her wedding she was abused and lonely.

More that one modern bride has felt something of the anxiety and loneliness that comes during and after the wedding, and some grooms have too. The pressures of the planning and preparation of a wedding ceremony have created problems for some that have made the beautiful wedding less ideal. The maid of our lesson felt she had been abandoned by her new husband and voices her feeling in poig-nant prose. “I opened to my love, but my love had turned and gone away. I was crushed that he had left. I sought him but did not find him. I called him, but he did not answer” (ch. 5:6).

The narrative changes in chapter 6 as the king returns. What follows is a happy restoration as Solomon speaks of his new bride in glowing fashion. There is a period of wedded bliss as the king extols her virtues. The essential subject, growing out of these passages, is the theme of restoration. The prose turns from the expression of the physical beauty of his wife, to comparisons to beloved places, i.e., Tirzah and the beloved Jerusalem, two prominent cities of Israel that stirred deep emotions in his heart. I recall the first time I flew over Washington D. C., our nation’s capital. I saw the capital building, the monuments honoring the patriots who founded our country, and I was moved to tears. Solomon’s love for the maiden went deeper than the sensuous feelings described earlier. Married love, though heavily influenced by physical attraction, must go deeper.

The young women of Jerusalem now are charged, “… do not stir up or awaken love until the appropriate time.” This is advice to young women to not stir up the passion until the right time. Is this advice to the young women of her day against premarital sex? Surely it tells us all to maintain control of the passion innately present within us lest we lose control.

The concluding verses are verses of affirmation, “Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning on the one she loves? I awaken you under the apricot tree. There your mother conceived you; there she conceived and gave you birth” (ch. 8:5) and in verse 6 the concluding affirming word, “Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death; ardent love is as unrelenting as Sheol. Love’s flames are fiery flame — the fiercest of all.”

— Hay, a former pastor and retiree from the Tennessee Baptist Convention, lives in Dyersburg.

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