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Watch the message-video farther down, at the middle of post.
Wisdom books, such as Proverbs, Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes are given to us to show us how obedience to God, the glory of God are carried out and made known in the day to day routine of our lives. Think about the competitors to Christianity in our culture:
- Egotism: The idolatry of self – is addressed in the Book of Proverbs.
- Materialism: The idolatry of stuff – is addressed in the Book of Ecclesiastes
- Today we will look at (what some say is) the fiercest competitor to Christianity, in our culture, and that’s- Eroticism: The idolatry of sex – This is addressed in the Song of Solomon.
There is no question, over the last century in our culture, we have undergone a sexual revolution. Mark Dever writes: The most important revolution over the last century has been the sexual revolution. Contraception replaced conception. Pleasure was separated from responsibility. It was as if a license was given out, legitimizing the bending of every part of our lives to serving ourselves. Since that time, divorce, remarriage, abortion, premarital sex, and extramarital sex, as well as homosexuality have been accepted by increasing percentages of the public. Pornography is huge business, and this is not just a problem with society, out there. Many churches have found their members plagued by failed marriages and illicit affairs. The so called private sins, that turn into public disgraces, some of which are known, some of which are not yet known.
We see the effects of the sexual revolution every single time we turn on the TV, or every single time you go to a movie. Or, every single time you stand at a checkout line at the grocery store and you’re surrounded by magazines. Every time you hear someone make a joke about sexuality. We see the effects. In political discussions, it’s all across the board. Among, other good reasons, it is really a good thing that we have the Song of Solomon. Because, if you think about it, it would really make no sense if we didn’t have this book. God has created us as sexual beings. It is really an integral part of who we are, and how He has created us to relate to one another. It would make no sense, if we had no account of Scripture where God addresses it.
And so, what we have is the Song of Solomon, that says: Yes, you have physical longing and craving, and desires and urges, and you have them because God gave them to you. And He gave them to you for your good, and for His glory. And so, how can sexual love be experienced for our good and for God’s glory? Song of Solomon gives us the answer.
Now, there’s a lot of questions from the Song of Solomon, from the history of the church. One commentator said this is the most debated, most difficult, most mysterious book in the entire Bible. It’s a complicated book, difficult to understand. A lot of the language, lot of the words contained here are not found anywhere else. Scripture makes a lot of these words unique, difficult to interpret. And, you get images in this book that are unfamiliar to us, there are all kinds of animals, and spices, and perfumes, and unfamiliar places. And then, the metaphors don’t always translate so naturally into our context.
If you look at the history of the church, you will see all kinds of interpretation. People have asked:
- Is it allegorical? So people throughout history have said it is a story that points us to God’s relationship with His people. And, as a result preachers have come up with all kinds of fanciful interpretations.
- Is it typological? A type is like a shadow that points to an object. It reflects something else, or it points to something even greater. And, usually, this book is used as a type of Christ and the church. All that we’re seeing here, for example, in the man points to Christ, and all that we’re seeing here in the woman points to the church.
- Is it literal? Is it, just naturally a story about a man and a woman that love one another, and are being loved by one another? But, even among those who say it’s literal, there’s debate. Is it a story, or is it just songs. Is it giving us a step by step narrative?
- Is this book written to Solomon, by Solomon, or about Solomon? In the beginning of the book it says „The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s”. It literally can be translated into any one of those ways. (10:00)
MUSICAL – The finest of all songs! We’re going to look at an overview of this book and see what is pretty clear, and at the base, understanding this book- it is clearly musical. In other words, it is a song, it’s a poem. This is love poetry. When it says „The Song of Songs”, it literally means that it is the „finest of all songs”. That’s the title: The finest of all songs! The claim is and it’s backed up, that this song is unmatched in its beauty, and its arrangement, its poetry. Just think about this: divinely inspired love poetry. Now, you can’t get any better than that. God breathed romance. God breathed poems about love, inspired by His Spirit. This is unmatched by anything else in all history.
Showing us a celebration of sexual love. One commentator said, „The Song of Songs is primarily an unabashed celebration of the pleasure of sexual intimacy.” And, pleasure is the right word there. Because, you will notice, in 8 chapters, you don’t see kids mentioned anywhere. Think about this with me, clearly, sex is not just for procreation. Sex is given by God for pleasure. Sex is not just given so we would multiply. Sex is given so that we would enjoy. That’s the picture we’ve got her. It’s a celebration of sexual love.
