Song of Solomon 2:4 “He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” Today would have been my parents’ 75th wedding anniversary (although they only lived long enough to make it to their 63rd anniversary). Our three oldest sons and their cousin Andrea all got married around this weekend (different years, however), so the end of June just seems like it should be “National Anniversary Weekend” or something! Are you married? If so, I hope you’re still very much in love. I can’t think of anything that is at the same time more difficult and more rewarding than surrendering our hearts to another person with the promise to love and cherish them for the rest of our lives. What is it that draws us into marriage?
From our look at the Song of Solomon 2:3 (last Sunday), we saw that the bride’s great attraction to her husband was related to his ability to protect and provide for her, and she drew near to him, resting in his care. Are you resting in the care of Jesus? He wants you to!
However, from verse two we see that the husband truly was attracted to her first and perceived her as uniquely desirable. To me, one of the greatest mysteries of all time is how God could love me…or any human, imperfect as we are.
As I’ve watched the world go by, this inexplicable attraction and response also seems to be the most common human experience: a man finds a woman compellingly attractive (not simply physically, but from a constellation of lovely qualities) and is drawn to reach out to her in love; in turn, the woman responds to his attention and grows to admire his strengths, drawing near and allowing him to meet her needs. (Of course, as a healthy relationship develops, both partners go way out of their way to meet one another’s needs.) What a perfect picture of God’s love for us! As Jesus said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44). God draws us to himself because he loves us! And yet, in our conscious experience, we draw close to God because we respond to his love and see him as uniquely able to meet our needs. (At least, that’s what happened to me.) We feel the “draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you” principle taught in James 4:8. So, God loves, and we love back. Man loves, and a woman responds. (Okay, so in contemporary American culture, this may not be as universally true, but I do think God designed us this way.)
“He brought me…” And so, the bridegroom woos his bride and then wins her. She may be drawn to enjoy his provisions, but it is he who ultimately invites her into the fullness of all he is and possesses. She sat down under his shadow, but he brought her into his house.
“…to the banqueting house.” In Hebrew, the term is more literally rendered “house of wine.” Wine always speaks of joy in the Scripture. The house of wine was the place of joy…of feasting and intimate communion…of experiencing the overabundant blessing of every good thing…of rejoicing together. From the refreshment of the apple (life) to the overflowing fruit of the vine (joy), he first allowed her to rest under the wings of his love and then drew her into the very “holy of holies,” the bosom of his joy.
“…and his banner over me was love.” The banner, or ensign, was (and still is) a display of possession and victory. His banner was a sign of having conquered her…but he had conquered her through love, and she loved him all the more for his victory! He who wooed and won his bride now brings her into the heart of his joy with a banner of possession over her. “And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious” (Isaiah 11:10). What a magnificent rest we find in being conquered by our heavenly lover, who has wooed and won us with such patient tenderness! What a beautiful example for a man who would woo and win the one who has won his heart!
But, this is not a “triumph over” but a “triumph in.” Christ does not triumph over us, as if we are a defeated foe; he triumphs in us and through us! “Now thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:14). He conquered us in order to make us “more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37). He placed his banner of possession over us, not to make us his slaves or destroy us, but to protect us and give us victory! Victory over slavery to this world: “and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith” (I John 5:4), and victory over the destruction of sin and death: “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:57). Likewise, may all earthly husbands—modeling Christ’s great love before this world—possess their wives, not as conquered slaves to do their bidding, but as cherished and protected vessels to be sanctified, made victorious, “holy, and without blemish” (Ephesians 5: 25-28).
“His banner over me was love.” It was love that conquered. Blood is the price of conquest, and the conquerors of this world literally wade through the blood of their enemies to win their thrones. But, our conqueror, in love, gave his own life and waded through his own blood to purchase our redemption (I Peter 1:18-19). And then, did God make us his slaves? No! In love, he “raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6-7). Our heavenly conqueror defeated our foes so that we could partake of his throne and be taken into his banqueting house…so that we could take joy with him in all the exceeding riches of his grace and kindness! Hallelujah, what a Savior!