The Lord’s Love Song

April 19, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Posted in Biblical Marriage, Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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Thank you, Lord, for loving us. For teaching us that love is more than just a feeling or an emotion. It’s an action – an opportunity to obey You and to show what we believe by how we treat each other. In Christ’s name. Amen.

The Holy Spirit used the human instrument, King Solomon, to write the book of the Bible we know as Song of Solomon. There is much debate, disagreement, and doubt about its true meaning. Some feel that it is a poem which is a metaphor for God’s love for Israel and/or Christ’s love for His church. Others believe that it is a song written by Solomon to a Shulamite woman. Perhaps it is simply an ode to the love between a husband and a wife. I will confess that I happen to think that it is all three of those and much more.

Certainly, much of its language is symbolic, but some of it is surprisingly straightforward. One funny incident that comes to mind concerning the Song of Solomon happened early in my marriage when my wife and I were students in a Sunday School class of young married couples. We were using one of our church’s classrooms for a fellowship activity on a Friday evening. Our teacher planned a game similar to Pictionary, with the husbands on one team and the wives on the other. The ladies would choose a Bible verse and give it to one of the husbands, who would have to “draw the verse” on the chalkboard without using words or numbers, while the other men had to guess the Scripture reference. At one point, the ladies chose Song of Solomon 8:8. Maybe you can imagine the hilarity that ensued as one highly embarrassed husband had to draw this verse in front of the whole group!

The romantic language of pastoral Hebrew culture in King Solomon’s day can seem humorous to us. When is the last time you compared your spouse’s teeth to sheep?

Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them.

Song of Solomon 4:2

When you read Song of Solomon, it is important to remember that there are different voices or different characters speaking different parts, often within the same passages. Let’s briefly examine three main ideas from the book.

1. The importance of expressing love verbally

It is a good thing to tell your spouse, “I love you.” When I was first married, I was told by several older gentlemen that the most important phrase I would need to use in order to have a long and happy marriage was, “Yes, dear,” but I have found, “I love you,” to be more edifying, assuring, and helpful. However, even the phrase, “I love you,” tends to show a limited imagination after a while. Song of Solomon reminds us to be creative and imaginative in our verbal expression of love for our spouses.

Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes.

Song of Solomon 1:15

Compliments need to be true expressions of love, not flattery. It’s one thing to say that my wife has “beautiful” eyes (she does!), but doves’ eyes are more than attractive – they promote a feeling of peace. Tell your spouse you like the way he or she looks, but also tell him or her that you appreciate the work he or she does for the Lord.

Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green.

Song of Solomon 1:16

This might be referring to the place where the couple first met. It is important to “make memories” with your spouse, and then later to spend time reminiscing about those experiences.

Love is demonstrated more by action than words, but the Bible teaches us that it definitely needs to be expressed verbally as well. You’ve probably heard the old saw about the man who boasted concerning his wife, “I told her I loved her 25 year ago. If I change my mind I’ll let her know!” That won’t cut it if we’re trying to accurately represent the love of Christ. If you love the Lord in your heart, He certainly knows it. But He also wants us to verbalize it.

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Romans 10:9-10 (emphasis added)

2. Physical love (sexual intimacy) is for the marriage relationship exclusively.

I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.

Song of Solomon 2:7

That verse sounds to me like a kind and loving wife’s admonition to her friends to “keep it down!” To let her hubby “sleep in.” But the majority of Bible commentators believe that the “daughters of Jerusalem” are the young women who are not yet married. The bride in the Song is telling them to wait until marriage to become sexually active. That certainly lines up with the rest of Scripture. God’s plan for physical intimacy is that it be limited to the marriage bed. God ordained from the beginning that a husband and wife would be “one flesh” – that they would be joined together by God in a marriage relationship first – and then physical intimacy would come afterward. Fornication and adultery are condemned throughout Scripture. Take some time and pray for the children and the young unmarried people that you know – that they would remain sexually pure. Sometimes we are mighty prayer warriors when it comes to their salvation, but we are guilty of a sneaking suspicion that there is no way that they will actually be able to wait until marriage in a world where virtually “everyone does it.”

Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee. My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies. I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.

