Category Archives: Meditations on the Song of Solomon

Rise Up, My Love (241): How to Have Fresh Breath

Song of Solomon 7:8 Second, the king refers to the smell of her nose as being like apples, or, if my understanding is correct, he likens the smell of the breath coming from her nose to the subtle spiciness of apples. That was a curiosity to me, since I have always felt self-conscious about my breath…and frankly have never noticed especially liking the smell of anyone else’s breath either (unless they were chewing flavored gum or breath mints).

I guess in some cultures, body odors are very attractive, but most Americans are taught to minimize their natural human scents and often go to great pains to mask them with toothpaste, mouth wash, fragranced soaps, deodorant, flavored chap sticks and lipsticks, hand creams, face creams, perfumes…and even make ups and powders. I mean, we even scent facial tissues and toilet paper. Among all this armament of aromatic accouterments, I have yet to smell the sweetness of apples…have you?

“How would someone’s breath smell like apples?” I asked my husband, who as a physician daily experiences dozens of people’s breath. (…“Say ‘Ah!’ please.”)

“The only way I know of would be if the person had just finished eating an apple.” That made perfect sense to me, so I researched the word “apple” in the Scripture to see if I could discover its spiritual significance. First, the word “apple” or “apples” is only used eleven times in the Scripture, four of which are in the Song of Solomon! Of the seven uses outside the Song, five are the expression “apple of the eye,” such as in Psalm 17:8, “Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings.”

So, nearly half of the uses of apple in Scripture refer to the center of the eye, or that which is central to one’s heart, affections, and attentions. Of the two remaining uses of apple, believe it or not, do not include the fruit that Eve picked in the Garden of Eden! That fruit is not mentioned by name and has probably long since disappeared, or at least it hasn’t been an option for snacking in the last 6,000 years!

However, Proverbs 25:11 teaches that “a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver,” and so perhaps given the context, apples could be associated with wisdom and discretion. Finally, the apple tree is mentioned with a list of the most important fruit trees that were withered during a time of judgment “because joy is withered away from the sons of men” (Joel 1:12). So, the apple is associated with wisdom, abundance and joy.

Within the Song of Solomon, the three other references to “apple” are 2:3, where the groom is likened to an apple tree: “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.” Here we see the apple as the greatest of its type, providing delightful protection and sweet sustenance. Shortly thereafter (v. 5), the bride cries out, “Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love.” Here, the apple seems associated with that which stabilizes and comforts. The final reference is 8:5, where the bridegroom says, “I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth…”

Obviously, this is all symbolic, since the bride certainly had not lived her entire life from birth through the early years of marriage under the shade of a singular apple tree. What did this apple tree symbolize? A composite of all the other occurrences used in Scripture depict the apple as symbolic of that which was central to one’s heart, attention, and affection, full of wisdom and discretion, joy and abundance…that which was the greatest of its type, providing delightful protection and sweet sustenance, stabilization, and comfort.

Could that be anything but a picture of Christ himself? He was the apple tree under which she was brought forth by her mother, and where she was raised up. Why did her breath smell like apples? Because she had just “eaten an apple.” Spiritually, she was feeding off the One who proclaimed, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever…For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” (John 6: 51,55).

In a spiritual mystery that has baffled and revolted unbelievers ever since Christ propounded this doctrine, we are taught to so take in Christ spiritually that he becomes bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, even as we become bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. Why did the bride have fragrant breath? Because she had the breath of Eternal Life! She had eaten the apple of Christ. She had been abiding in the Vine until her spiritual breasts had become like voluptuous clusters of grapes. She had been feeding on the Living Bread until the “smell of her nose”—the smell of her face and the very air coming out from her inmost being—had a subtle spiciness…the unmistakable fragrance of Christ…the invisible aroma of his eternally fresh and vibrant Holy Spirit being exhaled from her life. Oh, beloved, if you don’t get anything else out of this devotional commentary, understand the secret of spiritual fresh breath: Feed on the living Christ!

