Today’s reading Acts 17:1-15, Song of Solomons 1.
I don’t understand the inner workings of the scheduling of FDRs and the allocation of bible passages to contributors – however I am confident that James Boswell and Steve Bowden both owe me a coffee for allocating me the first devotion in a series on Song of Soloman this morning! So just as the apostle Peter stepped out of the boat onto the water with much fear and trembling all those years ago – this 21st Century Peter hesitantly shares some thoughts on Songs of Solomon this morning.
Biblical Marriage on the ropes
The same-sex marriage debate rages all around us – on our TVs, on the Internet, in our schools and even in our homes. Those that publicly affirm that marriage should be between a man and a woman are often ridiculled and have been called “hateful”, “intolerant” and in the “dark ages”. Divorce rates are as high as ever, as are reports of domestic violence against women.
It seems that in Australia in 2016 biblical marriage is “down for the count” or at the very least “on the ropes”
This morning King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, speaks into this confusion with his portrait of marriage in his book, the Song of Soloman. To our surprise (and relief) the picture of marriage painted in this Old Testament book written thousands of years ago is not one of boring monotony, of tired hassled young parents endlessly running kids to afterschool activities, or of pudgy middle-aged “happily marrieds” wearily agreeing “not tonight dear”.
The vision of marriage we have here in God’s Word is hot and steamy. It is about longing and desire, love and beauty, intimacy and tenderness.
A few observations then on Chapter 1 to kick us off.
Observation 1: God made Sex – and it was Good!
It is impossible to read this chapter without being struck by the sensuality of this love poem. I counted the number of body parts that are mentioned in these few verses – and there are a lot! There are references to sight and sounds and smells to tickle the senses.
Clearly God made us physical beings, sexual beings – and it is good! The true expression of our sexuality is in the context of a life-long marriage union between a man and woman (in this case the King and his bride)
Psalm 103:3 reads “You satisfy our desires with Good things” – and God is true to His Word. God does that in biblical marriage.
Let chapter 1 be a reminder that sex, in the context of marriage is not shameful, dirty or wrong – it is amazingly good!
Observation 2: They are into each other’s bodies.
The passage does not tell us a lot about the physical appearance of the couple. We know that he is liked by the young women (vs 3) – perhaps because he was good looking. We know that she is embarrassed about her dark appearance and has been hard at work in the fields in the sun (v6).
We also know that they love each other’s bodies!
I remember hearing a speaker once saying that he was into 46 year old, 5 foot 6 women with sandy hair. Next year he will be into 47 year old, 5 foot 6 women with sandy hair because his wife will be having a birthday!
Whatever size or shape we are – have eyes only for each other!
Observation 3: He talks to her.
In our culture men are often portrayed as unfeeling uncommunicative brutes. Not this guy!
He tells her she is beautiful. He tells her he loves her. He speaks to her with gentleness and tenderness.
A great reminder for married men today that physical intimacy starts with emotional intimacy. Talk to your wives guys!
Observation 4: The Friends have something to say
It would seem that, as some level, the encouragement of good friends has a role to play in successful marriages. Their friends encourage their love (vs 4) and are happy about it. They provide advice when needed (vs 8)
We should encourage each other in our marriages. Celebrate each other’s love! Get excited, be encouraging, praise God for his gift of marriage for our friends.
Dear Lord, please reshape our inadequate perceptions of marriage and give us a glimpse of your design for married men and women. Give us the desire to love our spouses, as Christ loves His church, and as King Solomon and his bride loved each other. Amen