Book Review: A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah and Blood Diamonds

This book is called A long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah.  It was written in 2007. It is a true story about the civil war in Sierra Leone in the 90s. I did not review every single detail but I did note any “Hebrewisms” that I read.

  • The author had a sling shot when he was 12 years old much like King David.
  • His grandfather was called “teacher” in the village.
  • His grandmother carried a walking stick.
  • The author referred to his father’s wives as “stepmothers.” He believed the stepmothers destroyed he and his brother’s relationship with his father. As the father added stepmothers, he stopped paying for the author’s and his brothers (Junior) schooling. The stepmothers put an end to the schooling as they demanded money from their husband. I could infer that the author and his brother felt abandoned by their dad. He was there for them physically but not emotionally.
  • After reading chapter 2, I thought it was amazing that a demon(s) would have the rebels walk 20 miles to murder civilians in the hot sun or by night when the wild animals are loose. (Proverbs 6:18)
  • In chapter 2, the villagers knew that the rebels were only 20 miles away. The villagers kept running to the forest when messages from the rebels were sent but really they should have never gone back to their village.
  • In chapter 3, the author was heating up Okra Soup and rice for his brother and friends when the rebels came into the village. That Okra Soup follows us every where we go (See the Hebrewisms of Africa post).
  • Chapter 4, I thought war brings hunger. Remember when David and his troops were hungry? Yah sent David to Abigail. Because of their hunger, these boys, Ishmael, his brother and friends went back to the village. Remember Yahoshua told us when we are on the run…NEVER GO BACK. Matthew 24:15-20. They went back because they remembered money hidden under the foot of the bed frame. The rebels sacked the home but the money was still there. The rebels did not find it but the rebels did find Ishmael and them in the house.
  • Chapters 5-6, A question came to my mind: Why not choose to die instead of killing/raping your own family and/or neighbors? Why become a rebel? The rebels were recruiting young boys. Ishmael and them escaped the rebels miraculously. I noticed in chapter 6 and throughout the book that the people of Sierra Leone worshiped the ancestors, gods/fallen angels especially a fallen one named Allah…the source of their problems. Those gods never helped them because they burned a Imam to death in the town square and a dog ate up the burnt body, Ishmael said. That was a curse from Yah just like He sent dogs to eat up Jezebel’s body.
  • One of his friend’s uncle in another village, ridiculed the boys for not being good farmers (because they had been going to school until that stopped) yet they were excellent watchmen over the village…a lesson on using a person’s strong points to your advantage, I thought.
  • The author said they stoned other kids that made fun of them because their mom lived in another village and not with them (a Hebrewism, to throw stones). They lived 3 months in the village of Kamator as watchmen and farming. Why didn’t they keep it moving?
  • Chapter 7: One thing about the rebels…they waited the villagers out. They waited so long that the villagers would let their guards down and go back to regular living. The village was attacked unexpectedly one night.
  • The boys slept in abandoned villages and drank water from streams.
  • The author also at one point, slept in the forest among snakes. He used grasses to wash himself and his clothes as squeezing them created suds. He remembered his grandfather “teacher” teaching him about plants.
  • The title of the book is explained on page 65. They were a long way gone from Mattru Jong, their village. “a long way gone” from home.

  • The author’s friend, Musa entertained them by telling Bra (Br’er) Spider stories (a Hebrewism from Africa) like Br’er Rabbit. See the Hebrewisms of Africa post.
  • Name-Giving Ceremony is mentioned on page 75 for children but there was no mention of it being on the 8th day.
  • The boys ate a crow. I couldn’t help but think that if they had known about/worshiped Yah and asked Yah for food, He would have sent that crow(s) with food for them like He did for Yliyah (Eliyah) in the bible, 1 Kings 17:6. Shortly after that, one of the boys died in his sleep. This same boy had heard his sisters being raped by rebels while he hid in the house. They knew eating that bird was strange and they cried about that. This boy died of a broken heart.
  • The rebels often laughed at people as they died. They heard the rebels bragging and laughing about killing people. Interesting that the rebels did not look for Sierra Leone soldiers to fight but killed the civilians like a stalking serial killer. Cowards.
  • The author and the other boys became soldiers of the government army by chapter 12. The author could recite Shakespeare before the age of 12. This will get the attention of the lieutenant who liked to read Julius Caesar. The author also liked to pretend to be an MC (rapper) when he was in school. He loved the Sugar Hill Gang, Run DMC and he participated in talent shows at school. His strong memory got him noticed.
  • One day at work in January, a co-worker lost her father and we were crying with her. I came home sad that day. I picked up this book and began to read which was a big mistake. I read about cutting throats, setting on fire, women cut open with babies inside, children 7 and/or 10 years old in war getting their spines blown apart…all types of murderous mayhem. I had a nightmare that night.
  • By chapter 17, I noted that the author had PTSD and later I read that he had nightmares and could not sleep. Something interesting about what King David said…In Psalm 119:62 he said he was up late at night praying to Yah. The Hebrews prayed 3 times a day and all before sunset. Why was David up so late? Because David was a man of war. All that blood and killing would be there in his dreams. The only way to stop the terrible dreams is to ask Yah to take it away. Since I had that nightmare, every night before I go to sleep I ask Yah to guard and protect me in my dreams and to give me peace in my dreams (spiritual warfare) and so far I have not had any more nightmares. And always pray in the name of Yahoshua, the name of authority. Something else I thought about: When King David was very young he killed a bear and a lion. David was very young and wanted to fight in the war with his brother(s). His brother thought David was to young and wanted him to go home and tend the sheep. 1 Shemuyah 17:28-52 (Samuel).

