September 23 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave.” ~Song of Songs 8:6

OLD TESTAMENT

Solomon’s song is a celebration of love. The king has fallen in love with a young Shunamite woman. He may have first laid eyes on her during a visit to one of his royal estates, or perhaps her family owned a vineyard adjacent to his in Israel’s wine country. The young woman’s skin was dark from working outdoors in the sun. She noticed the daughters of Jerusalem, the women from the city who were part of the royal court, staring at her, and she was embarrassed. (Dark skin was a feature of the poor, the labor class.) However, the women were staring because the king had noticed this girl, and he was taken by her. He found her beautiful, dark skin and all!

They long to be with each other. They want to leave all their worries behind and spend the night in one of the villages. To get up the next morning and explore the wine country together. To take in the surrounding beauty hand-in-hand (Song 7:11-12). Wouldn’t it would be great if no one knew who they were, if everyone thought he was simply her older brother (Song 8:1)? A passerby who saw them would think they were family members having fun together. He could go home with her, where they could drink wine together, and he could just hold her (Song 8:2).

They cannot. Her brothers are watching, and they don’t think their little sister is ready. She is still a little girl to them (Song 8:8). It is their job to protect her and prepare her for the day when the right guy comes along. However, the king sees her for who she is—a mature woman who has the right to give herself away (Song 8:10-12). Even so, they must wait. They must not “arouse or awaken love” until the desired time (Song 8:4). And then they will celebrate.

Solomon’s song rejoices over the joys of romantic love and the pleasures of sexual intimacy. That is the theological message! In these stanzas is encouragement for God worshippers to wait until the right time (marriage) to celebrate their love. Here too is a wise man urging those who are married to desire each other in every way and to keep the home fires burning! Be friends. Be lovers. This glorifies the God who created all things.

NEW TESTAMENT

The churches in Galatia (modern-day Turkey) initially embraced the gospel of grace, but they got caught up in a gospel of works (Gal. 1:6-10). Evidently, influential teachers in the church were giving a list of dos and don’ts to the saved. This list had nothing to do with the Bible. The rules were all man-made. Don’t eat this, don’t drink that, don’t hang around with those people. Paul calls this collection of made-up regulations “another” gospel. In other words, this isn’t the gospel I preached to you! Legalism distorts the gospel of grace and destroys the joy of God’s people. Watch out for those who preach the gospel of good behavior! You can find them in almost any church.


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.