Love Hunger

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), June 4

People are hungry—physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.

imagesTheir brokenness forces them to express this hunger by seeking temporal satisfaction in every realm of their existence. Someone said long ago that humanity is cursed with Marie Antoinette’s disease, “Nothing tastes.” Physically, this world races toward sexual fulfillment of every sort, except the love God designed—between one man and one woman for life. Emotionally, humanity seeks to fill the vacuum with vicarious romances from novels, television, and social media. Relationships abound, but they barely scratch the surface of life.

Solomon records a different story—the story of one who discovers true worth, true satisfaction, true relationships, and true spiritual freedom. This young lady—the Shulamite—experiences profound love that changes her from the inside out.

The Shulamite longs to be loved by the king, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—for your love is better than wine” (Song of Solomon 1:2). The Song of Solomon chronicles the Shulamite woman’s longing for the king’s love and the fulfillment she experiences when he returns her love, “My beloved is mine, and I am his” (2:16a). Great attention is given to the king’s description of the Shulamite beginning with, “Behold, you are fair, my love! Behold, you are fair!” (4:1).

Just as the Shulamite longs for King Solomon’s love, so a similar ache resides in the heart of every person—to be loved by a king. Each person has a love-vacuum that no other person can fill. Jesus refers to himself as “a greater than Solomon” (Luke 11:31). He is the missing piece of the aching heart. He is the King who fulfills man’s love-hunger.

The Thief of Love
The Song begins with a young woman’s quest for love and traces her journey into intimacy with the King. Two episodes of distance, misunderstanding, and separation occur—one brief (3:1-4) and the other prolonged (5:1-7).

The second episode begins with the king’s request, “Open for me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one” (5:2). Instead of opening the door, she rejects his overture with a flimsy excuse, “I have taken off my robe; how can I put it on again? I have washed my feet; how can I defile them?” (5:3). Moments pass; the Shulamite changes her mind and opens the door, only to find that the king has disappeared. She leaves the safety of her boudoir and takes to the streets to search for him. The watchmen finds her, beats her, and robs her of her cloak.

The Shulamite locates her friends, the daughters of Jerusalem, and implores them to help her find him. They question her love for the one who allows her beating to occur, “What is your beloved more than another beloved?” (5:9). She answers their question by summarizing her beloved to them, “My lover is white and ruddy, chief among ten thousand” (5:10). She continues with a detailed description of his hair, eyes, cheeks, lips, arms, body, legs, and mouth. Finally, she concludes her assessment, “He is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend” (5:16).

The Shulamite had become so accustomed to palace life and the gifts of the beloved that she had discarded the love of the beloved himself. Sadly, it has taken her search and subsequent abuse to awaken her out of her narcissistic, materialistic stupor.

Intimacy is restored, and the Shulamite learns a hard lesson. She had substituted the beloved’s things for the beloved’s love. She had become so enamored with palace life that she had forsaken the intimacy of the king who had brought her into his palace.

If the Shulamite, who lived in the palace, could succumb to the “little fox” (2:15) of comfort and forfeit intimacy, how much more do believers today need to hear and heed this warning?

Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Song of Solomon 1:1-8:14):
What role does the “beloved” play in the Shulamite’s story? How is he like the Lord Jesus Christ in His relationship with those brought into relationship with Him?