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  • The author’s nickname in the army was “little green snake” because of his hidden ambush style of fighting. He hid well until it was to late for his enemy. You can see from his photo above that he was a small guy…but carried big guns.
  • Kissy Street in Freetown is mentioned several times in the book. Kissy, Kizzy is a nickname for KeziYah, a Hebrew name. The name of one of Job’s (Iyob) daughter.
  • The author was shot while in the army and lived. One thing I should mention is that the government army hooked these boys on drugs. Drug Sorcery. Cocaine and a drug called brown-brown, a mix of cocaine and gun powder were given to them! They were super soldiers!! Cocaine comes from South America so how did it get to Africa? More about that later.
  • The author was chosen by the Lieutenant and UNICEF to leave the war. I think the author was chosen because of his love of Shakespeare like the Lieutenant.
  • Chapter 17 was a surprise to me…the love chapter. I wasn’t expecting love in a book like this. And really I chose this book because I thought there would be no romantic love. Anyway, the author and the other soldiers chosen by UNICEF were going through drug withdrawal at a juvenile center. The author was about 16 years old by this time. A nurse named Esther helped him recover. She was a little older than him, he said. She helped him heal physically and emotionally. They found his uncle (his dad’s brother) still living in Freetown and Ishmael went to live with him. He visited Esther once at her home but never again. He said he did love her. That part was sad to me, that they did not make it. He never saw her again.
  • Ishmael was picked along with 100 other children to speak at the UN (United Nations) about children’s welfare around the world.
  • Ishmael’s uncle dies from sickness as the rebels capture Freetown. That’s it…Ishmael asks a friend who became his guardian later, to take him in. She lived in New York, they met when he was at the UN speaking on children’s welfare. One thing about the older adults, they were impressed by him. He was smart. She had been sending him money and he saved it so when the rebels came to Freetown HE WAS READY TO FLEE. This time he did not turn back!! HalleluYah! He took an “underground” or secret bus on the back streets of the city out of Freetown to the country of Benin. He said he went through many checkpoints. I looked at a map and thought this must have been his route: Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo and then Benin. I looked at Burkina Faso and Liberia but thought those countries may have already been war-torn, so avoided.
  • The author told a parable in the last paragraph of the last chapter. The author had gained wisdom. He said he would not have chosen between mom and dad because he would not have hunted a monkey in the first place because there are deer to eat in the forest. He chose the righteous answer, the righteous way. He chose clean meat to eat. HalleluYah. I think his mom and dad would have been proud of him. His family members were burned alive by the rebels.
  • At the end of the book, I wondered what happened to his friend Mohamed and his uncle’s family who stayed in Freetown? In his acknowledgements in the back of the book, he thanked his friend and his cousin so I was glad that they were okay.
  • I wondered what happened to the author after this book so I became “Miss Nose.” Oh yes hunty, I googled! The author is doing well as far as I could see! The author from a picture I saw from 2019 is a little heavier and had a beard in the picture. He is now married to a human rights activist/lawyer named Priscilla. I was glad to see that he found love. The author is a human rights activist around the world.
  • In the very back of Ishmael’s book, he has a chronology set up. He mentions that there were tribes occupying Sierra Leone when other groups moved there in the 1400s.  So you know that the children of Ham were there first then the Israylites migrated there in the 1400s. A conflict waiting to happen. I’m not going to mention all of the dates but only some.
  • In 1652, The first slaves in North America are brought from Sierra Leone to the Sea Islands off the coast of the Southern United States (South Carolina and Georgia).
  • 1700-1800s, a slave trade thrives between Sierra Leone and the plantations of South Carolina and Georgia where the slaves’ rice-farming skills make them particularly valuable.
  • 1787, British abolitionists help four hundred freed slaves from the United States, Nova Scotia and Britain return to Africa to settle in what they call the “Province of Freedom,” in Sierra Leone. These Krio, as they come to be called, are from all areas of Africa.
  • 1791, Other groups of freed slaves join the “Province of Freedom” settlement and it soon becomes known as Freetown, the current capital of Sierra Leone.
  • 1792, Freetown becomes a colony of Britain.
  • 1800, Freed slave from Jamaica arrive in Freetown.
  • 1808, Sierra Leone becomes a British colony.
  • 1839, Slaves aboard a ship called the Amistad revolt to secure their freedom. Their leader, Sengbe Pieh or Joseph Cinque, as he becomes known in the United States, is a young Mende man from Sierra Leone.
  • 1961 Sierra Leone becomes independent from Britain.
  • From 1967 to 1977 there are military coups, embezzlement and unrest in Sierra Leone.
  • 1985, Joseph Saidu Momoh becomes president.
  • 1991, a small group of men called Revolutionary United Front (RUF) under the leadership of a former corporal, Foday Sankoh, begin to attack villages in eastern Sierra Leone on the Liberian border. The initial group is made up of Charles Taylor’s rebels and a few mercenaries from Burkina Faso. Their goal was to rid the country of the corrupt APC government. The RUF rapidly gains control of the diamond mines in the Kono district and pushed the Sierra Leone army back toward Freetown.
  • 1992, President Momoh goes into exile.
  • 1995, the RUF are ready to capture Freetown.
  • 1996, International pressure with the UN stepping in.
  • 1997, the RUF joins forces with the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) a military junta headed by Lieutenant Colonel Johnny Paul Koroma.
  • 1998, the AFRC is ousted by the Nigerian-led ECOWAS and President Kabbah is reinstated.
  • 1999, the RUF attempt another coup. ECOMOG drive them back. July 1999, The Lome Peace Accord is signed between President Kabbah and Foday Sankoh of the RUF. The agreement grants the rebels seats in a new government. The UN helps with the peace agreement.
  • 2000, more RUF violence, Sankoh is arrested with no more RUF in government seats. A cease fire agreement signed in May in Abuja (Hebrew Abiyah) ending the civil war.
  • 2001, second peace agreement signed in Abuja.
  • 2002, President Kabbah declares the civil war officially over.
  • 2002, the British withdraw a 200 man army that had been there since 2000. Sierra Leone and the UN set up a court for those who have committed crimes against humanity since 1996.
  • 2005, the UNAMSIL peacekeeping mission formally ends and UNIOSIL of Sierra Leone takes over peacekeeping.
  • 2006, After discussions with the newly elected Liberian president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria says that Liberia is free to take Charles Taylor, who has been living in exile in Nigeria but is apprehended and transferred to Freetown under UN guard by nightfall on March 29. He is currently incarcerated in a UN jail, awaiting trail (at the time that this book was written) at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) on eleven counts of war crimes.

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  • Let’s talk more about Charles Taylor. I noted how the author ended the chronology with talking about Charles Taylor. The book above is called “The House at Sugar Beach” by Helene Cooper. It was written in 2008 but I read it in 2009 just before I came into the truth of the true names of the Most High & His Son, Yah and Yahoshua in 2010. After reading “A Long Way Gone” these civil wars make more sense or how they came about makes sense now. Helene Cooper and her family fled Liberia’s civil war. Her descendants came to Liberia from the United States in the 1800s after being released from slavery. When they fled Liberia, they returned to the US where they still had family.
  • Blood Diamonds: In 1991, the Ukraine broke away from Russia and there were some missing weapons thereafter including AK-47s. AK-47s are a Russian military weapon. A Ukraine business man sold them to Liberia and Sierra Leone. I wondered if the US government had a hand in helping him? Not clear? I also wondered how Cocaine gets to Africa without a big government like the US helping to take it there?
  • Diamonds mined in the countries of Angola, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea were used to fund the war(s) hence the term blood diamonds, leaving a bloody trail.
  • The civil war in Liberia lasted from 1989 to 1996 and then again from 1999 to 2002. The civil war in Guinea lasted fro 1998 to 1999. The civil war in Sierra Leone lasted from 1991 to 2002.
  • I read that in the late 80s the RUF rebels were trained by Gadafi of Libya, about 100 men.
  • The once president of Liberia (in 1997), Charles Taylor joined forces to overthrow the Sierra Leone government.
  • How Charles Taylor came into power: He went to Bentley College of Massachusetts in the US. His focus or major in school was finance. Taylor worked in the Liberian government as an official but was removed because of embezzlement. Charles Taylor learned warfare in Libya under Gadafi and returned to Liberia in 1989 as a rebel. But before he went to Libya and after he embezzled money he fled to the United States. He was found and put in jail by US marshals in Massachusetts but escaped by cutting the bars and fled to New York and disappeared. In July 2009, Taylor claimed at his trial that  US CIA agents had helped him escape from the MAXIMUM security prison in Boston in 1985. This was during his trial by the UN-backed special court for Sierra Leone in the Hague. The US Defense Intelligence Agency confirmed that Taylor first started working with the US Intelligence in the 1980s but refused to give details of his role or US actions citing national security. Taylor escaped the US undetected. Shortly thereafter, he resurfaced in Libya and became Gadafi’s protege. In 1989 he returned to Liberia. Today Charles Taylor is behind bars in HM Prison in Frankland County in Durham England.
  • The Ukraine business man is serving time in Italy where he was busted.

