Have you ever read a portion of the Bible that gave you pause? As you read, you thought, “That doesn’t seem to square with what I think about God.” This has happened to me many times reading the Old Testament prophets or the book of Revelation, but I also have that response whenever I read the Song of Solomon. Yes, I know it’s a book about sex, but it still strikes me with its sensual, erotic imagery. Is God truly that passionate? Is He really okay with everything this man and woman thought about, said and did together?
Because sexual pleasure has been so twisted in our culture, it can be difficult to grasp the fact that God created sexual intimacy to be exciting, vulnerable, powerful and satisfying. This little Old Testament book gives us God’s stamp of approval for a married couple to deeply enjoy each other sexually. Isn’t it ironic how Satan wants us to enjoy sex outside of marriage but he works to sabotage sexual pleasure within marriage? How few married couples can truly say that they enjoy the gift of sexual intimacy, as God designed it to be enjoyed!
I’ve read the book Song of Solomon many times, but recently God showed me something a little different. This man and women found the deepest sexual pleasure together by focussing on the beauty of one another. The husband and wife took turns praising each other. It’s as if they couldn’t find enough words to express how pleasing and beautiful they were to each other. Take a look.
The husband says of his wife:
How beautiful you are, my darling; Oh, how beautiful! Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from Mount Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn, coming up from washing; Each has its twin; not one of them is alone.
Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon; your mouth is lovely.
Your temples behind your view are like the halves of pomegranate.
Your neck is like the tower of David, built with elegance; on it hang a thousand shields, all of them shields of warriors.
Your two breasts are like two fawns, like win fawns of a gazelle…You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride.
The wife says of her husband:
My lover is radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand. His hair is purest gold; his hair is wavy and black as a raven.
His eyes are like doves by the water streams, washed in milk, mounted like jewels. His cheeks are like beds of spice yielding perfume.
His lips are like lilies dripping with myrrh. His arms are rods of gold set with chrysolite.
His body is like polished ivory decorated with sapphires. His legs are pillars of marble set on bases of pure gold.
These passages are just a sample of praise found in Song of Solomon. About half of the book is this love-sick couple praising each other.
As you read this, you may think back to the puppy-love days of being a newlywed. Back then, it was easier to praise each other in bed. He had more hair, a flatter stomach, and more ivory-like muscles. Her face was without wrinkles, her body was firm and her breath didn’t stink. However, the secret in Song of Solomon is not just for the newlywed, but for all married couples.
Love flourishes when we choose to delight in one another.
Great sexual intimacy isn’t the result of perfect bodies. The tumultuous relationships reported in the Hollywood tabloids should prove this to us. Here are people with beautiful bodies that can’t seem to stay together for more than a couple of months. Great lovers sustain a relationship because they see through a different lens. They learn to consistently delight in each other… not in who they used to be or in who you wish they would become, but in who they actually are.
I often get asked the question, “What if I’m simply not attracted to my husband/wife?” Then the person documents how much weight their spouse has gained or how poorly he or she dresses. Sure, actual physical appearance matters. You owe it to yourself and to your spouse to put some effort into looking nice.
However, our bodies are imperfect and will continue to sag and deteriorate as we age. None of us are “outstanding among the thousand.” The key to staying attracted to each other is the choice to focus on the other person’s beauty (internal and external), rather than being distracted by their flaws. This can be a constant battle of the will, but it’s one that God wants to you to fight and win.
The Song of Solomon, among other biblical passages, demonstrates that God wants you to be in love, on fire and passionate about the man or woman you are married to. He is all for a red-hot marriage… not one fueled by fantasy, but one fueled by delight.
I’m not very poetic and my husband I have have been married for over 22 years. Sometimes we look at a recent picture and say, “Wow. We’re getting old!” but there is still much to delight in. I’m not going to share everything I love about Mike :), but here’s an example to get you started. I delight in my husband’s broad shoulders and tall frame. His blue eyes sparkle whenever he laughs. I always feel safe with him because I know he wants to protect me.
So here’s the challenge… Can you write a poem (or even a love letter) about what you find beautiful about your spouse?