The Only Love That Can Fully Satisfy
“O you who dwell in the gardens, with companions listening for your voice; let me hear it. Make haste, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices.”- Song of Solomon 8:13–14
Sometimes we read quickly through a book of the Bible and move on without grasping the full import of what has been said. Thus, we do well to read more slowly and to spend time pondering not only the words and sentences but also the structure of the book we are reading. The biblical authors did not write without a concern for the final form of their books. A book’s layout, including how it begins and ends, is as important to discerning its meaning as the actual content of the book itself.
The Song of Solomon ends on a note of expectation and hope for the sexual union of husband and wife (8:13–14). In other words, we are left with a tension. The desire is left unfulfilled. All that the bride and groom have is the memory of past intimacy; they long for yet more, but they are not yet satisfied.
We can learn much from this ending to Solomon’s song of love. The reality is that as wonderful as the marital relationship is, it cannot meet all of our needs for intimacy. A husband and wife can satisfy many of each other’s emotional and physical desires, but neither can provide everything for the other. Spouses enjoy the memories of past intimacy, but they are ever left to hope for more. And there will come a point in every marital relationship when this desire will go unfulfilled. Husbands and wives get sick, they grow weak over time, and finally they die. Even apart from physical deterioration, husbands and wives misunderstand each other, fail at times to look out for the interests of the other above their own, and simply lack the capacity to be everything that each requires. In other words, their finitude and their sin makes them incapable of fully satisfying the longings of one another.
This is inevitable. Although we are finite creatures, we were created for eternity. Only the eternal Creator can fully satisfy every desire and every need that we have. As the deer pants after water, so do our souls thirst for the living God (Ps. 42:1–2). Marriage is a blessed state, and sexual intimacy is a wonderful gift; but they finally point beyond themselves. They must give way to an even closer relationship, a bond that alone can meet every one of our needs, the bond of union with Christ (Rom. 6:5). Thus, the Song of Solomon does point us to Jesus, not as an allegory in which every detail symbolizes our relationship with Him but as a work that shows us how even the closest human bond—marriage—leaves us wanting for more. God’s love for us is the only love that fully satisfies.
The marriage relationship and sexual intimacy are wonderful blessings from our God. However, they are not everything. As human beings made in the Lord’s image and for His glory, we will find no lasting satisfaction apart from knowing the love of our Creator. Only in receiving this love and trusting in Christ alone will our deepest needs be met. We dare not make idols out of marriage and sex, for only the Lord can fully satisfy us.
Passages for Further Study
1 John 4:7–21