7It was not because you were the most numerous of all the peoples that YHWH desired you and chose you. Actually, you were the least of all the peoples. 8Because he loved you, and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors, YHWH brought you out with a mighty hand, and ransomed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. — Deuteronomy 7:7-8
This morning I had a brief e-mail exchange with my sister that reminded me of this verse. I was saying to her that romantic love, the desire that a person feels for that perfect partner, is a pale shadow of the love and passion that God has for us. I read Song of Songs in that light. It is clearly about romance, and romance is good. Don’t imagine that it’s necessary to spiritualize it to make it OK. It’s fine as romance. But like many other things in the natural world that are good, it can also serve to provide us with a lesson.
God loves us with the passion of a determined, besotted lover.
OK, go ahead and be shocked for a minute. Question my use especially of the word â€œbesotted.â€ Now check out the next text:
8And Hamor spoke with them [Jacob and his sons], saying, â€œShechem my son deeply desires your daughter. Give her to him as a wife.â€ — Genesis 34:8
Genesis 34 tells the story of how Dinah was raped by Shechem, or perhaps it was consensual and thus merely fornication. It then tells of the vicious revenge of Simeon and Levi against the town. But here Hamor, Shechem’s father, is justifying his son’s action and desire. Notice the word â€œdesire.â€ I’ve underlined it in both texts. That’s the same word that is used of God in Deuteronomy 7:7.
And in case you think that’s an accident, consider this further text:
10If you go out to war against your enemy, and YHWH your God gives them into your hand, and you take captives, 11and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you desire her and you take her as your wife, . . . — Deuteronomy 21:10-11
Same Hebrew word again. Now please hear me clearly. I’m not trying to accuse God of anything illicit or of forcing himself on us. What I believe this shows is the intensity of God’s desire for his people. It was this same desire that eventually led Jesus to the cross and led him to die for our sins there. That is the act of one who finds it unthinkable to be separated forever from his people.
We rarely feel that type of desire. There are few things in life we are willing to die for. In fact, we repeatedly remind ourselves that certain things aren’t worth dying for. I wouldn’t die to keep my car if a carjacker wanted it. But if someone wanted my wife, that would be another matter entirely!
I like knowing that God desires us so passionately that he will die for us. God’s grace is truly amazing. It’s an expression of his amazing loveâ€”his desire for his people.