For a majority of married couples, the word enduring sums up their nuptial experience. But let me offer another word, the idea of which comes straight from Scripture itself: It’s the word enjoying. For those of you who merely endure your marriage, you could enjoy it. Using two of the writings of King Solomon, we will explore four areas that healthy married couples could and should be experiencing enjoyment in.
A Christian marriage is intended to portray Christ and His church to the world. But how do we ensure that our marriages live up to God's standards? God's Word contains what we need not only to flourish, but to overcome the emotional, societal, and spiritual attacks we face in our marriages. In this series, Pastor Skip Heitzig covers various scriptural texts to give us the biblical view on marriage. From dating to dealing with in-laws; from anger management to managing your finances; from conflict resolution to delightful sexual relations, this powerful series will provide the tools you need to strengthen your home and relationships.
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Strengthen the Bond:
Hebrew terms: שָׂמַח; samach: brighten, gladden, make joyful
Figures referenced: Benjamin Franklin; Ruth Graham; Harry Hollace Jr.
Cross references: 1 Kings 4:29; Proverbs 25:11; Proverbs 27:15; Ecclesiastes 9:9; Song_of_Solomon 2:14; Luke 4:22; 1 Corinthians 6:12; Hebrews 13:4
Keywords: sex, marriage
We're opening our Bibles today to two books, Proverbs Chapter 5 and The Song of Solomon. We're going to be bouncing back and forth between those books in this installment of Keep Calm and Marry On. This is part two of how to have a love affair with your spouse, from last week. Proverbs Chapter 5 and The Song of Solomon. Are you ready?
Let's pray. Father, You are the creator of our lives. We find ourselves on this planet. We find ourselves working and having families. But we have understood by reading Your word that You have a very clear design for how we live our lives and we're constantly amazed at how clear Your word is with principles that govern how we're to live, what choices we should be making, how to relate to other people and how to have a fulfilling life in marriage. We, who are married, have come to realize it is the most challenging of all relationships. It can be the most frustrating of our relationships. It can be also the most rewarding of all. That's what we're asking You for and that's why we're believing you for. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Happily ever after, we've heard those words and we have heard them typically where? Fairy tales. It's a fairy tale life happily ever after. Knight in shinning armor marries beautiful princess, they go up to the castle and they live, happily ever after. Okay, now segway to real life. It's not happily ever after, it can be good, it can be happy, it can be satisfying, but it's not like there's never a problem, it's happily ever after. In fact truth be told for many relationships, they don't enjoy, they just endure their relationships.
This week I came across the CNN study, a CNN poll. They looked at 24,000 people over a 15-year period of time and they discovered that people who are getting married were no happier after they were married than before they were married. So marriage in like bumped up their happiness at all. In fact they basically said if you are a happy person before you got married, you are a happy person after you get married. If you are a grumpy person before you got married, you are a grumpy person after you get married. It's who you are that need to change.
But one study that got my attention was from the Daily Mirror, it's an English newspaper in Great Britain, that cited 65%, divorce rate among couples and the reason by and large this study said people were getting divorced is simply they found marriage to be mediocre just mediocre. It didn't give me anything that I expected, it's just mediocre hence the relationship didn't last. Well, there is a better way, a much better way not just to endure but to enjoy. However, I will say you have to endure some things in order to get to the enjoyment part.
There's a husband who had a health issue, a major health issue and he went to a doctor. Doctor ran a series of tests. He went to the doctor's office with his wife. Wife is in the waiting room. He went through the test. Doctor look at all the results and called his wife in and said to her, "Ma'am your husband is very sick. There are some things you're going to have to do for him or he's going to die." She was rather shocked. She said, "Yeah, like what things?" He said, "Well, you're going to need to make him fix him three meals everyday and give him a full body massage twice a week and have intimate physical relations with your husband regularly."
She left the office, went out to the waiting room. The husband was waiting with bated breath and said to his wife, "What did the doctor say?" She turned to him and said, "He said you're going to die."