 

The Roaring Twenties

I’m not officially back but Yah gave me something to see last night. I was watching the news last night. Did y’all know that the Gentiles were dressed up for “New Year’s Eve” as flappers? Yes. They are comparing these financially good times to the roaring 1920s since we have now entered the decade of the twenties. The only thing….remember what happened in 1929, the stock market crashed and remember what Yah said. There will be a world wide economy crash (from the book of Revelation). Stay watching, y’all. Peace.

Book Review and Sex Advisory: Lovestruck

The book above is called Lovestruck. It was written by Sharon Jaynes. If you are an avid reader of this blog, you remember recently me posting about the persistent woman, a woman of great faith. A woman who did not stop until righteousness was granted to her, Yahoshua said. Well, this is whom I got it from. I read a book she wrote years ago that I borrowed from the library. I never forgot what she wrote about the persistent woman and praying. This is her latest book based on the Song of Solomon.

Now, I have put an advisory in the title because I know “some” bible believers get uptight about talking about sex as though talking about sex should always be avoided. Most people know that the Song of Solomon has a lot of sex and that is the reason it is usually shunned. The Song of Solomon teaches us why sex is a gift, why it is pleasurable. However, what if I were to tell you that the Song of Solomon is more than sex. Would you believe me? I’ll show you in these next few posts that the Song of Solomon is a book that shows us how to treat each other in a marriage.

The author, Sharon Jaynes has been married for 38 years! My own dad and mom have been married for almost 48 years but growing up, my parent’s marriage was rocky. A few times, I even thought it was over for them. Today, their marriage is much better. However, because I witnessed this marriage, it made me not want to jump into marriage so quick…I have never been married. Okay, maybe I have been afraid of any commitment because of what I saw. I have never even been in any long-term relationship although there have been times when I did want to be in a relationship. The Bible, Yah and the book Mrs. Jaynes wrote, Lovestuck, have taught me how a marriage should operate (if I decide to get into one) and I hope that it will help your relationship too. If I got married today or tomorrow, I feel like I would better know how to serve my husband, righteously. I learned a lot from this book and if you read all 8 chapters, you will learn a lot too even if you have been in a relationship for a long time.

As you read each chapter, you will see where I made corrections or added my thoughts/history because I have highlighted in purple or made the text bold for emphasis. I also highlighted in different colors to make this long text easier for you to read. Don’t try to read it in one go because you want to have good understanding. Read some, digest it, then come back and read some more. Don’t worry it will be posted on the front page awhile before I start posting again.

I omitted any Christian doctrine of the Messiyah being the Most High and Him being there from the beginning. We have been taught that through Him all things were made because the Most High knew from the foundation that He would send Yahoshua to save us. They are not one being or person but they are on one accord. You will read this around page 133. Another thing that I want you to understand about the Song of Solomon…because I know that the Israylites teach strictly about a woman submitting to her man…That being said, Solomon had great patience with his wife and her mood swing(s) and you will read how he dealt with her. He did not yell and scream at her. He did not call her a devil/Jezebel. Solomon was smooth. I won’t say anymore about that, I’ll let you read what Solomon did. I’ll just say that what he did made her love him even more. I see why so many women loved Solomon. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines for a reason!

Oh yeah, around page 128, I did make some verb tense corrections when the author was talking about forgiveness. We know that forgiving is an on-going action and not a past tense thing. We are not saved yet as Christians teach. Seventy times seven, forgiving is a continuous thing Yahoshua taught us. Once again, The Song of Solomon shows us how to treat each other in marriages and that matters to Yah. The Song of Solomon shows us how a healthy marriage operates and we see a healthy marriage via the way Solomon treated the Shulamite (his wife).

If you have any questions or any corrections or comments, feel free to leave them. However, they might not be answered for a few months.

The future of the blog? This will be the last big post and/or maybe the last post for this year. Remember, I told y’all that I was going on a tongue fast (remember my book review called how to tame the tongue)…at least from the blog. I will be doing more praying during this fast, there are a couple of petitions that I want to see Yah fulfill for me. I will be reading at least one book while I’m away and I will be going to the gym to get my health under control. Love y’all.

~Ashantiyah

 

 

The Song of Solomon: The Most Beautiful Wedding Love Song-Poem Chapter 1

About white linen: Linen made from the flax plant is one of the oldest textiles in the world. It was first cultivated in Egypt. Linen is a good conductor of heat yet feels cool to the touch. It is two to three times the strength of cotton. It is lint free and gets softer the more it is washed. Pure white linen is created by heavy bleaching, it is naturally tan or gray (It is thought that bleaching was done by repeatedly washing and placing in the sunlight). Linen can absorb up to twenty percent moisture without feeling damp, so that it is highly absorbent in removing perspiration from the skin. Linen clings to the skin less, so that it billows in the wind.

Yah, the Messiyah, priests, prophets and the malakim (angels) wear white (linen). The Children of Ysrayl will wear white linen wedding garments in the future (prophesy).

Ezekiyah 44:17-18 And it shall be, whenever they enter the gates of the inner court, that they shall put on linen garments. No wool shall come upon them while they minister within the gates of the inner court or within the house. They shall have linen turbans on their heads. They shall not clothe themselves with anything that causes sweat. (concerning the priests of Yah)

1 Shemuyah (Samuel) 2:18 But Shemuyah ministered before Yah, even as a child, wearing a linen epod.

2 Shemuyah 6:14 Then David danced before Yah with all his might and David was wearing a linen epod.

Yeremiyah 13:1-11 The symbol of the linen sash. A valuable thing that came to nothing like the house of Yahudah.

Mattithyah 27:59; Mark 15:46 When Yoseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth.

Luke 24:12 But Kepha arose and ran to the tomb and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.

1 Chronicles 15:27 David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites who bore the ark, the singers and Chenaniyah the music teacher with the singers, David also wore a linen epod.

