1:2 “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine…” As I meditated on this verse, one of the most striking things to me is that the speaker does not name her lover. “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!” Who is “him?” It’s as if all the world should know. Mary said to the gardener, “Tell me where thou hast laid him…” The disciple exclaimed, “We have found him…” Paul cried, “That I may know him…” Who is he?
“In the beginning God created…” At the outset of the Bible, God is not explained or defined. There is no mention of “which god,” because he is The God…the one and only true God…the great I AM. His existence needs no justification, just acknowledgment. Those who seek, find! And yet, in finding, the seeker discovers that the great Creator is also Christ who has not only made man but has sought him all along. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him and sup with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20). What an invitation! To open the door to Christ and feast with him on his meat and wine… to accept his kisses of love, which are even better than that which sustains our physical bodies and brings us joy.
Does the love of God produce a deeper joy and abundance in us than that which can be produced by the best of wines? Absolutely. The euphoric effect of alcohol is fleeting and superficial but in reality changes nothing and solves nothing. The love of Christ changes everything and makes all the impossible struggles of life become possible. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) is not a one-time testimony by the Apostle Paul. Christ can enable us to overcome evil with good in any circumstance. We don’t need addictive escapes to overcome pain and trials; we can go through the shadowy valleys with his comfort and guidance. His love is better.
As a separate reflection… there is also a perfect parallel in the “wine” of worldly success and materialism. An abundance of this world’s goods often leads to a false sense of security that produces self-centeredness and inattentiveness to spiritual principles such as loving God more than anything else and loving those around us as much as we love ourselves.
What God wants us to learn is to become love-centered, not self-centered: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God” (Micah 6:8). When a person allows himself to get sidetracked by intoxication with worldly pleasures, he will eventually “run off the road” spiritually, bringing terrible pain to himself and others…losing all sense of love, joy, peace, and purpose. I’ve seen it lived out so many times and experienced it myself. The end of chasing our own way and our own dreams is ultimately depression, not joy; restlessness, not peace; purposelessness, not hope; frustrated selfishness, not love. All intoxications (addictions) work the same way.
What are we to do? Turn away from the wines of this world and let our Lord kiss us with the kisses of his mouth, “for thy love is better than wine.” As C.S. Lewis shares in Surprised by Joy, we need to learn that true joy and abundance cannot be caught by chasing or developed by demanding. True joy is a fruit of the Spirit, and spiritual abundance is produced in us as we patiently abide in the Vine of Life. How? In Psalm 34:6-8, David shares how it happened for him: “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. O taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” Let him kiss you with the kisses of his mouth: cry out for him to deliver you, trust in him…taste and see…and prove for yourself that his love is better than wine!Also consider this. The bride’s exclamation that the king’s love is better than wine makes it obvious that the Shulamite is more taken with her lover than with his gifts to her. This is so inspirational to me. Which do we love more…our spouse, or the ways in which our mates meet our needs? Which do we love more…our Lord, or the abundant life he provides for us? It is the king—not his gifts—who is the object of the bride’s affection and fills all her vision. “The bride eyes not her garment, but her dear bridegroom’s face; I will not gaze at glory, but on my King of Grace.”* The king is better than the wine of joy, because he is the object of her joy and produces the response of joy within her! What a beautiful way to live!
* From the song “O Christ, He is the Fountain,” by Anne Ross Cousin
Also, the picture just above is of my friends, Scott and Karen, at the moment when the preacher said, “You may now kiss your bride!” Karen had to wait a long time for her man too, but I saw her just a couple of days ago, and they’re still as in love as ever! A good spouse is worth waiting for a long, long time!