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The Old Testament vision of the power of divine love

February 5, 2024
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Daily Scripture

Song of Solomon 8:6-7, Isaiah 11:6-9

Song of Solomon 8
6 Set me as a seal over your heart,
        as a seal upon your arm,
for love is as strong as death,
        passionate love unrelenting as the grave.
Its darts are darts of fire—
        divine flame!
7 Rushing waters can’t quench love;
        rivers can’t wash it away.
If someone gave
        all his estate in exchange for love,
        he would be laughed to utter shame.

Isaiah 11
6 The wolf will live with the lamb,
    and the leopard will lie down with the young goat;
    the calf and the young lion will feed together,
    and a little child will lead them.
7 The cow and the bear will graze.
    Their young will lie down together,
    and a lion will eat straw like an ox.
8 A nursing child will play over the snake’s hole;
    toddlers will reach right over the serpent’s den.
9 They won’t harm or destroy anywhere on my holy mountain.
    The earth will surely be filled with the knowledge of the Lord,
    just as the water covers the sea.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Of Song of Solomon 8:6-7, scholar John Goldingay wrote, “Love is as fierce as death, passion is as tough as Sheol. It’s quite a comparison. When death gets hold of you, it doesn’t let go…. Love is…  like an archer who shoots burning arrows…. It’s as if they shoot a supernatural flame. Literally, they are ‘a flame of Yah’ (a short form of the name Yahweh). It’s the only time God is named in the Song of Songs.” * The lovely passage from Isaiah 11 is part of a longer section (Isaiah 10:33-12:6) that Goldingay called “A Day When There Will Be a Song to Sing.” **

  • The first verse of the first book quoted today is a challenge in Hebrew. *** Most of the book is Hebrew poetry, frank and bold, celebrating the love of a young man and a young woman. But in chapter 8, verse 6 it called love “divine flame,” pointing to the truth that even our human capacity to love derived from our Creator, the God of love. In what ways does the unconquerable power of human love, at its best, point beyond itself to the loving God who created you with that capacity?
  • Isaiah eleven’s lyrical image (portrayed in the stained glass window at Resurrection’s Leawood location) was an early vision of the kind of world God’s redeeming love aimed (and aims) to bring into being. It pictured God’s love and peace shifting behavior even in the animal kingdom, leading to the triumphant declaration that “They won’t harm or destroy anywhere on my holy mountain.” How much better would your world be if God’s love triumphed over all that hurts or destroys?
Prayer

Lord Jesus, in this troubled world, it seems daring (even unrealistic) to think of the world Isaiah pictured. Yet you told us to trust that your purpose is to lead me, in ways that often seem strange, to that world for all eternity. Help me to count on it. Amen.

GPS Insights

Katy Nall

Katy Nall

Katy Nall serves as the Program Director of Missions for Resurrection West. She is a mom of two and loves to be outside in the sunshine, especially if it involves mountains or ocean. She loves hiking, reading, learning, and connecting.

Today’s reading from the book of Isaiah is a poetic and prophetic description that may very well make us raise an eyebrow—or both. This passage gives us a glimpse into a world that is completely changed by the power of God’s love and peace; where lions take the vegetarian route, and a viper is a toddler’s playmate. In this world, even the most unlikely companions are living and loving in a world filled with peace. The most unlikely leaders, our children, are our wise guides.

This passage is not just an ancient prophecy, but an invitation to actively engage in God’s dream for what his kingdom on earth could look like. Isaiah paints a picture of not only peace, but heartfelt connection between all living things. The world can be loud, but in the quiet spaces of our hearts, we deeply sense this longing for connectedness. This shared sense of longing is what activates us to transformative action. When we take those actions, even very small ones, a ripple effect of kindness begins. In turn, those quiet spaces in our hearts become a symphony of unity that resonates across the world for all to hear! It can transcend any earthly boundary we can think of, be it race, borders, war, or judgement.

What role might we play in making the world look more like this peaceable kingdom? In what ways can we courageously challenge injustice and compassionately build bridges of understanding? What does it look like to do this starting in your own home, with those closest to you? What does it look like at work, or in a room full of strangers? Take a minute right now to ask God to show you what steps you might take to make this kind of harmony in your life. As you go through your day, pray that God makes clear to you all the ways in which you can mirror the genuine love embedded in Isaiah’s vision!

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* John Goldingay, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs for Everyone. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2014, p. 247-248.
** John Goldingay, Isaiah for Everyone. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015, p. 48.
*** “The Song of Songs: “The grammatical construction can be taken as a superlative in Hebrew (‘The Best Song’ or ‘the Greatest Song’…. It could also mean ‘a song (made) of songs’—that is, an anthology. for Solomon: not ‘by Solomon.’” by Brant A. Strawn, study note on Song of Solomon 1:1 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 1076 OT