2 Chronicles 5:12 And the Levites who were the singers, all those of Asaph and Heman and Yeduthun, with their sons and their brothers, stood at the east end of the altar, clothed in white linen, having cymbals, stringed instruments and harps and with them one hundred and twenty priests sounding the trumpets.

Isaiah 3:23 This verse shows that fine linen as well as other luxury goods was one of the things taken away from the children of Ysrayl by Yah because of our sinning.

Ezekiyah 16:10 This verse shows that fine linen was one of the luxury items given to us to wear by Yah. Yah cloths us in fine linen.

Proverbs 31: 22, 24 …Her clothing is fine linen and purple…she makes linen garments and sells them. This is the virtuous proverbs 31 woman.

Luke 16:19 The rich were clothed in fine linen. Genesis 41:42 Pharaoh clothed Yoseph in fine linen, a gold chain and signet ring.

In the book of Revelation, Yahoshua says we will walk with Him in white. He that overcomes (endures) will be clothed in white garments (linen). White garments represent spiritual purity or righteousness.

Revelation 3:4-5 …They shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy…He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments and I will not blot out his name…

Revelation 15:6 And out the temple came the seven angels having seven plagues clothed in pure bright linen…

Revelation 19:8 Yah’s wife, the children of Ysrayl will be wearing bright fine linen.

Revelation 19:11-16 Yahoshua’s army will be dressed in white linen on white horses.

Daniyah 7:9 Yah’s garment is white as snow. Also, Isaiah says that Yah wears a robe and the train of the robe fills the heavenly temple. (Isaiah 6:1). Did y’all know that Yah has hair like wool? Remember that when you think that you hate your “nappy” hair!

Allegory: An allegory is a story, poem or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one; a symbol. The bible is a love story between the Most High and the Israylites, from Genesis to Revelation. First, there was a courting period. Courtship is the period of development towards an intimate relationship wherein a couple get to know each other and decide if there will be an engagement, followed by a marriage. This could be the time when Yah was getting to know the fathers such as Adam, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Shem and others for example. The engagement period started between Yah and Abraham. Yah made a covenant, promise or engagement with Abraham in Genesis 15:5-21. An engagement is an agreement, commitment, contract or formal contract to be married.

Yah formally married Ysrayl in Exodus 24:8 after rescuing her from the Egyptians, when Moshe sprinkled blood on the people. The blood represented the marriage night symbolism when a woman bleeds. The Israylites also explained that the children of Ysrayl are not divorced from Yah but we are separated or “put away” because we have sinned against Yah. No fallen angel has ever claimed the children of Ysrayl as wife. Read the law of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 Yah has never given us any divorce paper.

Yah is our only husband. Ysrayl is referred to as wife, “isha” in Hebrew. Yah says that the children of Ysrayl have been unfaithful to Him by spiritually whoring with the fallen angels. Yah was tired of the children of Ysrayl’s whoring ways in Hosea 2:2 saying, “For she is not My wife nor am I her Husband”! However, by verses 16-17 He prophesies that the children of Ysrayl will call Him Husband and no longer Master/Baal. In other words we will know who we worship and keep our promise/contract. Yah said to Hosea, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover (friend Husband) and is committing adultery just like the love of the Most High for the children of Ysrayl, who look to the gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.” Yah says that your Maker is your husband and Yah of hosts is His name….Isaiah 54:5

“You erected your shrine at the head of every road and built your high place in every street. Yet, you were not like a harlot because you scorned payment. (Meaning you did it for free). You are an adulterous wife who takes strangers instead of her husband. Men make payment to all harlots but you made your payments to all your lovers and hired them to come to you from all around for your harlotry. (That sounds like a thirsty woman, right? She/Ysrayl paid). You are the opposite of other women (or nations) in your harlotry because no one solicited you to be a harlot. In that you gave payment but no payment was given you, therefore you are the opposite. (THRISTY! The gods did not even want you and would not give you payment/or a deal but you pushed yourself on them anyway).

Ezekiyah 16:31-34 So now, Yah “put us away” and kicked us out of the land.

Do you remember the adulterous woman? Yahanan/John 8: 3-12. Yahoshua told her to sin no more. She was forgiven. The same will happen concerning Yah’s wife, Ysrayl. She will be forgiven. Let me show you.

Yeremiyah 31:31-40 We will have a new wedding ceremony (marriage renewal). Yah made a covenant with the children of Ysrayl back in Exodus with the sprinkling of blood. This time instead of Moshe standing in as the bridegroom, Yahoshua will be our bridegroom. Yah’s laws will be in our heart and minds forevermore. We will have our spiritual bodies.

Yeremiyah 3:14 Yah says return to Me, you backsliding children, for we are married. After Babylon is destroyed, the marriage renewal will take place.

Revelation 19:7-10 The marriage of the Lamb has come and His wife has made herself ready. And guess what we are wearing to the wedding? Fine bright (white) linen! That white linen represents our righteous acts. Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the lamb!

Mattithyah 22:1-14 Yahoshua told a parable: The king asks a man why he did not have on his wedding garment (white linen). He was taken out because he was not trying to be righteous. Weeping and gnashing of teeth (great pain) means he went to the lake of fire. Yah is serious about righteousness. Will you keep Yah’s laws through Yahoshua? Will you be wearing white linen to the wedding? Won’t all that White linen billowing in the wind be a beautiful sight to behold?

*The above scriptures are from two different congregations with added information and scriptures from yours truly.

Now, Let’s talk about the Song of Solomon.  The Song of Solomon is a love song written by Solomon and abounding in metaphors. Historically, It depicts the wooing and wedding of a shepherdess by King Solomon and the joys and heartaches of wedded love. (From Lovestruck book) The Song of Solomon does point us back to Yahoshua but it’s not because the lover (Yahoshua) pursues the lowly woman in the field (you and me), but because romantic love in itself is an echo of Yah’s love for us. (Jaynes, Sharon) The title of this book in Hebrew is “Shir ha Shirim or Song of Songs and is sometimes also called “the most beautiful of songs.” (From Lovestruck book) The title (Greatest of all Songs) is similar to the titles “King of kings” and “Master of masters” in the ‘new testament’, Revelation 19:16 and “Holy of Holies” in the ‘old testament’, Exodus 26:33. (Jaynes, Sharon) Solomon had 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs  (1 Kings 4:32) but the Song of Solomon is considered the greatest of the songs. This is in the superlative and speaks of Solomon’s most exquisite song because Solomon is mentioned SEVEN TIMES in 1:1, 1:5, 3:7, 3:9, 3:11, 8:11 and 8:12. So accordingly, the book is also known as the Song of Solomon.

