All night long on my bed
I looked for the one my heart loves;
I looked for him but did not find him.
I will get up now and go about the city,
through its streets and squares;
I will search for the one my heart loves.
—Song of Solomon 3:1-2
Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
Today in our reading from The Song, we find the Beloved urgently calling out for her lover. The wording suggests that she may be having a dream, but whether in the dreamworld or the real world, she urgently searches for him through the night, even wandering around the city until she finds him.
I’m inclined to agree with the commentators who believe this ancient love poem is exactly what it appears to be: an ancient love poem. There’s nothing in the text to suggest it was written metaphorically. But I also agree with D. A. Carson who points out that after we have read it as intended, we may find in human love a useful parallel to our relationship with God.
With this in mind, it is interesting to turn from the woman’s passionate nighttime search to Hebrews 3.
This chapter, too, contains lines of poetry. This chapter, too, features someone hearing the voice of a lover urgently, faithfully calling. But in this case, there is danger, a temptation to turn away from the voice of love, to harden our hearts rather than open them to the joys of love.
Here in Hebrews we find that Jesus—fully human and fully God—has been fully faithful. And now, the faithful Christ is calling. Will our hearts be open to hear? Or will we, like so many others, harden our hearts and turn away?
Perhaps the ease with which we understand the Beloved’s urgent longing for her lover will help us understand the unrelenting love of God. Perhaps we will heed the warning: Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.
Questions for reflection and discussion: What benefit do you see in including a book like The Song in the Bible—or our reading plan? What is the value of reading it literally, and what is the value of reading it metaphorically? What is the state of your heart towards God? Have you heard His voice today, and if so, how will you respond?