Devotional: Song of Solomon 4:9



Good Morning Yamon Ki Yesepar and Nevim Arith Hayomim:
Song of Solomon 4:9: “Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck.”
“Have you ever been in love?  Horrible isn’t it?  It makes you so vulnerable. It opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside and mess you up.”  Neil Gailman
I once had a rabbi tell me that the Song of Solomon was a very difficult book to read in Hebrew.  It is difficult to read for two reasons.  The book is pure poetry and as such it is very difficult to find the right English words to match the emotion and power of the Hebrew words.  It is also difficult to read because once you have been able to decipher the poetic song, your heart will break over the revelation of how much God truly loves you and longs for you and how we have so lightly treated His passion.
Practically every modern translation you read of this verse will put a different spin on it.  There is no literal translation, and no direct link to the English language.  The French or Italian language, which has poetic nature to it, can do a much better job of rendering this passage than we can do in the scientific and precise English language.  But, English is really all most of us really know, so here goes.
“Thou hast ravished my heart”  in the Hebrew this is one of the most beautiful and at the same time heartbreaking words that I have every run across in my 40 years of studying Biblical Hebrew.  You see it is only one word in Hebrew – livabethini.    This comes from the root word Levav which means heart, but is in a piel perfect form.
The first thing to note is that this is one of the rare cases, where the double Beth is used.  The Beth represents the heart. A double Beth represents God’s heart and our hearts joined together in a love relationship.  It is a picture of two hearts opening up to each other and becoming equally as vulnerable.   Do you want to understand God’s heat?  Look at your own, it was created in His image.  Is not your heart wounded when someone you care about just ignores you?  Do you not grieve when someone you look forward to being with calls five minutes before your time together and says: “Oh, sorry, I am too busy for you right now?”  What do we do to God’s heart when we ignore Him, or are too busy to spend a moment in prayer?
Extra Biblical literature uses the word “livabethini” for pulling bark from a tree.  I really did not understand this connection until my study partner looked up what it means to pull bark from a tree.
“Trees are often thought of as towering giants who are difficult to kill.  Many people are often surprised to find out that removing tree bark can actually harm a tree.  Tree bark damage is not only unsightly, but can be deadly to the tree. For all intents and purposes, tree bark is the skin of the tree.  The main tree bark function is to protect the phloem layer.  The phloem layer is like our own circulatory system.  It brings the energy produced by leaves to the rest of the tree.”  By Heather Rhoades I remember as a children how we used to go the forest preserve and strip the bark off of trees and playfully throw it at each other, never realizing that we were hurting that tree, wounding it and possibly killing it.
So what is Solomon saying when he says that his beloved has “ravished his heart” or livabethini?”  He is saying that just one glance from his beloved and he has hopelessly fallen in love with her.  She has stripped him of that hard shell that he built around his heart to protect it and he has made himself vulnerable to him.   He is a king with the most powerful security force in the world surrounding him to protect him, yet one little peasant woman, with a mere look at him causes him to open his heart and say: “I am giving you the ability to break this heart, you have my heart in your hands, please be careful with it. There is no one to protect my heart from you, only you can protect it.”
If we are the bride of Christ and He is our bridegroom, does it not follow that He is also saying to us: “You have ravished my heart?”  If He is saying that he is saying:  “I may be God, a towering giant to you that seems invulnerable, but I am stripping my bark off the tree, I am exposing my vulnerabilities to you, I am giving you my heart.  You have the ability to deeply wound my heart, no one but you can protect it, please be gentle with my heart.”

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