The next few weeks we will be in a series from the book Song of Solomon which is about dating, marriage, romance, intimacy, conflict and lasting marriage. There are so many lies from culture, media, movies that has caused confusion, unreasonable expectations, demands in this area. People go through so much hurt, disappointment, pain and tragedy. People carry so much baggage from the past which affects future relationships. There are even fears to get married, fears about being lonely, fears whether you will marry the right person. When you get married then there are fears of conflict and wether your marriage will be lasting and satisfying. But in all this we have to remember that God has designed us for relationships and created marriage to express and experience love, satisfaction, intimacy, romance and delight.
The Song of Solomon is the perfect book that addresses all these. Solomon is the author who is a shepherd and king falling in love with a Shulamite woman whose name is not revealed. This is a poem and is part of the wisdom books in Old Testament. Song of Songs simply means the greatest of all songs like the phrase Lord of Lords or King of Kings.
Is Solomon the right person to pen these words having been with 1000 wives and concubines? That’s a tough question but God did choose him and inspired him to write this book. We come to this book not on the strength of Solomon’s character but on the strength of the character of God. He choses the most unlikely people to show his grace just like he chose us. The poem follows the couple from their time of courtship to engagement, wedding, seasons of conflict and how they sustain their love in marriage and finish strong.
This sermon is titled Attraction and we will look at Song 1:1-2:7. When it comes to relationships, what should attract you? What is true romance?
A. True romance is more than Physical attraction
1:1 The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s. (She) 2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine;
She is physically attracted to Solomon. That’s how attraction begins and God has created us to appreciate beauty in others. Physical attractions are not sin. But how we deal with these attractions determine the outcomes. True romance does not stop with physical attractions.
3 Your anointing oils are fragrant; Your name is oil poured out; therefore virgins love you. 4
Draw me after you; let us run. The king has brought me into his chambers. (Others) We will exult and rejoice in you; we will extol your love more than wine; rightly do they love you.
Oils are perfume which fills the room with aroma and fragrance. A few drops produce a pleasing and soothing effect. These oils point to the character of Solomon. His character is like these oils, dependable, godly, reliable, trustworthy and that’s the reason people love him.
Proverbs 22:1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches
If you are going to be attracted to someone, be attracted to their good name and character, not just their physical beauty, material possessions, where they work or how much money they make.
Physical attraction is not wrong but it is inadequate and insufficient. It does not give a solid foundation for a lasting relationship. The Bible warns us of physical beauty in Proverbs 6:25 and Proverbs 31:30. The Bible is not against physical attractiveness but warns that one should not give too much significance only to external beauty.
Why is this?
Firstly, physical beauty and attractiveness can blind you to the person’s true nature. Some times it blinds the person from being able to discern. Physical attractiveness does not reveal true heart motives. There can be deep insecurities hidden behind the person’s external qualities.
Secondly, physical beauty often stunts character development. When someone is athletic, smart, good looking and has enviable physical attractiveness, then it is possible that character formations such as patience, perseverance, humility, servant heart can be stunted as sometimes things can be too easy.
Lastly, physical beauty will not last, it will leave you dissatisfied in the long run and surely deteriorates. Therefore building a relationship merely on physical attractiveness is not wise.
Then what should attract us? True romance moves beyond physical attraction and desires to know the other person’s heart, their dreams and their character.
4 Draw me after you; let us run. The king has brought me into his chambers. We will exult and rejoice in you; we will extol your love more than wine; rightly do they love you.
She is not talking about elopement here but a desire and yearning to know Solomon deeper. The chambers are referring to and invitation into his heart, dreams and desires.
5 I am very dark, but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon. 6 Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has looked upon me. My mother's sons were angry with me; they made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept!
She is struggling with her complexion, looks and is insecure because of that. Women during ancient times cover their skin to protect from heat and sun as their skin is an attractive value in ancient culture. For some reason, there seems to be a crisis in her family where she is forced to work in the vineyard under the sun exposed to the heat. As a result she is sun burnt and grows up insecure about how she looks. She says she has kept the family vineyard but didn’t take care of her own vineyard which is her own skin and appearance.
Behind this insecurity we see a woman who is willing to be responsible for her family and put their interests above her own interests. We see that Solomon is just attracted to more than her physical looks.
7 Tell me, you whom my soul loves, where you pasture your flock, where you make it lie down at noon; for why should I be like one who veils herself beside the flocks of your companions
She wants to know where Solomon pastures his flock so they can get to know each other. But her intent is so clear here. She does not want to be like those who veil themselves, referring to prostitutes during that time who come to seduce the men. She draws clear boundaries and is not desperate for a relationship.
This is an important quality when getting into a relationship. Insecurity makes one desperate. Desperation creates anxiety. What if no one marries me? What if I end up alone? It can even seem like confidence on the outside but it could be desperation on the inside.
Desperation creates compromise, it leads to a lack of self control, results in poor choices and leads on a path of destruction and regret. Desperation fuels the relationship and not true romance.
Can be exciting at the moment but will not lead to a lasting, fulfilling and satisfying marriage. Is desperation and insecurity a problem for you?
True romance is more than physical attraction, chemistry and appearance and is attracted to the character of the other person.
B. True Romance is life giving
(He) 8 If you do not know, O most beautiful among women, follow in the tracks of the flock, and pasture your young goats beside the shepherds' tents. 9 I compare you, my love, to a mare among Pharaoh's chariots.
