Song of Songs 2
8 Listen! My beloved!
Look! Here he comes,
leaping across the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
9 My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.
Look! There he stands behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
peering through the lattice.
10 My beloved spoke and said to me,
“Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
11 See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
12 Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
He is mine; I am his.
he browses among the lilies.
17 Until the day breaks
and the shadows flee,
turn, my beloved,
and be like a gazelle
or like a young stag
on the rugged hills.
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me.”
. . .
Song of Songs 3
1 All night long on my bed
I looked for the one my heart loves;
I looked for him but did not find him.
2 I will get up now and go about the city,
through its streets and squares;
I will search for the one my heart loves.
So I looked for him but did not find him.
3 The watchmen found me
as they made their rounds in the city.
“Have you seen the one my heart loves?”
4 Scarcely had I passed them
when I found the one my heart loves.
I held him and would not let him go
till I had brought him to my mother’s house,
to the room of the one who conceived me.
5 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you
by the gazelles and by the does of the field:
Do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires.
It says something about a patriarchal, doctrine-bound church when it presents an alternative reading from Zephaniah for today because many Christians would not cotton to this passionate love poem from the Song of Songs. How wonderful it is that a book about passionate human love was included in the Scriptures. Allegorically, passionate human love is about passionate divine love. Thank God for the Holy Spirit!
Comments are not needed. I encourage you to read it. If you want deeper understanding, Dianne Bergant has written a commentary, The Song of Songs in the Berit Olam Studies in Hebrew Narrative and Poetry (Liturgical Press).
As with all scripture we can read it for what it is—a passionate love song which has the lover leaping and bounding over hills like a young stag or gazelle. The lover goes from window to window and peers through the lattices in order to catch a glimpse of the beloved.
Read it as a poem about spring rhapsody—spring bursting forth after the rains of winter. (Sounds real good tome as we face a second and third day of rain.) It is spring, “Arise, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.” Spring passion abounds as creation blossoms anew.
In the third verse, which completes the poem from chapter 2, the women is longing for her lover on her bed—reason enough to be banned in the Vatican! She is looking and searching. She abandons all norms of social propriety for a women and ventures forth into the city and town square in search of her lover. She finds him, holds him tight and will not let him go. This is reminiscent of Mary of Magdala clinging to Jesus at the tomb. In the end, the woman beds her lover—too hot for Boston or Peoria!
During this season, we can also read the poem allegorically. It is a poem to express the passion of mystics seeking the Living One. We await with great longing the “birth” of the Christ.
We will find such passionate language and waitful expectation in John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, and Thomas Merton.
The Living One leaps and bounds over the hills and mountain in search of us. The Living One is the “Hound of Heaven.”
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Often, we are in flight mode as the Living One seeks us out and calls us to greater love, greater union with the Godhead. “He is mine; I am his.” This is total love, total commitment, total embrace.
In the third verse, we sense the incessant search. Longing, looking, and searching the woman pines until she finds her lover. The Living One longs, searches, and pines for us. We long, search, and pine for the Living One.
The Living One is love bursting forth into the heart of the cosmos and into our hearts. The Living One is the deepest reality we seek. The Living One is the Christ within us, the Christ who has found us, the Christ we have found.
The Christ is beckoning us, “Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.”