Our title is a phrase that is unique to the Song of Solomon. Four times in the book, the Shulammite spoke of “him whom my soul loveth” (3:1-4), and once she called him, “thou whom my soul loveth” (1:7). The intensity of her love is apparent. This was no passing infatuation with her, for in this song, she waited patiently for him, and in two sections (chapters 3 and 5), she went looking for him when she dreamed she had lost him. She was not satisfied unless they were together. She sought the one “her soul loveth” diligently in these dreams (perhaps she would consider them nightmares).
She speaks not of a casual acquaintance, close friend, or the like when she speaks of her beloved. This is one her soul loves! When found, she “held him, and would not let him go” (3:4). The intensity of this love is something that ought to be in our marriages. Paul described this love from the man’s point of view when he said a man ought to love his wife as his own body (Eph. 5:28). He continued, “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it” (Eph. 5:29).
Husbands, love your wives as your own bodies! Wives, love your husbands with your soul! Christ loved His church so much that He “gave Himself for her” (Eph. 5:25). Paul made clear the relationship between a husband and wife reflect Christ and the church (Eph. 5:32). His blood purchased the church (Acts 20:28). In response, the church is to love the Lord and submit to Him (Eph. 5:24). As the Shulammite desired her beloved, and as the wife desires her husband (Gen. 3:16), so let Christians desire to serve and follow the Lord. May we truly love Him, for He loved us first (I Jn. 4:19). Yes, love Him from the soul! Love Him for all he has done for us and how He has made it possible to be in Heaven one day (Jn. 14:3).
The pure love described in Solomon’s Song needs to be applied in our homes and the church. If we haven’t been doing this, let us start today to reflect that pure and intense love. Christ showed it first to us; therefore, let us respond in kind.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
“Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun” (Ecc. 9:9). Solomon made it clear that a wise thing for a man to do is to spend time living joyfully with his wife. He taught this here and in Proverbs 5:18-19 and 18:22.
Too many people live in joyless marriages. For whatever reason, the spouses do not come home to joy or happiness like they once did. What happened to them? While blame might be found with both people, perhaps in the simplest terms, we have forgotten how to live joyfully with our spouse!
God instituted marriage in Genesis 2. “It is not good that man should be alone,” He said (Gen. 2:18). Thus, God made a “help” fitting for a man when He made the woman. She is his physical complement, as well as his mental, emotional, and spiritual complement. These two were made to encourage and help one another. In I Peter 3:7, God intended husband and wife to be “heirs together of the grace of life.” In other words, we are partners and companions on this earth, and part of our work is helping one another go to Heaven! How can there not be joy in a marriage when we try to help and encourage one another to go to the place of eternal joy?
Why should a man listen to Solomon and “live joyfully” with his wife? Let’s consider a few reasons.
- “Live joyfully” with your wife because she chose you! She could have married someone else, but she agreed to marry you and travel the road of life with you.
- “Live joyfully” with your wife because even when she makes mistakes, she has your best interest in mind.
- “Live joyfully” with your wife because she has bore your children and loves them. A new generation knows about Jesus thanks to “the wife of thy youth” (Prov. 5:18, 31:10-21).
- “Live joyfully” with your wife because she is the closest earthly relationship you have. Ephesians 5:22-33 tells the husband to love his wife “as his own body.”
- “Live joyfully” with your wife because you will have no better friend on earth.
It might seem odd that a man with 700 wives and 300 concubines (I Kings 11:3) would encourage men to “live joyfully” with one wife (Ecc. 9:9). Some might suggest that it took such an extreme measure for Solomon to appreciate what God had provided from the beginning! Regardless of what right or wrong decisions Solomon made in his life, remember that this man was endowed with wisdom above all others on earth by God (I Kings 3:12, 4:30-31, 5:12). The Holy Spirit also inspired him in his writing (II Pet. 1:20-21). As a result, there is something we can learn and apply when we read Solomon’s words. He is not only telling us the wise way to go, but he is also saying, in essence, “don’t do what I did!” Isn’t this the kind of advice we need? We need someone who has already traveled the path to come back and warn us about what we ought to do and not do. Solomon’s decision in this area of life serves as this warning to all.
