Remember Camp Songs?
Song 2:4 He brought me to the banqueting house,
and his intention toward me was love. (NRSV)
Let him lead me to the banquet hall,
and let his banner over me be love. (NIV)
The beauty of human of love is revealed to us in Song of Solomon. God has created this intimacy which is to exist between a man and a woman. At the same time this human intimacy reveals to us God’s desire for us to begin to comprehend his unfathomable love, waiting to be poured out on us. The story in Song of Solomon is one in which we find God’s love reaching out to all of humanity.
It is God, who through his prevenient grace, is constantly reaching out to all of humanity, drawing us toward him. He is the one who invites us into his banqueting table and this is the table found within the church for here, within the body of Christ, the bride, we find him. The banqueting house or banqueting table is where the bread and the wine were served and so we are led to that place, to the table where we find him.
It was typical for those who served in the military to carry banners which spoke of their strength and prowess. The banner of the leader would be placed at the entrance to a banqueting house or hall, for it would extoll the abilities of this leader to all who entered. The one who loves us brings us to his table and instead of trying to intimidate us with his formidable power, his banner over us was love. This is the old rendering of the translation - that we understand that the banner is over the place into which we are invited and it describes the very nature of the one who has brought us to the table. He is love! God is love! His intention toward us is love — and this is the way in which the NRSV translates the phrase.
You will also notice the tense differences in the translations. Part of that is because English becomes limiting, but put the two translations together and you get a sense that God has been leading and is continuing to lead us to his banqueting table. It is always a continuous action that has existed in the past, exists in the present and will continue to exist into the future! The eternal God reaches out to all of humanity wanting to bring us to a place of intimacy in our relationship with him, continually pouring out his love on us.
By now I’m humming the tune to the little song that we used to sing, “His Banner Over Me is Love.” In case we’ve forgotten, here’s a little group of kids singing the song with the motions.
I think about how many times I may have sung that song and had a lot of fun singing it, and then I realize that I don’t really think I knew what I was singing about. I’m glad that it’s one of those that sticks in your mind but when I begin to think about the incredible love of God that awaits us at his banqueting table, I am simply overwhelmed. God, in his powerful love, is ushering us into his very presence and desires for us to have a deep and intimate relationship with him. He doesn’t want us just to be glad that we are “saved” but wants us to be transformed by his incredible power and to have the ability to walk in his nature — which is holy love.
This is holiness, to stand under the banner of his love! His banner of love means that we have aligned ourselves with the very nature of Jesus Christ and that as we partake of the banquet we too are transformed into his nature. God’s banner over us is love and his intention toward us is to love us.
It’s not just a fun camp song, but the banner of God’s love is a reality which exists over his table, spread for you and for me. The invitations have been sent out, the table is spread, and he is calling. May it not just be a camp song, but may the banner of God’s love over us be a reality every single day of our lives.
Lord, thank you for the incredible life-giving love which you pour out on us. Amen.