In Song of Solomon 3:6-11 we encounter the wedding of Solomon and his beloved. The passage is not a prescription for how to organise a wedding but we are able to see the qualities one has to look for in a groom before marriage. As men who are preparing for marriage, are these qualities seen in you? We will see 4 qualities from this passage. These 4 qualities are not an exhaustive list but are some observations from this current passage. Also, some of these qualities are applicable to both groom and bride.
3:6 What is that coming up from the wilderness like columns of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all the fragrant powders of a merchant?
We see the groom arriving with fan fare amid massive celebration. Every one notices the groom arrive as smoke from the incense and oils arises. The aroma from the perfume of myrrh and frankincense and the fragrance of various spices fills the air.
7 Behold, it is the litter of Solomon! Around it are sixty mighty men, some of the mighty men of Israel, 8 all of them wearing swords and expert in war, each with his sword at his thigh, against
terror by night.
Solomon’s carriage arrives with 60 mighty men of Israel wearing swords accompanying Solomon. These men are experts in war, men who have fought battles with Solomon. They are close to him and loyal friends. They are similar to the 30 mighty warriors who accompanied David.
9 King Solomon made himself a carriage from the wood of Lebanon. 10 He made its posts of silver, its back of gold, its seat of purple; its interior was inlaid with love by the daughters of Jerusalem.
Solomon himself made his carriage from the wood of Lebanon with silver posts, golden back and purple seat. This shows that nothing but the best material was used for this carriage. This is a sign of Solomon’s royalty, nobility and regality.
11 Go out, O daughters of Zion, and look upon King Solomon, with the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his wedding, on the day of the gladness of his heart.
People rush to see King Solomon wearing the crown given by his mother and the wedding celebrations are a display of Solomon’s desire to marry his beloved.
Here are the 4 qualities we observe from this passage when you look for a groom to marry. It is wise for men to grow in these 4 qualities not just before marriage but even after marriage.
In v.6, we see smoke from the incense, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense and the fragrance from oils and spices fill the air. This points to Solomon’s character and reputation that precedes him. What do you look for in a groom? We look for character, not just salary, caste, tribe or other external criteria. These are all peripheral issues but character is one that you watch closely.
What kind of character did Solomon have? This is evident in Proverbs. Solomon was a man who feared God. Fearing and loving God is the cornerstone of a biblical marriage. Fearing and loving God will help overcome problems, stay committed, pursue in love, sacrifice for the other, be gracious, forgive, to lead and love as Christ. All this comes from a relationship with God. This is the most important character quality to look for in a groom.
A biblical marriage has two non negotiable, namely a biblical marriage is between man and a woman, and a biblical marriage is between two believers who love the Lord Jesus.
1 Corinthian 7:39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.
2 Corinthian 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.
Both these passages indicate that scripture assumes that when we marry, we marry a believer. In the first passage, Paul commands believing wives who are widowed can marry again if they wish but they should marry only in the Lord. This is not just for someone widowed but its an assumption for any believer planning to get married that they will marry another believer.
The second marriage talks about not to be unequally yolked with unbelievers in any practical matters. Though it is not explicitly about marriage, but marriage is the greatest, most intimate and deepest union between a man and woman. Hence this passage chiefly applies to marriage.
A Biblical marriage is a picture of the gospel, a display of the covenant between Christ and the church, a display of God himself. A biblical marriage makes the gospel, the grace and the glory of God visible to others. This is impossible with unbeliever.
When a believer is dating or planning to marry an unbeliever, they are clearly going against the command and will of God and in this there is no ambiguity. If your marriage partner does not understand the core of your faith, then you can never be truly one, never truly glorify God and worship him together.
The question to ask before looking for a marriage partner is, what is your greatest desire? If Jesus is your greatest desire, then your heart will bow in obedience to his command. But if he is not, then someone else or something else will have the greatest desire of your life and that is what sin is. The other question to ask is what is your aim in marriage? If your aim is to have a biblical marriage, a marriage that glorifies and honours God, where you serve God together, then marrying an unbeliever is out of the question. And most who go ahead and marry an unbeliever will either push Jesus to the periphery of their life in order to please their spouse, or push their spouse to the periphery ignorer to be firm in their faith. Either way, the person will have an unhappy life and marriage.
So the first and chief quality to look for in a groom (or a bride) is for a character that loves and fears God above all else.
