Poet, painter, and printmaker William Blake enjoyed a forty-five-year marriage with his wife, Catherine. From their wedding day until his death in 1827, they worked side by side. Catherine added color to William’s sketches, and their devotion endured years of poverty and other challenges. Even in his final weeks as his health failed, Blake kept at his art, and his final sketch was his wife’s face. Four years later, Catherine died clutching one of her husband’s pencils in her hand.
The Blakes’ vibrant love offers a reflection of the love discovered in the Song of Songs. And while the Song’s description of love certainly has implications for marriage, early believers in Jesus believed it also points to Jesus’ unquenchable love for all His followers. The Song describes a love “as strong as death,” which is a remarkable metaphor since death is as final and unescapable a reality as humans will ever know (8:6). This strong love “burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame” (v. 6). And unlike fires we’re familiar with, these flames can’t be doused, not even by a deluge. “Many waters cannot quench love,” the Song insists (v. 7).
Who among us doesn’t desire true love? The Song reminds us that whenever we encounter genuine love, God is the ultimate source. And in Jesus, each of us can know a profound and undying love—one that burns like a blazing fire.