Monthly Archives: May 2014

Song of Solomon 7: Commitment and Desire

Song of Solomon 7 is full of a lot of compliments going in both directions between Solomon and his wife. However, in the middle of it, we hit an interesting verse about commitment.

Son 7:10  I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me.

This is the wife talking, and notice that there are two steps there. First, she indicates the possession. This works in the other direction as well obviously. This is the commitment part. The two of them belong to each other. I guess it kind of goes without saying, but it is important to recognize this. When people get married, there ought to be the sense of commitment to each other. It isn’t something that’s taken lightly.

Then, we move on to the second part of the verse. Solomon’s desire is towards the woman. Again, this could just as easily have been in the other direction. The first part of the verse is a little bit more average. There’s nothing particularly exciting about the first part. It is just that two people are committed to each other because they have made that commitment.

The second part emphasizes the fact that there needs to be more there. Desire is something more than possession. It is something that you truly want. You can possess things that you don’t particularly want or care about. Desire is a more emotionally charged word. It is something that you would only say if you truly cared about the person.

Both of these parts are incredibly important, and I think that a successful marriage requires both of them. Both the husband and the wife need to understand that there is a serious commitment that is practical in nature. However, there is another level to it. It is more than just an agreement or contract. I don’t know how many people realize that.

Song of Solomon 6: Protecting Honor

Song of Solomon 6 contains more bizarre metaphors, but this one is interesting because we get to see some interaction from other people. This has not been an easy road for the unnamed woman in this passage, and if you remember from chapter 1, she really does not believe that she is attractive. Now, you have the people asking to see her, and you have a kind of curious response from Solomon.

Son 6:13  Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee. What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies.

The people want to see her, and Solomon asks what they’re going to when they see her. Then he basically says a battlefield. When two armies are near each other, there is presumably going to be a battle. One possible explanation for this is that she was just beat up by the watchmen. We just talked about that yesterday, and it actually makes sense in this context.

In verse one of this chapter, the other people also call out for the woman, but they are asking where her husband is. Now, they are specifically asking for her, but no one has seen her since her accident. It seems that Solomon is almost challenging the people here.

Do they simply want to see her to see the damage that was done? Are they acting kind of like the paparazzi of ancient Israel?

If you proceed into the next chapter, this episode seems to be over, so we never get to hear what the people said in response. However, I think that it shows the protection that can take place and should take place in relationships.

Solomon did not want his wife becoming known as the woman who got beat up. He didn’t want to fuel the rumors, so he called the people out. He wanted to protect the honor of his wife.

I think this is important for all couples. You need to want what is best for the other person.

Song of Solomon 5: Handling Adversity

Song of Solomon 5 finds our lady wondering where her husband is again. Interestingly, the results are a little bit different than they were last time.

Son 5:5  I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.

Son 5:6  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.

Son 5:7  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.

In chapter three, the watchmen were willing to help out, but this time, they seem to be very upset with her. It does not specify why the results are different, but the commentary by John Gill suggests that perhaps the men took her to be a prostitute. Perhaps all of the perfume and obvious preparation she had gone through for her husband made the men suspicious of her true motives.

Regardless of whether they thought that or not, they still beat her up for no apparent reason. It seems like she was just looking for her husband and was not creating any type of raucous. I think that we all have been in a situation like this before. We have one type of intention, but other people misinterpret what we’re really trying to do, and we get hurt because of it.

What do you do with that?

Mat 5:38  Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

Mat 5:39  But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Mat 5:40  And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.

Basically, we need to keep reins on our retaliation. This does not mean that we don’t look for justice. Throughout the Bible, there are many judges who helped handle disputes like this in a fair manner, but here we are counseled not to retaliate.

Of course, the woman in our story probably was not in much of a position to retaliate anyway given that there were multiple watchmen and just one of her. However, the principle remains the same. We can certainly seek justice, but we are not supposed to seek retaliation. It is a fine line.

Song of Solomon 4: Human Opinion

Aside from some rather bizarre metaphors and similes to describe his wife, Song of Solomon 4 reinforces what we discussed in chapter 1. If you recall, the woman was afraid that she was not beautiful. She was worried that she spent too much time working in the fields and not enough time taking care of herself.

All of his praise is summarized in one verse.

Son 4:7  Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.

He basically loves all of her. This is important to set up that contrast. Even though she would say that she had “faults,” that doesn’t seem to bother him whatsoever. He doesn’t see her in the way that she sees herself.