There's a better way. Can you turn to your neighbor and say there's a better way. The Holy Spirit through Solomon gives us what is the better way in Chapter 5 and also The Song of Solomon. Now, as we look at these passages, let me just give you a little quick background. Did you know that Solomon wrote 3,000 Proverbs? The Bible says, you only have like 513 in the Book of Proverbs. He wrote 3,000 Proverbs and 1,005 Songs and we're going to look at a couple Proverbs and the Song of Solomon. He wrote 1,005. He was very prolific.
But Solomon was royalty. He was a King's kid, so he grew up with anything he wanted. He was a spoiled kid, that's how I see Solomon. Solomon had a penchant for volume. He liked lots of stuffs. He read the Book of Ecclesiastes. Here's the guy that had a bankroll. He could have anything he wanted. He was very curious about life and so he got male singers and female singers, and gardens and animals. He had his own zoo. The guy had lots of women, right? How many wives did he have? Seven hundred wives and 300 concubines. It was a pretty sticky situation. So he had a thousand women which makes you wonder was he really all that wives. But he was all that wives, because First Kings Chapter 4 says, "He asked God for wisdom and God gave him wisdom and very great insight, and understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore," that's right out of the scripture.
The Book of Proverbs gives us insight into living well. The Song of Solomon talks about his own personal marital relationship. It's principally a book about the Shulamite, his bride, and Solomon. A many people think that the Song of Solomon or the Song of Songs is like his best hit. Song of Songs was written to his first wife, that's before he got the 699 other gals. This is the first wife. This is then marriage as God intended it to be.
As we go through this, today there's something I want you to notice in Proverbs Chapter 5, there's a single word that I'm king of everything, hinging on this word. It's the word in Proverbs 5:18, it's the word "rejoice". It says, "Let your fountain be blessed and rejoice with the wife of your youth." Enjoy the relationship, enjoy the marriage and these four ways of enjoyment, you might see them as four pillars of a balanced marital relationship. Number one, enjoy each other's company. The very word "with" implies togetherness. Now I know the context principally, especially around Verse 19 and 20, it's all about the physical relationship, we'll get to that. But the over arching message of Proverbs 5, the second portion is about a husband and wife enjoying each other's company. It's intimacy due to harmony. They love to be together.
Now when couple's first meet, this is never a problem. They want to be with each other that young guy and that young girl, wild horses couldn't drag them away from each other. He will drive to the ends of the earth. I remember when I first dated my wife, it was so far to get to her house. She lives like on the edge of Orange County and almost in the Los Angles County. I lived at the beach. It was like an hour to get there. I thought this will never work. But then we went out and we went out again, and I kept paying for gas and we went out again. We start to really liking each other a lot. I didn't care about the drive.
The trick comes, later on in the relationship still wanting to be together, maintaining the friendship, cultivating the companionship, nurturing the relationship -- with-ness, togetherness -- turn to Song of Solomon now. Song of Solomon Chapter 1, I said we'll be bouncing back and fourth. Now this is all poetic. This is a bride speaking to her husband.
This is a husband speaking to his bride and the book talks about the courtship, the betrothal, the marriage, after the wedding, et cetera, but this is the early part. Now look at Verse 3 of Songs of Solomon Chapter 1, "She says to him, 'Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, your name is ointment poured forth, therefore, the virgins love you!'" Verse 4, "Draw me away." Verse 7, "Tell me, oh you whom I love where you feed your flock, where you make it rest at noon for why should I be as one who veils herself," that's a prostitute, "by the flocks of your companions." In other words, you have a young girl who's attracted to Solomon and wants to be with him and wants to enjoy a level of intimacy but she's first attracted by Solomon's character. Your name is ointment poured forth.
I love your character. I love your personality. That's so important in a relationship. Beauty is passing, personality lasts forever. They're attracted to each other. She wants to be with him and in Verse 7, she wants to be close to him but doesn't want to chase after him like a prostitute would, but that desire of being together is there. Okay now get this, this is the beginning of their relationship. They're like starting to hang out. They're courting. The marriage hasn't happened yet. They want to be together. This longing to be together doesn't continue in exactly the same way. But if I may get to Chapter 5 and 6, there's an argument. There's a conflict going on.
