We continue our series from the Book of Song of Solomon. Today we will follow along in the relationship between Solomon and his beloved during their courtship period. A period of courtship is when the relationship is growing deeper and heading toward marriage. How does this period or courtship look like? How does true romance look like during this season in the relationship? The passage is from Song of Solomon 2:8-3:5.
Period of Courtship involves a Loving pursuit
2:8 The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes, leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills. 9 My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, there he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, looking through the lattice.
The Shulamite woman hears her beloved’s voice. He’s come leaping and skipping over the mountains and hills to visit her in her. We see in Chapter 4 that her home town is in Lebanon. He is like a gazelle or a young stag pursuing his beloved. He is gazing through the windows and looking through the lattice. This means that they are getting to know each other deeply, pursing her heart, dreams and character. This season of courtship is a loving pursuit which is life giving. This is not just motivated by physical attraction but involves praying and seeking God, involving others in their relationship for wise counsel and is also fighting for purity. There is a sense of longing and a loving desire toward each other. They want to meet, talk and spend time with each other.
10 My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away, 11 for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. 12 The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. 13 The fig tree ripens its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away.
Spring season is an indication that their love is blossoming, growing and deepening. When love is in the air, it feels like spring time. The flowers are blooming, birds singing, you hear your favourite tunes and romance fills the air.
We see in v.10 and 13 that he invites her to open up and talk, share her heart with him. Courtship is a season of wooing the other person, pursuing, listening, affirming. This is not only during the season of courtship but is a life long pursuit that continues even after marriage. This is what keeps romance between a couple alive. And when pursing and wooing stops, then a loving relationship is crippled and hampered.
A. Period of courtship involves a loving pursuit.
B. Period of courtship involves an Intentional preparation
14 O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.
The couple is entering a season where there is some misunderstanding and conflict. We don’t know what happened but it makes them grow apart. His beloved is like a dove hiding behind the rocks, in the clefts and crannies. She pulls away and is shy and hidden. But he keeps pursing her with gentleness and tenderness like getting close to a dove without startling it.
He longs to see her face and hear her voice. He continues to affirm her beauty and confirms his love for her.
The season of courtship is also a risky season as you become vulnerable, open your heart, expose your fears and reveal your dreams. There is a potential to get hurt, be disappointed, of being misunderstood, have conflicts and even face break up. But a loving pursuit involves intentionally pursuing each other through an open and honest relationship by being sincere, decent and genuine.
It is risky to be honest this way but no lasting relationship can be built on deceit and lies. There are no secrets between the couple especially about money, debt, work, future plans, expectations, past hurts, family or health issues. This is an intentional preparation to deal with all these issues as one pursues the other in love.
True romance does not just hang around but is direction, purpose and intentional. It is better to be honest and face the issues head on rather than hide and ruin the relationship in the future. Being honest also reveals how we deal with conflict, how we forgive each other, how gracious we are and giving room for God to lead, renew and restore.
How to be intentional? What can we do practically during courtship or engagement period?
15 Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards for our vineyards are in blossom
What are these little foxes that run around and ruin the vineyard? These are issues that come up in a relationship or marriage that seem small but has the capacity to fester, grow and kill romance. It is important to pay attention to these little issues. It can be something small as forgetting someone’s birthday, getting stuck at work and not showing up for something, forgetting to return a call or changing plans at the last minute. When married, these issues can be about parents, finances, kids that can grow into bitterness and resentment over a period of time.
Here the couple entreats others to help catch these little foxes. It is important to have people in our lives who we can trust and share our struggles to gain wisdom and insight. Intentional preparation during courtship involves being accountable, dealing with issues, pursing each other and not letting anything get in between.
Courtship involves a loving pursuit and an intentional preparation, a season where love deepens and blossoms but also being careful of not letting anything come in between that can derail and ruin the romance.
C. Period of courtship involves a deepening of commitment
16 My beloved is mine and I am his; he grazes among the lilies 17 Until the day breathes and the shadows flee, turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle or a young stag on cleft mountains
During courtship romance blossoms, conflicts happen but pursuit continues. Solomon is still like gazelle or a young stag but here he is compared to a gazelle that is on the cleft of a mountain. The gazelle is on rocky terrain with steep and slippery slopes and yet navigates this with caution and skill. Similarly Solomon is navigating this season of conflict with tenderness, wisdom, grace but is intentional.
3:1 On my bed by night I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him, but found him not. 2 I will rise now and go about the city, in the streets and in the squares; I will seek him whom my soul loves. I sought him, but found him not. 3 The watchmen found me as they went about in the city. “Have you seen him whom my soul loves?”
She is dreaming during her sleep and its a scary nightmare. She is recollecting a similar conflict and seeks her beloved who has left her in the dream. She seeks him and gets others to help her find him.
4 Scarcely had I passed them when I found him whom my soul loves. I held him, and would not let him go until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her who conceived me.
In the dream, she finds her beloved, she brings him back to her mother’s house which means their relationship is back to a safe and secure environment.
How is it possible to deal with these seasons of conflict consistently and honestly? It is because of a deepening commitment, my beloved is mine and I am his. It is conveying to each other that they are not quitting or going anywhere, issues don’t scare them but they are still pursing each other leaping and skipping toward one another.
Commitment is what reignites romance. Commitment is the foundation for safe, secure and growing relationship. It is the bedrock on which honest and open communications happen. It helps be vulnerable and weather all storms. This is true for courtship and true for marriage.
If you want romance to bloom and love to blossom, stay committed to pursue each other lovingly, be intentional to catch the little foxes, to not give room for bitterness or resentment.
5 I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.
Like last week, as the relationship grows and love deepens there is a growing desire for physical touch and intimacy. The beloved pleads to her listeners to take an oath to fight for purity in the relationship.
There is a deepening commitment to fight for purity, decency, honour and dignity, to resist the flesh, and to stay pure. There is a temptation during this season to take this lightly. Excuses like parents have agreed to our marriage, we are getting married anyway, everyone does it, whats the risk, why wait? But God cautions us to not awaken physical intimacy before we commit ourselves in marriage. God is not trying to ruin your life but he is protecting you to enjoy the delight and pleasure of marriage in all its glory. The danger is that when you become physically intimate during courting then you stop pursuing each other and grow in true intimacy of the heart.
If you have awakened love before time, come to Jesus with a heart of repentance and seek his forgiveness. If you are in a relationship, get accountable, get help and create boundaries.
For those going to have an arranged marriage, the season between engagement and marriage could b e the time to pursue each other honestly and intentionally preparing by going through counselling with a trusted couple. If you are married and are going through a season of no romance, would you deepen your commitment to your spouse. Don’t fall into despair or lose hope. Commitment is not
based on how you spouse responds but rather it is our posture toward our spouse and God. We tend to put romance before commitment. But commitment is the one that truly fuels and reignites romance in marriage. If you are single and wondering if there will be anyone who will pursue you like this. Remember that Jesus has pursued you. You can sing, my beloved is mine and I am his. Your identity is not based on the love of a person. It is a good desire to be loved by another person but not ultimate. In Christ you are pursued, chosen, loved, approved, accepted, not abandoned and nothing can separate you from Christ’s love.