As human life finds its highest fulfillment in the love of man and woman, so spiritual life finds its highest fulfillment in the love of Yah for His people (the flame) and Messiyah for His assembly. (From Lovestruck book) The bible opens with the marriage of a man and a woman in the garden of Eden and concludes with the marriage of (Yah through Yahoshua) and the (assembly) in New Jerusalem, letting us know that marriage and intimacy are important to Yah. Even (Yahoshua’s) first miracle took place at a wedding in Cana where he turned water into wine. (Jaynes, Sharon)

The book reads like scenes in a drama with three main speakers: The bride (Shulamite), King Solomon (the beloved) and a chorus (the daughers of Yahrushalom). This book is a collection of poems or songs in which a woman and a man tell about their love for each other. Sometimes they speak to themselves, sometimes to each other or to friends and in some of the poems, they seem to be remembering earlier times in their relationship. Again, this book shows the love between man and woman and Yah and Ysrayl. Yah stated the following through the Shulamite:

The passion of love bursting into (the) flame (of Yah) is more powerful than death, stronger than the grave. Love cannot be drowned by oceans or floods. It cannot be bought, no matter what is offered. Song of Solomon 8:6-7.

Love. Have y’all noticed by now that Yah only has one wife not even a concubine (girlfriend), in other words, no other nation(s). His focus is only for this one wife, Ysrayl that He has great love for.

Chapter 1: Love is Better Than Wine

1 The song of songs, which is Solomon’s.

The Banquet: The Shulamite (an Israylite woman, compare to 6:13)

*The young maiden is often called the Shulamite. The Shulamite is a shepherdess, country girl from Shunem. Shumen was a small agricultural village in lower Galilee (Hebrew: Ha-Galil or means”the province”), in north Ysrayl. The tribe of Issachar has been identified as living in this area of the mountains of Lebanon (Deuteronomy 33:18-19). Shunem of the tribe of Issachar was near the Jezreel Valley and south of Mount Gilboa, Joshua 19:18.

*Some quick facts about Shunem, her hometown: The Philistines encamped near Shenum, 1 Shemuyah 28:4 when they came against Shaul. Abishaq, King David’s servant came from Shenum, 1 Kings 1:1-4. Ylishua (Elisha) revived a Shulammite woman’s son there, 2 Kings 4:8-37. Shunem is listed as a town conquered by the Egyptian Pharoahs’ Thutmose III and Shoshenk. Lastly, Shunem may be identified as the modern village of Sulam today.

2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for your (beloved) love is better than wine. 3 Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, your name is ointment poured forth. Therefore, the virgins love you. 4 Draw me away!

The Daughters of Yahrushalom (Friends)

We will run after you. (You=the beloved).

The Shulamite (the Issachar Woman)

The king has brought me into his chambers.

The Daughters of Yahrushalom (Friends)

We will be glad and rejoice in you. (You=the Shulamite). We will remember your (that is, Beloved) love more than wine.

The Shulamite (the Issachar Woman)

Rightly do they love you (that is, the Beloved). 5 I am dark but lovely, O daughters of Yahrushalom, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon. 6 Do not look upon me, because I am dark, because the sun has (darkened) me. My mother’s sons were angry with me. They made me the keeper of the vineyards but my own vineyard, I have not kept.

(To Her Beloved)

7 Tell me, O you whom I love, where you feed your flock? Where you make it rest at noon? For why should I be as one who veils herself (or one who wanders) by the flocks of your companions?

The Beloved

8 If you do not know, O (beautiful) among women, follow in the footsteps of the flock and feed your little goats beside the shepherd’s tents. 9 I have compared you, my love to my filly among Pharaoh’s chariots. 10 Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with chains of gold.

The Daughters of Yahrushalom (Friends)

11 We will make you (you=the Shulamite) ornaments of gold with studs of silver.

The Shumalite (the Issachar Woman)

12 While the king is at his table, my spikenard sends forth its fragrance. 13 A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me, that lies all night between my breats. 14 My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blooms in the vineyards of En Gedi.

The Beloved

15 Behold, you are beautiful, my love! Behold, you are beautiful!! You have dove’s eyes.

The Shulamite (the Issachar Woman)

16 Behold, you are handsome, my beloved! Yes, pleasant! Also our bed is green. (also translated as: The fresh green grass will be our wedding bed). 17 The beams of our houses are cedar and our rafters of fir.

From the author of Lovestruck: Chapter 1: The Mystery of Physical Attraction: The author explains that the Shulammite woman is lovestruck (or lovesick), that the Song of Solomon begins with a bang! The Shulammite woman makes no bones about it, she wants her man and she wants him now…we meet a woman who is passionately in love and attracted to this man who has captured her heart, mind, body and soul (pg2). The unmarried Solomon and the Shulammite flirt with each other just as much in the beginning of their romance as they do at the end. As we mature, the author states, we learn to look beyond the window dressing and into the heart…but there is always that mysterious physical attraction that catches the eye. The author asks why there is physical attraction between opposite sexes? The answer is the same. (Yah) put it there. Yah fashioned man and woman to be attracted to one another and that attraction extends to all our senses…what we taste, smell, hear, touch, see and what we perceive lies beneath the physical appearance. (pgs 3-4)

v. 2 “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!” The Shulamite begins with a rush of longing. There is no warm-up as the book begins. No explanation yet plenty of desire…”For your love is better than wine.” Right from the beginning we read of a woman who is amorously wistful and physically longing for intimacy. She wants him! She is thirsty for his love! (pg 4). The author states that the simplicity of the picture of the opening is a work of art that presents inner thoughts of a young princess but in doing so, it captures feelings that are universal at the birth of love and the suddenness with which they appear. (pg 4). Isn’t that the way of love? Even if a man and woman have been friends for many years, there’s a certain point they realize they don’t want to live without the other. Like falling asleep, falling in love can be gradual and then all of a sudden. (pg 5). This kiss is not just a peck but a passionately deep, hungry kiss that are more deliciously intoxicating than wine…the kisses on the mouth, the lovemaking and the wine join together to provide readers with an introductory verse that plunges them into the heady waters of this poem. Here is no gradual acclimation, a step at a time but rather an (immersion) by fire!” (pg 5)

On page 6 the author quotes what scientists say happens to the human body when kissing, the physical changes (especially the neurotransmitter dopamine). The author states, in other words, the body’s response mirrors many of the same symptoms frequently associated with falling in love (or how it becomes addictive).