Song of Solomon 6:1-3

These women of the chorus wanted to go down with the bride to spend time with her husband, but she said, “No, he is mine, and I am his.” The marriage relationship is an exclusive relationship. It is a gift from God, and it is to be guarded. If you are reading this and you are married, respect it. If you are reading this and you are not in a marriage, respect everyone else’s!

Lack of trust is generally a negative thing among spouses, but “jealousy” is not always bad. Remember, in the prophets (such as Hosea, Isaiah, and Ezekiel), those who belonged to God, and then “cheated” on Him, were called adulterers, harlots, and whores.

3. The endurance of love

Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7

A “seal” in the Bible represents something that’s permanent.

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:30

Monarchs in antiquity wore “signet rings” which were supposed to make an indelible impression. I hope you see your wedding ring as symbol of permanent love and faithfulness. Aren’t you glad that God’s love isn’t as fickle as ours? God says when you commit to love someone – your wife, your husband, your friend, even your neighbor – make up your mind to show that love even when the person isn’t acting lovely, and even when you don’t feel like showing love. “Contemned” in Song of Solomon 8:7 means “held in contempt.” When you place things in a relative perspective, I hope you are placing the highest value on the people you love rather than “things.” All the wealth in the world would be despised if it was offered in exchange for your salvation. A truly saved person wouldn’t break off his relationship with God, through Christ, for any amount of money in the world, even if such a thing were possible.

Thank You, Lord, for those in our lives that we love – and those that love us. Thank You that you are a God of love – that You are love personified. Help our love to leave the stage of feeling and emotion, but to become active. Help us to be people that show love – and make us conscious of opportunities to show love to others. In the Name of the Lord Jesus. Amen.

Be Kind to Your Spouse

April 2, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 8 Comments
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And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

I Corinthians 13:3-4 (emphasis added)

Christian spouses must “be kind” to each other.

Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards.

Song of Solomon 4:8 (emphasis added)

We must “come down” from the “high places:” the things in our lives that seem so important that they are overshadowing the importance of giving time and attention to our spouses. These include not only the material hobbies and pleasures and pursuits of this world, but even the “good things” we do: our devotion time; our prayer time; our church time; our ministry time. I am not saying that we shouldn’t be doing these things. We should. But there must be times when we pause, and say to our spouses, “‘Come down’ and spend time with me.”

There is also a warning that our “high places” are not only keeping us from spending time and attention on our spouse, but they can also be dangerous places.

Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards.

Song of Solomon 4:8 (emphasis added)

The mountains of Lebanon looked like mighty strongholds – but they were really the mountains of leopards and of lions’ dens. Satan, like a roaring lion, is out to devour your marriage and your family. I should want my wife to feel safer – physically and emotionally – with me, than with any worldly fortification.

Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck.

Song of Solomon 4:9

Does your spouse – with just one of his or her eyes – just a glance in your direction – ravish your heart? True Christian love is kind, and kindness says that you should respond as though it does.

How little we understand of agape love! The word “ravished” means to capture someone’s heart – to make him or her come alive with desire – literally to cause the heartbeat to speed up. Was there ever a time when just a glance from your spouse made you so excited that you felt giddy – when your heartbeat sped up? Sadly, for many, that time has departed, but “kindness” reminds us that we must show excitement toward our spouse – not because he or she “deserves” it, but because of grace.

In Song of Solomon the husband goes to visit his bride, and she says,

I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night. I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?

Song of Solomon 5:2-3

How often does your spouse want to spend time with you? How often does he or she knock on your door, and find you too “tired” (or too lazy)? Too often our response is, “I’ve done enough for you today. I’m having ‘me’ time now.”

I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.

Song of Solomon 5:6

If I am not exercising kindness, and my spouse is making me plead with her just to spend time with me, my flesh wants to say, “Just forget it – if you want to spend time apart from me, go ahead. From now on, you come to me – I don’t come to you.” And I forget that the sovereign God could say the same thing about me. But instead He shows kindness.

The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love. What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? what is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us?

Song of Solomon 5:7-9

Are we so careless with our spouse’s love that others will think, “What’s so special about a ‘Christian’ marriage? You don’t even get excited about spending time with your spouse. Why should we want that?”

