Have you ever really wondered at what Paul meant when he wrote,
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
I think what he was getting at is that we look at the world through a lens of ourselves. I see everything through the lens of myself. I interpret the world around me, the people around me, and my experiences through my own perspective, and unfortunately, that perspective is terribly flawed.
We’re all flawed, which makes this lens we see through quite dim, and it’s dim for any number of reasons. It’s dim because of our expectations, it’s dim because of our emotions, but mostly it’s dim because of our sin and our subsequent perceptions in light of that sin.
For the believer, the struggle is seeing through this cloudy, smudged up window into something so beyond our comprehension that we can find ourselves squinting and frustrated at what we think we see there. We read the Bible, we study it, and we know the words. We know that it promises that we are loved beyond compare, that we were set apart and chosen despite our imperfections, and it refers to us as the bride of Christ, the betrothed of the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
The problem is not that we don’t read those words or even believe them. The problem is that we can’t perceive them. We can’t really see what they are because we’re doomed to looking through this window dimly. While on this earth, the window of our heart struggles to see the magnitude of these promises. Yet God does not want His children to go through life miserably uninformed. He has given us His Word to direct our knowledge toward the seemingly impossible love that is ours in Christ Jesus.
Over and over in the bible we are referred to as the bride of Christ. Over and over our relationship with Jesus is compared to that of the one between a man and a woman in marriage.
Why do you think that is?
It is simply because that is the most intimate relationship known to mankind in this imperfect state. It’s the closest comparison we could make to what we share with Jesus.
And understand that by intimacy I do not mean physical relationships. Intimacy is literally defined as:
“A close, familiar, and usually affectionate and loving personal relationship with another; a close association with detailed knowledge or deep understanding of another.”
If you are married or have ever been married, you know that you and your spouse generally know each other better than anyone else—the good, the bad, and the ugly! The marriage relationship was designed by God to be the most intimate in nature in all of our relationships on this earth.
The comparison then to marriage also with our Savior is appropriate given the definition of intimacy. After all, there is no one else in all of creation who knows us like our Savior does. He knows every action, every thought, every word, every nuance of our hearts.
Paul gave us a perfect example of this analogy in Ephesians 5. He had just written in this letter an exhortation on how husbands and wives are to honor and love one another. He was trying desperately to put into words how important this relationship is, so much so that he says in verses 31 and 32,
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound.”
Why is it profound? It’s profound because our earthly marriages are mere dim representations of something far greater. Paul went on in verse 32 to say,
I am saying that is refers to Christ and the church.
Literally Paul is saying that what happens when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior that we become one with Him. We are united to Him in the most intimate and complete way we can imagine, and even that is a pale comparison.
The entire bible lays attestation to this reality. The prophet Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 54:5-6,
For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. For the Lord has called you like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off, says your God.
Furthermore, this Maker and Husband that has redeemed us has proclaimed His love for us, a love that willingly died so that we would live in union with Him forever.
Okay. So again I know these are just words. They are amazing and profound and beautiful words, but they are just words. We can read them and we can study them, but how can we know them? How can they so abide in our hearts that we live and breathe in the truth of them? How can knowing the love of Jesus Christ and understanding the intimate and glorious nature of His love for us free us from the bonds of depression and anxiety and loss and sadness in this life?
Because this is the heart of the issue and why I think this topic is the crux for believers everywhere.
I was a women’s minister for many years and part of my role as women’s minister was to counsel women who were hurting. It pained me each and every time one of them walked into my office, no matter what was the source of their pain. I wanted so badly to say something that would free them from the misery their situation was causing, and even though I knew that the answer was in Christ, I couldn’t figure out how to translate that knowledge into something thatwould transform their hearts of pain into hearts of joy and peace.
Truly, joy and peace are states that every believer should live in, but let’s be honest. How hard is that? We often don’t exist in a joyful or peaceful world!