In Chapter 5 and 6 is about conflict-resolution in a marriage. As you go through those two chapters which is 25% of the book, conflict-resolution interesting, isn't it? As you go through those two chapters, they still long to be with each other. They want to be together, but not because of hormones, but because of commitment. Their relationship is more mature at this point and there is still a longing to be together but at a different level. Now just think about that, in every relationship of marriage, the thrill of discovery wears off rather quickly. Those cute, little idiosyncrasies can become annoying later on as they discover each other. She snores. He drools. This is weird.
This is why Benjamin Franklin gave great advice, ready he said, "Keep your eyes wide open before marriage and half-shut afterwards." Good advice. The most successful marriage relationships are couples who take what they started out with and they continue with it. Leaving, cleaving, weaving, we've already talked about that process -- leaving father and mother, cleaving, gluing to each other and weaving those threads, those cords throughout a lifetime wanting to be together and doing it regularly.
When Billy Graham and Ruth Graham, his former wife before she died, in their early ministry when Billy traveled a lot a reporter came and asked Ruth, "How difficult is it to be married to Billy Graham?" because he would travel sometimes seven months at a time and not see his family for seven months. She said, "It is difficult. I do get lonely. I do want to be with Billy." In fact she said, "Sometimes, I'll take one of his suit coats and I lay it next to me in bed, just so I get the feeling of being closer to him. I smell his cologne and I feel like he's there." But then she said this, "Though it's difficult, 50% of Billy Graham is better than a 100% of any other man."
Here's a woman devoted to being with her husband and a husband he has called to do evangelism but they love to get back together. So, maximize the time that you spend with each other. Simple things -- date nights, phone calls, texting not while you're driving, but text and just kind of talk to each other throughout the day. In fact, can I just make a suggestion? Sometimes forget the movie, forget the play just sit with each other and discuss something. I know guys don't like this because when his wife says, "Honey, do you have a few minutes, I want to discuss something with you." Cold shivers go up his spines, "What did I do?"
But if you can get pass that and learn to laugh and discuss and discover some things, it can be very, very helpful. This is togetherness, with-ness. With-ness is a good witness of a solid marriage wanting to be with each other.
One young bride wrote a love note to her husband that simply said, "Please come and take my hand, let's walk. Give me you. Eyes that say, 'Hi.' Glances that say, 'I care.' Handholds that let me know you are only teasing. Hugs that say, 'Thank you for being you.' Kisses that gently want me and then love that says, 'I'll be here tomorrow and everyday hereafter.'" That's enjoying each other's company, that's the first pillar.
Here's the second pillar of a solid marriage. Enjoy each other emotionally. You are so different emotionally from your spouse, you know that. Ever thought about enjoying the difference instead of, "We're so different," "Yeah, I think you knew that a long time ago." How about enjoying each other emotionally. Verse 18 says, "Rejoice with the wife of your youth." Rejoicing is a word of emotion. Samah is the Hebrew word, it means to brighten or to gladden or to make joyful. Solomon also wrote in Ecclesiastes Chapter 9, "Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your life." Many people don't live joyfully, they live routinely, insipidly, enduringly, grimacingly.
How many people enjoy the different emotions of a couple? Listen, there are two things that make a miserable marriage, man and woman. People are people, so then how do you enjoy marriage? Okay here's how, are you ready? Here's how, hard work. If you've been married for any length of time, you know what I'm saying is true, hard work. You don't have a good marriage because you say you have a good marriage. You don't have a good marriage because you want one. You don't have a good marriage because you know how to have one. You have a good marriage because you have worked at it and committed to it and made a choice for it and your emotion of rejoicing would be the caboose that follows the engine of choice.
If you want a green lawn, it takes work. If you want to have a clean garage, it takes work. If you want to have a balance checkbook, it takes work. If you want to have a solid, good, thriving, rejoicing relationship, it takes work. I say, "Okay, what do I need to work on then emotionally to have this enjoyment?" Well, two things will help and I'm being serious now, two things will help. I'm speaking to men and women now because of the tendencies that men and women have naturally.
Let me explain. Naturally, men tend to neglect their wives. That's the tendency, that's their bent, that's who men are. If you put all things as they are into a marriage relationship eventually because of how guys are wired, they're going to neglect their wives and focus on other stuff. Men tend to neglect their wives. Wives tend to nag their husbands. That's a tendency, it's a bent. So I want to speak now to husbands and wives based upon those tendencies. Number one, husbands focus. Focus on your wife. Watch your focus. Find out what she needs and focus on that.
