It is not for the faint of heart, however. Through vivid imagery, Solomon writes tender yet sultry exchanges between a man and a woman, making the reader feel as if they are peeping through the keyhole of a locked bedroom door. Words of yearning and passion consume its pages.
It is for this reason that many readers may skip Song of Solomon. But the intimacy shared between the couple is not one of illegitimate connection or adultery. It is about a man who would lay down his life for a woman who loves and adores him like no other. This exemplifies God's love for His people, and Christ's love for His Church. But on the personal level, it is a beautiful picture of the love between a husband and a wife.
The Song of Solomon portrays the story of the love of a man and his wife in a covenant marriage, unrestrained and unashamed. But in contrast, restraint is to be exercised by those outside the boundaries of marriage. Chapter 2 verse 7 states, "Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and wild deer, not to awaken love until the time is right." (NLT) This verse appears four times in the book of Song of Solomon, stressing the importance of waiting for marriage before arousing love.
Yet even within a marriage, restraint is exercised when it comes to protecting the purity and exclusivity of that marriage. The verse, "You are my private garden, my treasure, my bride, a secluded spring, a hidden fountain," (NLT) illustrates the sanctity and privacy of the marriage. The husband is only for the wife, and the wife is only for the husband. This is how God intended marriage to be, as an example of a covenant relationship. While the man and woman are free to express their love and tenderness, their spouse is the only recipient of that kind of affection.
While Solomon certainly had a few wives, it was not how God originally instituted marriage. Regardless, the Shulamite woman spoken of in Song of Solomon was his closest companion. She was the one he loved and cherished the most. The relationship they shared was unique to all others. Chapter 5 verse 16 says, "This is my beloved, and this is my friend." Marriage is more than just eloquent words, or intimacy. It also is being aware of each other's presence in the quiet moments. But more importantly, after the honeymoon ends, the love that develops between a husband and a wife becomes the foundation for a beautiful friendship, one that cannot be shaken by internal conflicts, temporary disagreements, or even longstanding hardships.
Love is a powerful thing. But true love is not an emotion, but an action, a desire to fulfill the heart of the one who is loved. This is the level of love and fervent commitment that Jesus Christ has for the Church, as a bridegroom for the bride. Waters cannot quench it, floods cannot drown it. And time cannot dilute or erase the love between God and His people, or a husband and wife who are committed to each other for life.