Friday, March 31, 2017

Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs: life and relationships

This month I studied Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs (sometimes Song of Solomon depending on your Bible translation). Both books are reportedly written by King Solomon and both have very different themes and tones. The main theme of Ecclesiastes is life is meaningless without God. The main theme of Song of Songs is the courtship of a lover and his beloved. In Ecclesiastes, I would like to discuss two main verses which highlight the book’s theme. In Song of Songs, I want to discuss two verses which repeat throughout the book and are very important to any romantic relationship.

There are so many great verses in Ecclesiastes which support its theme. I would like to focus on a few. The first verse I would like to discuss is Ecclesiastes 1:9 “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again, there is nothing new under the sun.” Humans are born, humans work and toil and humans die. It has been this way since the fall of man. Ecclesiastes 9:12 says that no man knows when his hour will come. We all share a common destiny: the good, the evil, the righteous, the wicked, we will all die and stand before God and be accountable for the things we have done in life. Everything in life comes from and comes to God. Happiness, pleasure, satisfaction, wisdom (Ecclesiastes 2:26) all come from God. Without God, your work, your search for happiness and wisdom is meaningless. It’s futile. Human wisdom doesn’t contain all the answers. True wisdom comes from God who sees past, present and future.

Second I would like to discuss the verses Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. Here we are shown that working as a partnership or team is better than working alone. Life is designed for companionship; not isolation. Genesis 2:18 states “The Lord God said ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” By working together, we can bounce ideas of each other, solve problems together, to see in different perspectives to get the work done. My favorite part of these verse is verse 12, specifically “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” This verse is at the heart of mine and my husband’s unity ceremony during our wedding. Hanging on the wall of our love is a three strand rope with a white, gold and purple strand. The white strand represents me, the bride and wife. The purple strands represents my groom, my husband. The gold strand represents Jesus Christ as the center and authority in our marriage. The strands are tied together to represent the joining of two people by God in marriage. With Christ at the center of our marriage, the bond between my husband and I cannot be easily broken. 

The first verse I would like to discuss in Song of Songs is “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” This verse repeats three times: chapter 2 verse 7, chapter 3 verse 5, and chapter 8 verse 4. This verse is spoken by Beloved (the woman in the relationship). Although she speaks to other young girls, the verse does apply to men and women alike. This verse encourages us not to force romance or love. If we try to force love or even commitment, the relationship is doomed to fail and we end up deeply hurt. With the repeating of this verse throughout the book, we are reminded to allow love to blossom on its own and when it’s ready it will happen. When it happens, a lifelong commitment can occur. For those singles reading this, take the time to get to know each other. Allow love to develop naturally, if its mean for you two to be together, then it will happen.

The second verse I would like to discuss in Song of Songs is “I am my lover’s and he is mine.” This verse repeats twice: chapter 2 verse 16 and chapter 6 verse 3. This verse is, again, spoken by Beloved. Here she says that she and her lover belong to each other and only each other. In marriage, there must be a unity of mind, heart and body. This verse ties in with the verse above. When love is slowly awaken and a friendship develops first, the unity of mind, heart and body seems effortless. As time passes, a couple’s unity can only get stronger and deeper. For instance, my husband and I will celebrate eight years of marriage this year, ten years total of being together. We finish each other’s thoughts, sentences and even anticipate the other’s response will be. For example, my husband works very hard, when he comes home he wants to rest. He’ll say “I’m going to lay down” in such a way that it becomes a question. To which I reply with sarcasm, “No, you can’t.” So now when he realizes that he “asks” to lay down, he’ll answer his own question with my usual sarcastic response.

In conclusion, reading Ecclesiastes was, at times, very depressing. Everything is meaningless. Life is meaningless. The big picture of life, the meaning of life, so to speak, the ultimate purpose of life is to know God, to follow his commandments and to seek his will. Song of Songs is a beautiful story between a man and a woman. To see the whole story as they meet, fall in love and get married. It is an example of how a true love and commitment develops. You cannot rush, force or pressure love to develop. It blooms in its own time. Either it develops between two people or it doesn’t.