Commenting on the Song of Songs 4:10, Paul Griffiths ( Song of Songs (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible) , 108-9 ) points out that love’s wound is not only the result of failed love or love’s absence, but inherent in love itself: “As the lover caresses his beloved’s hair and gazes into her eyes and murmurs the sweet nothings of desire into her ear he wounds her by provoking in her an intensity of delight and desire that she knows, viscerally and bone-deep, he cannot satisfy. He, in desiring and delighting in her, knows the same about her. What she provokes in him exceeds what she can given him: the gift of being a lover provided by being beloved is so far in excess of what its giver and recipient are that the gift is both ludicrous . . . and agonizing at the same time.”

There are various attempts to escape the wound: Stoic refusal of love, hedonistic intensification that turns Sadean, but “that is a game of diminishing returns that ends in the incapacity for love.” The wounds have to be accepted and embraced, and Christians do this because “we know what love’s wounds figure.” The wound inside human love “figures and participates in the wounded mutual love of the Lord for his Israel-church, and of the Lord and for Mary.” The wounds are “real and unavoidable” yet Christians believe “they carry with them a promise of eventual healing.” So, “the verses under consideration here move at once from wound to beauty.”

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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