If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Numbers 6, Psalms 40–41, Song of Songs 4, Hebrews 4. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Song of Songs 4.
They say confession is good for the soul so I will confess that, of all the books of the Bible, I’ve spent the least amount of time, I think, in the Song of Songs.* Not that I find the content uninteresting, but there is little to nothing in this book revealed about God or that is theologically important. You can be a strong believer without ever reading Song of Songs, so this book tends to be a lower priority for Bible study.
Still, God saw fit to inspire this book and include it in the canon of Scripture, so it is not without importance. But what does this book contribute to our walk with God? Here are a few thoughts.
First, this book debunks the notion that marriage is a contractual arrangement that, until recently, was romance-optional. Some Christian writers and some secular thinkers have postulated that marriage came into being for bearing and raising children and for forming family alliances that increased an extended family’s prosperity. Two fathers would collaborate to arrange a marriage for their children, whether they cared for each other or not. Once married, a couple would want children, so whatever else their relationship meant was secondary to bearing the children and creating the family. A family would grow to become a clan and that clan would grow to include tribes and eventually a nation would be formed—all through marriage and child bearing. There is no doubt that bearing and raising children was one of God’s key reasons for creating the family. But remember that God’s reason for creating Eve was because “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen 3:18) and, after he created her and gave her to Adam, Moses said, “ That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” The phrase “that is why” refers to the whole account of Eve’s creation and Adam’s union with her, but that all started with the problem of man being alone. In other words, it is the drive for companionship—the special kind of companionship that the intimacy of marriage can create—that compelled God to create marriage. Song of Songs reminds us that romance and desire are not modern, Western drivers for marriage; they are God-given drives that he created marriage to satisfy.
Second, Song of Songs teaches us that romantic passion doesn’t have to fade or die. Neither you or your spouse looks like you did when you met or when you married, but those characteristics that attracted you aren’t gone completely. Men, read the description Solomon wrote in verses 1-7 of today’s chapter. None of us has the literary prowess of Solomon, but how would you feel if you spent as much time thinking positively about your wife’s body as Solomon did? Instead of focusing on her “flaws” or comparing her to what she was or, God forbid, to other women, what if you looked her over from head to toe with admiration like Solomon did? What if you told her, as passionately as you could, how pretty you find her eyes or how much you enjoy looking at her curves? Maybe she would respond as positively as the woman in today’s passage did to Solomon’s words (see verse 16 which commentators interpret as an invitation to have sex).
Third, Song of Songs teaches us that love and desire are not incompatible with faith in God or outside the realm of our relationship with God. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be desired nor is there any problem with having lustful thoughts. The problem is when we want to be desired by someone instead of or in addition to our spouse; our lustful thoughts are sinful when they are directed toward another person or when they drive us to sinful behaviors instead of toward the one to whom we promised our love and passion. God wants you to have a private, passionate relationship with someone of the opposite sex. He made you to crave that attention and to direct that attention and he wants you to enjoy this as an aspect of your life. When a spouse’s heart goes wandering there may be many reasons but one of them is that we want passion to be fresh and easy like it was when we first got married. But your marriage can have all the fire and satisfaction—and none of the guilt—if you see your desires as gifts of God to be enjoyed within God’s will—your marriage. It takes effort, at times, not because we’re incapable of loving and desiring our spouse but because we focus on the flaws instead of the strengths or we idealize another person we don’t really know instead of prizing the blessing of someone who knows us intimately and wants us anyway. Or desire may have faded because we’re looking at our marriage through a thick residue of resentment or through tears of disappointment. If we learn to obsess on what is attractive rather than a host of unmet, unstated and possibly unrealistic expectations, we can find the old passion again. Fan it into a flame and enjoy the love God wants you to have in the one he brought into your life.
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.
*If you grew up reading the King James Bible, as I did, you probably refer to this book as Song of Solomon. I’m pretty sure my kids learned it as Song of Solomon, too, when they were memorizing the books of the Bible. And, honestly, I just noticed yesterday that it is Song of Songs in the NIV, not Song of Solomon. Why did the NIV change from the KJV’s Song of Solomon? To better reflect the Hebrew title for the book which is Solomon’s Song of Songs or, a better English translation: Solomon’s Most Excellent Song. But, that’s too lengthy a title, by Western standards, anyway, for a book of the Bible. Here’s an article from the NIV Study Bible that gives some good background information about the book.