WHAT WE TALK ABOUT
Biblical. Practical. Relevant.
The Bible broken down into plain language with direct application to meet you where you are.
The Bible broken down into plain language with direct application to meet you where you are.
What's the big deal? Why is intentional courtship necessary within a marriage relationship? Let’s begin with the end: Song of Songs 8:6, 7:
“(6) Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death; ardent love is as unrelenting as Sheol. Love’s flames are fiery flames—the fiercest of all. (7) Mighty waters cannot extinguish love; rivers cannot sweep it away.”
Let me give you the gist of what the Shulamite woman is saying before we move back in time. “Love that’s been protected by courtship, experienced fully in covenantal consummation, and intentionally pursued in it’s fullness after the wedding night is more permanent than death and stronger than the grave. It’s more powerful than any force on earth.” Keep that in mind as we move forward. We’ll come back to it.
Just as it is in courtship, intentionality is crucial inside of a covenantal marriage relationship. Without intentionality, marriages have a tendency to become boring and stale. This is absolutely not God's design for a covenantal marriage! He designed marriage for our good and His glory, but this relationship still requires careful attention to function properly. Solomon and the Shulamite were intentional in at least two different areas, which led to a fulfilling marriage.
First, they were intentional with their words.
Song of Songs 5:10-16, “(10) My love is fit and strong, notable among ten thousand. (11) His head is purest gold. His hair is wavy and black as a raven. (12) His eyes are like doves beside streams of water, washed in milk and set like jewels. (13) His cheeks are like beds of spice, towers of perfume. His lips are lilies, dripping with flowing myrrh. (14) His arms are rods of gold set with topaz. His body is an ivory panel covered with sapphires. (15) His legs are alabaster pillars set on pedestals of pure gold. His presence is like Lebanon, as majestic as the cedars. (16) His mouth is sweetness. He is absolutely desirable. This is my love, and this is my friend, young women of Jerusalem.”
This is a pretty elaborate description, isn’t it? Do you get what the Shulamite is saying, though? She’s saying that Solomon is the tallest, strongest, most handsome, most desirable man in the entire world. She doesn’t just flippantly say, “Solly you know you look good.” She is intentional about her words. She chooses them carefully, on purpose, which notes the sincerity in what she’s saying.
Here’s a side note just for you, ladies. Verbally affirming your husband is one of the most important things you can do for him. Be specific. Be intentional with your words. The Shulamite was and watch what happens…
Song of Songs 6:4-6, “(4) You are as beautiful as Tirzah, my darling, lovely as Jerusalem, awe-inspiring as an army with banners. (5) Turn your eyes away from me, for they captivate me. Your hair is like a flock of goats streaming down from Gilead. (6) Your teeth are like a flock of ewes coming up from washing, each one having a twin, and not one missing.”
Solomon reciprocates the Shulamite’s intentionality! He isn’t just saying, “Baby, you’re hot,” or whatever. No. He’s specific. He tells her, on purpose, she’s more beautiful than the prettiest places on earth. She’s so beautiful he can hardly look at her. Apparently her hair and teeth still look good, too. That’s a plus! He goes on to say…
Song of Songs 7:1-4, “(1) How beautiful are your sandaled feet, princess! The curves of your thighs are like jewelry, the handiwork of a master. (2) Your navel is a rounded bowl; it never lacks mixed wine. Your waist is a mound of wheat surrounded by lilies. (3) Your breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle. (4) Your neck is a tower of ivory, your eyes like pools in Heshbon by the gate of Bath-rabbim. Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon looking toward Damascus.”
Take notes, boys! Solomon started at the top of her head and worked his way down on their wedding night, but now he’s starting with her feet and working his way up! The intentionality of his words proves to his wife that she is wholly valued and altogether beautiful in his sight. He enjoys more than the physical aspects of her body that bring him sexual pleasure. Just looking at her is a treat for him. To Solomon, she is flawless.
Guys, listen up. No compliment is too small. Tell her! Be intentional about it; do it on purpose! Tell her you like the new eye shadow she bought. Rave about her new haircut. Tell her how cute her dimples are and how your heart skips a beat when you see her. There are parts of her body she doesn’t like. Affirm them. Tell her they are irresistible to you! These are intentional details that she needs to hear from you.
The second way Solomon and the Shulamite showed intentionality inside their marriage relationship was with their actions.
