Scripture Focus: Song of Songs 6.3
I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine;
he browses among the lilies.
Reflection: Love without Red Flags
By Erin Newton
…the lover’s pursuit continues. The friends ask (perhaps tongue-in-cheek) where her lover has gone. The woman replies that he has gone away but adds the comment: I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine. Maybe she was threatened by the interest of the friends. Or maybe it’s another praise of the fidelity of the lovers’ relationship.
What is she trying to say about their relationship? Is this a statement about dominance or authority? Is she simply warding off the possibility of seduction by laying claim to the man? If we understand this phrase as a sexual commitment of two lovers, 1 Corinthians 7.4 echoes this same sentiment. “A wife does not have the right over her own body, but her husband does. In the same way, a husband does not have the right over his own body, but his wife does.” (CSB translation)
Couples will likely give a hardy, “Amen,” to the suggestion of their spouse giving their bodies to one another in the context of sex. The guidance given to the Corinthians reveals the mutual equality of the relationship between these lovers. The idea moves beyond the concept of one person domineering the other; the husband and wife have the same instructions.
“The words express not clutching possessiveness but full belonging, one to the other,” Ellen Davis states. This is the ideal relationship. No red flags. No manipulation. This is the caring, selfless love of two people who seek the best for one another. It is easy to fulfill the desires of your spouse when that sense of mutual commitment and love is present.
This phrase which seems to summarize the essence of the ideal relationship is a four-word Hebrew phrase. You could translate it simply, “I am for my lover, and my lover is for me.” This literal translation reveals more of the self-giving attitude of the husband and the same self-giving attitude of the wife. They are for one another.
On Mount Sinai, God told the Israelites he would be their God and they would be his people (Leviticus 26.12). This relentless, fully committed love from God is our model.
A healthy relationship is a two-way street. The lovers share the same vision of respect, care, and desire for one another. In these statements, it can be hard to differentiate the words of the man and the words of the lover. Love is not self-seeking.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
Let all peoples know that you, whose Name is Yahweh, you alone are the Most High over all the earth. — Psalm 83.18
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.
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