Good evening. You have in the backs of the chairs, in front of you, I believe a little cup and bread which is an easy way to pass out communion and we are going to have you take that in just a few moments. Tonight we are in the book of Song of Solomon. I know it sounds like, how does that fit into communion? How do you do the communion with a book like the Song of Solomon? It's interesting that every year at Passover and you know how the Bible says, Christ is our Passover. Every year at Passover, it's the book of the Song of Solomon that is read in the synagogues every year and at homes.
Now, if you remember last week in our study, if you were here, we mentioned that there are five books called 'The Megillot' or the Five Scrolls and there are five short books, Ruth, Esther, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. These five books are read each one a piece at one of the great festivals of the Jews every year and Passover happens to be where the Song of Solomon fits.
Now if you know anything about the book, you might be wondering, I still don't get it. Because the Song of Solomon seems to be a love song between a young man and a young women, before their marriage, during their engagement, spousal ceremony and then after marriage and you are correct. But there is a hint of divine love in it, though I reject the allegorical interpretation that says, this books is simply an allegory that tells of God's love for his people. It's a literal story, as we will see in the few minutes.
There is historical precedent for looking at human love, human marriage and seeing that as a divine corollary of his love. For example, listen to these scriptures.
2 Corinthians, Chapter 11:2
"For I am jealous for you with Godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband that I might present you as a chaste virgin to Christ".
"You also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ; that you maybe married to another, to him who is raised from the dead"
Ephesians, Chapter 5
"Husbands love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that he might present her to himself a glorious Church not having spot or wrinkle or any such things but that she should be holy and without blemish".
So it's clear in the writings of even the New Testament that marriage was to be a reflection of the kind of love God has for his people. You might say a living microcosm of divine love. Now in the book, the Song of Solomon, there is a verse, in fact it's a verse that has become famous in a number of songs. It's a short little verse and it's written by or spoken by the young lady in the story, the Shulamite: Bride of Solomon and she says, "He brought me to his banqueting house, and his banner over me was love". Have you heard that before? His banner over me is love. What does that mean? Well, a banner was, in a sense, some large visible sign, often a flag, that was raised up high. So that if you belong to certain tribe and they had a certain banner, you could identify yourself publicly, visibly by the banner.
If you were a troop or an army and you gathered under a certain platoon, you could look at that visible reminder of where you should gather and so the idea of his banner over me, is love, is that everyone can see, says this young bride, "Everybody can see that that that man loves me, his banner over me is love, it's evident, it's visible, everybody knows he loves me."
Now as Christians, there is a banner over us of God's Love and that is the cross. If anyone ever doubts God's Love, they just have to look at the cross. If you doubt tonight that God loves you, look back to the cross, God gave his best, he gave his all or as John would say, He gave his only begotten son.
The cross, the banner of God's Love, it's a visible sign of his sacrificial love, of his unconditional love and of his eternal perpetual love, it's never ending. In fact, the way God treats you tonight, is all because of the cross.
As we have said before in Second Corinthians 5:21, God treated Jesus, in such a way so that he could treat you in a very different way. God, the Father, treated Jesus as if He committed every sin by every human being, by putting him on a cross and letting him suffer. So that He could treat you, God could treat you, like his son deserves to be treated. His banner over us is love and these elements that we hold tonight are visible reminders of that banner; though we don't see visibly the cross, we can only see it in our mind's eye, we can hold these elements and taste these elements and they remind us of that banner over us which is his love and since the Song of Solomon is the love shared between a man and his wife and since the love of a man and his wife is to be a microcosm of the love Christ has for the church, I have had this only fitting that husband and wife share communion and so my wife and I are going to do this together.
So would you first take out the top wafer and before you take it what I want you to is consider your life and here's what I mean. The Bible plainly says that the elements of communion are to us who know Him and love Him a special token of that love. See if you know Christ personally tonight, you can say His banner over me is love. I have a love relationship with Him because I have given my life to Jesus Christ and He has cleansed me of my sins.
However, if you don't yet have a personal relationship with Christ, then for you to take this element of the bread and to drink this juice which speaks of his shed blood, Paul says, you are simply condemning yourself, you are heaping condemnation, you are testifying that though you would take the elements, you haven't taken the one the elements represent.
And so if you don't personally know Christ, I am going to ask you to do one of two things, don't put this in your mouth, don't drink the juice or better yet and it can be done, it doesn't have to have an ultra call, it doesn't have to have special mood, music for you to respond to it. Right now, you could receive Christ as your savior. Right here, right now, by faith you could become a child of God by receiving Christ into your heart.
So I want you just to bow your heads with me for a moment and for those of you who have gathered, who have been contemplating your future and maybe wondering about, if your sins could be forgiven, if there is a God, if He loves you, if Christ is real, and if you have come to a place tonight where after wrestling through those issues, you are willing to commit your life to Christ and to enter into a personal relationship that I want you to ask them to come in, right where you are sitting, say, Lord, I know I am a sinner, please forgive me. I place my trust in Jesus and in Jesus alone.