Cautions about sexual love. At the same time, this book is reminding us about cautions about sexual love. This is where I want to show you one phrase, mentioned 3 different times. This is huge. 3 times in this book, this author reminds us that sexual love is good only at the timing, which God has set. Chapter 2:7 „I adjure you, oh daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles, or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love, until it pleases.” Look over at chapter 3:5 and chapter 8:4 the same phrase is repeated. This is so different form the world. The world says: Anytime, any place, any person. And what Song of Solomon is going to show us is that this only happens like this in God’s time, in the place that God has ordained, with the person God has given to you. This is very different from what our culture would say.
This is where I want to pause, because I know there are many brothers and sisters in our faith family who are not married. Maybe you’re students, maybe you’re adults who are single. Maybe divorced, widowed, a variety of different circumstances all across this room. And, what I want to say to you is, if you are not married, this book and this sermon are not just for married people. They are for single people as well. Here’s why. Clearly this book is for married people; it’s an encouragement and an exhortation to remember and enjoy the beauty of sexual love. And, it is an exhortation and an encouragement, for all who are single in this room, to make sure, not to try and steal away the beauty and enjoyment of sexual love of its context and end up missing the whole point. You’ll miss it, when what we’re seeing about sexual love in Songs is ripped away from the context of marriage.
Usually, when it comes to us preaching to students and singles, the message coming from us is: „Sex is bad. So, don’t do it. Okay, now, go and have a nice life.” Like that is what we say. What I want to say to you today, is in some sense the exact opposite. I want you to see that sex is really good. It is good, it is valuable, it is grand, it is majestic and wonderful, in the context God has put it in. Take it out of that (context) and we rip it all apart. And so, I want you to value it, so highly, I don’t want you to see it as bad. I want you to see it as wonderful enough, to make sure to keep it in its proper context. And to avoid every impulse in your sinful nature, and in the culture which surrounds you, to pull it out of that context. Cause, once it’s ripped form that context, it’s obliterated in its beauty. So, guard it.
Read the rest of the transcript below video.
A King and His Bride – The Song of Solomon
Five facets of this relationship between the King and his bride. Facets that are repeated through out Song of Solomon over and over again.
1. Exclusive devotion – They sought out only each other. Married couples in this room, do not let another woman distract you, for a second. Don’t even look, and do not let a magazine substitute for your wife. Do not let the internet substitute for your wife. Ladies, do not flirt for a second. Run from any thought of it. Why would you settle for garbage in another man, when you have gladness in the husband, that God has ordained for you? Men, why would you settle for trash? And, that’s what any other woman is to you in this way. Trash, when you have treasure in your wife. Or, your future wife, or your future husband. Don’t settle for less, don’t have weak desires. Have strong desires for that which is best. And, it is in this garden, that is walled off to everybody else, that things get really, really good. (27:00)
2. Heated anticipation – the anticipation that builds between the man and the woman in Song of Solomon. (A) First, they began with tender words. You see them just complimenting and affirming one another throughout this book. It’s love poetry. See chap. 5:10 and 6:4. She is affirming him, and he is affirming her. Don’t miss this: Pleasure with one another is grounded in praise for one another. It is good to build up one another. That’s where it starts. Notice chapter 1:1 doesn’t just start with: „Well, here’s the picture of sex in the Bible”. Instead, we see it built up to, surrounded on all sides, tender words that (B) Lead to tantalizing work. Now, this right here is the climax of the book. Chap. 4:1, it is in the middle of the book, and it is where the King looks at his bride and begins to basically mentally, if not physically undress her. Evidence that this is appropriate and good, in the context that God has put it, evidence of the goodness of God and the grace of God. (34:00)
Here David Platt quotes Daniel Akin (President of Southeastern Seminary) who wrote a commentary on Song of Solomon called „God and Sex”. He wrote this, „Note, that there is nothing even remotely pornographic about this imagery here. „Porneia” clearly refers to evil sexual desire. And, an entire industry is built on exploiting this simple passion. But, the point here is that the man’s desire for his wife is holy. His pleasure and erotic desire for her is holy.” To deny this is to deny one of God’s good gifts.