Kindness is evidence that you are anxious for your spouse to notice you – that you desperately want to be in your spouse’s presence.

A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.

Song of Solomon 4:12

Christian marriage must be “a garden inclosed.” It must be a place where – out of kindness to your spouse – you have shut the door to many things – even things that aren’t necessarily bad, but that just aren’t indicative of kindness.

Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.

Song of Solomon 4:16

As a faithful spouse, one of your greatest desires should be that your disposition is so kind that your mate would come to you and find you pleasing. Christian marriages are to be a picture of Christ and the Church, but not everything should necessarily be seen by the outside world. When you are awaiting your spouse, your attitude should be that of a prepared place waiting with expectancy to be filled at any moment with the presence of your spouse.

For kindness to be present, though, Christ must be the center of your marriage. He must be invited into the midst of our marital homes. If you invoked His Name at your wedding, do not think that He will now sit meekly on the sidelines of marriage like a genie in a bottle waiting to be summoned out to patch up our lack of love. Once you have invited Him, there are repercussions to ignoring Him.

Careless Love – Part 3

April 21, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Posted in Bible Studies | 3 Comments
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The heart of Christ races when we show our love for Him – not because we deserve it – but because of His grace.

But look what happens. The king goes to knock on the door, to visit the bride, and she says:

I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night. I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?

Song of Solomon 5:2-3

How often does the Lord want to spend time with me? How often does He knock on my door and and find me too “tired” (really, too lazy)? I think, “I’ve done enough for You today, Lord – I’m having ‘me’ time now.”

I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.

Song of Solomon 5:6

If I were this king, and my bride was making me call her down – making me plead with her just to spend time with me – I would say, “Just forget it! I’m the king – I’m the master of the universe. If you want to run around and play your games – apart from me – go ahead… You come to me – I don’t come to you. I’ll find another one – I’ve got every woman in Jerusalem who would love to marry me.”

The sovereign God could be justified in saying that about us: “You think you’re special? You want me to woo you? Try to win you? I made you! There’s a million more just like you – I’ll just say “next” – and you’ll be finished.”

The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love. What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? what is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us?

Song of Solomon 5:7-9

Are we so careless with God’s love that others will think, “What’s so special about your God? You don’t even spend time with Him. Why should we want to? You claim there’s something special about being His disciple or His bride, but you wouldn’t even get out of bed to come to the door when He knocked!”

There should be some evidence of time spent alone with the Lord – some evidence that you are anxious for Him to notice you, that you desperately want to be in His presence.

A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.

Song of Solomon 4:12

We must be a bride who has shut the door to many things. Even things that aren’t necessarily “bad” to us, when evaluated, are things that won’t attract our King.

Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.

Song of Solomon 4:16

The greatest wish of this young bride-to-be was that the wind would blow upon the garden she had planted, and that her fiancé would come and find it pleasing. Our garden should be enclosed – not necessarily seen by the outside world. But it should be a place ready to be filled at any moment by the presence of God. It makes me sad to hear people sing: “More love, more power, more of You in my life,” to claim they want to be “filled” with His Spirit, but they are so full already of other things that there’s no room for Him. Remember how “empty” of worldly belongings and passions and attitudes Jesus was on the Cross? Do you have a garden prepared for your King? Does it still seem empty without Him in it?

We have to be careful with our words. When this heresy begins circulating that our relationship with God is completely broken when we, as true Christians, sin, it can be very discouraging. We do the work of the devil when we call conviction “condemnation” and drive people further away from the Lord. He’s saying, “You’re wrong – I love you – come back to Me.” That’s conviction, not condemnation. He will even protect us as we wander, and try to call us back.

Careless Love – Part 2 (Divine Rapid Heart Rate)

April 14, 2010 at 10:22 am | Posted in Bible Studies | 7 Comments
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It might be hard to believe, but Christ Himself, the all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect, and righteous King over all creation, is smitten with love for an often-rebellious, -scornful, and –lukewarm bride.

Song of Solomon is the book of the Bible which beautifully and poetically sings the praises, not only of the love between a husband and wife, but also of the love of Christ for His bride, the Church.

