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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 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 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 4: Social Justice

Social justice has become a popular topic in both Christian and secular circles recently. It can be a little bit hard to pin down a definition for this concept, but the basic idea is to obviously emphasize the need for justice and fairness in society.

This is not a new concept though. Look at the beginning of Ecclesiastes 4.

Ecc 4:1  So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.

Ecc 4:2  Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive.

Ecc 4:3  Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.

While it is certainly an obvious point, there are a lot of bad things that happen. There are things like oppression. There are things like injustice. There are things like evil in the world. Solomon recognized that even in his day, and these things obviously had an effect on him.

He went as far as to say that because of some of the situations on earth, it was better to be dead than alive. Today, if people start talking like that, we worry that they might be suicidal. This is some serious stuff here. He was incredibly disturbed by this.

Notice what is never mentioned this passage. We never hear about God. We hear about the lack of a comforter, but we never hear about God specifically. That’s interesting.

Let’s try to find some synthesis here. When we read through Proverbs, I think it was rather obvious that God was the one who provided purpose. He provided the wisdom and the direction. Now, we have a passage that speaks to a life without purpose. It might as well be over, and God is not mentioned whatsoever.

I’m not going to lie and say that society is a perfect place. That would ruin whatever shred of credibility I might have. However, I will say that when God is involved, there is hope and purpose. There is a promise that we will live for all eternity in a better society with a perfect ruler who is not oppressive. We still ought to work to meet the present better and to help people as much as we can. However, when God is involved, the future looks great.

Ecclesiastes 1: The Frustration of Wisdom

Welcome to Ecclesiastes! We don’t start off with the happiest chapter in the Bible, but I think that most of the time we think that gain the knowledge is a good thing. We see a little different perspective here.

Ecc 1:16  I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.

Ecc 1:17  And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.

Ecc 1:18  For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

This is problematic. The more wisdom you gain, the more grief you develop. The same applies to knowledge and sorrow. Why?

I have heard it said in academia that one of the most frustrating parts of working on your PhD is the fact that as you learn more and more about your field, the more you realize that you really don’t know very much at all. Sure, your knowledge might be growing, but your awareness of everything else is growing as well. You realize that there is almost an infinite number of things you don’t know.

It seems that that might be the problem here. We are hearing Solomon say that he has more wisdom than any other ruler in Jerusalem thanks to the intervention of God. We also see in verse 17 that he set his heart to find wisdom. He was continually trying to learn more and was committed to that pursuit. Again, this is a lot like that PhD. This was a big commitment for him.

However, on some level it irritated him. In verse 17 it talks about this pursuit is a vexation. It is apparently frustrating just to have wisdom. That is not enough to bring happiness. All the wisdom in the world cannot do that. That reflects the sentiment from verse 14.

Ecc 1:14  I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

All the works under the sun are simply vanity and a vexation. It is not enough just to have works or to have just wisdom. There needs to be something more than that which is of this world. Fortunately, as Christians, we know that there is someone who is greater and can provide the purpose that makes everything more than mere vanity.

Psalms 72: Follow Your Heart? Probably not.

I would have to assume that David was the author of Psalms 72 because it is specifically addressed to his son Solomon. It is interesting what David asks for right at the beginning, and it seems as if there was something very prophetic about these words.

Psa 72:1  A Psalm for Solomon. Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king’s son.

Psa 72:2  He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment.

David knew that his son would be king, and he wanted God to provide him with righteousness. First, this implies that humans need righteousness to be imparted from God, and we can see that in many instances throughout the Bible. However, notice how David says he is going to use that righteousness.

He is going to judge his people with righteousness. When Solomon had the opportunity to ask God for whatever he desired, what did he ask for?

1Ki 3:9  Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?

He wanted wisdom so that he could judge the people well. He knew that he could not do it on his own because there were so many people in the nation of Israel, and he was only one person. He needed the wisdom that comes directly from God.

It is interesting that that is exactly what David wanted God to give his son. We have two people here who both sought to follow God with all their hearts, and they knew the importance of trusting in God while making decisions.

Both of them seem to stress that God helps us make decisions. From a basic theological perspective, that makes an awful lot of sense. If we are separated from God because of our sin nature, it seems to me our sinful hearts might not provide us with the most reliable advice when we are trying to make decisions. Would you want to trust something that is faulty?

If we can’t rely on our own hearts, we should be looking somewhere else, and as Christians, we look towards God. Like David and Solomon, we need to look towards the one who is actually righteous. I have been working on trying to memorize Bible verses lately, and here are a pair that had come up to review the other day.

Pro 3:5  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

Pro 3:6  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Trust in God rather than yourself.

2 Chronicles 9: Living the Life

Christianity is a lifestyle. It is the kind of thing that we need to try our best to live out. In 2 Chronicles 9, the Queen of Sheba wanted to see how well Solomon was living out that lifestyle. Was he really as wise as everyone said he was? Right in verse one, we are told that she brought him “hard questions.” Obviously we don’t know exactly what they were, but her intent seemed pretty obvious. She wanted to make sure Solomon was everything people said he was.

After she met him, here was her impression.

2Ch 9:5  And she said to the king, It was a true report which I heard in mine own land of thine acts, and of thy wisdom:

2Ch 9:6  Howbeit I believed not their words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the one half of the greatness of thy wisdom was not told me: for thou exceedest the fame that I heard.

2Ch 9:7  Happy are thy men, and happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and hear thy wisdom.

2Ch 9:8  Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee to set thee on his throne, to be king for the LORD thy God: because thy God loved Israel, to establish them for ever, therefore made he thee king over them, to do judgment and justice.

She recognized a lot of things. She realized that he was indeed wise, she was wrong, the people were happy, God indeed put Solomon on the throne and God made a good decision by doing that.

I don’t think that people will recognize all of that about every one of us, but I think that the last two could certainly be relevant for us. God put us where we are, and because of the way we are acting, God made a good decision to put us in that position.

We need to make sure that we live that way. We need to bring honor to God wherever we are.

2 Chronicles 8: Working Towards Perfection

In 2 Chronicles 8, we get to see the kingdom of Solomon and all the good things that he was doing. It really seems as if he was doing everything in the way that God would want him to do it.

2Ch 8:16  Now all the work of Solomon was prepared unto the day of the foundation of the house of the LORD, and until it was finished. So the house of the LORD was perfected.

Because he followed all of the specifications that God had laid out, the house became as good as it possibly could. Solomon completed the entire project, and the house was something that was appropriate to honor God in.

I think that this is a pretty good framework of how we should continue to develop in our Christian journey. As we follow the life of Jesus and try to become more like Him, we will certainly get a lot closer to perfection. Naturally, we will never be entirely perfect, but that is the standard that we work towards. Jesus himself told us that this was part of our mission.

Mat 5:48  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Another interesting translation of the word perfect in this context according to my computer Bible provided by e-Sword is complete. I only bring that up because we can obviously never be perfect in the sense of not having sin. We have already sinned, so perfection is impossible.

However, in this particular context, perfection is more of a journey. We are working to become more and more complete, and the way to do that is by following God. Solomon made the Temple perfect by following the words of God, and we can work towards perfection by following the words of God. The process transfers over very well.