This blog post is meant to follow on the heels of yesterday’s post, The Satisfaction of the Word, since I’m still looking at the same verse. I’m currently leading an inductive Bible study on the Song of Solomon in our missional community Oikos here in Peru, and so some of my blogs are going to come out of the fruit of those studies and preparation in the next few months.
Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth. For Your love is better than wine… (Song 1:2)
I find this verse to be deeply profound, and we could spend a long time here. In fact, a few years ago I wrote a small series of posts called The More Excellent Way, and even though I came at this passage from a different angle, I am still getting my mind profoundly rocked as I spend time preparing the inductive study I’m leading here in Spanish.
For preparation–besides just re-reading the song every week–I’ve been reading Song of Songs (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible) by Paul J. Griffiths. I’m finding it a little academic, but I’m still getting quite the good nuggets. But along with it I’m also listening to Mike Bickle’s audio series. Even he spends about 3 or 4 sessions just on this one verse.
I’ll be shorter than that. For now.
The Wine of Gladness
In this verse in the introduction, we get insight into her heart by this one phrase more than any other phrase in all of Song of Solomon.
She is basically saying,
Why do I want the word of God so? Why am I so ravenously hungry for God’s word? For this reason, Your affection for me is better than the wine of this fallen world. Your affection, which is communicated to me by the kisses of Your word, it is so exciting to my spirit. It so exhilarates my spirit, I want Your word more than anything. I understand it reveals Your love or Your affection which is greater than the wine of this fallen world.1
The theme of the song is the Bride’s cry for the kiss of God’s Word to touch the deepest place in her heart. This refers to encountering the Word in the deepest and most intimate way. In other words, the Word reveals the King’s emotions for His Bride and awakens our heart in the 3-fold love of God (love from God, then for God, which overflows to others).
If your dream is for the kisses of His Word because you have revelation that His affection for you is even more powerful than the good wine of blessing, then you will stay solid and steady through the years. She reveals the priority of these superior pleasures of His Word to the wine of this world.
While it’s true that she is saying His love, His Word is better than sin, which is an easy and obvious interpretation to make of this passage, but it’s only part true. It’s also better than the good things, the non-sinful but yet still empty pleasures of this world. She uses the wine metaphor here to say that His love “exhilarates her heart.”
Wine also helps numb individuals to the cares of this world. The lost drink away their sorrows and troubles, and for them, the wine is a way of escape. But for the Shulamite, it’s not an escape. She’s saying this is more satisfying than even any of the privileges this life has to offer. Wine is the drink of gladness that makes people happy who drink it.
She finds His love more satisfying than this drink of gladness.
Being Filled With The Holy Spirit
We’ve also seen elsewhere in Scripture how wine is used symbolically in good ways. It’s often used as symbolism in the New Testament to represent the Holy Spirit, and the reader is encouraged to read this post for more on what can be received from such revelation.
As I said in that post,
The shepherdess is saying His [Christ's] love is more excellent than the wine–good and noble things, even though they may be Holy Spirit inspired. If you are being filled with the Holy Spirit–as our familiar passage in Ephesians 5 says–you won’t just be speaking and making melody in your heart, but you will also be “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (v.21). What is submission more than merely preferring the other person more than yourself, out of the agape love poured out in your heart the more you continually receive infilling of the wine of the Holy Spirit?
As we’ll see the more we look at the song, and the Shulamite’s exhortation to the daughters of Jerusalem, you can’t excel in your love and depth of understanding for God without it resulting in a love for the rest of His flock as well. Intimacy with God is done in isolation, but results in overflow towards others in community.
We will explore these themes more in future blog posts, so stay tuned.
— Steve Bremner (@FieryCanadian) November 21, 2012
In the meantime, ask yourself:
What are you currently finding satisfaction in?
Is it overflowing into preferring others as more esteemed than yourself?
Does your love for Christ result in community around you being edified and built up in the flow of the Holy Spirit?
- Mike Bickle, Song of Songs, A 24 session, comprehensive, verse-by-verse, teaching series [↩]