February 14, 2019
Associate Vice President for Communication & Deputy to the President at Princeton Theological Seminary
Roses are red, violets are blue…
…Fill in the blank with your favorite rendition of the children’s rhyme.
Especially in the month of February, our culture is filled with images of love: Valentine’s day cards, chocolate hearts, and bad poetry. These all contain subtle messages about what it is to love and to be loved. Between candy and cupids, these images sometimes present a picture that is unrealistic or simplistic. The reality of love—whether love of family, friends, or romantic partners—is often complicated, delightful, confusing, beautiful, unpredictable.
One of the most poignant expressions of the joy and complexity of love can be found in the biblical book the Song of Songs. In Hebrew, the term “song of songs” means “the best song” or “the most sublime song.” And the poetry in this book is among the most beautiful in the Bible. It provides a witness to the delights of passion and awakens our senses to see the world through the lens of love.
In reading the Song of Songs, we peek over the shoulder of two young lovers, and in the process we might discover something beautiful about what it means to love and to be loved. Their language for each other demonstrates mutual respect, affection, and appreciation for the other’s unique beauty. They pursue one another with passion and joy.
This might teach us something about God’s love for each of us, which is also passionate and particular. God knows us by name and claims us as God’s own beloved. And because God loves us in this way, we are also able to love one another. 1 John reminds us, “We love because God first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Over the next two weeks during Sunday school, we will read the Song of Songs together and explore what it has to do with the life of faith. We will gain context for understanding and appreciating this ancient poetry, and we will also discuss the rich reflections that it offers to our contemporary world.
If you’ve ever wondered what this book is doing in the Bible, this is your chance to explore! And if you didn’t even know that the Song of Songs is in the Bible, this is a great opportunity to learn something new about a book we often ignore. Join us for a conversation about love, beauty, and delight!