I'd like you to turn to the Song of Solomon again, Chapter 1 and look at a few verses as Solomon is now speaking. Listen to his poetic words toward his bride. Verse 9, listen to this, "I have compared you my love, to my horse," isn't that romantic? "My filly among Pharaoh's chariot." You're a wife, you're a woman going, "I don't feel complimented by that." But you got to know something about Solomon, you know what he loved? He loved horses. He collected horses. He was like Jay Leno who collected classic cars and motorcycles and a guy like that saying, "You're like the Mustang Shelby Cobra and better." A guy would, "Wow! She must be awesome. I get that." So for a guy who loved horses like that was quite a compliment. In fact, let me just say men, if you have enough horse sense to treat your wife like a thorough bred, she won't turn into an old nag.
Love her like Solomon did, "You're like a filly among Pharaoh's chariots." Look down to Verse 15, Chapter 1, Solomon speaking, "Behold you are fair, my love. Behold you are fair you have dove's eyes." Okay so again you're going, "Great, you have a horse head and you have bird eyes." This guy, this is not getting out of the park. But here's what I discovered, you know what's unique about dove's eyes? They can only focus on one thing at a time. It's a peculiar thing. They could focus on one thing only. So what he's saying is, "Sweetheart, you are so fair I realize you have eyes for me only and because I know that, I have eyes for you only and I'm focusing on wanting you and meeting your needs."
I want to prove that to you. Look at Song of Solomon 2:14 same metaphor, "Oh my dove," he says to her, "In the clefts of the rocks, in the secret places of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely." Doves need to be coaxed out of the cliffs and the rocks or they won't get out in the open. This speaks of a husband when his wife is shut down, emotionally he's bringing her out to deal with it. He's focused. He's not neglecting. He's focused on her. So because men have a tendency to neglect their wives, men watch your focus.
Number two, this is for women. Women watch your words. Words have weight to them and they tear down or they build up. When a man hears the words of his wife, they weigh on him. The Bible says, "Words fitly spoken are like apples of gold and settings of silver." But listen to these women, let this be a warning gals, this is Proverbs 27:15, "A continual dripping on a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike." What is he saying? Saying a leaky roof leaves a home unprotected. A nagging wife leaves the marriage unprotected. Replace nagging words with kind words. Replace nagging words, contentious words. He uses with gracious words. Watch it work in your marriage, watch it work.
Of Jesus Christ, the New Testament says, "People marveled at the gracious words that proceeded out of His mouth." Woman, I hope it's not true that if you were to speak gracious words, people would marvel. "Wow! She said something nice." But what a wonderful thing to marvel at gracious words proceeding out of your mouth. Now it could be that up to this point gals, you have worked off a grid, an old grid. If you were to analyze, "Why did you just say that to your husband?" You might answer, "Because it's true, that's why I said what I said it's true." Yeah, but is it helpful? The Bible says, "All things are lawful but not all things are helpful."
Well I said it because he deserved it. How's that working out for you? I said it because no one else says these things to him. Somebody has got to say it or I said it because I felt so good to say it. I needed to vent. Here's a new grid, can I say it kindly? Can I say the same messaging kindly or can he hear that now? Is now the time to say that? Think of that description, gracious words or words of grace. You know what grace means, right? What does grace mean? Anybody, grace means unmerited favor, undeserved favor. How about speaking undeserved words? How about dishing some of that up at home? How about making a meal of those words?
Sisters in Christ, hear me. How about giving your husbands words they don't deserve. Those are gracious words and all of that is the husband focuses on his wife's needs and as the wife thinks carefully and phrases things graciously. That's going to create an enjoyment emotionally. You're going to rejoice.
The third pillar, enjoy each other spiritually. Back in Proverbs 5, the word in Verse 18 is blessed. That sound like a church word on it, be blessed. "Be blessed and rejoice with the wife of your youth," Verse 21, "The ways of men," that is your ways, my ways, our ways, "are before the eyes of the Lord and He ponders all of His paths." In other words, as we saw last week, we touched on it, "Live under the umbrella that God knows everything I'm thinking doing sane and I'm living under that reality." In other words, have a spiritual core in your relationship. How about at the center of your relation?