I turn from my sin and I turn to you, save me. I trust in Christ who died for me on the cross and rose from the dead, in Jesus' name and Father as we hold this little piece of bread which takes our minds back to the time when Jesus broke bread with this own and he said take and eat this, speaks of the New Covenant. This is my body which is broken for you. We know that your body was broken for us and how grateful we are, that because of that sacrifice, we can be part of the body of Christ which is the church and enter into the relationship with you. And so we take this, knowing that your cross is the banner over us of your love, in Jesus' name, Amen.
Female Speaker: Now you can open the second layer, the purple layer. And I just think of the commitment to shed blood. None of us give up a drop of our blood easily, do we? Whether it's a scratched knee or a prick on our finger or an operation or whatever it is. I mean, blood is precious and we try and contain it and keep it inside, don't we? And so when we look at it or think of it on the outside, it really does speak of pain and a sacrifice and it's humbling to think of that, to partake of that and to see that in Christ, but also in our marriages that it does speak of a sacrifice and a great love that your inside would come out in a marriage.
So I feel so blessed that I have a husband that he has loved me from the inside-out and he has reflected Christ's love from the inside-out and in both of those loves my bridegroom and having in my earthly bridegroom I know that I have flourished in that. That it has been the miracle grows in my life, so to speak. And so Lord, we thank you that you have loved us with an everlasting love and your love didn't come cheap. It was precious.
There is no value we could place upon your blood Lord and it is the miraculous blood that matches every blood type Lord that the transfusion with your blood brings healing. And the ultimate healing that we are so sick with sin Lord. And yet this transfusion of your blood can make us clean and make us whole and give us new hope and a new life and so we take it with such gratitude, with such great value and tenderness in our hearts and praise you in Jesus' name.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Let's turn in our Bibles to the Song of Songs, which interestingly enough was the favorite book of the Bible for Charles Haddon Spurgeon, one of the people I love to quote. And it was also Dwight Lyman Moody, D.L. Moody's favorite book of the bible, as well as, Hudson Taylor, the great missionary, this was his favorite book. And this is the Bible From 30,000 Feet. So it's an overview of this book tonight. We are looking at the landscape of the book and how it fits with other books of the Bible. And if you ever wondered, if the bible has variety in it or not, all you got to do is read this book.
It's very different from what is gone before and very different from the Prophet Isaiah which comes after it. In fact, there is a book on marital love primarily, a relationship between a young man and a young women. The young man happens to be King Solomon the King of the United kingdom of Israel and Judah and a young Shulamite girl.
I have often thought that Adam had it easy. What I mean by that is that the Bible says that God brought the women to the man. He formed the women, He made a special creation for Adam and then brought the women to the man. But wouldn't relationships be a lot easier if that happened today. If you got a knock on the door one day, one afternoon, you are single, knock, special delivery from God, here is your mate, this is the one you are going to marry. It makes things so much easier, but it never happens that way. No we are involved in the process and we call that process in our culture, dating. In the ancient culture betrothal or a Spousal or we might say even, courtship.
It's an interesting book and I am looking forward to studying it. It says this is the Song of Songs. Now Solomon, we are told in First Kings, Chapter 4 wrote himself 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs. Do you remember that? He wrote 1,005 songs. This is the Song of Songs. This is his best hit. You might say, his one hit wonder. This is the only one we have really recorded of his songs and notice that it's in the superlative. It's the Song of Songs. Just like in the Bible you read of the King of Kings or the Heaven of Heavens or the Lord of Lords or the Holy of Holies. There are simply superlative terms. And here it means, this was his best song ever written, Song of Songs, Verse 1, which is, Solomon's.
Now again, it is a story between two people. A young man named Solomon, the king, and a young woman who is called the Shulamite and it is believed that she lived in a little village up in the Jezreel Valley, in fact, a few of you, a couple weeks back were with me at a place called Gideon Spring, and a place called Sakhnin, the pools of Sakhnin where we had a lunch picnic.
In that area, not too far away on a little hillside in that same valley was the village of Shunem, where she was from, the Shulamite. And it is thought that she along with her family worked on a farm that King Solomon owned and she was a keeper of the vineyard in that area. That was her job that was her family's position and that somehow, they interface, he takes a liking to her, she starts liking him and a beautiful relationship unfolds.
The book, I believe, covers a period of about two years. Some think about a year, others go up to about two years. It just seems to follow that it covers two years of a relationship. And the relationship grows, you'll see it. It's though it's done in a beautiful poetic form. There are the stages of relationship, in fact, you could simply outline the book this way. There is the engagement, there is the wedding and there is the marriage. Chapter 1:1 to Chapter 3:5 is the engagement.