Remember Song of Songs 5:10-16, where the Shulamite intentionally affirms her husband? Let’s see what follows:
Song of Songs 6:2, 3, “(2) My love has gone down to his garden, to beds of spice, to feed in the gardens and gather lilies. (3) I am my love’s and my love is mine; he feeds among the lilies.”
Now, I’m not going to spell out for you everything that’s going on here, but let’s just say that Solomon isn’t outside digging around in the dirt. He is intentionally making love to his wife. Her intentional words of affirmation prompted Solomon to action.
This is a two way street! Remember Song of Songs 6:4-6 and 7:1-4, where Solomon intentionally affirms the Shulamite? Listen to the result:
Song of Songs 7:6-13, “(6) How beautiful you are and how pleasant, my love, with such delights! (7) Your stature is like a palm tree; your breasts are clusters of fruit. (8) I said, ‘I will climb the palm tree and take hold of its fruit.’ May your breasts be like clusters of grapes, and the fragrance of your breath like apricots. (9) Your mouth is like fine wine—“
The Shulamite can’t control her desire for her husband anymore! She proceeds to finish his sentence and intentionally invites him to enjoy all that her body has to offer.
“(9) flowing smoothly for my love, gliding past my lips and teeth! (10) I belong to my love, and his desire is for me. (11) Come, my love, let’s go to the field; let’s spend the night among the henna blossoms. (12) Let’s go early to the vineyards; let’s see if the vine has budded, if the blossom has opened, if the pomegranates are in bloom. There I will give you my love. (13) The mandrakes give off a fragrance, and at our door is every delicacy—new as well as old. I have treasured them up for you, my love.”
Does that sound stale and boring to you? No way! That's a marriage that's on fire! That's God's design for the husband/wife relationship.
All of that brings us back to where we first started, Song of Songs 8:6:
“Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death; ardent love is as unrelenting as Sheol.”
Throughout this series, I have unashamedly stood by covenantal marriage as being God’s ultimate goal for human love, sex, and relationships. And you know what? The Shulamite woman agrees.
When she says, “Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm,” she’s expressing the idea of covenant. Let me explain:
Back in those days, different people had different “seals.” It was a unique picture engraved on a ring or a stamp that undeniably represented a particular person. It would denote that a particular item was from or belonged to the person who “sealed,” it.
So the Shulamite is saying, “Place my seal on your heart and on your arm so that everybody – including you – knows you belong to me forever.” This is covenant language. The fact that she concludes with, “For love is as strong as death; ardent love is as unrelenting as Sheol,” further signifies this. See, she’s spelling out that the love that she and Solomon share is bound by a covenant and covenants, by nature, last forever.
See, a covenant is a promise. “I pledge myself to you forever, no matter what.” It isn’t conditional or based upon how you feel. That’s a contract. “I pledge myself to you as long as you don’t leave dirty underwear on the bathroom floor. If you do, then I’m out.” I know that’s probably a bad example, but that’s what marriage has become today. It’s not about intimacy; it’s about personal convenience. “I’ll love you until it’s inconvenient.” That’s not God’s design for a covenant marriage at all.
Here, in the Shulamite's final affirmation of covenantal marriage, we see the true message of the Song and we understand why God created covenantal marriage in the first place: it points to a better, greater covenant.
Jeremiah 31:31,33, 34, “’Look, the days are coming’—this is the LORD’s declaration—‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah’…(33) ‘I will put My teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. (34) No longer will one teach his neighbor of his brother, saying, “Know the LORD,” for they will all know Me, from the least to the greatest of them.’”
This prophecy in Jeremiah points forward to the New Testament, and foretells how God would redeem sinful mankind to himself through the virgin birth, sinless life, atoning death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ! A covenantal marriage is an earthly representation of the Gospel, a covenant between God and man that’s sealed with the sinless, spotless blood of Jesus.
The Apostle Paul says as much in his writings to the Ephesians:
Ephesians 5:31-32, “(31) For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. (32) This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church.”
So here’s the deal. Marriage – your marriage – is supposed to be a picture of the Gospel. The covenant you made with your spouse is supposed to point other people to a greater and better covenant offered to us by God through His Son, Jesus. Does it? Is your marriage a living representation of what God created it to be?
Single folks. I haven’t addressed you very much, but listen up. Are you honoring the Gospel by waiting to experience all that God created for you to enjoy inside of a covenantal marriage? If not, you're distorting the beautiful picture of the Gospel marriage is supposed to be.