Chapter 1: The Sensuality of Scent: v. 3 The author states, one thing we learn about attraction in the Song of Solomon is that it involves a variety of senses. In the first verse the Shulammite engages the sense of touch and taste. In the second she brings in the sense of smell. Okay, let’s go ahead and say it, she was turned on by the way he smelled…An article in Psychology Today revealed the following…Some researchers think scent could be the hidden…constant…that explains who we end up with. It may even explain why we feel “chemistry” or “sparks” or “electricity” with one person and not with another. I would have never guessed that men and women were attracted to each other because of the way they smelled. Here’s our takeaway: (Yah) put the attraction to a person’s scent in us and we don’t even realize it’s there or that it’s happening. Again, we can see the intentionality of our fascinating Creator to fashion even our sense of smell for mutual attraction that leads to romance. The Shulammite was no doubt bedazzled by Solomon’s handsome face but she was intoxicated with his yummy smell. Do you remember wearing a certain body lotion or perfume that your husband loved when you were dating? Do you remember a certain scent about him? Since you’re already going to kiss your husband once a day, why not lean in and inhale his scent? Asks the author. Then tell him he smells good enough to eat….(pgs 8-10)

Chapter 1: The Allure of Character: The Shulammite was drawn to more than Solomon’s intoxicating perfumed oil or the scent of his skin; she said that his name was “like perfume poured out” (v. 3). Just the mention of his name made her woozy with love. In Solomon’s day a person’s name had meaning. A name told you something about the person’s character or physical appearance. The name Esau means “hairy” and the Esau we see in Genesis was indeed hairy. Jacob (Yaqob) means “trickster” which fit the bible Jacob perfectly. Moses means “drawn out of water” and he was. Solomon means “peace” and that was what he brought to (Ysrayl). The Shulammite said that her lover’s name was “like perfume poured out” an image that often referred to offerings poured out to Yah in the temple. So we can surmise, then, that her lover was a (righteous) man. Beyond his physical appearance, the Shulammite was attracted to his spiritual character and public reputation. Solomon would later write in the book of Ecclesiastes, “A good reputation is more valuable than costly perfume” (7:1 NLT). The NASB translates Song 1:3, “Your name is like purified oil.” Purified oil was extra-virgin olive oil, the purest form from the first pressing. Back in their day this oil was so special that it was only used in the temple for the lampstand that burned night and day. In addition to being the best oil, it was the best of the best given to (Yah). So in a way, she was saying that Solomon’s character was the best of the best. Can you imagine how your husband would feel if you told him, “You’re not just the best; you’re the best of the best”? She concludes the section with this thought: “No wonder the young women love you!” (v. 3). (pgs 10-11)

Physical attraction may be the catalyst to entertaining a possible relationship but it is not enough to sustain it…This is not to say that physical attraction is bad not by a long shot. You should never marry someone that you are not physically attracted to. The point is, you can hide poor character under makeup, stylish clothes and exotic dates for awhile but eventually that character will creep through the cracks and sully the pretty window dressing…That the poor character hidden beneath the attractive exterior becomes apparent. As I’ve often heard, character is who you are when no one is looking. To the Shulammite, Solomon was much more than a handsome face. He was a man of character who was the same whether he was near her or far away. She might have been beguiled by his handsome appearance but she was captivated by his holy (righteous or set-apart) character. You might be thinking, Isn’t this the same guy who had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines? Most likely it is. Some believe that Song was written early in Solomon’s reign, before all that took place. The Shulammite mentions his youthful exuberance like a gazelle and his well-sculpted features like chiseled stone. Most likely she was his first love (or first woman he loved). Solomon started out being known as a man of great wisdom but in his later years  his success turned his heart away from Yah and toward foreign women and their gods (1 Kings 11:4). Yah had instructed Solomon not to make treaties with other nations (not to get yourselves too many wives, a law) but with each treaty, he acquired a new wife from that nation. Even though his collection of women was more of a political move than a romantic one, it still eventually led his heart away from Yah. Perhaps that is why one of his later books, Ecclesiastes, is one of the saddest in the entire bible. The Song of Solomon clearly portrays…love between a man and a woman…that is what Yah really wants us to see. Sex was his idea and he wants husbands and wives to experience it without regret.(pgs 11-13)

Chapter 1: Who is that Hot Babe? While the Shulammite was wildly attracted to Solomon, she doubted he could be attracted to a girl like her. She was so insecure about her appearance, she wondered why any man would give her a second glance. Listen to how she described herself: “Dark am I yet lovely” “dark like the tents of Kedar” “dark like the tent curtains of Solomon” “Do not stare at me because I am dark because the sun has darkened me” “My mother’s sons were angry with me and made me take care of the vineyards, my own vineyard I had to neglect. (v. 4-6)

The Shulamite was a hardworking farm girl who labored away in her stepbrothers’ vineyards. Most likely her father was deceased and her mom had remarried, as she referred to the field hands as “her mother’s sons.” In all probability the brothers leased the land from King Solomon, which would explain why he was perusing the vineyard when he first noticed her. We don’t know why her stepbrothers were angry with her. It could be that they were jealous that the king paid attention to her or because she was their mom’s favorite. The Shulammite bemoaned the fact that she had been so busy looking out for her brother’s interests that she hadn’t had time to take care of her own vineyard, her personal appearance. She compared her appearance to the tents of Kedar, which were tents made of dark or black wool by a Bedouin tribe. She also compared her skin to the dark purple curtains in Solomon’s temple. (Me: Here, the author thinks this Iraylite woman has ruddy, sunburned skin. Not so. Although, Solomon probably was ruddy brown or red-bone as we southern ‘American’ Israylites like to say, like his father David. The Issachar, Shulammite woman was a dark-skinned woman. It was interesting for me to see that this light-skinned/dark-skinned division did not start in American slavery….it has been with us for a long time. The devil and his people just played on it, here in America! The Shulammite woman knew that dark-skinned women were not looked upon as attractive by some. (pgs 13-14)

The author continues, the Shulammite’s self-worth was as flimsy as the tent flaps blowing in the arid wind. You can tell how self-conscious she was when she told the women not to stare at her. At the same time, she knew there was something about her that was lovely. What did Solomon think of the Shulammite’s appearance? He found her alluringly beautiful. Solomon responds to her in verses 9-11. In Solomon’s culture, the king used the most beautiful horses to pull his chariots, mostly Arabian horses with bejeweled bridles and headgear. It was if Solomon were saying, “You stand out in the crowd. I can spot you from a mile away. You’re eye-catchingly beautiful and breathtakingly magnificent.” Solomon poured out positive affirmation about the Shulammite’s appearance and washed away her insecurities. The author writes, I’m not sure what you thought of your appearance when you first caught your husband’s eye, but, girl, he thought you were beautiful! (pgs 16-17)

Chapter 1: Things Were Heating Up: It may seem a bit odd the Song jumps from Solomon telling the Shulammite how beautiful she is to her daydreaming about the day when they can finally make love as husband and wife. But, then again, maybe not. Words of admiration can make a woman feel a bit woozy, especially when they’re from the man she loves. (verses 12-14), The ESV translates verse 12 closer to its literal meaning. “The king was on his couch, my nard gave forth its fragrance” (emphasis added). Solomon and the Shulammite weren’t lying on his couch together but she was certainly dreaming about it. She imagined her perfume releasing its scent as her skin warmed to his touch. In Solomon’s day, women who could afford it wore a small leather pouch filled with perfume such as myrrh around their necks. Myrrh is a resin from a thorny, ragged-looking tree, something like an acacia, which grows in Arabia, Ethiopia and India. It was commonly used as an alluring female perfume. It was also used to perfume royal nuptial robes, perhaps preparing the couple for what came after the “I dos (Psalm 45:8). Sometimes women would sleep with the perfume box tucked between their breasts. Then, in the morning, they would carry the scent with them throughout the day. The Shulammite dreamed about the day when Solomon would be like that sachet of myrrh, resting between her breasts. (pgs. 17-18)

