Scripture Focus: Song of Songs 8.6-7
6 Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.
7 Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot sweep it away.
If one were to give
all the wealth of one’s house for love,
it would be utterly scorned.
2 When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.”
Reflection: Love Stronger Than Death
By John Tillman
Today, we conclude Song of Songs and move, over the weekend, into Hosea. What a contrast!
From the idyllic, passionate love poetry in Song of Songs, we turn to the tear-stained legal documents and pleadings of a marriage in crisis. It’s like turning from a Hallmark love story to a gritty, true-crime documentary.
The beloved’s poem about the strength of love is one of the most well-known passages of the Bible. It is often quoted as a positive. “Many waters cannot quench love” is on the mausoleum dedicated to Ida And Isidor Straus, who chose to die together on the Titanic as it sank, rather than be separated. Ida is reported to have quoted Ruth, “Where you go, I will go,” as she refused to get on a lifeboat without her husband. (Ruth 1.16)
However, there is also a warning within this passage. Love strong as death, like a blazing fire, unable to be quenched, unable to be bought off, or denied…this is a confession. Human love can be twisted, becoming sinful jealousy that destroys what it can no longer possess or takes with force what will not yield to it. This leads to rape, domestic violence, abuse, and often murder. This unyielding love can lead to wickedness in humans, but in God it is the motivation for the gospel. The holy jealousy of God leads not to destruction but to redemption and salvation.
Hosea is God’s stand-in depicting this. His anger and hurt are real and justifiable. His love burns. His jealousy rises. Hosea’s human love is as strong as death and by Jewish law, he could have demanded death for Gomer.
God chose, rather than let us sink in the titanic disaster of our sin, to sink himself. His love is so great, that he did not die with us, sinking into oblivion. Rather, he died instead of us and when he sank into the grave, it was only to lift us up after him.
God’s love is stronger than death. His love breaks the unyielding hold of the grave. His love burns through any barrier that would come between us. His love quenches the fires of sin that would burn us. His love gave all the wealth of his house, becoming poor that we can become rich. (2 Corinthians 8.9)
Who could scorn this kind of love?
Music: “Love As Strong As Death” – Canticle of Plains by Kevin Max / Rich Mullins
Video: Overview of Hosea by The Bible Project
Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Be pleased, O God, to deliver me; O Lord, make haste to help me. — Psalm 70.1
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.
Read more about The Naked Emotion of God
Hosea. This shows us a God unashamed of shame, nakedly confessing his love for the unlovable.
Read more about He Stoops to Raise
He strips himself.
He lays aside