Rise Up, My Love (238): Cake and Frosting

Song of Solomon 7:8 “I said, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof…” The word for “boughs” is sansinna and is only used this once in the Bible, although it has been linked to the Akkadian sinnsinu, which refers to the “topmost branches of a palm.”*  So, the term “boughs” may refer to the bride’s hair or arms, but perhaps the best interpretation comes from Patterson who said the term “refers to the shoots or branches of the palm tree on which hang the clusters of its fruit…which will please him like clusters of the vine” (Patterson, 108). The Hebrew for “take hold” is ahaz and is variably translated “seize” or “grasp” such as in Judges 1:6 and 12:6 where it refers to the hot pursuit of battle!  Is it time for a friendly, “I told you so!”? Solomon was rather like that shipwrecked sailor, wasn’t he?…run aground by a hurricane of love…overwhelmed by emotion…and ready to climb that tree in hot pursuit of that fruit! (A note to men: Need I remind you that the breast has already been described as a fawn? That “hot pursuit” requires the utmost care in preparing your wife [as Solomon did his wife] for your impassioned advances!)  In this verse, Solomon goes from admiring his wife to expressing his intention to make love to her. The beauty of the passage is the purity and unabashed goodness…the rightness…of a man observing his wife’s beauties and declaring his desire to “ascend” to dizzying heights in order to delight in her as if she were a magnificent palm crowned with delicious clusters of the most delectable fruit!  Oh, dear brides who cannot understand why your husband is so driven sexually all the time, see yourself as he sees you! Understand that a young man craves his wife’s body like a shipwrecked sailor craves the bursting sweetness of coconut milk! Older women who wonder why your husbands haven’t ever “gotten over it,” meditate on the fact that when your husband sees you, he’s not focusing on the extra weight that makes you so self-conscious and reticent…he’s a thirsty man looking for a long, refreshing drink from the fountain of his youth—you “Ah,” but you say, “How could he still be interested in me? I’m so….(you can fill in your own blank). For me—and probably for the majority of older women— “overweight” would fit nicely in that blank. That twenty-four inch waistline came and went all too fast. I used to worry chronically about being overweight to the point of being uncomfortable undressed. I wondered how my husband could really even find me attractive. Now I know that the most important thing for us as wives is to forget how we look and focus on loving our husbands instead!  That’s not to say that looks aren’t important. It’s good for our health and our marriages to keep fit as much as possible, so I am not condoning a lack of dietary discipline. But, what a man needs most of all is a good woman who loves him deeply. That is the cake. The rest is just frosting. (I know, frosting is my favorite part too…so let’s keep working on looking our best…but let’s not forget the cake!)

*G. Lloyd Carr, The Song of Solomon: An Introduction and Commentary (Downer’s Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1984), 162.

Rise Up, My Love (237): Clusters of Fruit

Song of Solomon 7:7  The Hebrew word in this comparison is ‘eskol, which is translated “cluster” in verse fourteen of chapter one (where it refers to a cluster of camphire). Because the Hebrew word is also used to name the Valley of Eshcol (Numbers 13:23), where the children of Israel found fabulously large clusters of grapes, the authorized version adds the words “of grapes” to harmonize with the imagery of verse 8. But, according to Carr, “there is no need to shift the image in this colon. The picture is…of the ‘sweetness’ the heavy, dark fruit provided.”*   As the earlier part of the verse compares Solomon’s wife to a palm tree, a more consistent continuation of the thought might be comparing her breasts to clusters of dates or some similar fruit of the palm. Perhaps the imagery of the bride’s breasts being like clusters of ripe fruit is a natural simile for men, or maybe even for most women, but it wasn’t a natural for me at first. I think of a cluster of fruits—be it grapes, dates, or coconuts— as being lumpy and bumpy, and I think of a breast as being one soft, round entity, more like a peach.   However, as I meditated on what our Lord—the living Word and the eternal author of this song—might have been trying to teach, I remembered back to the days when I used to nurse my infant children. As a girl, I assumed that milk flowed from a mother’s nipple in a single stream, rather like a kitchen faucet. I’ll never forget the first night my infant son started drowning because he couldn’t keep up with the flow of milk! He choked and began to cough, releasing his grip on the nipple. Milk sprayed in no less than seven distinct streams a good three feet away from us in all directions…including his tiny face!

