Lessons In Love From
The Song Of Songs
Is the Song of Solomon relevant today? Absolutely! Its implied instructions are important to maturing adolescents and courting couples, and it encourages discriminate protection of a sister’s purity. And men take notice as it applies to your honor too!
This unique section of God’s inspired Word graphically symbolizes the most intimate affections between Him and His chosen (Jewish) people. Some suggest that it might also be a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church. yet others read it simply as a beautiful love story between a man and a woman, namely that of Solomon and a Shulamite shepherdess. It is in this last application that we gain some important lessons related to courtship and the protection of one’s sexual virtue.
“Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” (Song 2:7; 3:5 NIV). This expression is repeated twice in the book. It provides a warning about the dangers of getting too close to each other and flirting with intimate contact prior to marriage. The first chapters develop the interest and the growing relationship between two lovers. There are times when the couple is seen in very tempting places where passionate desires could be dangerously compromised (1:4; 2:6; 3:4). Thankfully they – especially the young lady – appear to recognize that too much privacy and close contact can arouse their sexual desires before these feelings have the only appropriate place to be expressed – in marriage.
While current societal standards have endorsed pre-marital sex as acceptable and expected, this is not God’s standard. “The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Ps. 19:8). His standards provide directions for a healthy and stable emotional relationship. There will be no feelings of guilt, fear of diseases or emotional scars because of improper actions if the body is kept pure in all relationships, including the one that will ultimately lead to marriage. And so, this warning: “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” – until love’s desires can be properly expressed in the only sanctioned place, “the marriage bed” (Song 2:7; Heb. 13:4).
The Song shows us that the lover protected her virtue: “You are a garden locked up … you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain” (4:12). This verse brings up an interesting point: while it was the young woman who seems to have set the limits to protect her honor, doing so should be the explicit aim of both genders – to guard their own and each other’s purity. It is only after the wedding ceremony that approval is given, welcoming the appropriate act within marriage (4:16). Then God can add His blessing (5:1).
Protect Your Sister
Having experienced the necessity of protecting their own virtue before marriage, and understanding the power of sexual temptation during adolescence and especially when courting, the concern now shifts to the unmarried younger sister. Her brothers want to make sure that she keeps herself as a gift to her bridegroom on her wedding day: “We have a younger sister … what shall we do for our sister for the day she is spoken for?” (8:8).
They understand that she might have the strength of character to protect her purity. If she does – “If she is a wall” – they express their support and promise to reinforce her resolve (8:9). However, recognizing that there is a possibility that their young sister could be growing up with no care for her honor, they state that they will do all that they can to protect her from herself and from the indiscretions and pressures exerted by the opposite sex: “If she is a door, we will enclose her” (8:9).
They must have been relieved and proud of their younger sister when she informs them that she is resolved to maintain her purity for her future husband: “I am a wall” (8:10). She has also come to realize the pleasure that this brings to her possible mate.
This important subject is not only addressed in this practical example from the Old Testament, and given for our learning (Rom. 15:4), but also it is reiterated in the teachings of the apostle Paul (1 Cor. 7:36).
Below are some of the things that young people can do to protect their purity, and maintain their chastity until marriage.
Purity Points For Young Adults
- Prayerfully remember to honor the lord your God with your body (1 Th. 4:4), by not doing something which you will regret later (Num. 32:23).
- Commit your relationships to the lord (Ps. 37:5; 1 Cor. 10:13).
- Treat your loved one with discretion and respect (1 Cor. 13:5).
- With all purpose of heart, resolve to remain pure before marriage (Dan. 1:8).
- Commit this resolve to a mentor who will help keep you accountable. Write out a covenant to the lord, promising to refrain from premarital sex, and have a witness sign the document (Num. 30:2; Eccl. 4:12).
- Avoid all compromising and tempting situations (Jas. 1:14).
- Read the epistles regularly, as they provide many reminders to walk pleasing to the lord (1 Cor. 6:18; Eph. 5:15; Col. 3:5; 1 Th. 4:3).
Purity Points For Mentors
- Be a good example of purity in your own life, whether married or single, (1 Tim. 4:12). don’t just preach it, live it! young people can quickly see through hypocrisy.
- Reclaim the privilege and responsibility of preaching God’s order today: do not be afraid to speak about the sensitive subjects of sexuality, pre-marital sex and sins against the body (Col. 1:28).
- Teach that sexual relations before marriage affect many lives – the persons involved (guilt), their families (disappointment) and those who actually become the marriage partner (trust).
- Point out the dangers of unplanned pregnancies and the rampant increase of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), many with no cure today (Job 4:8).
- Work with those who have erred, and seek to bring them back to the lord, rather than drive them away from the fold (Gal. 6:1).
No doubt there are other practical considerations that can be added to these lists. It is time to open up these subjects for frank discussion in the youth and adult classes of our Sunday Schools and Bible classes.
By Hank Blok
The Song Of Songs
The Song is a convincing witness that men and women were created physically, emotionally and spiritually to live in love. At the outset of Scripture we read, “It is not good for man to live alone.” The Song elaborates on the Genesis story by celebrating the union of two diverse personalities in love.
We read Genesis and learn that this is the created pattern of joy and mutuality. We read the Song and see the goal and ideal toward which we all press for fulfillment. Despite our sordid failures in love, we see here what we are created for, what God intends for us in the ecstasy and fulfillment that is celebrated in the lyricism of the Song.
Christians read the Song on many levels: as the intimacy of marital love between man and woman, as God’s deep love for His people, as Christ’s Bridegroom love for His Church, as the Christian’s love for his or her Lord. It is a prism in which all the love of God in all the world, and all the responses of those who love and whom God loves, gathers and then separates into individual colors.
By Eugene H. Peterson
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org