Are we still dreaming somewhere under the sun, or did the beloved woman return to the better world? Though the storyline of this song may be hard to follow at points, the focus is not the plot, but the appreciation of every glimpse that we are granted of the life of secure love that we desire to experience.
We return to the great king of the poem. His focus is singular. Her. He admires her physical charms with great specificity and complete confidence. The one word for her is “beautiful.” This admiration of what he sees is deeply personal and connected to him. He calls her “my love.”
Yes, she is beautiful, but he insists on the most careful admiration of the love of his life. Her eyes are doves. The eyes are the lamp of the body. If you want to see your love in such a way that she will see you when you see her, you must look into her eyes, and a connection of sight will be established. In some cultures this has been recognized as such a special and intimate act that the gazing into the eyes of another is not considered appropriate between men and women who are only acquaintances. Some have even had the practice of women wearing a veil in order to prevent the unwanted look of a stranger. Here the glorious man sees behind the veil. He looks into her eyes and he says, “Your eyes are doves.” That lovely white bird is a symbol of heavenly purity and divine peace. He finds peace and rest in her beautiful eyes.
“Her hair,” he says, “is like a flock of goats.” These goats are in motion. They are leaping down the slopes of a mountain. Her hair has body and life. Is the wind moving it? Does it bounce along as they walk together? Perhaps he stands near her, speaking these words of love, looking into her eyes while he remembers a moment that he has treasured in his mind, a time when he watched her hair bounce as she moved. He had thought this about her beautiful hair, and now he reminds himself of that sight and shares the wonder of it with the one he loves.
His exaltation of her is detailed and sensual. He talks of things that are unusual to our ears. Does he have a full knowledge even of every individual tooth in her lovely mouth? Each one is in the right place, like pairs of beautiful white twins standing together in perfect order. Even the smallest part is worthy of praise. Everything about her calls him forward in love. Her lips are scarlet, set off strikingly from her bright teeth and surrounded by her perfectly matching cheeks behind the modesty of her veil. Moving down from her head he admires her long strong neck, shining with the glitter of ointment, like a thousand perfect miniature warrior shields glistening in the sun. He speaks tenderly of her breasts. He knows the intimate details, not only of her eyes and lips behind her veil, but even of her lovely shape beneath her garments. Her breasts are “two fawns, the twins of a gazelle, that graze among the lilies.” She is warm, moving, alive, and perfect.
He could happily spend all night long enjoying her fully. He would go away “to the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense.” All of his senses are engaged in the one flawless woman who is altogether beautiful to him. This is the passionate life to which he invites her. She must come with him from where she is in the mountains of the north. She is his love, his “sister,” and his bride. He will take her away from every danger. She has captivated his heart.
And are we, who have not been lovely, to be the bride of the Lord? It is shockingly good news that the church is called by this name of “bride.” We are told that in heaven we will be without spot or blemish, perfect in the beauty of holiness. What will the physical manifestation of that be like? What is the bodily tent that our Lord reserves for us in that kingdom above?
The Son of God, who has proven His love in the most costly way, assures us that He loves us and will never leave us. We are also told that we can know even now that we are a rich inheritance for Him! This assurance can be ours through the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. We have captivated the heart of the greatest of all men. Our love is beautiful to Him. The lips of His bride are sweet to the One who has loved us with an everlasting love.
Today the garden of our love may yet be locked to him, but we anticipate the fullness of joy forever in His presence. There is a glorious temple that will one day be revealed. Our eyes cannot yet see it, but we know the truth of its existence. His love for us in the power of the Spirit flows forth from the deep springs of divine love, and even from within the redeemed church it will be a spring of living water.
We call out to the Spirit together with the voice of our Savior. “Bring about the time of fullest joy!” Come Lord Jesus, and have what is yours, for you have saved a bride for a world of perfect delight. But how could Jesus look at us as perfect? He sees us already as we will be: perfect in holiness, sanctified by His Word of love. Can a bridegroom and a bride under the sun see each other this way by faith even now? What a great gift!
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Lord God, Your Son calls His glorious church beautiful. He admires our every detail. He seems to see beyond our current blemishes. He sees what we cannot yet see. He claims that there is no flaw within us. He calls us His bride, and insists that we have captivated Him. Father, how we long for the day of the fullness of this love. We long for the beauty and wonder of the age to come. Come, Lord Jesus! Love us with an everlasting love!