That really enraged him, and I realized with amazement that a woman’s breast is not a “single fruit”…it is really a cluster of “fruits!” Indeed, studying an encyclopedia reassured me that I wasn’t abnormal; a woman’s nipple consists of “fifteen to twenty-five irregularly shaped lobes…Leading from each lobe is a duct, the lactiferous duct, which opens to the outside at the nipple” (The Encyclopedia Americana, 1995, 491).  So, here is another example of the correctness and perfection of the Word. A woman’s breast, although soft and smooth externally, is indeed like a cluster of fruit organically and internally! Also, Solomon—the human author—was a brilliant man and an avid student of natural history, and he could have perceived with appreciation the essential nature of his wife’s breasts as “clusters” of fruit.But, let’s not spend our whole time thinking technically! What is the meaning of this striking simile? As mentioned earlier, the focus should be on the sweetness and not the shape of the breasts. Her breasts attracted Solomon like the discovery of an oasis on a desert island would attract the attention of a shipwrecked sailor! What? You don’t think so? Then you haven’t been a young wife yet!  🙂…Well, perhaps that’s a little overstated, but without a doubt, the idea of Solomon’s wife as a statuesque palm laden with clusters of fruit is a most sensuous and appealing thought! Can you picture such a beautiful tree in your mind’s eye? What is the setting? To me, I envision the palm as a striking centerpiece on a tropical isle floating in an emerald sea. I remember visiting one such isle when my husband and I cruised through the French Polynesian Islands in the South Pacific. The sky was sapphire blue, and the crystal waters of the ocean were lapping at the sandy shoreline. Imagine with me. Can you see?  The palm is laden with luscious clusters of fruit that appear temptingly from time to time as the palm fronds ripple in the breeze. As my mind’s eye drifts down from the beautiful palm, I see the backdrop of a pristine beach in a hidden cove. There are no people in the picture, and the only sounds are the rhythmic throbbing of the surf and the stir of gentle breezes in the top of the palm…with perhaps the distant call of an island bird piercing the air from time to time. The scene I remember gives a haunting call to return to that little South Pacific paradise… “Bali Hai… come to me!” Romantic, hidden, wonderful, exotic…paradise just waiting to be found… delight just waiting to be enjoyed… adventure just waiting to begin.

*G. Lloyd Carr, The Song of Solomon: An Introduction and Commentary (Downer’s Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1984), p. 161.

Rise Up, My Love (236): Glorious Palm Trees

Song of Solomon 7:7 “This thy stature is like to a palm tree…” Palm trees tend to be tall and slender, often with a graceful curve reaching upward toward the heavens. This is an almost universally known fact and would be the most obvious reason for the King comparing his bride’s stature to a palm tree. Those of us who’ve been privileged to view more than pictures of these magnificent trees know the soothing pleasure that comes from watching a palm tree sway gently in the breeze.  For most of us, palm trees speak of warmth…of tropical weather and refreshing fruit drinks…of relaxing times of vacation. For our family, who are annual vacationers in Florida, seeing our first palm tree as we travel south brings a great sigh of relief and excitement: “We’re here!” After twenty-four hours in the van, we can get out and stretch our legs! No more snow and cold…just wonderful warmth and sunshine! It’s easy to imagine the king’s delight as he watched his beautiful young bride, as slender and graceful as a palm tree, and anticipated the bliss of sharing in the warmth and freedom of her love.  Researching palm trees also brings to light some other important (but perhaps less known) facts that provide rich food for thought. Most trees from more temperate zones, like these ancient olive trees from the Garden of Gethsemane, are exogenous, which means they grow by yearly adding layers of woody tissue. Age can be determined by counting the rings (one per year) seen in a cross-section of the tree. With age, the trees become wider and wider and the wood extremely hard and unbending. This characteristic is great if you are a tree hoping to be chopped down and turned into a durable piece of furniture, but it’s not so great if you want to continue living and withstanding storms.  In contrast, the palm tree is endogenous, and its softest part is its heart. (In fact, palm hearts are nutritious and considered a great delicacy.) Palm trees send roots deep into the earth in search of hidden springs so that they can survive even in desserts. These characteristics make palms flexible and resilient. When our property was battered by tornado force winds some time ago, over twenty huge deciduous trees were uprooted and destroyed. In contrast, Alan and I were “privileged” to be holed up at an oceanfront resort when Hurricane Irene ravaged the coast of Florida some years ago.   We watched helplessly as the sea began a frothy rage and boiled over. The large picture window in our room bulged, and the mirrors bounced on the walls. The waves and winds battered the palms mercilessly, and yet, they only bowed and bent, they did not break. When we woke up the morning after the storm had passed by, all the windows and the sunroof had blown out of our car, but the palms were upright and dancing in the sunlight again.For a woman to be like a palm tree means that her softest part is her heart…which is a great delight for all who partake of her tender goodness. For a woman to be like a palm tree means that her age is not necessarily determined by her width! For a woman to be like a palm tree means that her tap root goes down, down, down deep to the hidden springs of Living Water where she will be nourished and anchored, so that even though the storms of life batter her, she’ll be able to bend without breaking and lift her head again to sparkle in the morning sunshine.   Another interesting fact about palms is that they are one of the largest and most economically important families of the plant world, and in primitive cultures palms are a major provider of sustenance with a multitude of uses, including food, shelter, and clothing. Anyone who understands the supreme significance of the palm tree as a nurturer and sustainer for the world’s children can immediately understand another type of stature being discussed. “This thy stature is like to a palm tree,” could refer not only to his wife’s physical body build but also to his wife’s significance as a “tree among trees.” (See Song 2:3, where the bride compares her husband to a fruitful tree among the trees of the woods).   As the palm is among the most valuable of trees, so is Solomon’s bride among women. Not only was she graceful and beautiful like the palm, she may well have risen to a place of great significance in the kingdom as a sustainer and provider for those under her care.

