Unquenchable. Costly. Love. (Song of Songs 8:7)

“Many waters cannot quench love,
Nor will rivers overflow it;
If a man were to give all the riches of his house for love,
It would be utterly despised.”

Song of Songs 8:7

Two comments are made about love in this verse; two observations made.

First, the overcoming nature of love. The verse says that many waters cannot quench love / nor will rivers overflow it. This is a trait of the kind of love that God commands believers to have for Him and our neighbors. There are great word studies out there about the kind of love God wants me to have for Him and the kind of love He wants me to have for others and neither of those types of love is much affected by circumstance. This morning is a moment to examine my love for God and for my neighbors: is it affected by circumstance?

Second, the intrinsic value; the costliness of love. Solomon notes that If a man were to give all the riches of his house for love, / it would be utterly despised. The syntax of that in English confuses me a bit. There is a question in my mind about whether the it refers to love or to the action of giving all the riches of one’s house. If it refers to love, then there is the strange statement that you can potentially buy love, but you would come to despise it — possibly because of how costly it would be. As this makes no sense, either in context or with regard to human experience, this is probably not the right way to understand this verse. If it refers to the action of giving everything in exchange for love, then the implication is that the action itself would be despised — possibly by the doer of the action or by the one to whom the trade is offered. If I gave everything I had and gained love, then I would look at the cost of gaining love and think it a pittance. If I were to offer everything I have in exchange for love, then the person to whom I made such an offer would likely think the price too low. In either case, both parties agree: love is worth more than anyone can give in exchange for it. Paul will, in his first letter to the church at Corinth, speak about what love is and how important it is, even going so far as to say that every other spiritual gift is meaningless if I do not have love.

These two observations about love give me a moment to reflect. Is the love I bear God and others unquenchable; indomitable? If yes, great. If no, I have some work to do. Also, am I getting hung up on the cost of love? It may cost a great deal to love. Am I counting that cost like a financial person counts pennies or am I consumed with the need to love at any cost? God thought loving people worth everything up to and including His own life. Who am I to love less?

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