The mare among the Pharaoh’s chariot is a white Arabian horse that stands out among the Pharaoh’s army. So Solomon who is speaking here for the first time says he notices her, she is most beautiful among all the women, she stands out like the mare among Pharaoh’s chariots.
10 your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, neck with string of jewels
He finds her valuable, like a treasure and he compliments her for her true beauty. We see that she was insecure about looks but true romance is life giving. It drives out insecurities and communicates with words about the value, worth and beauty of the person. It affirms, compliments and assures. True romance is more than flirting, it is life giving.
Insecurities creep into any relationship and even marriage. Insecurities about looks, because of work, health, financial trouble, seasons of motherhood, parenting etc. Men are usually insecure about their performance while women are generally insecure about their appearance. But true romance loves past and loves through these insecurities.
(She) 12 While the king was on his couch, my nard gave forth its fragrance. 13 My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh that lies between my breasts. 14 My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms in the vineyards of Engedi.
She’s imagining as she thinks about Solomon. He is like a sachet of myrrh, a perfume that hangs from her neck. His memory is constant and pleasant. He stands out like henna blossoms which are clusters of flowers in the desert of Engedi.
(He) 15 Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves.
(She) 16 Behold, you are beautiful, my beloved, truly delightful. Our couch is green;
17 the beams of our house are cedar; our rafters are pine.
We see both are affirming each other with words that give life and value. They are creative in communication and reciprocate to the other person’s love. Their relationship is getting deeper but it is in the open fields and parks and not in some dark corner, alone and in secret. Their couch is the green parks and their place of hanging out is in the open gardens where there are trees of cedar and pine.
2:1 I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys. (He) 2 As a lily among brambles, so is my love among the young women.
She feels affirmed and finds herself beautiful like a lily. His words have infused confidence in her and makes her feel special.
(She) 3 As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. 4 He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. 5 Sustain me with raisins; refresh me with apples, for I am sick with love. 6 His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me! 4 He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.
She reciprocates his love by noticing him and comparing him to the apple tree that stands out in the forest. True romance is not only words of affirmation and approval but it is also evident in actions. She is safe in his shadow, meaning his presence. She is not nervous or anxious to perform, insecure around him, or having to deal with a jealous partner or unhealthy possessiveness. She is at ease in mind and heart. Their relationship is not distant or cold but kind, decent, generous and gentle.
True romance is more than physical attraction, it is life giving.
C. True romance fights for purity
6 His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me! 7 I adjure u, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.
She is imagining and desiring for physical affection. As they grow deeper in their relationship with true romance, getting to know each other’s heart and character, there is also a growing desire for physical affection. And she is pleading and calling on her listeners to give an oath not to awaken love before the right time. Not to be physically intimate and show expressions of physical love until the time comes. There is a plea for clear boundaries and to fight for purity.
Culture will laugh at this. Some will say these things always happen. People will say this is how you will know if you are compatible for marriage. But here is a plea to listen to God’s word. Some live in denial about physical attraction. It is important to be aware that as you grow in your relationship, there will also be a growing desire and craving for physical and sexual touch.
God has given us physical intimacy as a privilege and benefits within a covenant relationship of marriage. Culture wants the privilege and benefit of marriage without the commitment and responsibilities of marriage.
Why does the bible warn us? Whats the big deal? Everyone does this right?
Firstly it is important to understand that God is not trying to keep you from something, rather he is preserving you to enjoy intimacy in all its fulness, glory and pleasure in marriage.
Secondly, when you grow physically intimate too quickly, you don’t grow in true intimacy of heart and soul. Physical intimacy short circuits true intimacy, it caps, stunts and destroys true intimacy of the heart. Physical intimacy makes you think you are intimate but its a false intimacy and just an illusion. When you become physically intimate outside of marriage, then you stop sharing, caring and pursuing each other’s heart and dreams. It can be exciting but it will be leave you empty. It will simply be making you more selfish and giving in to each other’s selfish and self gratifying demands.
True romance on the other hand fights for purity. It sets boundaries, waits patiently, recognises the longing but it takes God’s commands seriously and fights to protect the relationship.
True romance is more than physical attraction, it is life giving and fights for purity.
What if you are someone who has awakened love before time? Will you never experience true love in marriage? What if you are married and you see mistakes you did in the past? What if there is shame and guilt inside you?
This is why Jesus came into this world, to pay for our romantic and sexual sins, for our failures in the area of romance and marriage. Jesus invites us to repent and cling to him as he alone has the power to forgive, renew, restore our broken hearts and relationships.
What if you don’t get to experience love like this? Maybe be you are insecure and desperate on the inside. Remember that no human love can fulfil and satisfy your desperation. Only Jesus can satisfy your deepest need. Jesus brings you into the ultimate banqueting house and his banner over you is love. No earthly love can be compared to how Christ has loved and pursued and is now preparing a place for you to be with him forever. When we look for this love in any other person, we will only end up disappointed.
When I repent genuinely and seek to walk in God’s ways, want to honour him, Jesus is waiting to heal, restore, renew, refresh and bring life into your heart. Maybe you need to repent or get accountable about your relationships or break off unhealthy relationship or wait with patience. May we be like the wise man who build his house upon the rock of the word of God.