Unquenchable love

Perhaps one of the most common themes in music and entertainment in recent times and, indeed, throughout human history has been that of love.

Unquenchable love

Songwriters have “lost that loving feeling”, experienced “the power of love”, and informed us that “all we need is love”, while reminding us of its ubiquitous though elusive nature as “love is [apparently] all around me”. The sentiments of the songwriters and moviemakers don’t, however, seem to line up with their well-publicized and frequent moral failures, as evidenced by the MeToo movement highlighting more unquenchable lust than unquenchable love.

The Bible, in one sense, is one long true love story, but more of that later. One particularly interesting book in the Bible is the Song of Solomon. It is such a celebration of human love that in some cultures in the past it was a forbidden book.

The love described in beautiful poetic language in this Song, written by King Solomon, is passionate, powerful, and raw. As the song begins, the bride says:

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine” (1:2 ESV).

His infatuation and appreciation is obvious when he responds:

“O most beautiful among women . . . I compare you, my love, to a mare among Pharaoh's chariots. Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with strings of jewels” (1:8-10 ESV).

She replies:

“As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love” (2:3,4 ESV).

If I compared my wife to a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots I would probably be on the couch for a week, but I’m sure she would be delighted to know that I think she is the most beautiful of all women, with lovely cheeks and a neck like a string of jewels. It’s nice to pay compliments now and then, and Solomon appears to have been a master of flattery. Relationships can be strengthened by such expressions of love and appreciation. Perhaps I have a lot to learn.

As the song draws to a conclusion we hear these memorable words:

“Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it” (8:7). And you can almost hear the narrator say: “And they all lived happily ever after.”

Perhaps in our day, with soaring divorce rates, broken homes and hurting hearts, we could learn much from these passionate declarations of love. However, despite these poetic proclamations from King Solomon, the sad truth is that later in his life he gave up faithful monogamous love for politically and financially beneficial marriages, and seriously lost his way. The Bible tells us that Solomon loved many foreign women and “clung to these in love . . . he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart” (1 Kings 11:2,3). He strayed from the single-eyed affection for one woman to follow his own sinful path. Apparently the many waters of testosterone-driven lust could in fact quench true love. How many times has that pattern been repeated down through the ages of human history?

If we want to find a love that is truly unquenchable and unending we will need to turn our eyes from human love, even at its best, to the love of God in Christ Jesus, “the Son of God, who loved [us] and gave Himself for [us]” (Galatians 2:20). The Bible tells us that God demonstrated his own love towards us, not in the penning of a poem or the singing of a serenade but by making an unimaginable sacrifice on our account: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Seeing us lost in sin (having fallen short of God’s standard) and unable to save ourselves, the Father, out of love, sent the Son (Jesus) to be the Saviour of the world (see 1 John 4:14). As He hung on the cross, the flood of men’s cruel hatred and the wrath of a righteous God for our sin could not quench the love that He had for you and me. The sufferings of the Lord Jesus on behalf of a sinful world are described with anguish in the book of Psalms, “all Your waves and billows have gone over me” (Psalm 42:7). 

The Lord’s love for you and me could not be quenched or drowned by the suffering He experienced on the cross. It can truly be said of Him:

“Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it” (Song of Solomon 8:7). His is an unquenchable love.