In v.7, there are 60 mighty men with Solomon. These are men who fought battles with him, who are committed and loyal to him. These men stand by Solomon and can vouch for his character.
How do you know someone’s character, whether someone loves Jesus supremely? Look at their circle of friends. Two ways to see evidence of their character are,
a. If they claim to love Jesus, they will love the church as well. They will love the bride for which Christ gave his life. This will be evident in how regular, committed, generous, serving, growing they are in the community of the church. Those who claim to love Christ but don't attend church have a mismatch between their belief and practice. Do you see evidence of their genuine involvement in the local church?
b. Are they accountable to others? Are they in an honest relationship with other men? Do they listen to other men and are open to their input into their life? Do others pray for him? Is he surrounded by men who fight with him for spiritual growth and purity? Can he introduce you to such people who can vouch for this person? Keep your ears open and attentive to these signs.
Being accountable to others is hard for both men and women. But this is a quality to look for in both the groom and the bride. Are they submissive to authority, humble in posture, do they answer tough questions from those they are doing life with, are they honest? We need courages, persistent, hopeful, praying friends in our lives. If you dont have such friends, seek them, invite them into your life and get into such relationships with people from the same gender. Such people are hard to find and if you have them, treasure them.
In v.9, we see Solomon’s ability to provide. He makes his own chariot with the best resources available. He wants to do his best for his beloved. A quality to look for in a groom is their desire and ability to provide, to be generous with their money and possessions, to be hard working and committed to take care of the bride. Does this person have any debt? Have they fulfilled or in the process of fulfilling any financial obligations to family or any outstanding loans?
We are not talking about luxury or extravagance when it comes to ability to provide. But to have a job, to hold a job and to be generous and not be too consumed with work or material things are key indicators of the person’s heart.
In v.11, the day of their wedding is described as the day of the gladness of Solomon’s heart. Solomon is delighted to marry his beloved.
Is the person you are doing to marry glad to marry you? Are they delighted to commit to you for the rest of your life and make a covenant with you before God? Delight is seen in commitment, you don’t drift into a happy marriage. Delight is seen in being intentional and purposeful. Delight is seen in how the relationship progresses to deeper commitment. They delight in you and not just in the physical attraction. There is clarity in the relationship. They don’t avoid hard talks, meeting parents, taking initiative or handling conflicts. Delight is seen in how gracious they are, how open they are to correction, how forgiving they are when wronged and how repentant they are when they are wrong.
The greatest test for a man is not about his job or issue with lust but in being passive. Passivity is the root sin for men right from the garden. Adam blames Eve and the Serpent for his own passivity. Today we see passivity in men when they are reluctant to step into commitment, to lead their homes, grow in Lord, disciple their kids, resolve conflicts, take initiative, own their faults and be responsible for their actions.
Either men are passive or aggressive where they dominate, come across harsh and rude, not willing to listen and not open to counsel. Passivity in men is not a tribal or regional issue, but a sin issue. Men aggressively pursue before marriage but tend to settle into a sinful passivity after marriage. They stop pursuing, stop wooing, stop affirming and stop loving.
The strength of a man is not in the gold chariot but as in v.10, it is inlaid with love.
There is an inner strength which comes from knowing God personally.
There is an inner confidence coming from their identity rooted in christ.
There is an inner peace from their time alone with God. They are not restless for approval, control or power but find deep rest in Christ.
There is an inner poise and nothing in this world will shake their faith or character.
There is an inner love which may not be seen but evidenced in sacrificial, generous and gentle love, putting the needs of others ahead of themselves, being genuine and caring.
There is an inner commitment to reject passivity and pursue their Christ and their spouse at all cost.
When you choose someone, are you confident in their character, not perfect, but growing in Christ? Are you able to observe their friends who are fighting for him and with him for a godly life? Are you able to see evidence that he will work hard and provide for you? Do you sense delight in his heart that he is marrying you?
If you are in an unequally yoked relationship, will you repent and obey God?
If you are hurt by relationships or desperate to be in one, will you bring your hurts and desperation to Jesus?
If you are in a marriage that is difficult, will you look to Christ, to see how he loves the church even though the church is unfaithful and disobedient. Will you be like Christ in this marriage by deepening your commitment to your spouse?
Single men (and women), do you see these qualities? Married men (and women), will you surround yourself with wise, prayerful, loving, caring men who will guide you to be more like Christ? Will you reject passivity in any form whether you are single or married and repent before God? Will you heed to God’s word and submit to him joyfully?