When I was in the second year of my PhD, I was beyond frustrated & very lonely. Loneliness had been a part of my life for a long time, & it kept coming back to haunt me at every opportunity. In the midst of this painful time, God revealed to me that the root of this stronghold of loneliness was a belief that no one truly loved me. Though I had experienced much love from people & from God, yet my heart didn’t truly believe it was real, due to the rejection I’d received in the past. & so I was like ‘ok God, thanks for telling me this, but what do I do about this??’ I didn’t get an answer then, but I soon began to see that this is a God who goes to great lengths to get His love through to us. I found that again & again, God would connect with me, give me revelations & show me love in ways that were tailored for me. & eventually, His love did get through to me, & gradually yet dramatically changed my life. The loneliness within me broke, & though it would be a lie to say I never get lonely, but it’s now quite a rare occurrence, & I can shake it off much easier.
A 24 part bible study on Song of Songs by Mike Bickle played a big part in helping me to find this breakthrough. The study became a journey of God opening my heart towards His love. I would highly recommend going through the whole study if you can, even though it is long. The study has many great gems that won’t fit in one blog entry, so I’ll just give you some of the highlights that had the biggest impact on my life.
The book of Songs of Songs, also known as Song of Solomon, is a love song that was probably written by King Solomon. There are many different interpretations, & generally it can be interpreted to talk either about romantic love between a married couple, or about God’s love for His people. I’ll be talking about what it means in the context of Jesus’ love for us, particularly for those who choose to develop a relationship with Him. In the New Testament the Church (as in Christians in general) is referred to as the ‘Bride of Christ’, due to the passionate love Jesus has for us. So it is not the only part of the bible that compares our relationship with God with a romantic relationship. We believe that marriage was created to be a picture to help us to understand the relationship we can have with God. Song of Songs reveals God’s pattern of how we grow in passion for God. The beloved (or she) can represent the Bride of Christ, & she starts with an immature love for her Lover (or he), who can represent Jesus. Throughout the book, her love becomes more mature, until it reaches full maturity, & provides for us a picture of how our love for Jesus can also reach maturity.
Cry out for intimacy with Him
“Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth! For Your love is better than wine; Your anointing oils are fragrant; Your name is oil poured out; therefore virgins love You. Draw me after You; let us run. The King has brought me into His chambers…”
Mike Bickle mentions in his study that the mouth is often used to symbolise God’s Word. God’s Word can expand our hearts to receive God’s love & allow us to become more intimate with Him. We are meant to cry out for intimacy with Him. Wine represents enjoyment & celebration, so when it says that ‘Your love is better than wine’, it means that God’s love for us is better than anything in the world that can give us pleasure or happiness; it’s more than anything the world can offer us. ‘Draw me after You; let us run’ talks about drawing near to God in intimacy & running with Him in ministry. It’s sometimes hard to find a balance between seeking God’s presence & serving Him; we tend to do one at the expense of the other. But our life vision should be to do both, as we need that intimacy with Him in order to have the strength & ability to do all that God has called us to do. We are meant to run from the overflow of our relationship with God, so that we are not running on empty.
His love is a banner
Song of Songs 2:4 says: “He brought me to the banqueting house, & His banner over me was love.” In the Hebrew the ‘banqueting house’ is more literally translated as ‘house of wine’. So this means that God wants to bring us to a place where we celebrate in His love. Mike mentions that a banner or flag is used by a nation or group to identify who they are. So if God’s love is our banner, that means that we find our identity in His love. This verse also reminds me of Jewish weddings, where a prayer shawl is raised above the bride & groom to represent the bride coming under her husband’s covering & coming into covenant with him. This means that when we are under the covering of His love, we are safe & secure because of His covenant with us. I am also reminded of one of the names of God ‘Jehovah Nissi’, which means ‘the Lord is my banner’. This name is mentioned in Exodus 17:8-16, which describes a battle between the Israelites & Amalekites. When Moses lifted his staff in the air, then the Israelites were winning, but when his hands lowered then the Israelites were losing. Eventually Aaron & Hur had to hold Moses’ tired arms up, so that the Israelites could gain the victory. So if God’s love is a banner, then if we hold His love up high in our lives, like Moses held his staff in the air, then that is how we gain victory over the situations in our lives.
We ravish His heart
Song of Songs 4:9-10:
“You have ravished My heart, My sister, My bride; you have ravished My heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. How beautiful is your love, My sister, My bride! How much better is your love than wine, & the fragrance of your oils than any spice!”
To be ravished in this context means to be overwhelmed with joy or delight. There is a lovely song by Bethel that starts with the line ‘Your love has ravished my heart & taken me over’. But in this passage it says that we ravish the heart of God! ‘One glance of your eyes’ refers to a look of devotion towards Him. Mike mentions that in the bible the neck often represents the will (e.g. the Israelites were sometimes called ‘stiff-necked’ as they were often stubborn & refusing to obey God). So ‘one jewel of your necklace’ refers to a response of obedience to God’s will. It’s an amazing thought that each look of devotion towards Him & each act of obedience, no matter how little, would actually ravish the heart of God. Some of us can often feel that we are not good enough for God & that we can’t meet His expectations for us, but that is a complete lie. As far as God is concerned, He sees us as beautiful because of our love for Him, even if it seems so small & insignificant to us. & He even says that our love is better than wine to Him, so He values our love more than all the splendour of His creation. Let that sink in!
We belong to Him
There is a verse that is found 3 times in Song of Songs, but it is slightly different each time. 2:16 says: “My Beloved is mine, & I am His…”. 6:3 says: “I am my Beloved’s & my Beloved is mine…”. Whereas 7:10 says: “I am my Beloved’s, & His passion is for me”. These subtle differences represent a complete shift in the focus of the Beloved in her love for Him. At first, her focus is more on Him belonging to her, then it switches to a focus on belonging to Him. But in 7:10, it is not even mentioned that He belongs to her; the deepest desire of her heart is to belong to Him, because of His love for her. This part of the study is what had the biggest impact on my life; I now wear a ring that has Song of Songs 7:10 engraved on it in Hebrew, to remind me that I belong to Him, & that this is where I find my true identity & belonging. & it also represents my commitment to give my heart to Jesus first & foremost, rather than chase after men. This has changed my life, as I discovered contentment & belonging beyond what I had ever experienced, which is not dependent on having a man in my life.
The power of love
“Set Me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised.”
Mike explains that a seal of wax spoke of a king’s ownership, protection & authority, & was his guarantee that what was written will be done. Jesus invites us to let Him seal our hearts with His love, which is a sign that we belong to Him & are submitted to Him, & that we are under His protection & have assurance that He will fulfil His covenantal promises to us. His love is a love that is not only as strong as death, but is stronger & defeated the power of death. His love is a jealous love in the same way that if I had a lover, I would insist that he does not go off with other girls, but would belong to me alone. Jesus wants all of us, & He relentlessly pursues us until He has all our heart. His love is passionate; it’s like a consuming fire that cannot be diminished by any circumstances. The end of 8:7 could have various interpretations, but Mike thinks that it means that if we truly gave everything for love then we’d not want recognition or honour for it, as the power to love is the only reward that we’d seek. This is the kind of love Jesus has for us, & I encourage you to not settle for a lesser love. This love has transformed my life far beyond my imagination, & continues to do so day by day.
Mike Bickle’s study on Song of Songs: http://mikebickle.org/resources/series/song-of-songs.