They meet, they get engaged, betrothed, and then Chapter 3:6 to Chapter 5:1 is the wedding, the wedding procession and the consummation of the marriage. Then, number 3 is the marriage itself, the engagement, the wedding and then finally the marriage in Chapter 5:2, all the way to the end of the book to Chapter 8. So, the engagement, the wedding and the marriage or as one Bible commentator puts it, leaving, cleaving and weaving, those three words sum up the whole book, leaving, cleaving and weaving.
Now that last section of the book, we're only going to skim it. It's interesting because it's probably a year after the honeymoon. There is already a conflict in the relationship that separates these two lovers, they have to make up and they do reconcile. There is conflict resolution for two chapters of the book and then finally it closes with the marriage grown and mature at that point. Let's look at Verse 1.
The Song of Songs, which is Solomon's and now the girl, the Shulamite speaks to herself, and there is a dialog back and forth. There are parts like in a play, where Solomon says something, she says something, and principally, it's those two doing all the talking. Every now and then, there is another group of characters called the Women of Jerusalem or the Virgins of Jerusalem, these young women probably servants in the court of Solomon, they say something, because they attend to this girl, in preparing for the wedding.
And then, even there are brothers of the Shulamite later on, but the principal two characters are Solomon and his bride or girlfriend at this point, the Shulamite. She says, to herself, Verse 2, "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine. Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, your name is ointment poured forth, therefore, the virgins love you. Draw me away, we will run after you. The king has brought me into his chambers, we will be glad and rejoice in you; we will remember your love more than wine. Rightly do they love you".
'They' probably are referring to the daughters of Jerusalem, all the young ladies that work in the royal palace in Jerusalem. Look at this young man and by the way, some commentators, some commentators believe that this was his first wife. I have to qualify that. We don't know for sure. But it seems like this is his first wife or the wife of his youth, as he would describe it back in the Book of Proverbs. This is then before he marries 699 other women, which will become his wife as well. He has 700 wives eventually and 300 porcupines or concubines. Same difference. I mean, you know, he got needled through his whole life and he needled them as well. What a rocky relationship!
So this is probably the first relationship he had, where there is this attraction that took place. So "Rightly do they love you". Now notice something in these verses. This woman is first attracted to Solomon's character, more than anything else. So at this point, this character must have been good for her to notice that. Notice she says in verse 3, Your name or character, Your name is ointment poured forth. Please keep that in mind, please make that paramount in relationships, if you're thinking of getting involved with someone or you're dating someone out. Think about that person's character, here's why. Beauty fades, a personality is forever. A personality is forever. You keep that in mind.
Somebody once said, "Keep your eyes wide open before marriage and half shut afterwards". That's good advice. But if you're going into it, keep them babies wide open. Notice everything. Because it will be with you a long time.
She continues, Verse 5, "I am dark but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, Like the tents of Kedar", these where the black wool tents, that were used down in the desert by the Bedouins, "Like the curtains of Solomon".
So here is a girl who says, I've been working out in the Sun all day and my skin is dark, I'm tanned because I've been working out in the Sun. Now, in those days, a sign of beauty was being pale, not tan. It's very opposite, today people get fake tans in tanning booths and lay out in the sun because we think in the West that tan is really beautiful. In those days, if you had a tan, it meant that you were a migrant worker. You were somebody who worked outside. It's only the wealthy who didn't have to be in the Sun but could enjoy the splendors of a palace like this.
So she says, "I am dark but lovely. Do not look upon me because I am dark, because the Sun has tanned me. My mother's sons" or her stepbrothers "were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept". Now what she is saying here is that she is self-conscious about the way she looks and she notices it. She has been so busy working out in the vineyards that she hasn't had any time to concentrate on her own personal appearance or as she would call it here, "but my own vineyard I have not kept". I haven't attended to my personal appearance, because I've been so busy worrying about the workload that my stepbrothers have forced me in to. So that's her status, she is a farm worker up in the Jezreel Valley in the Northern part of Israel, up in the Galilee region, when she meets Solomon.
But she is conscious about her appearance and by the way, most people are. We all have mirrors, we all look in them. We all after looking in them, seek to improve what we see when we look in them. It's human nature. It's always been human nature and when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we kind of think what color looks good on me today, what kind of jewelry should I wear, speaking usually of woman at this point and should I dye my hair? We're always conscious but I would say in this generation, it's becoming more so. It has been that way in every generation as you can see here. But I do believe that the age for being body conscious is getting younger and younger. It's getting younger and younger.
There was a research that was conducted of fifth graders. Fifth graders were exposed to Britney Spears' videos. It's a horrible thing to get exposed to, I know, but it was an experiment. They let them look at Britney Spears' videos as well as some episodes of the Sitcom 'Friends' and then they interviewed the young students, the 10-year olds afterwards and all of them were ashamed of their body type in this research.
