Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

Lilies of the valley emerging from a barren tangle of bracken. Photo by Kathryn Armstrong

As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
Song of Songs 2:2-3

Song of Songs is full of delightful metaphors, almost all being flora and fauna based, suiting the experiences of both the writer and readers of the poems. Immediately after the Shulamite describes herself as like two very ordinary flowers, the rose and the lily,1 her lover twists the ordinariness into extraordinariness by his comparison with thorns, to which she responds by comparing him to an apple tree, both protective and delicious. The suggested, and oft times blatant eroticism of this work makes rather a mockery of the idea that this is an allegory for the relationship between Jesus and the church. All sorts of hand-wringing apologetics are needed to make any sense of that concept. This work is a celebration of the gifts of love and sexual/sensual intimacy that God has graced His people with. We do ourselves, and our Lord a disfavour by denying that gift. I'd go as far as saying it is a supreme act of arrogance, bordering on faithlessness.

That God is never mentioned in Songs, does not mean we have to insert Him. God is more than a name, and if we read this text for its beauty we cannot help but see God in every line. We are each contained in the gifts we bestow to others, even though often far away. It is the same here. Intimacy is Godliness, and God is within.

1 I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. 2:1