Let’s listen to the words of the Preacher and live “joyfully” with our spouse (Rom. 15:4).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
The last part of Ecclesiastes 9:4 says that “a living dog is better than a dead lion.” What I find interesting is that in the days of Solomon, dogs were not “man’s best friend.” They were not considered pets but nuisances. Lions, on the other hand, were exalted and symbols of royalty. In those days, if one had the option, a regal-looking lion would be much preferred over some mutt dog. Yet, Solomon observed a living dog is still better than a dead lion.
What does such a statement mean? It is similar to our saying, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Put simply, it means that there are times when we are better off getting what is available, what is possible, instead of the things only wished for. We could say it this way: Take advantage of the opportunities you have instead of waiting for things that might never come!
I believe some folks are guilty of hoping for that “dead lion” when they think they will wait for a “convenient” time to be saved. Felix maintained this attitude (Acts 24:25), and though seeing Paul for over two years (v. 27), he never found a “convenient” time! Are we like this? Some wish to wait on their obedience to the Lord until they “know more” or until they have accomplished some goal. I know of people who said they needed more Bible knowledge before they could be saved. To these people, I asked, “You know the Lord’s plan of salvation and you know that you are in sin and need to be saved. At this point, what else do you need to know?” A living dog is better than a dead lion, friends!
Some will not tell others the truth about salvation and Jesus because they are afraid they do not know enough. They are concerned that some question might be asked of them that they cannot answer. Many are fearful of any type of “confrontation.” I think there is a large percentage of Christians who don’t wish to talk to people who are not like them -- whether racially, the same economic status, etc. What ultimately happens is that no teaching gets done, and a generation is lost in a Devil’s Hell. To these people, I say: “A living dog is better than a dead lion”! We are wasting our opportunities looking for the “perfect” opportunity, the “perfect” person, etc. Listen, those are not coming in that form. We need to understand that the “perfect” is only “perfect” in hindsight. Our opportunities to teach someone about the Lord doesn’t come wrapped in a pretty bow! They come to us at the bank and the grocery store. They come to us when we are dirty and sweaty from working, and with our children at night when we are tired. Opportunities to teach about Christ come to us looking like a flawed and failed person who is in sin and needs Christ. This person has sinned and has emotional or other types of “baggage” and regrets. It is these people who need to cast their care on Christ (I Pet. 5:7) but can’t do it until they are introduced to Him. What are we doing to help these people? Where is the love for our neighbor (Matt. 22:39)? Are we so busy waiting for “dead lions” that we are missing the “living dogs?”
Take a moment for true self-examination (II Cor. 13:5). What opportunities and who are we overlooking in our vain pursuits? The dead lion offers nothing for you. Stop wasting time on the impossible and accept and work with what is real and true! The blessings are sometimes right under our noses. We need to get them out of the clouds and down where we can focus on what is instead of what is not.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Nehemiah 5 records a sad event in the history of God’s people. As the wall was being built, and the people united against a common enemy, Nehemiah records that the “nobles and the rulers” (v. 7) were guilty of oppressing their countrymen. They did this by charging usury (KJV) or interest against their people. Think: Loan sharks!
The affected people came to Nehemiah, crying out against this treatment. Why had they gotten out of the bondage of Xerxes only to trade it for bondage to their brethren? Sons and daughters were sold into servitude so landowners could pay the interest they had accrued (Neh. 5:5). This was wrong, and Nehemiah condemned the “nobles and the rulers” for their behavior (Neh. 5:7, 9).
