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A Love Song for the Ages

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Song of Solomon 1; 2; 3:1–5

The Song of Solomon is a celebration of God’s gift of marriage and intimacy. God-given sexual desires are a part of the dating/engagement relationship that every dating/engaged man and woman together are to guard with the help of God and His word.


A Love Song for the Ages

The Song of Solomon 1:1–3:5


We have been exploring the inspired wisdom of Solomon. We studied his collection of Proverbs and more recently his private journal called Ecclesiastes.

Now, we begin our study in Solomon’s most famous love song, called The Song of Solomon. We get that title directly from chapter 1 and verse 1, where we read, “The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.” The Hebrew phrase “song of songs” means that this song is the best of the best. In other words, this is the best love song in human history. And it is going to beautifully celebrate love and intimacy in the context of marriage.

The church has struggled with this book over the centuries for two primary issues. First, this book is so obviously sensual. You almost do not expect something like this in the Bible.

Back when I was in seminary, I was discipling a young man who had recently come to faith in Christ. He had not been raised in church and knew nothing about the Bible. One evening when he came over for our study together, he said to me, “Stephen, you won’t believe what I found in the Bible”—and he was almost out of breath. I said, “What did you find?” And he said, “This book here, The Song of Solomon.” It was like he was saying, “What in the world is that book doing in the Bible?”

Well, I explained to him that God Himself created love and marriage. He officiated at the first wedding, uniting Adam and Eve. In other words, God created the boundaries for sexual relations in general. God created intimacy for married couples. The Song of Solomon happens to be a manual on that kind of intimacy.

Now the second issue the church has struggled with is a little tougher. Why would God use a man who had 700 wives and 300 mistresses to write this manual on marriage? Why would God use Solomon to celebrate something God created for one man and one woman in marriage? [1] That would be like asking a bank robber to come down to the bank and set up the security system.

Well, the truth remains—and it is humbling—that no human writer of Scripture was fully qualified to write any of God’s inspired Word. That is why the Bible ultimately is the work of God the Holy Spirit. And that God chose Solomon to write on love and marriage is another way of magnifying the grace of God.

(2 Timothy 3:16-17), so, stay with us and be encouraged.

As this song opens, keep in mind it is a poetic retelling of a courtship that led to marriage. In verse 2 here in chapter 1, we find a young woman imagining herself being kissed by her beloved. She says here, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine.” She is imagining the intimacy she will have with her soon-to-be husband, who happens to be King Solomon.

Her words here in verse 4 can literally be translated, “Oh, that the king would bring me into his chambers.”[2] She’s anticipating the wedding night. And with that, she starts inspecting her appearance in the mirror. And frankly, like any bride, she is not happy about everything she sees.

In verse 6, she complains about her dry, suntanned skin; and evidently her brothers had something to do with that, revealing some sort of family conflict. Listen to her words:

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!

Her “own vineyard” here is a reference to her own body. She has been too busy working to spend any time on herself. But then her mind is reassured that in spite of her calloused hands and suntanned skin, her beloved has chosen her to be his bride.

And with that thought, she is back to pursuing Solomon. She addresses him here in verse 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?

Solomon did not shepherd his own goats and sheep, of course, but her heart sees him as strong and trustworthy.

Now we hear from Solomon, who is equally smitten by her. He says in verse 9, “I compare you, my love, to a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots.”

Now I don’t know any ladies who would want to be compared to a mare—a female horse. That sounds like an insult, but not in Solomon’s day. The war chariots of Egypt were pulled by young stallions. Letting a mare loose among the stallions would be quite a distraction to these warhorses.[3] Solomon is saying, “Your love distracts me from whatever I am doing!”

Here in verses 12-14 the soon-to-be bride is sitting with Solomon on a couch, and she describes his presence as “blossoms in the vineyards of Engedi.” Engedi is an oasis filled with beautiful plants out in the Judean desert. She is basically saying that her beloved is like an oasis in a desert.

He responds in verse 15, saying, Behold you are beautiful, my love . . . your eyes are doves.” Well, that sounds a lot better than comparing her to a horse!

After sitting together and expressing their love for each other, there’s evidently a little hugging and kissing, as we read here in verse 6 of chapter 2, “His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me!” Then, rather suddenly, it’s as if she jumps up here in verse 7 as she speaks:

I adjure you [literally, “promise me”] O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.

In chapter 3 we come to an interesting dream she has later. In her dream she cannot find Solomon, and she frantically searches for him. Finally, she finds him and hugs him and doesn’t want to let him go.

In verse 5, she delivers this same warning:

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.

Now you might notice that God is not mentioned in this warning. However, this phrase “by the gazelles or the does of the field” in the Hebrew language sounds similar to the words, “the Lord of Hosts or God almighty.”[4]

I believe Solomon is giving a subtle allusion to the Lord here in this poem. So, the warning of this woman is this: “I adjure you … [by the Lord of Hosts, the Lord God almighty], that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.” Until it pleases whom? Solomon expects us all to say, “Well, until it pleases God!”

So, here is what the warning is communicating: “Stop! Hold back. Don’t cross the line. Trust God’s timing for that moment when you are married.”

This warning is all about the danger of sexual passion going too far before marriage. Let me tell you, that longing you feel for one another physically is part of God’s plan—and it is a legitimate part of that commitment to each other. But in the meantime, crossing the boundary God has set up will only lead to frustration and guilt.

So, do not see how close you can get to that boundary line of sexual purity. Set up a guard; talk openly to your beloved about this issue. Put some accountability in place, and put up the stop signs until you become husband and wife.

This little love song is proof that God wants you to enjoy what He created—but only in His time, in His way, and most importantly, according to His plan. So, be patient. Waiting for God’s blessing will be worth it, and you will never regret it.

[1] My position is that Solomon’s sin came years after this marriage and song.

[2] Michael A. Rydelnik and Tim M. Sigler, “Song of Solomon,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Moody Publishers, 2014), 991.

[3] Ibid., 992.

[4] Tremper Longman III, Song of Songs, New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Eerdmans, 2001), 116.

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