Chapter 1: The Divine Design of a Creative (Power): Attraction between men and women is such a beautifully intricate part of Yah’s design. As we learn more about the ways our very bodies have been engineered to respond to stimuli like kissing, smelling and touching, we start to see just what a creative and ingenious Power we serve…we can see in the opening passage of the bible how he had planned from the very beginning for the power of attraction…Then (on the 6th day), he created man, Yah did something different from simply speaking. The Creator bent low, took a set-apart handful of dust (mud) in his palms and formed an image bearer to reflect his likeness: Adam. Afterward he said, “It is not good for the man to be alone (Genesis 2:18, emphasis added). That’s where you and I come in…no helper was found for Adam. The NASB says Yah “fashioned” Eve (v. 22). He took extra special care when he created her. Up to this point in the Genesis recordings of creation, Adam had remained silent. His first words after Yah created Eve, “This in now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man” (v. 23). Adam’s name for this new creature, woman, essentially means “out of me” or “mine.” Eve was created to complete man like two pieces of a puzzle fitting together….Yah gave them the gift of sex. “Be fruitful and multiply,” he instructed them (1:28 ESV). Enjoy! Notice that, while Yah told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, there is no mention of children or procreation in the Song of Songs. This is truly a celebration of romantic love, marital commitment and sexual intimacy and we’re just getting started. So where did the physical attraction and desire come from? Yah put it there! It was his gift to them. It is Yah’s gift to us. (pgs. 18-20).

Chapter 2: The Deepening of Desire: Deep, abiding friendship is a cornerstone for a marriage that goes the distance, according to the author (She has been married for 38 years). The author states that we (she and her husband) knew very early that we were going to be forever friends. Solomon saw that same potential in the Shulamite. Twice in Songs 1, Solomon called the Shulamite his “darling” (v. 9, 15). The Hebrew word rayah is the female form of a noun that means “companion (or friend of Yah)” and is translated “darling” in the NIV, “dearest” in the NEB and “love” in the NRSV. It is like the French petite amie, which carries the meaning of “sweetheart” and is literally “little friend” in English. The Shulamite was not only Solomon’s lover but also his intimate friend and would become his lifelong companion (friend). So what does “being intimate” entail? Certainly there’s physical intimacy. But true intimacy involves much more than a physical union. It is the intertwining of two hearts through mutual sharing and passing years. The author quotes text from Sheldon Vanauken’s love of his wife where his final statement is that, their trust in each other will not only be based on love and loyalty but on the fact of a thousand sharings…a thousand strands twisted into something unbreakable. Just like Sheldon (and his wife) Davy and Solomon and the Shulamite, we need to find ways to protect our friendship above all others. A wise couple considers ways to keep the friendship going and growing. It is often after a married couple has experience a fun time as friends that they experience the most passionate romance as lovers. The author asks a question, Did you notice in chapter 1 that the Shulamite has a sudden interest in sheep? (from v.7). She wanted to be near her man and showed interest in what interested him…sheep. It is crucial to  lifelong friendship to have shared activities that create an unbreakable bond. The Shulamite will later say about Solomon, “This is my beloved, this is my friend” (5:16). Their friendship started at the genesis of their relationship and continued till the end. We’re gong to talk more about the importance of growing and maintaining intimate friendship in chapter 7. For now, know that while the couple was wildly attracted to each other, they were also developing a friendship that would last a lifetime. (pgs. 21-24)

Chapter 2: The Elegant Dance of Mutual Praise: Just as important as the actions we take to develop a relationship are the words we speak to deepen it. At the end of chapter 1 and the beginning of chapter 2 of the song, the couple volleys compliments back and forth at breakneck speed. Make no mistake, they are blatantly flirting. Solomon tells the Shulamite what he thinks about her. Then she quickly replies with what she thinks about him. Remember, the Shulammite maiden was extremely insecure about her (dark) appearance. How precious that (Yah) provided a new mirror in which she could see her true beauty…(through the eyes of) the man who loved her. In verse 15 of chapter 1 Solomon tells her how beautiful she is twice with eyes like doves. In verse 16 She tells him how handsome he is and is so charming. The author says, I love that he used the word beautiful twice when describing her. Then she bantered back with a double dose as well. Their words are what one commentator called, “an elegant dance of mutual praise.” Solomon led the dance by taking the first two steps forward and she followed by taking two steps with him. Solomon called her his rayati, the Hebrew word for “darling” or “my love.” She in turn called him her dodi, the Hebrew word for “beloved.” One thing is for sure: they both knew right from the beginning that their feelings were mutual. This was no guessing game. We learn from these lovers the importance of both parties making sure the other feels loved, adorned and preferred. (pgs. 24-26)

Jaynes, Sharon. (2019): Lovestruck: Discovering God’s Design for Romance, Marriage & Sexual Intimacy from the Song of Solomon. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishing: ISBN no: 9781400209644 (pbk) & 9781400209668 (e-book)

https://www.easyenglish.bible/bible-commentary/song-solomon-Ibw.html

enduringword.com/song-of-solomon

Appendix of Lovestruck: Breaking the Secret Code (Symbolism) for Song of Solomon:

1.5 Tents of Kedar—Arab nomadic tribal tents woven from black goat hair

1:5 Tent of curtains of Solomon—Most likely the beautiful dark curtains of Solomon’s palace

1:6 My own vineyard—The Shulamite’s own body; Her personal appearance or complexion.

1.7 Veiled woman—Wandering about as one blindfolded; Most likely not referring to the veiling of a prostitue

1:13, 4:6, 5:13 Myrrh—“A low, thorny, ragged-looking tree, something like an acacia…a viscid white liquid oozes from the bark when punctured, which rapidly hardens when exposed to the air and becomes a sort of gum, which in this simple state is the myrrh of commerce”

1:14, 4:13 Henna—A flowering shrub with fragrant white blossoms still found today only at En Gedi; Produces yellow, orange and red dye which was used to color hair and other parts of the body

1:14 En Gedi—A lush oasis just west of the Dead Sea, meaning “fountain of the king”

1:15, 4:1, 5:12 Dove eyes—Beautiful, deep, smoke gray eyes of the dove

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Song of Solomon: The Most Beautiful Wedding Love Song-Poem Chapter 2

Chapter 2: Love Makes Everything Beautiful

1 I am the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys.

The Beloved

2 Like a lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.

The Shulamite (the Issachar Woman)

3 Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down in the shade with great delight and his fruit was sweet to my taste.

