Summary: Understanding the Love of God for us.
It is very unusual for me to read in a service from the AV but I really want to focus on one word which is commonly used in the AV, more so than in the modern translations. ‘Beloved’
8 The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.
9 My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice.
10 My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
11 For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;
12 The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;
13 The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
14 O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.
15 Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.
16 My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies.
17 Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.
Identifying this love.
Harold Horton, (who lived in Poole) wrote in a preface to his book “Chords from Solomon’s Song” “The simple theme of this heavenly Song is “Jesus and his love.” The true believer who reads it is quite at ease in its seeming mysteries. He is not perplexed by the glowing imagery. It is not an image he sees, but a Lover - not a simile, but a Saviour.”
I have to admit that this is not always the easiest poetry to understand, not so much for the poetry, but for the reason it was placed in the Canon of scripture. For one not being noted for his poetic qualities or romantics, the difficulties of understanding some of this is considerable. I am not alone, One of my colleagues rose to the height of his public display one day when he said, “You know I love you, I bought you chips - didn’t I!”
Here in this classic though, we come to this beautiful and easily understood statement. In chapter 2:16 we have this incredible assured statement from the young woman to her beloved. “My beloved is mine, and I am his...” Contained in those eight words is a note of absolute assurance. Horton wrote, “Many contingencies change the course of love for us. No contingencies change Him we love. Our grandest assurances of mutual possession is not in our holiness or faithfulness but His.” We can claim the same words, “My beloved is mine, and I am his...” and our assurance is not because of what we can bring into the bond, into the marriage. We cannot claim some sort of victory through what we have achieved, but we can claim to know and have experienced His great love!
James Small wrote a lovely old hymn, that Horton quotes:-
I’ve found a Friend, O such a friend! He loved me ere I knew Him;