As in the rest of the book, the bride gives such a feminine expression of love in these verses. She talks of spending time together, is enamored with their new life together, and prepares fragrant food and gifts for her beloved bridegroom. She also focuses more on their relationship than on his physical qualities: him being like a brother, kissing without being despised, enjoying intimacy, receiving physical support and the affection of her beloved.
Above all, her wisest words come at the end:
"Do not arouse, do not stir up love, before its own time."
In this month which our culture dedicates to love and relationships, these words couldn't be more applicable. Instead of lamenting over "Singles' Awareness Day" (aka Valentine's Day) or eyeing those diamonds because every kiss begins with "K," take comfort in the living Word of God. Do not stir up love before its time! The wait is worth it for a love that is truly good and fruitful. Don't settle for a counterfeit. Our Lord knows the desires of your heart, and though we may sometimes misunderstand what He is doing, He does not disappoint.
In my own life, I often tried to stir up love before its time. Even with the man who is now my husband, we had to figure out how to work in concert with God's plan. We dated for 11 months and assumed we would get married. We tried to make it work, but we broke up when it was clear that we weren't succeeding. More than a year later and after being SURE we were never going to date again, we did. It was long distance until we got married almost two years later. There was a very clear difference when placed our lives and relationship in the hands of God. Despite the learning curve and difficulties we've faced, there a distinct level of peace and growth that comes from knowing THIS is the love that God wanted to give us all along. And how beautiful it is!
So take heart and do not be discouraged. Whether you are single, in a relationship, married, experiencing difficulty, or floating on Cloud 9, the Lord's plan will always be greater than ours, and His timing is perfect. Sometimes he does not answer our prayers right away because He knows a time in which the grace you desire will be that much greater!
Reflection: In what ways have you been stirring up love before its time? What about other areas of your life? How can you practice letting go of control and increasing your trust in God?