They were already worried and self-conscious about it. In fact, research shows that the more we watch media, more we're exposed to music videos, television programs, movies, the more we dislike our own bodies. And it's becoming younger and younger. She is conscious about that. "Tell me," Verse 7, "O you whom I love, where you feed your flock", she is saying to Solomon, "where you make it rest at noon for why should I be as one who veils herself by the flocks of your companions?"
What she is saying is that, I want to meet you but I won't chase after you like a prostitute would. One who veils herself, as speaking of the veil of a harlot, I am not going to chase after you, that's what prostitute do. I am conscious about that I would love to meet you but I won't be one to chase after you. Here is a girl who values her own purity.
She wants this relationship but she won't push it. It's just, this is great reading material. Because one of the mistakes that people make, whether it's young couples, getting married for the first time or people in a rebound relationship, they are getting married for the second time, it's sometimes they want to move too quickly and they are determined that this is it, this is the one, nobody can dissuade them and Christians get even weirder sometimes about this.
Well, God spoke to me and said, He was the one. Okay, great, I will grant you that. But in five and ten and twenty years, you better still be saying that, because I will remember what you are telling me now and bring that up again. That's called accountability. But you got to be careful not to push something, in any kind of relationship. It's always a red flag when a couple has known each others for two weeks or a month and suddenly they are engaged. That's a red flag. I am not saying it's impossible. I have seen rare exceptions where this actually works, but they are rare exceptions, to the rule.
You see it's much easier to get into a relationship than it is to live through a relationship. Because once you get into it, now you have to live through it. It's always easy to get into it, it's much more difficult to live through it. There was a study of Kansas State University and here is the results of it, "A strong correlation exists between length of time spent during current spouses and current marital satisfaction. Couples who have dated for more than two years scored consistently high on the marital satisfaction, while couples who had dated for shorter periods scored in a wide range from very low to simply high." High to very low, whereas those who dated longer and learned more about each other and gave the relationship time were more satisfied as the years went on.
Okay, that introduction has passed. Now the couple enters into the engagement. We would call it the dating, the betrothal period. Solomon speaks, Verse 9, "I have compared you my love, to my filly among Pharaoh's chariots." Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with chains of gold." A few you say, is that a complement, he just called her a horse. Well, keep in mind Solomon loved horses. He knew all about horses, he had horses the Bible says, and chariots and he had thoroughbred so to him, this was a complement.
She was statuesque and beautiful like a thoroughbred. I heard it put this way. If a man has enough horse sense to treat his wife like thoroughbred, she'll never turn in to an old nag. Now that's the idea behind this. You are like my filly, you are a thoroughbred and he was wanting to treat her that way.
Verse 12, the young woman, the Shulamite says, "While the King is at his table, my spikenard sends forth its fragrance. A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me, that lies all night between my breasts. My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blooms in the vineyards of En Gedi." Now back then girls wore a pouch of perfume on a string around their neck. And so that they could give up, they didn't have the same kind of spray-on fragrances today. They simply wore the perfume in a pouch around their necks.
So what she is saying is, I am smelling really good and I can smell him, he really smells really good as well. She can detect his cologne. It is interesting that the human brain does have receptors in it to detect what are called pheromones that are triggers of attraction in the brain and so people for generations have always sought to smell good when they are trying to attract someone to them.
So Solomon now, now they are speaking to each other. Not about each other, now the relationship has developed into a more intimate relationship. Verse 15, "Behold, you are fair, my love. Behold you are fair, you have doves' eyes." Now I see again some blank stares because you are thinking, okay, first he says, you remind of my horse and you have bird eyes. This guy is really not that romantic. I know that's what some of you are thinking, but he really was. Because you see, I read this somewhere that a dove can only focus on one object at a time. What she is seeing or Solomon is saying is that she has doves' eyes, she has eyes only for me and me alone. She is only focussed on me right now, like a dove.
Verse 16, the Shulamite speaks, "Behold, you are handsome, my beloved! Yes, pleasant! Also our bed is green. The beams of our houses are cedar, and our rafters our fir." She is describing an outdoor scene, a picnic. They are on the grass. They are looking up at the trees, probably up in the northern part of Israel or Lebanon where the cedars go up, and though they are outside in a picnic environment, it feels like a palace because she is with him. They are in love.
And now let's scoot down to Chapter 2:4, "He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love." Now the scene shifts from an outdoor picnic to an indoor official banquet, his banqueting house, whether it's his palace or his summer house up North, this is an official function. Now, instead of just being alone with her somewhere, she is invited into his public life. He is not ashamed to be seen with her, that's the idea. The relationship is certainly progressing very well and quickly.
Now Solomon in Verse 17, speaks to the Daughters of Jerusalem. No, Chapter 2:7, "I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the does of the field," they must have been very dear to him, "do not stir," now watch what he says, "do not stir or awaken love until it pleases." I know a young couple who when they were dating, they would use this quite frequently because they were at that place where they were together, they didn't wanted to be in a place where they were too tempted, and so they would often quote this verse, 'we can't awaken love before it's time or until it pleases.'