3. Leads into Intimate Consummation. They gave over their bodies to one another. She calls on the wind to let free what has been encapsulated and let it flow to her husband now. And she says, „Let my beloved come to his garden. Not, let my beloved come to my garden. I am my beloved and he is mine. That is the picture here. United together, and this is based on the climax of the book.
4. It is pure satisfaction. Don’t miss it, this is pure satisfaction on every level. Emotional satisfaction. There is joy and desire and intimacy, and honor here. This is so much more than the joining of two bodies here. It’s the joining of two personalities. All the more reason to guard this. When we toy with our sexuality, we’re toying with that which is deepest about who we are. That’s why, when we see a man and a woman coming together, we see the language- they knew one another. This is the deepest, most intimate knowledge of one another. This is more than what is happening between two bodies. There is this emotional connection and union that is brought together by God’s design.
Which leads to the second: Spiritual satisfaction. It is evident. When you take this book and compare it with Genesis 2, esp. vv. 24-25, the man and woman, talking about Adam and Eve, were together, they were naked together and they felt no shame. Then, it says they came together as one flesh. This is a virtual commentary on that, on what God has designed for man and woman to experience. And, do you remember when they sinned in Genesis 3? What is the first effect, that we see, of their sin? They noticed they were naked and they clothed themselves. And the intimacy that they had once shared in a sinless world was ripped apart. The Song of Solomon is obviously not saying this is a man and a woman who were sinless, But, here’s the picture. God redeems this. And what He does in sexual love is He takes His original design and He makes it available for His people. He says, „This is what you were created for, the kind of union that is happening: a one flesh, vulnerable, open, union with one another.
Intellectual satisfaction. Emotional satisfaction, spiritual satisfaction, intellectual satisfaction. We’ve seen the man and the woman targeting the most important sex organ we have – our minds. They’ve built up one another and encouraged one another. They’ve mentally and verbally acknowledged one another’s beauty. And, don’t miss it here, don’t get the wrong idea, nowhere in this model do we see that this couple is the modern Hollywood couple. We don’t get any details of what they look like. Instead, we see, the only glimpses we see of this man and this woman are through the eyes of each other. And they see the beauty that God has uniquely designed for them, in a way that is not for anyone else to share. That God has designed us in our marriages to experience a satisfaction on these levels, that can only be experienced between wife and husband. That is the picture here.
Physical satisfaction. All of it, leading of course, to physical satisfaction. I love how chapter 4 ends and goes into chapter 5, because it doesn’t give us all the details. It doesn’t give us the whole picture of this whole scene. Instead it uses imagery. Akins said, „We cannot be certain of what all the imagery means by „coming to the garden, tasting the choice fruits”, but, it is not difficult to imagine all sorts of stuff. This is the picture God has designed: pure satisfaction on every level.
Song of Solomon 8:14, the very last verse, where the book ends. What you’ve got is this enraptured romance on every single verse, every single page. And then, you get to verse 14. She says to him, „Make haste, my beloved. and be like a gazelle, or a young stag on the mountain of spices.” This is the beauty of sexual love. It perseveres, it lasts again, and again.
Foster health in this area of your marriage. Promote, nourish, this area of your marriage. And, for every person that is not married, no matter what the situation is, I pray that you will see the beauty of sexual love in this context, and guard it, and not take that which God has created as beautiful here and rip it apart, outside of the context for which He has ordained it in any way, mentally, emotionally, physically. And God is gracious. He has created us in this way and He is gracious to sustain us in that. You see, everything in this canon of Scripture is pointing us in a sense to something greater, pointing us to redemptive history. This is where I want us to think about: Where does a book about sex – the Song of Solomon, fit into redemptive history?
We’re not going to go typological here and say: This means CHrist, this means church, but, turn over to Ephesians 5:22. We’ve already looked back at Genesis chapter 2, and seen God created man and woman for one another, to be joined together as one flesh. And, Song of Solomon is a reflection on that. A commentary on what that means. So, I want us to look at what the New Testament teaches about this one flesh union, that we’ve just read in the Song of Solomon. Ephesians 5:22- „Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. The husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, His body, and is HImself the Savior. Now, as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything yo their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word. So that He might present her in splendor, without spot, wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives, as their own bodies. He who loves his wife, loves himself. For, no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes it and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church. Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother, and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respect her husband. In verse 31, Paul quoted form Genesis 2:24-25- A man shall leave his father and his mother and the 2 shall become one flesh. And Paul says, „Here’s what that means: This mystery is profound, and I’m saying that it refers to Christ ad the church.