Before I met Lenya, it was at a potlatch in Southern California. I spotted her across the room. I noticed her. I looked at her and I thought, "She's really cute." Red jeans, white blouse, flowing hairs, I still remember what she looked like and it took my breath away. I go, "Wow! I like to meet her." But that was before I met her. Before I met her, I was attracted to her physically. I still was later but that was the initial take. That night I met her. She walked up to me, put out her hand and go, "Hi, I'm Lenya." She shook it really firmly. I like that. So, I was attracted to her physically, then I met her and I was attracted to her personality. So we hang out, we dated and then broke it off. She moved to Hawaii. I was still at the beach in California for a couple of years.
When we met again the third time? This time I was attracted to her spiritually. There was a depth of relationship in her life. She ministered to me out of the word. She prayed such words of depth. She still to this day has insights in the Word of God. I steal them and preach them, lot of them are hers. So, I was attracted to her physically then her personality then her spirituality, that's a wonderful balance relationship. Keep spirituality in your marriage. You've heard the old saying, "A family that prays together," what? Did you know it's true? Do you know the research shows that the average American couple, there's different polls, say about one out of every two marriages divorced.
But people who attend church regularly, their rate of divorce is much lower and couples who pray together at home regularly, goes way, way, way down in terms of the likelihood that they're going to divorce. So treat your wives like she's God's daughter because she is. Treat your husband like he's God's son because he is. Keep a spiritual core. If you want to make your "I do" harder to "undo", get a spiritual core. It's all about him. What does he want? What is pleasing to the Lord?
Here in Albuquerque, New Mexico, we have something called The Big I. You know what The Big I is, right? It's the one freeway interchange we have in the state, I think. One, The Big I, who two freeways that actually come together and have like things going on, The Big I. So you hear trafficker, "Traffic today on The Big I is a little bit crowded." "Okay, cool. Wow!" You know problems with marriages are? The Big I. It's all about, "Am I getting what I deserve?" The Big I. "Are my needs getting met like I think?" The Big I. You will be a miserable person if in your marriage it's all about The Big I. It needs to be about the big Him, God. What does He want?
This is His design. This is His idea. I'm going to find my role. I'm going to submit to Him in my role and I'm going to devote myself to that person in making this relationship great with the spiritual core. Enjoy each other's company, enjoy each other emotionally, enjoy each other spiritually, fourth and finally we close with enjoy each other sexually. Yes, I said the "S" word in church. Because God invented it and looked what's written in the Bible, once again Verse 18, "Let your fountain be blessed, rejoice with the wife of your youth as a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times and always be enraptured with her love." Back to that water analogy of being refreshed, invigorated by the cool streams, fountains and cisterns that speaks of physical, sexual love.
Look at Verse 19, "Let her breasts satisfy you at all times." The word "satisfy" means satiated, saturated where to have ones drink or ones fill. Verse 19 also says, "Always be enraptured with her love." Love means lovemaking, the physical act of intercourse, enraptured. Listen to this, I looked it up. It means to be intoxicated with, to swerve, meander, real, roll, get the picture? I don't have to break this down, right? You get what this is saying. This is physical, sexual enjoyment between a husband and a wife. If you think God is some celestial prude, some kill joy in heaven, you do not know Him. This is what is in His word, this is what he invented.
In fact in the New Testament, Hebrews 13, "Marriage is honorable among all and the bed is undefiled." That is the bed, the sexual experience of a marriage is sacred and it should be enjoyed. Yes, the Bible does condemn illicit sex, it doesn't mean it condemns all of it, all sex. As we said last week, it's like a fire in a fireplace. You take the fire outside of the fireplace. It will burn your life down. You keep it in the fireplace, get fired up about it. Let it burn hot and passionately. It says, "Always be enraptured with her love." At all times, that sounds like frequently coming together. No, I'm not going to get much into that except you think of how frequent are you talking about? I just want to say this, when intimacy in marriage is easy and natural and mutual, it's joy producing.