In other words, love has its place and don't stimulate love prematurely, don't make the relationship go too fast is the idea, and the idea because the rest of the book will unfold this beautiful relation between a young man, a young woman, they get married, and they enjoy sexual love in a beautiful, intimate, wonderful way as described in the rest of the book.
That seems to be the idea here in keeping up with the theme. Now here is the idea behind this verse, because it's mentioned a few different times in this book; the sexual impulse is God-given, if you have the idea that God is some old-fashioned prude, who is down on sex, read this whole book. In fact, read it in the Living Bible, and you might go uh! a few times as you go through it.
God invented it, but because it's God-given, it must be God-guided and God-governed, and sexual love has its place but you can take it out of place. I was working outside in the garden the other day and the dirt is good in the garden, it's really bad when it's on my shoes and I track it all over the floor, it's out of place and I am told, it's out of place. Or if you light a fire, fire is great in a fireplace, it's under control, you take it out of the fireplace, it can get it out of control and be very destructive, so it is this kind of relationship.
Solomon, the same man who has spoken up here, wrote in proverbs these words, Proverbs, Chapter 5, Verses 15 through 18, I will read it to you. "Drink water from your own cistern and running water from your own well. Should your fountains be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be only your own, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth."
The point is this, sex and marriage is like drinking pure water out of a fresh well. When you take it out of that context, you take it out of marriage, you take it and make it an illicit relationship, it's like drinking putrefied water from a sewer, this is what Solomon is saying. One will delight you, refresh you, one will poison you, destroy you. One is a swamp, the other is a river.
Verse 14, he continues "O my dove", remember he said you have got bird eyes, dove eyes, "O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the cleft, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely." Doves hide in the clefts of the rocks, they have to be wooed to get them out. What Solomon is saying is I want to know everything there is to know about you, and that's a good thing to have in a courtship, in a relationship of love.
Try to find out as much as you can before you say, I do. Get all the information so there is not many surprises, so later on you don't go, I didn't know that. In fact, make it a habit of being very honest during this period of your relationship, better to find out everything now and then be accepted, forgiven and move on, rather than to deal with that later on. There should be a period of discovery, even Peter hence said this, "Husbands dwell with your wives in understanding or knowledge, get as much information, learn as much as you can.
I love Verse 15, "Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes." Don't let anything ruin our relationship, catch those little critters, those little things that destroy big relationships, things like impurity, things like unresolved conflict.
One of my great delights is standing with a married or with a young couple about to be married and look into their eyes and watch them exchange tender love between them and pray for them and usher them off and tell them that God will bless them in their honeymoon and I love that, I love being a part of that.
One of my greatest heartaches is seeing people that I have done that with, telling me they are leaving each other, that they are getting a divorce, that it's over now. It's a heartbreak when that happens. And I have discovered something as I have looked to those relationships. A breakup in a relationship is a slow leak, it's never a blowout.
I had a friend calling me from another state today. He was quite upset, and he said, I got a letter from my wife, and inside the letter was the wedding ring that I gave her. It simply said, thanks for the beautiful life, signed her name in it and that was it. He was upset but I also know that it was an ongoing long simmering breakdown in their relation. Little foxes had come in and the little foxes were just, hey! They are little, they are not a big deal, they are not like overrunning the house or anything, they are just little foxes. Yeah but they can destroy the vine, the whole vineyard can be destroyed by just a little fox or to get rid of those things which are nagging, annoying unresolved conflicts. "Catch us the little foxes that spoil the vines."
Now in Verse 6 of Chapter 3 begins the second phase of this book. The first was the engagement, now we get to the wedding, and the wedding in those days began with a wedding procession. If you were a bride, you would get everything ready in your house. The bridegroom wouldn't tell you when he is coming, he would just show up with a wedding party, you had to be ready to go, and it was a procession from the house of her parents to his own house, and in this case, this is the palace in Jerusalem where they are going to go to.
Who was this coming out of the wilderness, like pillars of smoke, perfumed with, with myrrh and frankincense and with all the merchants fragrant powders. Now you have got to just imagine for a moment, what would it had been like for this young bride madly in love with the king, to look outside of her window, after somebody said, they are coming, the procession is coming and she looks over the horizon and she sees Solomon is on to rush and this fragrant smoke of incense going up because he was attended to by his servants and the dust from the horses and those attending to him. And to see that royal accompaniment was, stopped her heart. "Behold it is Solomon's couch", that is a portable throne, you have got to picture that there were staves and people on each side holding it up and he was sitting in this royal and it will described in just a moment, his portable throne.
"With sixty valiant men around it, Of the valiant of Israel. They all hold swords, being expert in war." Everyman has his sword on his thigh because of fear in the night. So she is noticing this great company coming with Solomon attending him and making this precession to Jerusalem. And she notices that he is well protected.
