A true marriage based on unconditional, godly love is an example of the loving relationship between the Lord Christ and his church (Ephesians 5:25-33). This love is symbolized in the Song of Solomon and chapter 8 presents it in such a profound way with the following words:
6 Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.
7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned. S of Sol. 8
In spiritually symbolic terms, the Lord who is our beloved, desires that we set him as a seal on our hearts. This speaks of complete surrender to him out of his proven trustworthiness displayed by his sacrificial love for us. It is then that he seals our hearts with his Holy Spirit of love which creates an unbreakable bond between us and God (Eph. 1:13; 4:30). Setting him as a seal on our hearts simultaneously sets him symbolically as a seal on our arm–which represents spiritual strength.
His love is not only as strong as death, it conquers death as shown by his resurrection, which he accomplished out of his love for us so that we too can conquer death. God’s love is so strong in his people that death cannot separate us from his love (Romans 8:35-39). His love strengthens us so much that we cannot deny him even when we are threatened with death because of our love for him.
So strong is his love that it sparks God to jealousy if he sees us turn away from him to look at another god. It also sparks godly jealousy in true believers if we see the church compromise toward ungodly doctrines (2 Cor. 11:2). This is why some of us confront issues within Christendom when we see our brothers and sisters veer away from God’s truth. In fact, the jealousy can be so strong it appears to be as cruel as the grave. If you’ve ever lost a loved one, you know what that means. The grave, for the most part, is unrelenting, unwilling to let go of those caught in its grip and carries out it’s duty regardless of a person’s status in life. God’s love grip on us does the same.
This loving, godly jealousy brings about a heated passion for God in us like coals of fire (Jeremiah 20:9) giving us the desire for continual cleansing (Isaiah 6:5-7). That passion also includes the desire to see God’s judgments carried out by his rewarding the righteous and punishing the wicked (Prov. 25:21-22; Rom. 12:19-20).
Waters and floods in this Song of Solomon passage are symbolic of tribulations and persecutions (Psalm 69:2, 14; Isa. 59:19). Taking that into account, we have the assurance in v. 7 above that no matter how many times the enemy comes against us to wipe out the love between Christ and his church or to wipe out Christ’s love from off the earth, his love is unquenchable. Additionally, his love is so valuable and priceless that if a person tried to use all their material wealth to obtain it, their wealth would be condemned–deemed worthless–because earthly goods cannot even come close to being as valuable as the love found in God’s kingdom.
Harry A. Gaylord