Song Of Solomon
I would like to start this morning by giving a little heads up to some
of our members, and remind you that tomorrow is a pretty important day. So if you have not planned accordingly,
it’s not too late. If you have no idea what I am talking about come see me
after the services.
In conjunction with tomorrow, I am going to tread out on some new ground
for me, and probably new ground for you as well. This morning I want you to
turn with me to the book of Song of Solomon. I readily admit that this book is
the most feared book in the Bible. Jewish rabbis used to give this book a
rating of “PG-30,” prohibiting men from reading it until they reached the age
of 30. When Trista and I had been married for about 5 years we decided to study
this book together and it was the first time I have ever really looked at it.
We decided that we would study it again when we were 50.
The book is so unique, I mean no other book of Scripture that starts off
this way: Let him kiss me with the kisses
of his mouth, for your love is more delightful than wine. When I was
looking on the internet for some preaching resources on the Song of Songs, my
web blocker wouldn’t let me access some of them! Needless to say, this book is
a far cry from Leviticus!
I believe that there are parts of this song that are so intensely
intimate that they are intended for the privacy of committed couples within the
sanctity of marriage. Because of that we will just get a broad overview of the
book. That’s to protect the young among us ………… and to keep me from blushing.
Also this morning I want to acknowledge that there are different groups of
people here today. Some of you are married and happy about it while others of
you are married and feel horrible about it. Some of you are engaged and can’t
wait to get married while others of you are divorced and wonder why you ever
got married in the first place. Some of you this morning are single and not
even thinking about getting married, while others of you have had a spouse die
and you’re not sure if you’ll ever recover. And others are in a dating
relationship and wonder whether to move forward or to move on. Whatever the
case, this sweet song has something to say to each of us.
Before thinking that this love song is not for you, let me encourage you to
hang in there today. One of the great aspects of this Song is that it not only
includes Solomon and His wife, but it also includes a group of people that are
referred to as friends. These friends are cheerleaders and witnesses of the
growing relationship between this man and woman and they are there to give
We all know married couples and whether we’re married ourselves or not,
we can and should celebrate their love, help them grow in oneness, and be
peacemakers when there’s conflict. When we think about people we know who are
married, John Ortberg suggests that we ask this question: Is their marriage stronger
and better because of me? Every marriage needs a cheering section.
It’s easier to understand this book when you know the basic outline. In
the text we can see three acts or movements in the relationship:
Engagement (1:1-3:5). In this
section we see a couple that can’t wait to get married as they long for each
other and wait for that special day.
Wedding (3:6-5:1). In the
middle chapters we see a picture of commitment and covenant.
Marriage (5:2-8:14). In
the final chapters we see how their relationship is still filled with romance
even through the realities and struggles of life.
Today I want to draw four lessons from this great book, look with me at what
this modern-day marriage manual has to say.
True love waits
chapter 1 we see that the woman longs for a kiss, and then in verse 3 she
focuses on his fragrance: Pleasing is the
fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the
maidens love you.
loves the sound of Solomon’s name but it’s deeper than that. In the Bible a
name refers to someone’s identity, reputation or character. That’s why we’re to
be careful to honor God’s name. The woman is wooed by the depth of Solomon’s character.
This is a good caution for every single person, be careful about who you give
your heart to. Examine an individual’s character carefully. John Ortberg writes
that we should be sure their name has a fragrance like perfume and not manure.
of the saddest stories I know involve a man or woman who develops a passionate
attachment to someone with an untrustworthy character. Take the time to know
what an individual is made of, how he or she handles stress and sickness, and
how consistent their character really is. Is their fragrance sweet or foul?
of the recurring refrains in the Song of Songs is an admonition to not awaken
love too quickly. We see this charge first in 2:7 and then it’s repeated in 3:5
and in 8:4. Tom Constable points out that the outstanding characteristic of
this first major section of the book is the restraint that is evident during
In 4:12 we read of some amazing imagery related to purity:
You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring
enclosed, a sealed fountain. In the final chapter, the friends speak of
their efforts to protect their young sister from impurity. Then in 8:8-9: What shall we do for our sister for the day
she is spoken for? If she is a wall, we will build towers of silver on her. If
she is a door, we will enclose her with panels of cedar. They want her to
be a wall that waits until the wedding, not a door that is open to everyone.
I love what Tim Stafford writes: So what is God’s view of sex? Simple: Sex is
wonderful within marriage. Outside of marriage, it’s an offense to the
inventor…God wants your marriage bed to be pure because He cares for you. He
wants to protect you from the worst. He wants to provide for you the very
best…It’s tough to wait for, certainly. But most good things are.
Next we see that True love
Trista and I will honestly admit that our most difficult time in our
marriage was after Trafton was born; even more difficult than our miscarriage,
moving, or getting fired. We all understand that in any relationship, you are
going to have some struggles. There will be misunderstandings and misery but
much of this can be avoided by giving attention to the small things before they
become big problems. Our problem was never Trafton, we always believed that he
was a gift. The problem was that we took our focus off each other and we
allowed little things to become HUGE things.
Look at 2:15: Catch for us the foxes, the
little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.
Vineyards were often surrounded by stone walls to keep the animals from
destroying the grapes. But invariably, little holes would appear and foxes would
weasel their way in and gnaw on the tender vines. We don’t know what their
struggles were but they needed to deal with them before they became
The word catch means to seize or lay hold of. We can’t become passive when
problems arise; just hoping they’ll go away on their own. Notice Solomon says
that they need to do this “for us,”.
Solomon knew that their relationship would be better once the couple worked
though their struggle.