This guy has like body guards around him with swords and they know how to use it, they are ready for war, which would make her feel good. I am protected, I am marrying this guy, he has got protection around him. I feel safe in this relationship. And it's important that women feel safe by the men they are going to marry. Here is just a quick easy ground rule.
If you are dating somebody and if you are asking that person to get married make a vow between yourselves that you will never ever mention the 'Divorce' word to each other ever. It will never come out of your lips. You make that promise to each other. No, I am not ready to make that promise, then you are not ready for the relationship, unless you are ready to enter into it and say to her I will never say that I want a divorce. I will never even bring it up.
If you are not ready to say that, then pull back, she needs to feel safe in the kind of commitment you say you are willing to make. She does feel safe here. "Of the woods of Lebanon" Verse 9, "Solomon the king made himself a palanquin that is a portable throne, this covered chair. He made it's pillars of silver. It's support of gold, it's seat of purple, it's interior paved with love by the Daughters of Jerusalem. Go forth, O daughters of Zion, and see King Solomon with his crown, with which his mother crowned him on the day of his wedding, the day of gladness of his heart."
So here are the thoughts of this young woman as this wedding procession comes to her house in splendor and regal, royalty to take and usher her off to the wedding ceremony and then his palace at Jerusalem. And she knows what she is getting into. She knows he is the King. She knows he governs the country. She knows he has servants and attendants and that a lot of his time will be occupied by affairs of state and royal decision-making and she knows that she is going to have to share him with the nation.
So she is not going to have all of the time exclusively with her husband that she might like. She knows that, but she is still willing to surrender herself in this relationship. I was reading a little interview with Ruth Graham when she was alive. She was talking about her marriage to Billy Graham. It was an old interview and they asked her because Billy Graham at some points of their married life was gone from the house seven months out of a year. He would be gone seven months doing crusades in the other side of the world and then he would return. Seventh months sometimes he would be gone out of a year. And so the interviewer said, "What was that like to be married to Billy Graham?"
She said, "Sometimes frankly it was lonely, it was very difficult." She said, "Sometimes it was so lonely that I took one of his suit coats or sport coats and laid it in bed next to me, just so I would have the familiarity and the scent of his closeness." But then she said this, "Though it has been difficult, I would rather have Billy Graham 50% of the time than any other man 100% of the time." That's how much she loved him. And that love endured and I watched that love over the years, even at Ruth's funeral, where Doctor Graham stood up and faced us all. And he said this, "I wish you could look into this casket and see how beautiful she still is." How he loved her and how she loved him and she knew the sacrifice she was getting into, as does the Shulamite in marrying Solomon.
Now we have in Chapter 4, after the wedding ceremony is the consummation of their relationship. It's a very apt and through Chapter 4 and later on and in their marriage in chapter 7, a very detailed description of the marriage bed, physical love. "Behold, you are fair my love; behold, you are fair; you have doves' eyes behind your veil; your hair is like a flock of goats." Okay, I can see he is not scoring points with people here tonight. She had dark hair, most of the goats have black hair in that part of the world and that's how they make the tents out of that dark goats here.
So she had jet black hair, like a flock of goats, "Going down from Mount Gilead", in other words long, flowing, thick, beautiful, dark hair. "Your teeth are like the flock of shorn sheep which have come up from the washing; everyone which bears twins and none is bearing among them", in other words, you have a clean white straight smile. No missing teeth. "Your lips are like strand of scarlet, your mouth is lovely, your temple behind your veil are like a piece of pomegranate." I would paraphrase by saying, she was beautiful high cheek bones and rosy cheeks. "Your neck is like the tower of David", it doesn't means she was a giraffe, it was statuesque, it was the idea. "Built for an armory: on which hang a thousand bucklers, all shield of mighty men."
Now notice he is beginning by in the marriage bed complimenting her looks, her hair, her teeth, other parts of her body. He is, this guy is good with words. He is like a sweet talker. This is the Song of Songs. It's very descriptive and she is feeling more at ease as this evening goes on. "Your two breasts", Verse 5, "are like two fawns, twins of gazelles which feed among the lilies. Until the day breaks and the shadows flew away, I will go my way to the mountain of myrrh, to the hill of frankincense. You are fair, all fair my love and there is no spot in you."
Notice how gentle, what gentle words he uses to speak to. He is not rough, he is gentle and somebody put it this way, "When it comes to the physical relationship, women are like crock pots, men are like microwave ovens." They are instant, they are on the uptake now. You begin with a girl early in the day, in the morning. You complement her you tell her how special she is. I am going to work, I am going to miss while I am gone, speaking gently to her.
Now again, if you think God is a stuffy prude and he sees sex as something purely functional, you don't know him. This book would dispel that, C.S. Lewis writes, "Pleasure is God's invention, not the devil and back in Genesis he says, God made the male and female, they were naked and they were not ashamed and a husband and wife should be the same kind of way." You shouldn't ever be ashamed to be each other.
