What picture would help us grasp the magnitude of this love?
There is a verse in the Song of Solomon that describes the love between the bride and bridegroom — a picture of the love relationship between Jesus and His Church, the people of God.
“Set me like a seal upon your heart, like a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death, jealousy is as hard and cruel as Sheol (the place of the dead). Its flashes are flashes of fire, a most vehement flame (the very flame of the Lord)! (Song of Solomon 8:6)
It provides several metaphors revealing God’s unquenchable love for us: the seal, death, fire and jealousy.
In Biblical times, the seal was a stamp of ownership and authenticity put on an object.
In the Song of Solomon, the Shulamite woman is asking her lover to put this stamp of ownership on her heart so she can be completely and only his.
Brown’s Bible Commentary describes it this way:
“She was ‘leaning’ on Him, that is, her arm in His arm her head on his bosom, so she prays now that before they part, her impression may be engraven both on His heart and his arm.”
This was symbolic of the seal he either wore around his neck with a cord that had her likeness on it or the ring seal worn on his finger. They were a continual reminder of his love and ownership of her.
Jesus has placed his stamp/seal of ownership on us. We are on his heart and in his sight always!
As strong as death
The second metaphor was death. No one is able to escape the grasp of death, nothing can stop it from happening, so similarly we cannot escape the grasp of God’s love.
God’s love is spoken of as cruel, unyielding and hard, like the grave that will not let go of those whom it holds.
Nothing can escape the powerful and supernatural hold of His love on our lives.
It’s a tenacious, unbreakable love!
As powerful as the storm
In this verse, God’s love is also said to be like ‘ flashes of fire, a most vehement flame’ referring to the flame of the Lord (Hebrew: shalhebheth yah). This flame is cherished by God towards His Church/His people. It is a flame of supernatural power that is nurtured and continually rekindled by God.
God’s love is likened to the fury of a storm. The lightning and thunder represent His voice and the demonstration of His attentive love for us.
A jealous love
The bridegroom’s love for his bride was a jealous, protective kind of love.
Jealous love is zealous, relentless and protective against anything that would come between the bride and bridegroom (Christ and his Church/His people).
We may go through the waters of trials, testing and even persecutions in this life but we are reassured that these waves cannot quench God’s love for His people.
This is our greatest challenge as a Christian: to fully understand the tenacious and unwavering love God has for us.
“Who shall separate us from Christ’s love? Shall suffering and affliction and tribulation? Or calamity and distress? Or persecution or hunger or destitution or peril or sword? (Romans 8:35)