Song of Solomon 6:4-10
One evening a wife was reading her newspaper: “It says here that in some parts of India a man doesn’t know his wife until after the marriage.” The husband replied: “Why do they single out India?” How many married people can say they REALLY knew their mate before marriage? If love is blind, marriage can be a real eye-opener!
SETTING THE STAGE. We are up to the point in the chronological development of Song of Solomon where Shulamith is angry at Solomon for being gone so much in his kingly business. She took it as personal rejection and handled her hurt by hurting him back. This makes her feel guilty and she starts realizing what she is doing. She remembers the good about him instead of focusing on his weakness’. She dwells on why she married him. Her mind explains reality to her emotions. She knew he’d be gone a lot and agreed to marry him anyway. She remembers her commitment to love him unconditionally (I Cor. 13) and realizes he doesn’t love her less but is still devoted and committed to her, serving her in any way she can (Mt 20:26-28).
SOLOMON’S RESPONSE. Shulamith’s next memory in this series of reminisces is of when Solomon returns after she has been rejecting him. He doesn’t make her apologize. He doesn’t pile on guilt. He doesn’t manipulate her. He doesn’t ‘forgive’ in a self-righteous, wounded, withdrawn way. Instead he does what every husband should do: he reaches out in love! He praises and reassures her of his love no matter what. Solomon isn’t the perfect husband, but he certainly did the right thing this time!
He starts off praising her for her beauty (v. 4). Tirzah and Jerusalem were among the most beautiful cities of their day, and he says she is as beautiful as they. He also tells her she is as awesome, as majestic as his army in full parade (v. 4). In fact, he says she is too much for him to look at, that one penetrating glance from her eyes makes his heart melt (v. 5a). Next he compliments her hair, teeth and temples (v. 5b-7). What is interesting about this is that he uses the same words he used on their wedding night (5:1 – 5:1). This isn’t because he stumbled on something that works and is sticking with it, but because he wants her to know he still loves her the same now as he did then! In fact, he loves her more! She is the greatest woman he has ever met (v. 8-10).
Thus before she can even apologize for her rejection of him, he reassures her of his total and unconditional love. What a magnificent way to keep a relationship growing!
ALL MARRIAGES STRUGGLE. There is no such thing as a perfect marriage. God uses marriage to stretch us. Any time you take two selfish, self-centered individuals (a husband and a wife) and put them in a situation where they have to sacrifice and put someone else first, rough edges are bound to crop up. God allows that to rub them smooth. In addition, opposites attract in marriage, and that makes the mix all the more interesting! Adam and Eve certainly were stretched with Cain. Abraham and Sarah had their times (Gen 16; 21), as did Isaac and Rebecca (Gen 27) and Jacob and Rachel (Gen 30, 31). Moses and Zipporah separated and never could work it out (Ex 4). David and Michal’s marriage fell apart, too (II Sam 6) and Hosea had all he could handle with Gomer (Hosea).
LESS THAN TOTAL HONESTY often starts marriages off wrong. We show our mate our strengths and put our best foot forward. We are sacrificial and put the other first before marriage. That doesn’t last after marriage. One or two fights, seeing the sinful side of the other (and knowing they have seen our sinful side) can make it hard to be as open and trusting as before. The man starts (unconsciously at first) seeing his wife like his mother (in good as well as bad ways) and resents it for it makes him feel like a little boy. The wife has a hard time totally trusting a man because of the example of her own father and poor experiences she’s had with men in the past. Thus the honeymoon ends and reality sets in, as with Shulamith & Solomon.
UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS that aren’t adjusted to reality can throw us into a tailspin. At first husband and wife are lovers, romantic, idealize each other, and assume it will always be that way. Then unexpected conflict comes, either open or just below the surface. Children, finances, use of time, responsibility to in-laws, etc. make husband and wife seem more like antagonists than lovers. Romance is replaced by resentment. The pendulum has gone full to the opposite extreme. Often this causes couples to separate: physically or at least emotionally. Divorce or physical separation occur. If they stay together, a wall builds and the intense, loving, growing relationship dies. It is replaced by a functioning, team-work, brother-and-sister arrangement. A truce is signed and the fighting stops, individual responsibilities and freedoms are negotiated, and two separate individuals live and function in one household. But they are no longer one.
The better alternative is to grow through this second stage, learn from it, and keep the commitment and love new and strong. Resolve the conflicts, feed the love, stay open and vulnerable. No one can make us happier, or more miserable, than our mate. Work on the ‘making happier’ part.
RENEWED COMMITMENT (daily, sometimes hourly) is necessary in marriage. Genesis 2:24 says: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” LEAVE (Gen. 2:24) anything that in any way meets needs that your mate should be meeting (love, attention, security, acceptance). CLEAVE (the Hebrew word means “as skin to bone”) means to turn to your mate only to have those needs met. ONE FLESH is the ultimate goal: physical, spiritual and emotional oneness. SHALL BE means this is a process, not something attained quickly or easily.
Marriage takes a commitment as strong as our commitment to Jesus. In fact, by committing to Jesus we are committing to our marriage. Put the other first. Follow Solomon’s example of sacrificially loving and serving your mate (Mt 20:26-28). Remember, the marriages which are the most successful and happiest are those in which each of the partners believes that he or she got the best of it! Are you doing all you can to make sure your mate thinks they got the best of it? Solomon did, so can you!