By Lou Coleman
“Baby you know, [with Valentine’s Day just a few days away], I was just sitting here thinking how happy we are right now, and the way we are with each other, and the way we’ve been with each other. You know every now and then, two people get to share, to know love as we know it, and as we share it… And I really wish, and probably it doesn’t mean nothing to no one else, but I really, really wish, that all [men] all over the world, could be loved, as much as I love you. They could be needed and wanted as much as you are. You see baby, to me, it’s like sometimes I think to myself and I say, humph! [Sister], you’re really lucky; you’ve got a [man] that loves you, that needs you… that pleases you… A [man] that does everything on earth that a [woman] could dream of. You got a [man] that makes you feel real. A [man] that keeps you strong, right on! A [man], that means so many things in so many ways. You’ve got it all! So, you see baby, I, I really can’t help myself when I tell you that I love you baby, and I thank God for you…. and I want you to know that I do. You know, sometimes I get so, so emotional over you, I just wanna run out in the street and scream and shout, and just tell the world I’m in love…. I found that one, I found that someone… Never knew love could be so true… Baby, I could go on forever and ever, but I just want you to know that… I love you baby, Ooh, I love you…” [Barry White – Hard to Believe That I Found You Lyrics]
“Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If one offered for love all the wealth of one’s house, it would be utterly scorned.” –Song of Solomon 8:6-7
The Song of Solomon… It’s the only book of the Bible that features a female narrator, and she is far more open and honest about her most intimate desires than any proper Hebrew woman would ever be. The Song of Solomon simply features two lovers singing to one another as their relationship blossoms from courtship to consummation. Nobody who has experienced the ecstasy and agony of love would dare to deny that “love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave.” And anybody whose heart beats or aches for another knows that “many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.” Truly if you offered for love all the wealth of your house, it would be utterly scorned.
The female narrator begins the book by begging her beloved to kiss her “with the kisses of his mouth. For your love is better than wine, your anointing oils are fragrant, your name is perfume poured out; therefore the maidens love you” (1:2-3). Or, in chapter 2, when she says, “As an apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. Sustain me with raisins; refresh me with apples; for I am faint with love” (2:3, 5). Or in chapter 5, when she describes her lover as “all radiant and ruddy. His head is the finest gold; his locks are wavy, black as a raven. His eyes are like doves beside springs of water, bathed in milk, fitly set. His cheeks are like beds of spices, yielding fragrance. His lips are lilies, distilling liquid myrrh. His arms are rounded gold, set with jewels. His body is ivory work, encrusted with sapphires. His legs are alabaster columns, set upon bases of gold. His speech is most sweet, and he is altogether desirable. This is my beloved, and this is my friend” (5:10-16). Or, finally in chapter 7, when she beckons, “Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the fields and lodge in the valleys . . . there I will give you my love” (7:11-12).
Of course, the unnamed narrator doesn’t get all the good lines. Her beloved is equally passionate and sensual in his speech. In chapter 2, he cries, “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land” (2:10-12). And in chapter 4, he describes her as so very, very beautiful: “Your eyes are doves behind your veil. Your hair is like a flock of goats, moving down the slopes of Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes that have come up from the washing. Your lips are like a crimson thread, and your mouth is lovely. Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate behind your veil. Your neck is like the tower of David. Your breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle that feed among the lilies. You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you” (4:1-5, 7). And finally, he announces in chapter 7, “How fair and pleasant are you, O loved one, and delectable maiden! Your kisses are like the best wine that goes down smoothly, gliding over lips and teeth” (7:6, 9).
I want you to know that there is a long tradition of interpreting this book allegorically, viewing the passion of these two people as an expression of agape, the endless and unconditional love of God. According to this reading of the text, God is one of the lovers, and the church, you [the believer], is the other and your love for one another grows in strength and splendor until the final joyful discovery that even death and the grave can no longer overcome it. It is an invitation into the very heart of God, and a promise that the love you find there will be as strong as death and as fierce as the grave. May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you [1 Thessalonians 3:12]. From all of us at Westside Story Newspaper to all of you, Happy Valentine’s Day! And to the lover of my Soul, Jesus, I Love You!