Don’t miss this. What Paul is saying, is that when God designed marriage, and this union, the sexual union in Genesis 2, He did it with a bigger picture in mind. He designed marriage this way, to point one day, to the love of Christ for His people. And so, what we realize, what God has designed, what we see pictured here in the Song of Solomon, we realize that this picture between man and woman in love is a picture of Christ and his church. And, just as a man gives his body over to his wife, so Christ has done this for His church. And, just as man and woman delight in one another, find satisfaction in one another, so Christ and His church find deeper satisfaction in relationship to each other. Photo below from share faith.com
A King and his bride in Ephesians.So, Ephesians is pointing us here between the relationship of a king and his bride. In humble devotion, King Jesus has sought after you, like a husband seeking a bride, and in a much greater way.
Historic Anticipation. What the Old Testament longed for- Jesus is the fulfillment of all God’s word. All these pictures, and all of these promises we’re seeing in the Old Testament are pointing us to a redeemer. Christ is flawless in all His works. He gave over His body for us. This perfect Son of God, in perfect consummation gave ip His body for us. That’s what Ephesians 5:25 said, Total satisfaction – so that you and me, in him may be reconciled to God, and experience total satisfaction. That we might find our greatest delight. So we may love Him with all of our heart. Loving Him with all our soul. Loving Him with all our mind (intellectual satisfaction). Delight is found in knowing God and loving Him with all our strength.
A merciful invitation. Coming together, and all made possible by a simple invitation to trust in Christ as Savior and King, and He will forgive your sin and present you as his bride, holy and without blemish. That is the Gospel right there. The Holy God of the universe has sought you out, sent His Son, to bear His wrath to our sin on the cross. To show His power over sin in the resurrection of Christ, so that everyone in this room who trusts in Christ as Savior and King may be reconciled to God in relationship with Him forever. That is glorious news. And, it is what marriage is intended to point us to. And, it raises the Song of Solomon to a whole new level.
Husbands, why do you need to have exclusive devotion for your wives? We need to do this because we are showing the world how Christ treats His church. And, if Christ gives up on His church, then maybe it would be okay for us to give up on our wives. But, Christ will never give up on His church, and we can never give up on our wives. And, just as we, as a church are intended to find our delight in our Savior, so wives, I implore you to encourage to love. Husbands, it’s the way Ephesians 5 says, so that we would show Christ is indeed delightful, to the world around us.
A King and His bride in Revelation. That’s the Gospel here. And it points to an even greater picture. Earthly marriage is a foretaste of something greater in heaven, of heavenly marriage. Where we, as God’s people are depicted as the bride of Christ. And, our glorification in heaven is actually pictured as a wedding day. Revelation 19:6- „Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; 8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. 9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” And Revelation 21- „ Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He willdwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Glorious consummation. This is the beauty of marriage in heaven, which marriage on earth is intended to point us. To point us to the reality of a relationship marked by continual devotion. Brothers and sisters, the King who sought you on the cross will never stop seeking you. Your king will pursue you as His beloved.. until that day. It doesn’t mean it will always be easy. It wasn’t easy for these suffering borthers and sisters in Revelation facing persecution. But, what he says- in hopeful anticipation, cling to God’s word.
Eternal satisfaction. Trust in His word. The King is coming for you. Commit to God’s word. One day, our bodies will be made complete with Him. Together, we will experience in its fullness eternal satisfaction, eternal delight in our husband Christ. He will heal our hearts. For everyone that Song of Solomon has opened up difficult wounds, from broken marriages, or damaged relationships, or lost loved ones, I want to remind you that you have a husband in heaven, who will one day heal your heart completely. We will wear His righteousness. For every person in this room, Song of Solomon has convicted you of sexual sin =, maybe in your past, maybe in your present, and you feel stained. His forgiveness is complete, and His righteousness is yours to wear. The righteousness of Jesus Christ Himself. We will see His face. And we will feast at His table and enjoy His presence for all of eternity.
The ultimate invitation: Will you surrender to the love of this King?