(Although I took all these photos, I don’t actually have high quality pictures from our Florida trips or Hurricane Irene [which were taken before I had a digital camera], so I used more recent photos from other places.)

Rise Up, My Love (235): The Foreshadowing of Spiritual Union

Song of Solomon 7:6 “How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights!” Verse six is the pivotal point in this one particular ode. It is as if the husband concludes his observations with a final seal of approving commendation that also transitions him from simply observing her beauties (verses 1-5)…to beginning to remember the pleasure of experiencing them (verse 6)…to declaring that he will enjoy them again (verses 7-8).

And here, perhaps it would be good to sit and rest a while, savoring this verse as the groom reflected on thoughts of his wife. Synonyms from other translations and commentators describing the husband’s feelings for his wife provide much room for meditation: “How beautiful; how entrancing; how charming; how pleasing.” “Good.” “Gracious.” “Delectable maiden, with your delights.” “Daughter of delights.” “My delight”… “soft, delicate, delightful, luxurious…”  Last June our family just picked cherries from a neighboring orchard…sweet black cherries, sun-sweetened at the tops of the trees. Some years we’re able to harvest big handfuls just by standing on the ground, but last year we had to climb way up high on very tall ladders in order to find many cherries. But…oh, how sweet! This verse is like those wonderful, hard-to-come–by cherries, so stop to taste each one as if it were a plump fruit. Indeed, biting into each adjective gives a spurt of spiritual sweetness like cherry juice!   Go back and read the list again slowly, meditating on each with the understanding that this is the way our Heavenly Lover feels about us as his bride! Truly? Does my Lord find my spiritual openness and submission to him as beautiful… entrancing… delectable?? Wow! It seems unimaginable that I can bring such pleasure to my Lord!

The other thing that may take some mental and spiritual energy is understanding and appropriating the distinctly physical nature of this verse. Although many verses in The Song of Solomon are hotly contested, this verse is unanimously agreed upon: It is a direct reference to the delights of lovemaking. Frankly, to many people, sex is an embarrassing, uncomfortable subject. Young children, especially, sometimes express concern that the whole idea seems “yucky.”  Can you remember when you first heard about sex? I’ll never forget the first time it was explained to me. I was twelve and had just recently become a Christian when my older sister sat down and told me the story behind “the birds and the bees.” My first thought was, “How awful! I’m sure my Sunday school teacher (who was also my spiritual mother and mentor) would never do that!” My husband remembers (at about the same age: prepubescent) thinking a girl’s body seemed “gross.”

These are probably not atypical responses. We are taught our whole lives to be modest and “keep your hands off!” All of a sudden we’re told that within marriage two people are to become totally uninhibited, that our bodies are nothing to be ashamed of or kept hidden, and that loving “hands on” is good, not bad. How does one make the transition?   As with so much of life, I think it is something that must be accepted and acted upon by faith. Our world is so tainted by pornography and sexually perverse practices that sex has become a commonplace topic with a terrible reputation. The wonders of a happy marital relationship are not put on public display; they are sacred and private, and parents don’t usually discuss sexual issues with young children lest they be defrauded (except as they need instruction for their own protection and safety).

