But these verses are deep and powerful, although Eugene Peterson came at this book in a very unexpected way – drawing parallels between prayer and sex. The common link is the level of intimacy in both.
Imagine a life of prayer that is like the desire expressed in the Song. Prayer filled with joy, that is intimate, prayer that expresses longing to be with our Lord forever.
The tragedy is that many people, let alone Christians, have read the Song of Songs, or if they have, looked for the metaphors and analogies that are clearly present, but missed the simple joy and desire of the work.
It is a beautifully crafted piece of literature because it does speak at numerous levels. It is erotic. It is about physical desire. It is a metaphor for the love of God for His chosen people. It is a story of love known, lost, found, imperiled and recovered.
Just like our daily lives. However messy, however far we have run, however self-obsessed we have become, the love of God has not faded or been taken away from you. We judge God’s love by the way we feel about God or about the Church or about Christians. Judgments based on feelings are notoriously inaccurate. God’s love is constantly focused upon us, ultimately expressed in Jesus Christ. His death was necessary to kill everything that causes us to be separated from God. His resurrection on Easter Sunday was the great victory of life over death, of love over evil.
We are able to enjoy intimate relationship with the living God because He has opened the way for us to do so, to be reconciled to Him. The Song of Songs is a wonderful expression of God’s desire for us to be in relationship with Him, and the open door of prayer that is available to us in this life, before the eternal intimacy of His love, light and life we will live in the resurrection life.
Finally, Eugene Peterson notes that the Song was read aloud during the Jewish Passover ceremony, probably as an antidote to the ritualism and potential religiosity of such an occasion. Imagine if the Song was read out on Resurrection Sunday, in contrast to the religiosity that threatens to obscure the joy of the day!
Reference: Eugene Peterson “Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work”