On the other hand, when it's pressured and demanding and selfish, it's devastating and that's something that needs to be worked out between the couple. But I want you to turn to one passage and we'll quit here, turn to Song of Solomon really quickly and look at Chapter 5. Chapter 5 is the wedding night. Chapter 5 is the wife describing what she sees as she looks at her husband. Chapter 5 Verse 10, "My beloved is white and ruddy, chief among 10,000. His head is like a finest gold. His locks are wavy, black as a raven. His eyes are like doves by the rivers of the waters washed with milk, fitly set. His cheeks are like a bed of spices, banks of scented herbs. His lips are lilies dripping lick with myrrh. His hands are rods of gold set with barrel, a translation stone of many colors. His body is carved ivory inlaid with sapphires. His legs are pillars of marble set on basis of fine gold. His countenance is like Lebanon, excellent as cedars. His mouth is most sweet. He is all together lovely. This is my beloved. This is my friend, oh daughters of Jerusalem."
She likes what she sees and she says that. Now look at Chapter 7 Verse 1, the conflict has been resolved by this point later on in Chapter 7 Verse 1, he says, "How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O price's daughter! The curves of your thighs are like jewels." This is in the Bible, folks. "The work of the hands of a skillful workman, your navel is rounded goblet that lacks no blended beverage. Your waist is a hip of wheat set about with lilies. Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of the gazelle."
I wonder a few men have that underlined. "Your neck is like an ivory tower. Your eyes like pools in Heshbon by the gate of Bath-rabbim. Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon which looks toward Damascus." I don't know about that one. I'm just going to skip right over that one. I love my hook nose wife. "Your head crowns you like Mount Carmel and the hair of your head is like purple. A King is held captive by your tresses. Oh fair, how fair and how pleasant you are? Oh love with your delights, the stature of yours is like a palm tree and your breasts like its clusters. I said, 'I will go up to the palm tree. I will take hold of its branches. Let now your breast be like clusters of the vine. The fragrance of your mouth like apples.'" Do you ever talk that way to each other?
I wonder what would happen if you did talk that way to each other. Quote just quote the Bible. It says right out of God's Word. Listen, God made every part of your body and He equipped you with a nervous system to enjoy each other at the physical level. You were created by God physiologically to be stimulated. After God made His creation, the Bible says, He looked over it all and He said that it is what? It is good. It is good. But the fire burned hot and passionately within the fireplace of the marriage. So you need to hear this, sex is God-given. It also must be God-guided. These are the guidelines for it here.
I want to close with a prayer that was written by Harry Hollis, Jr. who said, "Lord, it is difficult to know what sex really is. Is it some demons sent to torment me or some delicious seducer from reality? It is neither of these Lord, I know what sex is. It is body and spirit. It is passion and tenderness. It is strong embraces and gentle hand-holding. It is open nakedness and hidden mystery. It is joyful tears on a honeymooner's face. It is tears on a wrinkled face of a golden wedding anniversary. Sex is a quiet look across a room, a love note on a pillow, a rose lying on the breakfast plate, laughter in the night. Sex is life, not all of life but wrapped up in the meaning of life. Sex is your good gift, oh God to enrich life to continue to race, to communicate, to show me who I am, to reveal my mate, to cleanse through one flesh."
"Lord, some people say that sex and religion do not mix. But Your words says that sex is good. Help me to keep it good in my life. Help me to be open about sex and still protect its mystery. Help me to see that sex is neither demon nor deity. Help me not to climb into a fantasy world with an imaginary sexual partner. Help me in the real world to love the people whom You have created. Teach me that my soul does not have to frown at sex for me to be a Christian. It's hard for many people to say, 'Thank you God for sex,' because for them sex is more of a problem than a gift. They need to know that sex and Gospel can be linked together again."
"Father, that's where we leave it. We see in Your word that You made male and female, naked and unashamed, You saw that it was good. You commanded them to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth. We see through the rest of Your word that the marriage bed is undefiled, that the relationship of body and soul and spirit brings such joy and rejoicing. I pray that You would help us to enjoy each other's company, to enjoy each other emotionally, spiritually and physically, to always keep You at the core of who we are. In Jesus' name, Amen."