He has brought me to his banquet hall, and his banner over me is love. Song of Songs 2:4 NASB
Banner – Here is a word, degel, that is used in only two places in the Bible; the book of Numbers and this verse in Song of Songs. The references in the book of Numbers are almost all in the second chapter and deal exclusively with the idea of a flag or standard that identifies the camp. They provide a picture of a military insignia or battle flag.
But the context of this verse brings us an appreciation of God’s promise. Song of Songs is a love poem. At one level of interpretation, it is a written expression of intimacy and romance. At another level, it serves as a balance to the apparently stricter marital pronouncements of the Pauline letters. Song of Songs is as implicitly sexual as any portion of the Bible. Yet here it is, part of God’s Holy Word to men and women. Certainly this should help us see the blessing that God has provided within the boundaries of His sacrament of physical sexual union.
Beyond this, Song of Songs is often allegorized as a picture of the love of Christ for His church or of YHWH for Israel. Whether or not such an interpretation can be upheld, this verse does tell us something very powerful about the relationship between the lover and the loved one. The loved one is under a standard, an insignia, designating a special status to the loved one. That status is belonging. Love extends itself to another by involvement in the well being of the other. Its banner protects, cares and cherishes. The feast of true love, the festival of relationship, is a banquet of positive self-worth provided by the lover.
This is the way love should be. Marriage is a celebration of identity and belonging. It is mutual well-being. The joy of being protected and cared for is the fabric of every marriage vow. No wonder God uses marriage as a symbol of His care for us.
A banner is a wonderful reminder of the fact that God is our personal lover. He desires our best and is more than willing to bring us under His banner. Our feast began when we decided to let God love us. We have His stamp of approval. In the New Testament, we see this idea carried forward when Yeshua says that we are to be called by His name. Under His banner means simply this – we belong. The long days and empty nights of loneliness are over. We are no longer on our own.
This word has a special place in the mutual life of every married person. Take your lover under your banner. Give your stamp of approval. You will reflect God’s desire.
Topical Index: degel, banner, protection, care, Song of Songs 2:4