I think this is an interesting picture. When you love someone, they become beautiful to you. This can be physical as described in this verse, but it can also be emotional. The point is that other people might have a different perception of how you view yourself. This could be either positive or negative. In this case, he has a higher view of her than she has of herself, but he could possibly think less of her than she thinks of herself (not in this context, but it is in the realm of possibility).

Maybe this is trying to show us that we all have different opinions. Some things might bother me, but they might not bother you. You might think some things are beautiful, and I might think that other things are beautiful. Human opinions are just that, and since there are so many of them, maybe it is not the best way for us to evaluate our own value. Why don’t we think about how God thinks about us, and that might help us avoid the roller coaster ride that comes from relying on the judgment of other people or ourselves?

Joh 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

There is so much we could unpack from this. Clearly, since we are part of the world, God loves us. He loves us so much that He was willing to send His only Son to die for us. Should we get too wrapped up in what other people might think about this or that? I honestly don’t think that we should. Our value comes from God who loves us beyond human comprehension. I know that we care what other people think about us, and in the case of this woman, it must have been great to receive all of these compliments. However, sometimes the remarks go in the other direction, so we don’t want to base everything on human opinion. Let’s care about the divine opinion.

Song of Solomon 3: Commitment

Song of Solomon 3 begins with kind of a sad picture. The woman wakes up at night and realizes that Solomon is not beside her. She got very upset about this and decided that she had to go on a mission to find him.

Son 3:1  By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.

Son 3:2  I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.

Son 3:3  The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?

Son 3:4  It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.

I think this is clearly a picture of commitment. The woman was not willing to rest until she knew where Solomon was. You could argue that this is slightly obsessive, but I assume that this was entirely unexpected. It was not like she didn’t trust him or anything, but she truly did not know where he was and was obviously very concerned.

It is also evident that this was not some kind of simple task. She talks about going out into the streets and all around the city. She is speaking with the night watchman, but no one had seen Solomon. I’m sure that part of that elevated her concern.

I think we need to have this type of commitment in our relationship to God, and of course in our human relationships as well. We can’t just let people go like that. Sometimes people have to go away for time, and that is perfectly understandable, so I don’t mean that you need to keep people in your house forever. I am more talking about the concept here. In either of these two types of relationships, there needs to be that desire to be together. I think that is clear through this passage.

Song of Solomon 2: Love and Support

Chapter 2 of the Song of Solomon had quite a bit of language that I think can point towards the person of Jesus Christ. As I have been reading more about this book, I realize that there can be more than one layer of meaning, but because I began writing on the most literal meaning of the text as a picture of human marriage, I am going to continue writing from that perspective. I have heard that one of the most important rules to keep in mind about the Bible is that it must have meant something to the person who wrote it, and I think it is pretty obvious what this one meant to the author. It was a celebration of love between a husband and a wife. I am not saying there can’t be more to it, but the very least, we are safe for sticking with this interpretation. Plus, then my writing will make sense as we progress.

Chapter 2 is almost entirely dedicated to the wife to be talking about how much she loves her future husband and why she loves him. One reason stood out quite clearly, and I think it is really important for all of us to remember.

Son 2:6  His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me.

This is an image of support. Solomon clearly cares about this woman, and he is physically holding on to her. Obviously this can be a sign of love, and it is physically comforting for her to know that he is right there. However, with that physical comfort from the very real type of psychological comfort. We like to know that there are people who are there to support us and help us out.

This is obviously true in marriages, and I think we can even extend this one to friendships. If you are going to be seriously involved with someone in any type of capacity, a big part of that is being right alongside them. In marriage, that is necessary for the proper function of the family, and for my readers who are not married, it is vital for any relationship you have.

Song of Solomon 1: Insecurity

Welcome to the Song of Solomon. Like you might expect, it was written by Solomon, and it is a description of his love with the Shulammite woman. As a little bit of a preview, we are going to see how this relationship develops and some of the aspects that make up a healthy relationship.

Only a few verses into chapter 1, the woman is already doubting her physical beauty.

Son 1:5  I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.

Son 1:6  Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother’s children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.

She had spent most of her life working outside apparently, and she didn’t have as much time to spend on her own cosmetic concerns. By reading the rest of the chapter, you can obviously see that this is not a problem for Solomon. He was obviously still quite interested in her, and we see that develop throughout this book.

This insecurity has not gone away for men or women. People worry all of the time what people think about them, and some of that concern is unfortunately merited. People judge far too much based on appearance, and we get a culture where everyone worries more about the exterior than the interior. People judge based on the external.

Notice that Solomon was obviously able to see beyond this. He loved her the way she was. He didn’t have the same concerns about her that she had about herself. Her concerns were entirely unfounded.

