Solomon’s Say on Valentine’s Day
by Christy Kent
I confess that I am a true romantic at heart. I love being in love. I think that being in love makes the world seem more alive! I love syrupy-sweet love stories and films where two people with random sets of circumstances meet, fall in love, and decide that all of their searching is over – that this person is the missing piece in their lives.
Part of my happily ever after includes a prince charming who also turned out to be a lieutenant in the not-so-royal U.S. Navy. And since I’ll be spending this Valentine’s Day sans the lieutenant, I decided it was the perfect opportunity for me to forgo the sad thoughts of my vacated valentine and take on the topic of love and romance, OT style…Old Testament, that is.
What better way to learn more about God’s plan for a romantic marriage than to delve straight into the depths of the most skipped over, most tip-toed around book in the Bible…that’s right, I’m talking about Song of Songs. Let’s just say that this particular book didn’t present a topic most favored by Brother Lonnie, my beloved childhood pastor – my retired army colonel / National Guard chaplain / Southern Baptist preacher extraordinaire. No, he much preferred hellfire and brimstone (and I’ll love him till the day I die).
After a little digging around, I found out that young Hebrew boys weren’t even aloud to read or study the book of Song of Songs until their thirties! Whew, talk about anticipation. I also discovered some more scholarly research, which pointed toward the allegorical implications of Song of Songs. Basically, you can view the book one of two ways, as a representation of the Church as the Bride of Christ or as a beautiful poem between two lovers. Honestly, the book’s true meaning is probably closer to a combination of the two viewpoints.
Song of Songs paints a descriptive picture of what premarital, marital, and post-marital life for Christians should be. If you can wade through the vivid imagery and look past the fact that King Solomon, the original ladies’ man, actually had 700 wives and 300 concubines (I Kings 11:3) you have a complete guidebook to “Fiery, Passionate Marriage 101.”
When you dissect and discern the text and again, if you can embrace the imagery, you actually have the story of a Hebrew Cinderella. Here’s my personal interpretation of this beautiful, but obscure book of the Bible.
The great and wise King Solomon was traveling throughout some of the vineyards in his kingdom when he spied a beautiful young girl, a commoner who captured his attention. Now, King Solomon could have just had his men capture the young maiden and added her to his harem lickety-split, but this girl was extremely beautiful and special in his eyes. This girl was worth the hunt. So, King Solomon disguised himself as a shepherd and wooed the young girl saying:
10 How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride!
How much more pleasing is your love than wine,
and the fragrance of your perfume more than any spice!
11 Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride;
milk and honey are under your tongue.
The fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
12 You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride;
you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain. (4:10-12)
Boy, King Solomon sure did have a way with words. And even though he was a man of experience, having had a harem the size of a small town, some scholars say that this girl was different… this girl that made him feel a way he hadn’t felt before. Swoon!
The king eventually revealed himself and the two were married in a lavish ceremony. Now, unlike the fairytale Cinderella, the story doesn’t end here. It continues on and reveals that palace life for the young bride wasn’t all peaches and cream, or should I say figs and honey. Somehow, that seems more appropriate for the story’s setting. The two struggle over the constraints of palace life. The young girl complains that she wishes to be free from the social proprieties, which keep her from expressing her love to her husband outwardly, like back at the vineyard. Not to mention, she had to compete with Solomon’s existing colony of women.
So, even this beautiful, poetic couple had marital conflict. The king acknowledged earlier in the story that these types of problems would arise saying:
15 Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes
that ruin the vineyards,
our vineyards that are in bloom. (2:15)
So how can we apply this beautiful lovers’ poem to our marriages today? Perhaps we can begin by acknowledging and identifying the sly foxes in our own relationships and work on developing ways to rid them from our vineyards. For military families, these foxes can be the stresses of separation, financial woes, feelings of loneliness and isolation, the stresses of feeling like a single parent, and even infidelity.
It’s ironic to me that the proposed author of this book of the Bible, King Solomon, son of David and Bathsheba and born from an adulterous affair, is the person God chose to impart such divine wisdom on the subject of true love. God used Solomon’s birth as a gateway to guidance, through the reading of His word, and revealed what a loving relationship grounded in God’s love should look like. It is amazing how God can use even the worst of situations, the worst of sins for His glory.
Perhaps this Valentine’s Day, we can make a special effort to apply this biblical love story to our own marital relationships by celebrating the gifts of love and sex between a husband and wife as true gifts from God.
It’s hard for me to take in that on top of the precious gift of eternal life and the chance to have a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe, God also affords me the blessing of true love! It turns out that all of this romance is part of God’s plan for our lives. In fact, the Bible states it right off the bat in Genesis saying:
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be
united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. (2:24)
It turns out that this verse is echoed many times throughout the rest of the Bible, which further solidifies God’s intent for a loving marriage. (Examples include Malachi 2:15, Matthew 19:5, Mark 10:7-8, and Ephesians 5:31.)
I encourage you to form your own interpretation of Song of Songs by reading it yourself. Perhaps through Solomon’s writings we can begin to understand the value God places on the expression, the preservation, and the growth human love with all of its joys, complexities, and its struggles. After all, God is the author of love. God is love.
About the Author:
A Navy lieutenant’s wife and a freelance writer, Christy is a librarian who traded in her barcode scanner for a minivan and stays at home with her three children. She copes with the stresses of military life through prayer and writing and enjoys all that daily domestic “divahood” brings, one juice box at a time. Writing helps her balance her sense of purpose in life, as she sometimes feels suppressed by dirty diapers and temper tantrums. She tries to balance her romance with the lieutenant and her relationship with God while keeping her small children fed, clothed, and generally happy. You can find more stories from her home front by visiting www.thelieutenantswife.wordpress.com