Through my own past experiences with sin and pain and depression and addiction, I had learned the blessed beauty of how intimately and fully my Bridegroom loves me. I had learned that He chose to love me long before I even breathed and that His lavish affections for me were based only and completely on His love and not my performance. I had learned to rest in that, no matter how I might feel in situations while on this earth.
But again: How can we perceive this truth in a world which translates into such a smudge-up, dim window?
Enter the Song of Solomon.
It started to dawn on me that this mystery that Paul refers to in Ephesians 5 is only a mystery because we see through our dim windows into it. However, God does not intend for His children to be uninformed. Although the mystery of His ways and His thoughts are foolishness to those who do not believe, to us they are life. And He has told us all of them in His Word.
I began meditating on how the Bible repeatedly refers to this analogy of our marriage to Jesus, our Bridegroom, how it continually calls us the “bride of Christ,” and then I thought about how one book in the Bible is dedicated solely to describing the intimacy and beauty of the marriage relationship.
Now, if the message of the Bible is ultimately to point us toward Christ and if Jesus’ own words are to be believed in John 5:39 when He was speaking to His disciples,
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.
Then we have to conclude that all of the Bible, in one fashion or another bears witness to Christ. If the purpose of God’s Word is to point us toward Him and His Son, then why, almost directly in the middle of it, would He insert a random book about earthly marriage?
Please don’t misunderstand me here. The Song of Solomon, also known as the Song of Songs, is definitely a beautiful love song between a man and his soon-to-be bride. Most interpret the author as Solomon, himself, penning this song about his impending marriage to a Shulamite woman. I’ve taught this book on a number of occasions in terms of its very practical application to earthly marriage. It is a wonderful example of godly, intimate love between a husband and a wife.
There it is again. A husband and a wife. The mysterious relationship Paul refers to and then says,
I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
If you think about it, every relationship and decision we make on this earth is to be molded and guided by Christ. He is our ultimate perfect example of how to live. Doesn’t it make sense that the marriage relationship would be no exception? And doesn’t it follow that if the Old Testament points toward Christ, His redemption, and our union with Him in salvation, and that it refers to Him as the Bridegroom and the church as a bride, that a book in the middle of it about the marriage relationship would ultimately be about the higher, more perfect marriage to Him?
So why have we so often relegated the “Song of Solomon” to a simple earthly connotation? Why do we spin our wheels incessantly on this planet trying so hard to feel the love that we know we need but just cannot find? Why do we jump from relationship to relationship? Why do we buy and buy and buy or drink and drink and drink or chase every earthly pleasure we can find, only to end up right back where we started—sad and alone?
We do so because we see now as through a mirror dimly. But oh, fellow believer, God does not desire that for His children. He has given us all that we need in His Word. We need only to look at it, to study it, and then to apply it as it should be applied. All of the Bible is there for us to grow and be satisfied.
As Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16,
All Scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.
Though the name “God” does not appear in this book and although it is not mentioned at all in the New Testament, there it is, plain as can be, right there in the middle of God’s Word. Actually, the word most frequently used in this song is “love.” It is a book about the love between a bridegroom and his bride.
By very definition, God is love. John wrote in 1 John 4:16,
God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
Therefore, the Song of Solomon is about God, it is about Christ and His unparalleled love for His bride, who is the church. That’s you and that is me.
We need to read it in terms of that reference. We need to study it with Christ in the center who is loving us immeasurably. But mostly, we have to learn how to live in it. If we wish to move out from under the oppression that this life brings on a daily basis, we have to remember and know that this is not the end! This isn’t even the beginning!
We have an eternal love, and eternal life that waits for us, and in that eternity we are intimately and wonderfully loved by the King of kings and the Lord of lords!
“Windows of the Heart” is designed to aid us in this quest. We’re going to use God’s Word as He intends us to use it—as a means for seeing something greater and more spectacular than what our human eyes can see or our human hearts can comprehend. Although we see as though through a mirror dimly, although the windows you and I look through are often smudged and dirty from our own perceptions and sin, He still stands there, hands outstretched, loving us with the only love that fulfills us.
Let’s live in that.