Song of Solomon 4:9 says, “Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck.”

How little we understand of Christ’s love! The word “ravish” means “to capture someone’s heart” – to make them come alive with desire – literally, “to cause the heartbeat to speed up.”

All day long Christians are going here, going there, trying to do this, to do that, to make money, to fulfill worldly obligations, to pursue entertainment, to try to keep track of the scores of things we think we have to do. Therefore, we sometimes let hours at a time go by without giving a single thought to our loving Lord.

Then, perhaps, in a moment of realization, we just cast an eye upward in prayer – maybe only for a quick, almost-heartless, almost-unfeeling prayer… and what happens?

Christ’s heart races! If we applied our finite understanding of “fairness,” we would have to say that His heart should not race – He should be angry and cold toward us for ignoring Him – but it does race. Such is the limitless, unsearchable love of God! His love is not a deserved love. It is the undeserved love of grace.

Careless Love – Part 1

April 7, 2010 at 8:52 am | Posted in Bible Studies | 6 Comments
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But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

Philippians 4:10

God providentially placed a desire in the heart of the believers in the church of Philippi to meet the needs of the Apostle Paul. Paul is telling them, “You have always loved me. You have been ‘careful’ (full of care) for me. It’s just that, until now, you cared, but you lacked the opportunity.” This reminds me of how, many times, in our love for God, we are not full of care.

We say we don’t have the opportunity, but is the problem really that we don’t have the concern? “Careful” is the Bible word for “worried.” What is causing you to worry right now? That you don’t have enough time to do the things in your schedule? Or that you are not taking time to get alone with the Lord? I am afraid that, as 21st Century believers, we are careless with God’s love.

That may be because we don’t fully realize how much He loves us. Song of Solomon is thought by some to be only a book about the relationship or the love between a man and a woman, a husband and a wife. But God created this love, and all His creations contain lessons about Him. All His creations contain lessons about His relationship to His people, about the relationship between Christ and His Church.

Song of Solomon is a book of poetry in which different voices speak in the first person. This is the king speaking to his bride, and it is also our King’s message of love to us:

Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards.

Song of Solomon 4:8

First of all, it’s a call to come down from the high places – from the monuments and edifices we’ve built in our lives to draw us away from time with God. These include not only the material hobbies and pleasures and pursuits of this world, but even the “good” things we do, such as our devotion time, our church time, our ministry time. It is as if God is saying, “’Come down’ and spend time with Me.”

When is the last time you completely shut out all distractions and went somewhere no one could see you – and where you truly determined to seek God’s presence?

“Come down from your high places.” This will be necessary for me to have the power of God abide on my life – to teach, to witness, to love, to pray, with the power of the Holy Spirit. I can say all the right things, go to all the right places, but without the power of God abiding upon me personally, I will live a defeated life.

I can’t explain why God would love me – the way a lovesick king longs for time alone with his bride – but His Word says He does.

Second, Song of Solomon 4:8 is a warning that our “high places” are not only keeping us from spending time alone with God, but also that they are dangerous places.

Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards.

Song of Solomon 4:8

These mountains of Lebanon looked like mighty strongholds, but they were really the mountains of leopards. There were lions’ dens. How dangerous it is to get too far from God’s Word and God’s will!

Lions are out to devour. Our enemy, the devil, is not afraid of the sheep. He is only afraid of the Shepherd.

Furthermore, God wants us to stay near him. If we are truly His children, He will rescue us if we cry out, but what scars will we bear from being attacked? “Stay near Me,” God says. “Come away from Lebanon, the high mountains where the lions’ dens are.”

Once, I was at a skating rink where we were having a children’s church activity, and one of the children went missing. Her mother was terrified. Several of us began searching, and I happened to find the little girl, upstairs, in a dark room where parents could watch television. She was reluctant to come with me, so I wanted to pick her up because the quicker I could show her frantic mother she was safe, the better. However, she kicked and screamed and howled for me to put her down all the way down the stairs. How often God wants to hold us in His arms, but we don’t want to be carried – we want to get down and play. Lord, help us to trust in You and Your loving arms which carry us away from danger even when we think we’re having fun.


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