Also did you notice that these are little foxes don’t ruin the thick
branches that have been growing for years but the new growth, the vineyards that are in bloom. These
little foxes loved to destroy the fragile vines and devour the immature young
Most of the things that cause division and distance in a relationship start out
small and grow over time.
Thirdly we see that True love uses words of affection.
You know more often than not it’s my words that get me trouble. For many
couples words are ammunition in a long, drawn out war. Proverbs 18:21 says: The tongue has the power of life and death.
That’s why it’s so important to use life words instead of death words.
Unfortunately, in many homes instead of words of affection, the conversation
goes like this: The wife asks her husband “Do you love me with all your heart”?
“Mmm…uh,” he replies. “Do you think I’m the most beautiful girl in the world?”
“Mmm…uh,” he replies. “Do you think my lips are like rose petals?” “Mmm…uh,” he
replies. “Oh honey,” gushed the wife, “you say the most beautiful things.”
Both Solomon and the Shulammite share words of deep affection with each other.
In 1:15, he waxes eloquent:
you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! You eyes are doves. Guys, I’m not
sure you’re ready for this but he calls her “darling” nine different times in
just eight chapters! That’s pretty mushy, isn’t it? One writer points out that
Solomon praises his wife over 40 different times for her strength, her beauty
and her intelligence.
She returns the favor in 1:16:
handsome you are, my lover! Oh, how charming! And if you look at 5:16 we
see that she complements him both romantically and relationally. He was doing
something right to hear these words: This
is my lover, this is my friend.
Now I understand that some of these images get lost in translation through the
centuries and across cultures. When I was in High School we used to laugh at
some of the complements that Solomon gives to his bride. In chapter 4 he says Your hair is like a flock of goats
descending from Mount Gilead…your temples behind your veil are like the halves
of a pomegranate. Your neck is like the tower of David And in chapter 7 Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon
looking toward Damascus.
Honestly, if you wrote that in your Valentine Card I’m not sure you
would get extra points. But to the Shulammite, these words melted her heart. I
have read lots of commentators try to explain what Solomon was saying, but
let’s just say that what he’s really saying is this: Honey, I think you’re hot!
This morning we all need to ask ourselves if we are complimenting one another
or are we criticizing? A study at the University of Denver looked at newlyweds
over the first ten years of their marriage and found that strong marriages
thrive on positive feedback, affirmation and praise. The message is clear. The
words we use will dictate the health and quality of our marriage.
There’s one more pointer from this marriage manual.
True love works at oneness.
Listen to these tender words often repeated by Jewish brides at their
wedding found in 2:16: My lover is mine
and I am his. Then in the
closing chapter of the book we read some of the most moving words ever written.
In chapter 8:6-7: Place me like a seal
over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its
jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty
flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were
to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned.
Their closing declaration is that their love will be unquenchable.
According to some scholars, the Jews wore a cylinder shaped stone around the neck,
which hung over their heart. The idea is that the seal uniquely belongs to and
identifies its owner for all to see. That’s similar to my wedding ring, it’s
meant to announce: I belong to Trista and there is no other. Love is meant to
be exclusive and to have no rivals.
One night a man came home from work late again for the 3rd
night in a row. His wife was already in bed but she did stir just enough to
say, Honey I love you but you need to alphabetize. Well the husband was
confused, and thought she was talking in her sleep, so he asked her, what do
you mean alphabetize? She replied wife comes before work.
We read in Genesis 2:24: For this
reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and
they will become one flesh. The idea here is that there must be a leaving
before there can be cleaving. And there must be cleaving before oneness can
take place. Leaving does not mean acting as if your parents don’t exist, but
that you place your spouse and their wants, dreams, and wishes ahead of your
parents. And remember that this was said to Adam and Eve; they didn’t have a
mom and dad. But they were supposed to leave and cleave as well. That’s why I
would add that you need to place your spouse ahead of your friends, job,
hobbies, and children.
I have a good friend who says: Love is not a feeling you feel when you get a
feeling that you never felt before! Love is more than a feeling; it’s a
commitment to your spouse even when the feelings fade. It’s not a feeling you
feel but a choice you make whether you feel like it or not. 1 John 3:18: Dear children, let us not love with words or
tongue but with actions and in truth.
Marc Axelrod quotes a letter sent to Dear Abby several years ago: Dear Abby: Do
all marriages go stale after five years? Ours has. My husband and I don't seem
to talk anymore. We really don't have anything to converse about. I have no
major complaints with my husband. But the excitement is gone. We watch a lot of
television. And we read. And we have friends. But when we're alone together
it's pretty dull. We even sleep in separate bedrooms now. Is there someway to
recapture the old magic. Signed, The Song Has Ended.
I love Dear Abby’s response; Friend, if it feels like the song has ended
in your marriage, go back and start singing the song that you sang at the
beginning. That’s another way of saying they need to remember how to love with actions in truth.
And that’s the way that God loves. God not only tells us He loves us but He put
that love into action when He sacrificed His only unique son for you. And you
can return that love by putting it in action as well.
1) Why do we find it so difficult to wait?
2) Patience is a learned trait. How do you learn
3) Why do we find it easier to just ignore problems?
4) How does Matthew 5:23-25 and Matthew 18:15-17 fit
into this discussion?
5) Very often we think it’s a little thing and we try
to ignore the problem. What light does Luke 16:10 shed on this discussion?
6) How well do you deal with criticism, constructive
7) Why is criticism difficult to hear?
8) How can we speak words of like? (Luke 10:27)
9) Why is real intimacy so hard to achieve?
10) What are some ways
that we can love in action and truth?