There had been a famine (Neh 5:3), and though there were people who needed to buy grain or other things, those making the loans could have left off charging their brethren interest (v. 10). Can you imagine the decline in morale as the work of wall-building is taking place, and then those trying to build the wall cannot work because of how their brethren are treating them! In this chapter, we see that it was not what Sanballat, Tobiah, and the others had done that was killing them. This issue was internal!
How are we treating our spiritual brethren? Christ says the world will know we are His disciples when they observe the love we show our brethren (Jn. 13:34-35). Loving the brethren is more than words. It is also action (I Jn. 3:18)! What does the world see in us? What do we see in each other (Phil. 2:3)? Friend, how can a man love God whom he hasn’t seen if he doesn’t love the brethren he has seen (I Jn. 4:20)?
Have we noticed that often we treat strangers better than we treat those we know the best? Just observe and contrast how we treat a stranger in town with how we treat a family member at home. Why the difference? Similarly, some treat their brethren in harsh ways. Do we backbite? Gossip? Treat them cruelly? Why is this? Aren’t we supposed to be heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17)? Why then, do brethren treat those we are supposed to spend eternity with worse than the people who have rejected God? Please understand, our work is to love all men without partiality (Jas. 2:8). So, why are we not completing our work?
Let’s take a moment for some self-examination (II Cor. 13:5). How are you treating your brethren? Are you treating them with love (Matt. 22:39)? Are you treating them as you want to be treated (Matt. 7:12)? If not, why not? Why are you not willing to treat those whom God loves with respect? Don’t act like the “nobles and the rulers” did. Instead, read Romans 12:9-21 and treat fellow-Christians in a manner that respects them and God!
I am thankful to see that when confronted by Nehemiah about their behavior, the “nobles and the rulers” repented (Neh. 5:11-12). What will we do if we examine ourselves (II Cor. 13:5; Jas. 1:22-25) and see that we are guilty?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
“Remember The Alamo!” “Remember The Maine!” “Remember Pearl Harbor!” “Remember 9/11!” These are just a few of the rallying cries that have been heard in our country through the years. These cries showed people that the war being waged was for a cause greater than self.
When we read Nehemiah, we read a similar cry. When Sanballat, Tobiah, and others were intent on destroying the work of the Jews, Nehemiah stood and cried, “Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses” (Neh. 4:14). In other words, Nehemiah told the people that the conflict they faced was greater than themselves. They needed to fight for their families!
In a spiritual sense, Satan’s onslaught continues in this world (I Pet. 5:8). He wants to tempt us to leave the Lord (Jas. 1:14-15), and he has no problem hurting the weakest among us to do it! Fathers have the responsibility to bring up their children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). They have a responsibility to make sure a new generation knows, loves, and respects the God of Heaven! The younger need to be taught by the older to be sober-minded and develop into men ready to serve God (Titus 2:6). Men, are we doing that?
The juvenile delinquency problem continues to be a stain on our nation. This is a result, no doubt, of homes where the father is non-existent. Young people need a father, not a cash machine! Our young need fathers willing to stand and show them what sacrifice looks like as well as an authoritative figure who expects the rules to be obeyed. To borrow a phrase, how can children respect the Father they have not seen if they are not taught to respect the father they have seen? Men, are you doing your job? Are you fighting for your families?
Mothers have the responsibility to raise their children in a godly way and be “teachers of good things” (Titus 2:3). For example, they need to remind their daughters to “be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children. To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:4-5). Mothers need to be reminded that their work does not go unnoticed. Mother has a great responsibility to teach, train, to show love and caring, and to be the “heart” of every family. Children see sacrificial, consistent love in mom. Ladies, are you fighting for your families? Don’t let your children down!
Yes, we are in a fight against Satan and the “spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12)! Let us remember that we are not merely fighting Satan to protect ourselves. We are fighting for our families! Remember them! Remember their souls! Let us be busy in the Lord’s work and train a new generation to do God’s will while we have the time and opportunity! Satan, like Sanballat and Tobiah, is looking for his opening into our homes. Don’t let him have it!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs