This title may seem odd in a study of Solomon’s song. It goes without saying that the discussion of true love, and the attraction two people have when in love, is inherent in this song. In the midst of this song, however, a phrase jumped out at me. Perhaps it is because the subject of true love and marriage is emphasized that this phrase stood out. In the midst of what men have called the “wedding procession,” it is stated that, “... the valiant of Israel. They all hold swords, being expert in war: every man hath his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night” (Song of Sol. 3:7-8).
In context, we see the imagery of a king and his “mighty men” (think: “Secret service”) who serve the king and protect him. They are set to protect a bride. They are trained for war, their swords were ready, and they stand to protect the king against “fear in the night.”
As I read this passage and thought about what was being said, my mind went to Psalm 23:4-5. Here, David said that the “rod and staff” of God comforted him. He said he could walk through “the valley of the shadow of death” and “fear no evil” so long as he knew God was there and with him. Please understand, I am not writing this as if to say these passages contradict or that Solomon trusted his army more than God’s. My thoughts go to a contrast between two images.
An army with swords, shields, and the like is impressive. Even today, the U.S.military is impressive with its guns, helicopters, jets, tanks, bombs, and the like. Much damage can be done with these weapons. Also, many lives have been saved by the work of our military. No doubt, Solomon’s military was an impressive sight as well (I Kings 4:26, 10:16-17, 22; II Chron. 9:25, etc.). Yet, when we contrast Solomon’s (or America’s) military with the power of God to protect and save, it is nothing (Ps. 20:7; Isa. 31:1, 3)!
Psalm 91 records David’s psalm about the might of God. He said that he trusted in God and His might and thus was not afraid. The Hebrew writer encouraged this same kind of bravery for his readers. He said, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Heb. 13:5-6).
While we recognize that men’s weapons have a place on this earth, let us never forget that God wields the greatest power! He is stronger than all, and He will protect when all of man’s weapons fail! If you are not sure of this, then talk to the three Hebrews who walked in the midst of the fire (Den. 3). Talk to Daniel himself, who spent the night in the lion’s den unharmed by the beasts (Dan. 6). Study the lives of other Old Testament heroes who “escaped the edge of the sword” by faith (Heb. 11:34). Listen to the encouragement of the apostle who told us we are “more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Rom. 8:37). Are you a Christian (Acts 11:26, 22:16)? If not, why not? You stand exposed and in peril every day from Satan (I Pet. 5:8). This is your chance for true protection from Satan’s onslaught (Eph. 6:13-18) and preparation for a better life to come (Jn. 10:10). Don’t delay in becoming a Christian, though (Heb. 3:7-8, 15; II Cor. 6:2; Acts 16:30-34)!
No doubt, it was a comfort for those gathered at the wedding to see a sword on the thigh of soldiers in Solomon’s Song, but greater than this is the comfort of the Christian who knows he is on God’s side and his soul is safe (Matt. 10:28, 16:26; Mk. 16:16)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Three times in the book, the Shulammite warns to “stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please” (Song of Sol. 2:7, 3:5, 8:4). Other versions translate this phrase as:
- “do not let love be moved till it is ready” (BBE).
- “never to awaken love before it is ready.” (CEV).
- “you will not awaken love or arouse love before its proper time” (GW).
This thrice-repeated phrase emphasizes the fact that there is a need for patience when those feelings of romantic love are kindled. Our world pushes our children to engage in the physical aspects of love at earlier and earlier ages. Instead of being concerned about the purity of thought and motive in life (Job 31:1; Matt. 5:27-28, 15:18-20; Phil. 4:8-9; I Tim. 5:2), and with no training to understand the difference between lust and love, our world encourages such acts and says the most important thing is to be mentally “ready” and have “protection.”
As I reflect on this passage, I am impressed with this woman. Though speaking of her love in such beautiful ways in this book (and he responds in kind), her attitude is not to look for the nearest bedroom or hotel room (Song of Sol. 4:12). Instead, she asks folks not to try to arouse something that is not ready to be awakened. In a society obsessed with sex, we need to be a people who respect God’s will on the subject and not arouse feelings until the proper time in life, and then express them in marriage to our spouses (Heb. 13:4).
When reading these three passages, let those who respect God’s law on marriage beware as well! What I mean is that there are some who would not do anything to commit fornication, yet they will marry someone when they are not really in love. Some marry out of convenience, perhaps to better their finances, or perhaps to leave an abusive home, or boredom, or simply out of the sense of “duty” (“This is what comes next in life.”). Is this you, dear reader?
Many are miserable because they married, not out of love, but convenience. Not love, but “duty.” Some were just desperate and thought the person who showed them any attention or admiration must be the “one.” If you respect God’s law for marriage (Matt. 5:31-32, 19:9; Rom. 7:2-3), then you recognize that this is the person you must live with for the rest of your days. Marrying for reasons other than love is not a Scriptural reason for divorce. Instead, you must figure out how to live with this person and hopefully learn to love him or her. Yet, this was not the best decision that could have been made! Single people, listen to the words of this smart lady in Solomon’s Song! Don’t arouse feelings when they are not mature yet! Don’t leave one problem for another! These feelings will blossom at the right time, and at that right time, there will be someone blossoming for you.
Lastly, let us make sure we do not mistake lust for love! This is yet another reason not to arouse certain feelings until they are ready. There is a great difference between lust and love, but sadly, some do not recognize the difference until it is too late. Whether they have sinned against God and their bodies by committing fornication (I Cor. 6:18-20) or have committed to a loveless marriage, nothing good will come from this. God is love (I Jn. 4:8), and the best definition of love is found in I Corinthians 13:4-8. Single people, look for someone who will share this with you as a spouse. Married people, live these verses!
Is there any doubt that this wonderful song belongs in the “wisdom literature” of the Old Testament? Much wisdom is revealed here. Let us hear and obey and be blessed (Rom. 15:4).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
In Song of Solomon 2:4, the Shulammite declares that her beloved has placed a banner over her; and this banner is love. In context, we see a woman who was considered beautiful by this future husband, so he brought her before friends and others (1:12, 2:4a). She demurely says she is but the Rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys, or lily among thorns (2:1-2). She sees herself as a sunburnt maiden (1:5-6) but is reassured when her future husband compliments her true beauty (1:8-10, 15-17) and puts his banner of love over her (2:4).
Oh, the beauty of true love! True love looks deeper than the skin. True love looks within the person. It reminds me of the statements made about God. For example, “man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart (I Sam. 16:7). The Holy Spirit said, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13). When we remember that “God is love” (I Jn. 4:8), then we understand even more how God has the ability to look upon the inward person.
What causes two people to live a life together for decades? Love (Eph. 5:22-33)! What is the motivation for a person to stay with another despite disease, disability, dementia, until separated by death? Love! True love causes us to see beyond the flesh, beyond the coif, beyond the “painted up and powdered up” person at work or on a date. True love says I will accept this person regardless of what the outward “package” looks like or what might happen to it through the years! Ladies, there is a reason God wants “the hidden man of the heart” to be revealed to others, and part of the reason is that “the hidden man of the heart” is “of great price” in God’s sight (I Pet. 3:4). Ladies, this what your spouse truly loves and not what the outside looks like!
Long after the world has dismissed someone, the one who truly loves is still there! Matthew 22:39 means much more to us when we realize this passage applies in our homes, among those we have known for years, as well as among the strangers we meet for a few seconds one day and never see again. Love looks deeper than the skin. How “deeply” do you look at a person?
Look again at Song of Solomon 2:4 for a spiritual application. The “banner” over the Shulammite was love because this man loved his future bride. He loved her so deeply that his loved wrapped or covered her! Thus it is with God! His love surrounds us, as well. Think about it -- All of us have sinned and have been stained by it (Rom. 3:23; Isa. 1:18-19). Yet, when God looks upon us, He looks in love (Jn. 3:16). Because He loves us, He made a way by which we can be free from sin (Rom. 5:6-8; Matt. 20:28, 26:28; Acts 2:38).
