Last week was so amazing studying Song of Solomon (aka Song of Songs) and Ecclesiastes!
When I first read Song of Songs out loud, I honestly didn’t have a clue what to make of it. It is one of the most debated books in terms of why on earth it made it into the bible – I think I read about five different theories.
Most of the church believes it’s an allegory displaying the relationship between Christ and the church. But after studying it on my own, having no bias toward any one theory, there really is not much basis to believe it’s an allegory. There’s a lot of evidence (I won’t go into it here) that has convinced that he wrote it for the Israelites of his day, not necessarily with the church in mind.
Studying this book ended up being so much fun because it’s highly figurative and left a lot of room for the Holy Spirit to highlight different things to each one of us. One of the main ideas a couple of us saw was the friendly and very passionate affection the two lovers had for one another throughout their marriage. God’s idea for marriage was that these affections last, which requires a basic friendship, though these affections definitely have to be worked on after the initial “honeymoon phase” and in times of serious conflict and trial. The friendship and affection would help to keep the marriage thriving and joyful, and work against feelings of contempt and/or grudge.
I also saw the writer speak to the value of love. She (it could have been the man, it’s interpretative) was imploring the other to hold love in a high regard, and not neglect it or become unfaithful. Love was to be the highest priority:
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
I love the last two lines where she says that “wealth….would be utterly scorned.” The author is saying that wealth is less valuable than love!
Ecclesiastes was world’s different than Song of Solomon in that it was pretty much straightforward and concrete: nothing in this world can ever possibly satisfy the human need for contentment and satisfaction other than God.
Even though it was so tedious to study, seeing the same main idea come across over and over again in chapter, I definitely experienced a lot of intense spiritual warfare as a lot of wrong beliefs and other junk started rising up within me.
I always heard that contentment can only come through God, but to actually surrender to that notion is the hardest thing for humans to do. Solomon makes it very clear that nothing, absolutely nothing, can satisfy like the fear of God can. We are humans made for eternity, and the only thing eternal is God Himself. Therefore everything else leaves us empty – it may even make us hate the earthly thing we put our hope in because of how empty it makes us feel in the end.
So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me; for all is vanity and a chasing after wind.
I think King David was probably one of the most content men in history. His mind was utterly consumed with thoughts of God. He truly enjoyed His presence and thoughts of God more than life itself:
O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on your name.
My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
when I think of you on my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
The reason why it’s so hard to live out Psalm 63 is because it takes hard fast devotion to God. It takes faith. It takes perseverance and time. It takes humility and willingness to learn.
It’s much easier to cling to our achievements in life…money…people…new experiences…sports…whatever it is, these things are familiar and easy to obtain.Even putting all hope in learning to live wisely is unfulfilling (though important if you want a higher quality of life):
I said to myself, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” And I applied my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a chasing after wind.
The Holy Spirit was also convicting me of trying to control my circumstances to maximize pleasure, comfort and security. But to live a controlled life like this would mean I would sacrifice a life with the fullest of blessings. Reminds me of the famous “Oceans” song by Hillsong: “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.”
This is what I have seen to be good: it is fitting to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of the life God gives us; for this is our lot. Likewise all to whom God gives wealth and possessions and whom he enables to enjoy them, and to accept their lot and find enjoyment in their toil—this is the gift of God. For they will scarcely brood over the days of their lives, because God keeps them occupied with the joy of their hearts.
Do I believe this? That God Himself, without my striving and help, will provide all that I need for comfort, joy and fulfillment? That he will enable me to enjoy life the way it was truly meant to be enjoyed?
See, this alone I found, that God made human beings straightforward, but they have devised many schemes.
God has made us all simple, straightforward. He didn’t design us to take our life circumstances in our own hands to maximize pleasure and comfort. The truth is, any extra striving to improve my current situation is futile, and in fact, makes life worse even if I do end up achieving the result I strove for.
I knew all this, but discovering the truth of it on my own (which is what inductive study is) has freed me in a way that I’ve never been freed before. I think I was finally convinced that this was true, as opposed to “knowing” it but not really living it out. In other words, my inner spirit began surrendering to this truth.
I’m so thankful for this, because one thing I desired coming out of this school was to be filled with the fullness of God, which includes finding completely contentment and rest in Him. I see how God is leading me to this point, and couldn’t be more thankful for His faithfulness and kindness toward me in every season of my life. His eyes are always fixed on me, providing for me, guiding me, and fulfilling the deepest desires of my heart. He never leaves me nor stops fighting for me.
You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.