I would like to write something here about how we can go out and change our culture, and tomorrow everything will be all better. However, I think this will take a little bit of work. All people are created in the image of God, and we need to help get people back to that understanding. That the first lesson we can take from this book.

Ecclesiastes 12: The Christian Duty

We have spent almost two weeks in Ecclesiastes, and now that we have reached the end, Solomon provided a basic conclusion for us to remember the entire book by.

Ecc 12:13  Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

Ecc 12:14  For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

If you think about it, the first part is really the first great commandment given by Jesus. He said to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and as we have explored previously in Proverbs, a large part of loving God is by recognizing and respecting how great He truly is. That kind of fear combined with a life of obedience to the commandments we have been given from God is our entire duty.

It is easy to say that, but think about the implications. For example, we are called by Jesus to love our enemies. We need to do that. It might not be easy to do, but we need to keep the commandments of God. We can’t have some kind of selective following based on what we want to do. It is our duty to do what God tells us to do.

Verse 14 is somewhat ominous, but as Christians we ultimately have nothing to worry about. God does see our entire lives, and I don’t know about you, but I deserve an awful lot of judgment for a lot of stuff I have done. It is not as if our secrets remain hidden. When God is judging the human race, all of our actions will be known. What if we get what we deserve? It won’t be pretty.

It wouldn’t be pretty unless someone had already paid the penalty for all the sin of humanity. If Jesus Christ did not come to earth and ultimately die after living a perfect life, we would need to pay our own debt, but realistically we could never do that. Only Jesus Christ could do that, and He did do that. It is one of the most fundamental verses of Christianity, but it lays out the scenario quite clearly.

Joh 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

If we believe in Jesus and that He did what He said He did, we will not be condemned. Even those works that were done in secret can be washed clean. It really is a remarkable gift when you think about it from that perspective.

Ecclesiastes 11: Knowing God

Ecclesiastes 11 uses some figurative language that might seem a little bit bizarre to all of us today, but I think that it can tell us something about our faith in the work of God.

Ecc 11:5  As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.

Ecc 11:6  In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.

Verse 5 caught me off guard because we do know how bones develop for unborn children. Is the Bible wrong? It is important to remember that the Bible was written for a particular audience at a particular time, and it must have meant something to them at that time.

Neither Solomon nor his audience understood anatomy in the sense that we do nowadays, so it is not that the Bible is wrong here. At the time of writing, he was right. This does not affect the inerrancy of the Bible in any way, but it is actually a historical piece of data that tells us about the scientific understanding of people in Biblical times.

With that out of the way, we can really look at this verse and see what was being communicated with that example. Basically, we don’t know a lot of things about the world, and we don’t even understand whether or not our crops will prosper. How do we expect to understand the works of God entirely?

I think that is something that people still struggle with extensively today. We live in a world that is motivated by scientific and technological progress. We know more and more about the world around us, but I don’t think I would be exaggerating to say that there are more things we don’t know about the universe than we actually do know. Now, what if the Christian God exists? He created the universe, and He is much bigger than the universe. How can we expect to understand Him perfectly? We can learn things, but learning everything is simply not possible.

We might have a better understanding of the scientific mysteries that Solomon used in his example, but the point is still valid. We still do not perfectly understand our universe, and that is okay. We continue learning. However, it is not surprising that there are some things about God that we just don’t understand. We might be able to learn them, or we might never find out the particular answer we are looking for, but we need to trust that God is still in charge and still working.

Ecclesiastes 10: Watch What We Say

The Bible has a lot to say about how we relate to each other, and in Ecclesiastes 10, we hear about how important it is to make sure we choose our words wisely.

Ecc 10:11  Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment; and a babbler is no better.

Ecc 10:12  The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself.

Ecc 10:13  The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness.

Ecc 10:14  A fool also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him?

It is very similar to the basic message that we have been hearing from Proverbs among other places. People who are wise are gracious with their words. Fools tend to get themselves in trouble by what they say. It begins with simple foolishness, but if it goes unchecked, it can turn into madness.

The obvious lesson for us today is that we need to strive after wisdom. Notice that how we speak is related to if we are wise or foolish. Our words will be a consequence of the person that we are. It makes me think about how people know we are Christians. One way should be in our words. We should be wise in what we say. We should be gracious. We should not be saying things that swallow us up.

I am not talking about some kind of works-based salvation, but as a Christian, there ought to be evidences of a changed life, and our words are one thing that can be an evidence.

This was a review, but it cannot be emphasized enough. It is amazing how many Christian leaders or just average Christians like you or me have had their testimonies destroyed by what they say. We don’t need that to happen anymore.