At the same time, love cannot be forced! The Shulammite and her beloved loved each other freely. Thus it is with God. He loves us freely and wants us to do the same (Matt. 11:18-20; Rev. 22:14; etc.). His banner of love covers us; will we accept it? Will we tell others about this love? Indeed, “the greatest” is love (I Cor. 13:13), and this passage gives us a glimpse as to why!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
The Song of Solomon is often called the “Song of Songs” based upon the first verse of the book. The writing is somewhat enigmatic to us in the Western world because it uses rich, flowery imagery when we tend not to write in this manner much these days. Song of Solomon refers to geography many of us have not seen, and it uses a style of writing where the characters speak in monologue rather than dialog. We read of speeches by the “Chorus,” called the daughters of Jerusalem, the groom (more than likely Solomon, though some disagree with this), and the Shulammite (bride). While the groom and bride never really talk “to” each other in this song, their expressions of love and commitment are crystal clear.
Recognizing some of the difficult parts of the book does not mean this work cannot be understood. It can be understood when we make the time to read carefully, study the text, and apply it to ourselves. When we study, we will see that this song has applications not only between those two lovers but also with married people today. A cursory reading shows us the expression of marital love in this song, and such expressions are beautiful in context (Heb. 13:4). Additionally, folks have compared this text to Christ and the church for similar reasons. While I do not think this was a “Messianic” song, in the sense that the Bible does not contradict, and that all its teachings agree, there is no question we can find truths revealed here that reflect in Christ and His church. This is especially true when we consider the imagery of husband and wife used by Paul (Eph. 5:22-33).
When we read the inspired description “Song of Songs” in verse one, we know this is significant. Solomon wrote 1,005 songs (I Kings 4:32), and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (II Tim. 3:16-17; II Pet. 1:21-22), this song is described in superlative terms to tell us this is the most beautiful of Solomon’s songs.
If for no other reason than this, this book deserves to be read, understood, and applied (Rom. 15:4). This book does not mention “God” specifically, but neither does the book of Esther. This does not mean the song is irreverent, nor does it mean it is uninspired. God’s name is not mentioned, but God’s hand is seen on every page just like in the book of Esther. Furthermore, the groom and bride’s respect for God’s plan for marriage is apparent in this song. When we read this book, let us note the beauty of the language, let us allow our minds to dwell on the love of a husband and a wife and appreciate what God has given to us in this extraordinary book.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Song of Solomon 1:3 contains the Shulammite’s words when she says her future husband’s name is “as ointment poured forth” (KJV). Other versions record this as his name is, “as perfume running out” (ASV), “spreading perfume” (CEV), “sweeter than the best perfume” (ERV), “perfume poured out” (ISV), and “the finest perfume” (NET).
In the immediate context, is this not the way of those in love? To mention his name (or her name) is to mention something that warms the heart and excites the senses. Just as sweet as perfume is the name of this person to the one in love. The context of Song of Solomon 1:3 concerns those not yet married. The excitement and thrill of those “dating” or “engaged” are wonderful to experience and witness in others. At the same time, who says such passion and delight must end with the passing of years? Husbands and wives, how does the name of your spouse sound to you today? Is it still as sweet or sweeter than when first mentioned years ago? If not, why not? May the excitement and joy at hearing your beloveds name continue as long as you live! May the “perfume” and “sweetness” in the name increase as the years continue. No doubt, this would be the intention of the Shulammite, and it ought to be our intention today with our beloved spouse.
In this verse, I also see an application that can be made to the Christian and Christ. After all, Christ’s name is better than all names. His authority is higher than all authority (Matt. 28:18; Acts 4:12). He is “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6). Indeed, the sound of His name to us ought to be better and sweeter than all perfume. Paul states that at the name of Christ, “every knee” will bow (Phil. 2:10). His power is greater than anything of man’s devising (Col. 3:17). Therefore, we need to turn to Him for comfort, strength, and salvation. Let us also look to Him in anticipation to one day hear the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21, 23)!
How is this a possibility for us? It is possible when we believe in Jesus as the Son of God (Jn. 8:32). He is more than a mere man, more than a prophet, more than a religious leader. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (I Tim. 6:15)! He is the Son of God who loved us and died as a sacrifice for our sins! Believe in Him, repent of your past sins (Lk. 13:3), confess His wonderful name as the Son of God (Acts 8:37; Rom. 10:10), and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). When we do this, and we live for Christ, truly, His name will sound sweeter than all, and will be better to us than any perfume, for we recognize that it is Christ who is our Savior, who loves us, and who wants us to be with him in eternity in Heaven! What a beautiful thought and what a beautiful name!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs