Today we read the Song of Solomon, also called the Song of Songs, indicating that this might be Solomon’s best song. This book has been debated over the years. Some say it is an allegory of God’s love for Israel. Others say an allegory of Christ’s love for the church. Some say it’s a love poem between either Solomon and his Shulamite bride, or between a shepherd and a shepherdess.
At face value, the song tells the story of a young man and woman looking forward to their marriage, and then the pleasure of a sexual relationship within the boundaries of marriage. The couple experiences separation in the story, but ultimately they are restored back to each other. Song of Solomon emphasizes that sex is meant for marriages between one man and one woman. Couples that honor sexual boundaries and the marriage covenant honor the Lord and reflect their love for Him to the world. God uses the image of marriage as an illustration of His relationship with His people throughout the Bible.
Later in the story, Malachi will say to the Jews who have returned from exile in Babylon regarding marriages – “the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. ‘For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence’” (Malachi 2:14-16). And Jesus will be questioned by the Pharisees about marriage and divorce in an attempt to get Him to misrepresent the law. Jesus will respond saying that the Lord allows divorce under certain circumstances (Deuteronomy 24) because of our hardened hearts, but it was never God’s intent for a married couple to separate – ”Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate… Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so” (Matthew 19:6-8).
In the beginning of the story, the Lord formed Eve and brought her to Adam saying that they should be joined together as one (Genesis 2:24). But then Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil bringing sin into the world. Now we are all born sinners, working to stay committed to another born sinner in our marriages for the rest of our lives. This is not possible without the Lord.
God desires for us to show compassion, love, forgiveness, and restoration in our marriages, which displays the character of Christ to the world. Paul will later tell the Christians, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:22-33).
Marriage is hard, and the union only works well when both the husband and the wife are submitted to the Lord. It is easier for a wife to submit to a husband who is submitted to the Lord because she will trust his leadership. A man surrendered to Christ will seek His guidance in all aspects of his life, and he will cherish his wife as Christ cherishes her. Therefore, it is important for both the husband and the wife to draw close to God and pray for one another as they walk together in marriage with the purpose of displaying the love Christ has for the church.
Solomon’s life is not a great example of preserving the marriage union. Many commentaries said that Solomon probably wrote this song earlier in his life because in Solomon’s later years he defiles the Lord’s design for marriage by acquiring a thousand women across the nations. As a result of Solomon’s disobedience, the Lord is going to tear ten of the twelve tribes from the hand of Solomon’s son and give them to Solomon’s servant Jeroboam. That’s up tomorrow, so keep reading. (Song of Solomon 1:1-8:14)