Now I have got to tell you, I have got to be honest with you here. My honeymoon was tough for me. It was tough for me because my wife Lenya had a grandpa, who has now past away, but he had connections and we were always looking for a deal, we were young. Her wedding ring cost me 200 bucks and that was, I scraped a lot up just to be able to do that.
So we didn't have anything at the beginning and we were looking for deals and her grandpa said, "I have got a deal. There is hotel in Ventura. I can get you guys the honeymoon suite. And it won't cost anything." I said, "Thank you Lord."
So we drive up to this hotel and go into the honeymoon suite. I didn't know what that meant. I walked into this place, there was valor wallpaper, pink and red and gold little cherubs everywhere. There was a little cherub, little like naked angel statue on all the lamps and there was a mirror on the ceiling. I thought okay, whoever designed this room should be shot. This is so gross. I am not going to tell you anything more. Verse 12, I was ashamed for that designer.
"A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Simply saying here is a girl who saved herself for that marriage. She stayed pure all of her life. She kept herself closed and guarded until she could give herself away and that's God's will. God's will is simply stated in a relationship as abstinence until marriage, fidelity in marriage and enjoyment of marriage and all of those are aptly put in this book.
Now look at the second part of Chapter 5:1, the second part, "Eat, O friends! Drink, yes, drink deeply, O beloved ones!" Most scholars believe this is God speaking to the couple, not the daughters of Jerusalem, no third party, not Solomon, not the Shulamite, here is God's wish for the couple. "Eat, O friends! Drink, yes, drink deeply, O beloved ones!" In other words, enjoy each other. You're doing this the right way. I am blessing this relationship, it's holy to me.
I discovered there is two researchers from Family Life seminars who conclude that Christians generally experience a higher degree of sexual enjoyment than non-Christians. Here is the statistics from 'Redbook Magazine' published on sexual pleasure survey showing the preferences of a 100,000 different women "Sexual satisfaction is related significantly to religious belief, with notable consistency the greater the intensity of a woman's religious convictions, the likelier she is to be highly satisfied with the sexual pleasures of marriage." I think God said that somewhere too. Like Hebrews, chapter 13, which reads, "Marriage is honorable among all and the bed undefiled."
Now the last part of this book is the marriage, the marriage matures. So Chapter 5:2, all the way to the end of Chapter 8, and we will briefly cover that. The honeymoon is clearly over at this point. In fact, there seems to be something that divided this couple, could have been an argument, some spat that put them at odds with each other. As you go down through Chapter 5, he is not in the bedchamber with his wife, in fact, she has locked him out, verse 6. After he turns away, "I opened for my beloved," that's after he tried to get in and was not admitted, "But my beloved had turned away, and was gone. I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer."
Verse 8, "I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you tell him, I am love sick." Now what I want you to notice without going through these whole chapters. There are two chapters, Chapter 5 and 6, that's all about this conflict resolution. So you've got eight chapters and two chapters are about conflict resolution. Again, I am going to frame it this way. 25% of this book is about conflict resolution. I am saying that to you because this is normal in a relationship.
A young couple sometimes come in after they may go, "I can't believe it. We're like fighting." I go, "Yeah. So who won?" No, I don't say that. Who doesn't? "Well, maybe we are incompatible." Here's the truth. Every human being is incompatible with every other human being on earth, eventually. All you have got to do is be together long enough. So there is conflict that's normal, the key is resolving it well, having a good fight because you can have a bad fight and too many couples fight badly and it erodes the relationship and erodes trust and they don't come to a resolution of the conflict and that's bad. Here they obviously do come to a resolution, Chapter 6:12, indicates reconciliation.
I know it's, sort of, an obscure verse, in fact, most scholars believe it's the most obscure verse in the text. I am going to try to unravel it for you. It says, "Before I was even aware, my soul had made me as the chariots of my noble people." Let me read it to you in the New International Version, "Before I realized it, my desire set me among the royal chariots of my people." As if to say, Solomon place me in his royal chariot in front of all of the people, that's an indication that the relationship once severed has been reconciled. They are close again, they're together again. There is that public statement that they had reconciled.
Chapter 7 and 8, the relationship matures, they are romantic once again, but it's a mature romance, it's a committed romance, it's romance based upon commitment, not upon hormones, not on pheromones but on commitment. This is well at least one year after their marriage and their honeymoon. And they're keeping the fires burning between them, the romantic fires.
In Chapter 7, we won't read it, similar to what we read in verse 4, the language is very, very vivid, like on his wedding night as he extols and praises her physical beauty, etcetera. Chapter 8:6, she speaks out, "Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave. It's flames are flames of fire, of most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised."
What she is saying is, I want my husband to treasure me above everything else. I want him to set his seal upon me and make me the most valuable part of his life. That's her heart's desire. Verse 10, "I am a wall, and my breasts like towers; then I became in his eyes as one who found peace." In other words, I have been a wall, I have kept myself pure and I have given myself only to him and he knows that. "Solomon had a vineyard at Baal Hamon; he leased the vineyard to keepers. Everyone was to bring for its fruit a thousand silver coins. My own vineyard is before me. You, O Solomon, may have a thousand, and those who tend its fruit two hundred."
