Tag Archives: Commentary on Song of Songs 8:6

Rise Up, My Love (273): Of Flames and Fountains

Song of Solomon 8:6 “Jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.” Fifteen years ago, when I wrote this commentary, I spent nearly a year on this verse alone, I guess because there was so much road repair that had to be done spiritually in my life in order to move on. I am reminded of the verses in Isaiah 62:10 and 40:3: “Prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people,” and, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”   I had been moving along, trying to build a straight road for my Lord, when all of a sudden a found a huge boulder blocking the path! The stumbling stone was misplaced affection. I was expecting others to remain perfectly loyal to me through thick and thin, and I was allowing failure to unravel me. This is wrong.

We must keep our eyes on Christ at all times and our relationship with him paramount. It is true that friends and spouses are to remain faithful, but it is inevitable that all people will be faced with the temptation to be unfaithful, and people respond very differently to this type of challenge. Our job as a spouse is to address evil with compassionate firmness without sinning ourselves.   The amazing thing is the power of sin to breed sin. Proverbs 6:24 reminds us that “jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.” If our eyes get off the Lord and on to our spouse, the partner’s failure is a tremendous catalyst for us to yield to some sin…be it unfaithfulness, or unholy anger, pride, hatred, revenge, or a host of other evils. “Be ye angry and sin not” (Ephesians 4:26). For years I was troubled by a spirit of jealousy (Numbers 5:14).   Sometimes my jealousy was justified, and sometimes it was not, but it caused me constant pain, and my husband—for whatever reasons—was unwilling or unable to reassure me when I would doubt him. Truly, jealousy is cruel as the grave. The heat of it sparked in me a fire of wrath and hatred that I’ve never experienced in any other situation. It may seem a trite saying to repeat, “If you play with fire, you’re sure to get burned,” but jealousy is a wild fire which burns like Sheol…like the fires of hell…like the continuous burning, smoldering fires of gehenna, the garbage dump outside Jerusalem. “The coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.” Surrender your jealousy to God and make Him the center of your affections. If your love for everyone else is like “hatred” by comparison, then you’ll always be able to love God and others freely. But, if you allow any other person to become the focus of your greatest concern and attention, you will end up with a misplaced affection that robs you of peace and joy, and you will end up feeling volcanic anger toward the person you thought you “loved” when they fail you. God alone is the source of true love and the fountainhead of unsullied joy.(P.S.—I’m happy to be able to share with you that today Alan and I are doing very well in our marriage. He is a loyal and reassuring husband, and I’m very glad to be married to him!)

Rise Up, My Love (269): What’s the Result of Being Sealed?

Song of Solomon 8:6 “Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm.” As the seal upon the heart speaks of guarding and protecting that which is the source of our affection and love, so the seal upon the arm speaks of guarding that which is the source of our power and strength. Once our affections are secured, they are proven true by our actions.

Have you ever noticed the little verse in John 3:33? The literal Interlinear translation from the Greek into modern English is, “The one receiving his testimony has certified (sealed) that God is true.” What was John saying? He was saying that those who truly believe and receive the words of Jesus are verifying the truth of what he said. We are “setting to our seal” that God is true. It’s as if, by the life we live every day, we are designing our own seal—our own signet ring—with which we give our “stamp of approval” to life.   This imagery is based on the ancient customs of kings, who had a uniquely and personally designed signet ring that they used for giving their official approval to documents. Our “seal” is translated into a living “ring” if you will, and a life lived in obedience to God’s Word carves out into living testimony (in effect) “God is Right.” We certify God’s perfect character and rightness by our actions, thereby building upon the foundation of our new affections, which has been laid by our Lord: “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Timothy 2:19).   What is the result of having Jesus as a seal on our arm? We “depart from iniquity.” We become the Lord’s miraculous “garden enclosed…a fountain sealed” (Song 4:12). On the negative side, we resist doing evil, but on the positive side, we actively do what is right. In Romans 4:11 it speaks of the “seal of the righteousness of the faith.” Our actions will speak of our God whose judgments are “true and righteous altogether” (Psalm 19:9; Revelation 19:2). As we bear upon our arms the seal of Jesus, we will become wise in our actions and begin to experience the fruits of such a walk:

“Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding…She is more precious than rubies; and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her” (Proverbs 3:13; 15-17).

What is the result of having Jesus as a seal on our arm? What we’ve always dreamed of having…happiness! Think about it for a minute. What is it that we cling to as our inalienable right as Americans? “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” How do we attain these goals? Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). It is “the truth” that makes us free…that provides for our liberty (John 8:32). And, and we just discovered in Proverbs 3, the pursuit of wisdom will end in the attainment of happiness. So simple, yet so profound!   What is it that the world desires more than anything? Happiness! What creates happiness? The verses above give a pretty apt description of what would make most people happy…a long life of wealth and honor full of pleasant, peaceful days. Who wouldn’t like that? The trick is, Satan deceives people into thinking that such a life can only be carved out by the exertion of self-will, when in fact, it can only be found by submitting to the will of God. It’s not in the pursuit of happiness, but in the pursuit of holiness. Not the pursuit of wealth, but the pursuit of wisdom. Not the pursuit of pleasure, but the pursuit of peace. Not the pursuit of gold, but the pursuit of God.

“Set me…as a seal upon thine arm.” Why? So that we will be strong to resist evil and do good. What will be the result? We will find happiness and peace in the love of God…”that the love wherewith thou [God] hast loved me [Jesus] may be in them [believers] and I [Jesus] in them” (John 17:26). O, beloved, have you set Jesus as a seal upon your heart and arm? Are you allowing him to guard and protect your affections and actions?   Just as the high priest wore an ephod with twelve stones… “seals”…upon his chest and shoulder, pledging his love and strength to care for Israel (Exodus 39:4-14), even so does Jesus, our great high priest, pledge his love to us. May we also set his name, like a glowing jewel, upon our breast, so that every breath and sigh speaks of our love and loyalty to him. May we fasten his name like a jewel upon our arms, bearing his love on our shoulders so that every time we lift our arms it is to engage in loving service for him. As the sacrifice was bound with cords to the altar (Psalm 118:27) so that it could not be moved, even so may we bind the love of Jesus as a seal upon our heart and arm so that our commitment will never be shaken.