I was contemplating the subject of ‘emotions’ when I came across a Twitter tweet by Adrian Reynolds. He wrote, “As lyric love poetry, the Song of Songs does not primarily impart information, but evokes an emotional response.”
My New King James Version has the title, ‘The Song of Solomon.’ Right from the start, the reader’s emotions are kindled by the interplay of words between the Shulamite and her Beloved. She opens the love song by declaring to the daughters of Jerusalem, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth – for your love is better than wine. Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, Your name is ointment poured forth; therefore the virgins love you. Lead me away (1:2-4)!’’
She expresses her desire for the reciprocation of his love.
In verse 15 he responds by saying: “Behold, you are fair my love! Behold you are fair! You have dove’s eyes.”
He is fascinated and charmed by her beauty, and almost every time he speaks to her, he uses the emotional language of love. Later when they are married or engaged he coos to her, “Your lips, O my spouse, drip as the honeycomb; honey and milk are under your tongue; and the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon (4:11).”
If this doesn’t stir your emotions your heart is dead!
You’ve probably read the whole book, and if you are like me it would have evoked more than one emotional response. My point is not to analyse the poem with regard to its purpose and meaning, but simply to use it as an example of how words can affect the emotions.
The Power of Words
Because words are powerful, we as Christians have to guard our lips, pause and think before speaking. We should choose our words carefully. I say this, because not long ago someone said a few words to me that caused me to respond in a way I shouldn’t have.
My verbal response was not unkind, but the pointing of my finger was indicative of my emotional response, and it was shameful. I had been hurt by just three or four words. My heartbeat immediately increased, and my response was unloving. Moments later I was ashamed and sorrowful because I had acted as I did. I was angry at the same time.
I became acutely aware of the words of Jesus, ‘“Love one another as I have loved you (John 13:34).”’ I had failed Him. My actions and attitude fell far short of His love. My emotions had gotten the better of me.
Later that day, and back at home, Satan had a good go at me. He told me I was a good-for-nothing. He capitalised on my failure, but I took refuge in Jesus.
1 John 1:9 flashed through my mind: ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ The words of James also came to mind: ‘Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed (James 5:16).’
I had sinned and I needed healing; I was wounded and hurt, but worst of all, I had not acted in the Spirit.
Even the next morning I was struggling with forgiveness. It should have been second nature. The command of Paul had to be obeyed. He wrote: ‘bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you must do (Colossians 3:13).’
I had to obey the command of Christ: ‘“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matthew 6:14, 15).”’
Emotions can get the better of us, and unless they are reined in and are controlled by our reasoning, we shall find ourselves and others suffering as a result.
My wife used to have a shapely cup with the words on it, “Keep calm, eat cup cakes” – that’s until she broke the handle off it.
I gave her full marks, because she kept her cool, and she was pleased when I glued the handle back on again. I wasn’t so pleased days later when I made her a cup of tea, because while doing so the handle fell off! At the same time tea spilled over the workbench and onto the floor.
Somehow I kept my emotions under control, and I resigned the matter to the Lord. Cleaning the mess became a joy, because it was all a matter of love – the Lord’s love for me and my wife, and our love for Him.