It's a very poetic way of saying, Solomon is wealthy. He can buy anything he wants, I, on the other hand, his bride, I am a Shulamite, I am a farm worker, I am poor, I don't have anything. I only have myself and that's what I will give him completely and utterly and totally and freely. I give myself to my husband. I have saved myself for my husband and she gives him everything.
I will never forget what I read some years back. It so impressed me that I thought -- just a good reminder. Listen to it, getting married is easy, staying married is more difficult, staying happily married for a lifetime is to be considered among the fine arts. Anybody can get married, you just plan a marriage and you invite people and they will come and they will hug you and congratulate you and sing and dance, that's easy. Staying married is harder. Staying happily married for a lifetime, oh you do that, you're like a Picasso, you're like a Michaelangelo, it's among the fine arts.
How do you do that? It takes effort, it takes work. It's consistency of giving of oneself and humbling oneself and loving the other. Verse 14, "Make haste, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices." When they're apart they miss each other, here is a marriage built on friendship, intimacy, consistency, commitment, and as that's tough that keeps their love ablaze.
So, they're attracted to each other, they date, they're spoused, they get married, they consummate the relationship, there is a burning passionate physical love, that even afterwards, even after a spat is resolved, keeping that relationship ablaze. Someone once said, if you want to have an energized sex life in marriage, try a little tenderness the other twenty-three-and-a-half hours of the day. Solomon, and the Song of Solomon gives you some good pointers on how to do exactly that.
Now, when that's the case, when the relationship is solid and good and vulnerable and honest like this. Then when a couple is away from each other, that separation is painful, they want to be reunited, make haste, she says, hurry up. We're in love with Jesus Christ, I am going to take a little bit of liberty here, because again though, I don't believe in the allegorization of this text that it means specifically our relationship with God, since the Bible plainly says, marriage reflects relationship that God has with His people.
We who are in love with Christ, we want intimacy with Him. We want a close relationship with Him and one of our hearts cry is similar to verse 14, we want Him to come back, even so John said at the end of the Book of Revelation, come quickly Lord Jesus, or she says of Solomon, "Make haste my beloved." We're the bride of Christ, can't wait for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and that eternal union in heaven.
So, I don't think it's by mistake or it's incidental that this book is read every passover in Jewish homes and in Jewish synagogues around the world. Speak of the love of a husband and wife which Paul says, should be a way to demonstrate to the world the kind of love that God has for His people.
I do believe that when a relationship is healthy between a man and a wife, he has an advantage over a single person – a single can witness and even by love and servanthood, demonstrate love but a married couple has a unique opportunity to display God's love for His people in the marriage. As if to say, hey unbeliever, I would like to show you how much God loves us, all you've got to do is look at my marriage. If you notice the way my wife and I interact with each other, that's how God and His people interact with each other. That's the advantage that Paul says, we ought to have as a married couple.
Now I am going to close with a little thing I am going to read by H. A. Ironside, Dr. Harry Ironside, who is now in heaven, ministered several years ago, some of you have read some of his books. King Solomon had a vineyard in the hill country of Ephraim, 50 miles North of Jerusalem. He let it out to keepers, consisting of a mother, two sons, and a daughter, the Shulamite. The daughter was the ‘Cinderella' of the family, naturally beautiful, but unnoticed. Her brothers were likely half brothers. They made her work very hard tending the vineyards, so that she had little opportunity to care for her personal appearance.
She pruned the vines and set traps for the little foxes. She also kept the flocks. Being out in the open so much, she had a deep tan. One day a handsome stranger came to the vineyard. It was Solomon disguised. He showed an interest in her, and she became embarrassed concerning her personal appearance. She took him for a shepherd and asked about his flocks. He answered evasively, but also spoke loving words to her and promised rich gifts for the future
. He won her heart and left with the promise that some day he would return.
She dreamed of him at night and sometimes thought he was near. Finally, he did return in all of his kingly splendor to make her his bride. This says Ironside, prefigures Christ, who came first as shepherd and then won his bride. Later he will return as king, and then he will be consummated in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Let's pray together.
Heavenly Father as we have celebrated Your love, Your banner over us, the cross which is our symbol of Your love for us. Then after that in considering this beautiful, tender love story between a young couple, their tender love sprouting, blossoming, being pruned but then blossoming even more abundantly a year later after the conflict was resolved. We can't help but at least, think of our relationship with You, how do You love us, like a bridegroom cherishes his bride, so much so that we are called the Bride of Christ. We long for the bridegroom to return.
Everyday when we read the paper or watch the news, our sentiment is basically the same, even so, come quickly Lord Jesus. We know that day could be very soon, we can't wait to see You because You have won our hearts. In Jesus name, Amen.