Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD.
Song of Solomon 8:6 ESV
Every time I sit down with one of Open Journey’s devotional kits I prepare myself for a study adventure. Ingrid does such an amazing job of giving us such a variety of verses, words to study, history/culture, etc. The “Do You Love Me” kit is no different and I’ll be taking my time with this one since I spent a week just studying this first verse, Song of Solomon 8:6, that I found at the front of the booklet, before the devotional content even started.
Whether you fall in the camp that believes Song of Solomon is an allegory for God’s love for Israel or Christ’s love for the church, or whether you take it at face value as an account of Solomon and his love for his bride, it doesn’t change what is being conveyed about love.
This verse is about a devout love. A love as sure and certain as death itself. Just as this verse mentions a seal to mark this deep love, we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit to mark our love for God when we submit our life to Him.
Jealousy in any relationship is usually portrayed in a negative way and isn’t often a trait that we seek out to have. David Guzik gave some commentary on this part of the verse that really stood out to me. He says, “We should have a jealousy in our heart regarding our love for Jesus, hating anything that might come between Him and us. He certainly has such a jealousy towards us.”.
Do you have a jealous love for Jesus? Do you despise anything and everything that tries to squeeze it’s way between you and your attention on Him? It’s easy to recognize the obvious things that try to pull our devotion away from Christ but what about the less obvious things? Are you more willing to bow to a job, your friends, society, than you are willing to stand up for Christ?
Spurgeon said, “Many Christians nowadays have a kind of love which is too fond of ease, and too full of compromise to kindle any jealousy in their breasts“. Spurgeon said this in one of his sermons in 1916 but it’s just as true, if not more so, today in 2021.
The last part of verse 6 compares love to fire, including the “very flame of the Lord”. Love, like fire, can have great power and usefulness.
I like to utilize the Blue Letter Bible and Bible Hub for a variety of commentaries and sermons when I’m studying a verse or passage of scripture. For this study time I stumbled upon this commentary from Lloyd Carr that I found very interesting even if there isn’t tremendous evidence to support the interpretation directly, it is still generally true.
Carr found that The Jerusalem Bible and the American Standard Version take the last syllable of the Hebrew word for “vehement flame”, salhebetyah, as being the divine name Yahweh. So they translate it as, a flame of Yahweh himself. Meaning, “love is a flame which has its origin in God”, which isn’t entirely untrue but since this is the only place where this divine name is found in the Song of Solomon then its likely not an accurate translation but interesting none the less. Can you imagine if we loved with such intensity as the “flame of Yahweh himself”?
I have to admit that I did things backwards with this page and study but its interesting to see how the Holy Spirit works none the less. I typically do my study first and then the art is a reflection of that but I was in a hurry. I had a deadline to meet so I spent an hour or so pulling all the elements together and planning out how I was going to create this page and was primarily focused on the visual aspect of the assignment. It was when I sat down to do a “quick” study that I realized God had more planned out for me and drew me into a week long time of sitting with this verse.
I had chosen that piece that says, “I pray our hearts will burn with love for Jesus”, after only reading the verse and before my study time but now it has so much more meaning for me! I pray that all our hearts will burn with love for Jesus… a love that is as powerful as death, with a “jealousy as severe as Sheol”, and that burns as if it’s “a flame of Yahweh himself”.
Check out my process video below to see how this page came together!