However, the world seems to think of nothing else. Immoral sexual behavior is so much in the news and gossip that sex seems synonymous with sin. From the whispers and snickers and innuendoes that all children and young people are inevitably exposed to in our culture, “sinless sex” seems like an oxymoron, and the ideas of purity and privilege simply aren’t championed. Nevertheless, the teaching of the Bible is clear that “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4).

As an innocent young person, the idea of the purity of sex within marriage needs to be accepted by faith. However, just as usually happens in the experience of salvation…appropriate emotions generally follow. In fact, the usual pattern is that maintaining sexual purity before marriage becomes one of a young person’s greatest challenges. Once people mature and fall in love, by some “magic,” their attitudes towards the physical closeness that leads to intercourse radically change, and the desire to become one rather than two becomes an overwhelming passion if not severely restrained by “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).   Even so, by some sacred mystery, the pure passion of Christ to make us one with him, even as he is one with the Father (John 17), is a spiritual truth that we accept by faith and mature into as we grow up in Christ…learning at first by shadows and types and visions through dark looking glasses…but which will someday become our sole passion when we behold him face to face. This is not a physical experience; it is a spiritual experience…something that far exceeds but is only mysteriously suggested by physical union.

Rise Up, My Love (234): In the Galleries

Song of Solomon 7:5 “The king is held in the galleries.” Did you have the first reaction I had to this phrase? As an American, the word “galleries” brings to mind art galleries, and my mind drifted back to some of the most beautiful paintings I’ve ever been privileged to see, both here and abroad…paintings of Christ walking the Emmaus road, and the beautiful light of a Reuben depicting Jesus as a small boy watching Joseph hard at work in his carpentry shop. “The king is held in the galleries.” My mind returned to a time when I was “held in the galleries” of the Detroit Institute of Art for several years…during those long, hard years when my husband was in medical school. Our oldest son cut his teeth on the world’s great classic artists, whiling away the hours with me in the metropolitan museums that were just a short little red-wagon ride away from our apartment. Holding my firstborn in my arms, I used the paintings as superb visuals for lessons on vocabulary and life while answering his persistent questions: “Wha’ dat? wha’ dat? wha’ dat?” While he began developing childish impressions of what such words as “man, horse, river, and boat” meant, I developed a deeper appreciation for the creative genius of a God who could bless his creatures with such amazing talents! Truly, we were “held in the galleries.” We were totally captivated by wonder and beauty. Could the king have been so captivated by exploring the “galleries” of his beloved’s mind? Most women would be delighted to think so…because most women long to have their husbands think that their minds—and not just their bodies—are beautiful and worth exploring! For example, I once heard of a woman who wanted to hear a marriage proposal that would go something like this: “I’m so crazy about you that I want to be able to wake up at 6:00 a.m. some mornings just to find out what you’re thinking about!” Sound strange? Not to a woman. Once during our family’s end-of-the-school-year vacation we read together A Severe Mercy, the autobiographical account of the tremendous love and loyalty a couple developed for each other, how they came to Christ, and how they dealt with illness and death. One of the greatest appeals of the book was the intimacy and devotion the couple attained—truly their marriage was a noble human portrait of the love relationship Christ desires with each of us as his bride.

They developed the concept of a “shining barrier” to keep all competing loves at bay. They aspired to total trust and faithfulness…total sharing…total intimacy. Perhaps the greatest key to this beautiful love was the commitment to share all their thoughts and ideas. They tried to read everything the other person read and to share all their experiences in common. They allowed themselves to become willing captives of one another’s minds. Is this what the king meant? Possibly. The text is not explicit, and it is one of the many points where commentators struggle for meaning. The word gallery has a long history. It can be traced back to the middle English galerie, from the Italian galleria, from Medieval Latin galeria, which was perhaps a variant of the word galilaea, a term referring to the porch of a church, thought to be from Galilee.* If indeed the word goes back to church “galleries,” then it most likely refers to the upper floor: in today’s parlance, the “balcony.” One can just picture a church porch or balcony overlooking the beautiful Sea of Galilee! This is another pleasing possibility, and it fits in well as a parallel idea to our first thought, that the king is held captive in the “balcony” of her brain.   “Thine head upon thee is like Carmel…the king is held in the galleries.” Or, paraphrased for today: “Your head is your crowning glory…the king is mesmerized by all he sees in you!” Like an eager parishioner, leaning forward over the edge of the railing to hear every word the minister speaks…like the king in his royal balcony box enjoying every moment of the performance unfolding before him… a scholar intrigued by the seemingly endless possibilities for delight as he pours over the fascinating, leather-bound tomes in the upper recesses of a priceless library…so Solomon—picturing Christ, the matchless lover of our souls—remains in the “balcony,” intently gazing at his wife’s beautiful face and studying her mind!

(Morris, 539)

Rise Up, My Love (233): Not Black and Blue, But Black to Purple

Song of Solomon 7:5 …”the hair of thine head like purple…” The word translated “purple” is ‘argaman, and refers to a “dark crimson or purple color.”* The other two references to the bride’s hair (4:1 and 6:5) describe it as flowing and (presumably) black like the goats from which the tents of Kedar were made. Kedar, whose name probably meant “dark” or “swarthy”** was the second son of Ishmael, and his descendants expanded into a powerful tribe that lived east of Israel and Ammon. It was the black tents of Kedar—woven from the silky black hairs of the goat herds—to which the bride compared herself in the first chapter. How is it that the bride’s hair is described as both black and purple? There is a simple explanation from nature that may be obvious to most people…and there is a lovely thought from the spiritual realm which may be encouraging.  Once when our family was out walking together, my youngest son (who was very little at the time) was fascinated by a large beetle by the side of the road. At first glance, it appeared to be a gorgeous, royal blue, but on closer inspection, we discovered that it was a jet-black beetle with an iridescent sheen…very beautiful! Have you ever seen a starling with a flash of iridescent purple or green on its wings? Sometimes black can radiate color almost the way snowflakes in bright sunshine can glisten with rainbows of light. Oriental women in particular, with their long tresses of midnight black hair, sometimes have lustrous highlights that ripple and shimmer in the light with an almost purple iridescence.  Perhaps it was such an eye-catching aura that so captivated the King. And, what is the significance of the shift from black to purple in the spiritual realm? Could this be another aspect of the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly…from beast to beauty…from the black of sin to the purple of God’s royalty? In the bright Sonshine of God’s grace, the bride’s black hair…once so darkly human and dull from the dust of sin… became bright and shiny-clean such that it reflected the sheen of her Majesty’s purple royalty!  This reminds me of a true story I heard some years ago about the Disney song, “Beauty and the Beast.” I was visiting my “little sister,” Lizzie, in Chicago, and we went to a Marty Goetz concert. Marty is a Messianic Jew now (which means he is one of the myriad Jewish people who have come to know and love Jesus as the Jewish Messiah), and he spends his life singing for our Lord. But, before he became a believer, he started out many years ago singing in piano bars in “heaven” (as he refers to New York City).  During that time, a young man named Alan Menken played some with him, and one of the tunes Marty heard was the song that later helped Alan Menken become famous: “Beauty and the Beast.” After Marty’s conversion, he wrote his own version of the song, reflecting on the wondrous change God had wrought in his life, and called it “Beauty in the Beast”: a “tale as old as time” about the transforming love of God in the heart of a sinner… how “only He could find beauty in the beast.”  Yes, our Lord, by his infinite grace and patient kindness, takes us as ugly, selfish “beasts” and by the gentle persuasion of his love transforms us into princes (and princesses). Isn’t that the truth behind this classic tale? In the Disney version, a young man’s selfishness condemns him to a life (and death) as a beast unless he can find someone to love him before his time is up. Belle, as a type of Christ coming to earth, sacrifices her own freedom and willingly submits to a life in the beast’s world. In the story, it was Belle’s love for the beast that revoked the curse and transformed him into a prince. In reality, it was Christ’s love for us…not just whispered in our ear…but lived out by dying in our place…that broke the curse of sin and freed us to be transformed into princes and princesses of his Kingdom!  What a magnificent tale! But, it’s not simply a wonderful story, it’s the glorious good news of the true gospel! “What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul. What wondrous love is this, O my soul. What wondrous love is this, that caused the Lord of bliss To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul, To bear the dreadful curse for my soul” (American Folk Hymn).

*Paige Patterson, Song of Solomon (Chicago:  Moody, 1986), 107.

**Merrill C. Tenny, ed. The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Corp., 1977), Vol.3, 778.