The Shulamite to the Daughters of Yahrushalom

4 He brought me to the banqueting house and his banner over me was love. 5 Sustain me with cakes of raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am lovesick. 6 His left hand is under my head and his right hand embraces me. 7 I charge you, O daughters of Yahrushalom by the gazelles or by the does of the field, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.

The Beloved’s Request: Winter is Past

The Shulamite (the Issachar Woman)

8 The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. 9 My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, he stands behind our wall. He is looking through the windows, gazing through the lattice. 10 My beloved spoke and said to me, “Rise up, my love, my beautiful one and come away. 11 For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. 12 The flowers appear on the earth. The time of singing has come and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. 13 The fig tree puts forth her green figs and the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell. Rise up my love, my beautiful one and come away! 14 O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the cliff, let me see your face. Let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely.”

Her Brothers

15 Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.

The Shulamite (the Issachar Woman)

16 My beloved is mine and I am his. He feeds his flock among the lilies.

(To Her Beloved)

17 Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved and be like a gazelle or a young stag upon the mountains of Bethel (literally separation).

Chapter 2: Lovestruck: The Deepening of Desire: verse 1: Still she had trouble believing him and she voiced her insecurity again in chapter 2. At first glance we might think she was comparing herself to a beautiful flower but it was far from it. The actual plants referred to as the “rose of Sharon” and “lily of the valleys” are bulb-type plants, lotus flowers or common field flowers. We might think of it as her saying, “I’m just a dandelion in a field of weeds.” In other words, “I’m so ordinary.” What woman hasn’t felt that way? We look in the mirror and think, Humph, I’m just a plain old girl, getting older by the day. Nothing special here. But notice how the Shulamite’s suitor disagreed with her estimation of herself (in v.2)! (He was saying), “You’re no ordinary flower at all! “As a matter of fact, every other woman looks like a bramble bush of thorns compared with you!” Solomon gave her the gift every woman longs for…the gift of being preferred. He complimented her in the one area in which she felt most insecure. Once again Solomon was saying to his Shulamite, “Let me be your mirror.” And what did the Shulamite say to him in return? (Read v. 3). In other words, “If I’m no ordinary flower, then you’re no ordinary tree. You’re a fruit tree among all the ordinary fruitless trees in the forest.” Apple trees or as some commentators translate the original word, apricot trees, were very rare in the Near East. So she let him know that he was rare among men…that he gave nourishment for her soul, shade from the scorching heat and protection from the elements. His kisses were sweet and his love was shade and security itself. She felt completely safe with him. He was everything she could have ever dreamed of. Paul wrote that a husband should nourish, protect and cherish his wife (Ephesians 5:29 AMP). That is exactly what the Shulamite found in her man…and she let him know it. (pgs 21-27)

In a growing relationship it’s so important that a woman not only receive compliments but also give them…Did you know that your husband questions his manhood on a regular basis? Guys often feel a need to prove themselves in their work, in their play and in their marriage…Men operate under the burden of performance that leads them to question their ability and impact constantly. From boyhood to manhood, they hold themselves to a self-imposed measuring stick that rarely says they’re enough. I don’t want my husband (says the author) to have to go somewhere other than home to be affirmed. I bet you don’t either. Let your husband know that, among all the ordinary trees in the forest, he is an apple tree that produces extraordinary fruit. Give him the gift of being preferred…One of the most effective ways to grow and maintain intimacy happens way before we get between the sheets. It starts with what happens between the lips, the words that come out of our mouths. The bible says that “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21 ESV) and the death and life of a relationship are in the power of the tongue as well. Let’s make sure our words are speaking life, says the author. (27-28)

Chapter 2: Growing Desire: The author starts this section by telling a story of a friend who found it hard to stop at just kissing (her fiancée)…That is the growing passion we see happening between the Shulamite and Solomon in this chapter. Their romance was heating up and it was getting harder and harder to wait. At this point in the couple’s relationship, the beloved only praises his beloved’s head and neck because that is all he can see. Sure, he can make out her shape beneath the working woman’s robe but he was doing what I recommend to dating folks all the time: keeping his attention above the neck. It’s a pretty good rule of thumb in the dating phase of a relationship. Don’t let the phrase “our bed is verdant” (NIV) “our couch is green” (ESV) in Song 1:16 throw you. Yes, the Hebrew word used here is translated “bed” however, the couple had not gone to bed yet. We’ll have proof of that later in the Song. Her mentioning that their bed was verdant (green) is most likely a metaphor comparing their growing love to the shade of a spreading tree and the fruitfulness of the love that the couple enjoyed. She saw their love as growing deep roots, spreading branches and reaching to heights not yet known. The author also believes that the Shulamite was flirting with her man, perhaps pointing to a time when the bed metaphor would become a reality. Just as she teasingly mentioned the bed, Solomon followed her tree analogy by referencing the beams of their future home, reflecting on the strength and stable support of their love canopy (1:17). They were both dreaming about the day when the bed would not be a metaphor of sexual intimacy but a reality. One thing is for sure, the Shulamite was LOVESTRUCK (Me: or lovesick) for her man. She was just about to faint at the mere thought of him. (2:5 NLT). She was what we might call weak in the knees over this guy “Somebody help me,” she could have cried. “Give me a glass of water (or raisins and apples will be fine).” In ancient times, raisins and apples were considered the fruits of love or aphrodisiacs, these are a couple more code words in the poem. No doubt her comparing Solomon to an apple tree stirred her desire to enjoy his fruit. She went on to imagine the day when he would touch her…every part of her (2:6). The ESV has a more literal translation: “His left hand is under my head and his right hand embraces me!” (emphasis added). One expert explained, “The Hebrew word translated embrace usually means to embrace lovingly, to fondle or stimulate with gentle stroking.” She was picturing them lying side by side with his left arm under her head and his right hand caressing her or touching her body…Yep. She was dreaming of making love. (pgs 29-31)

Romantic love stirs up sexual desire. (Yah) planned it that way. However, sexual desire does not prove romantic love. Those stirrings can be just lust. That’s not the way (Yah) planned it. A person can have sexual desire or lust without romantic love but romantic love that does not stir up feelings of sexual desire is in trouble. The Shulamite was naturally anxious for the day she could be with her man in every way but she also knew the importance of waiting for the right time, of setting good boundaries to contain the kindling of romance before it burst into flames. You might wonder how I know she’s simply dreaming about being physically intimate rather than actually engaging in foreplay. The next verse tells us. (verse 7). This was a splash of water on the Shulamite’s steamy imaginings. She was reminding her friends (and herself) about the importance of timing and we’ll see the same reminder come up two other times later in the Song (5:8, 8:4). Many men and women bring sexual baggage into a marriage…suitcases of regret that open up in the heat of passion and litter the marriage bed with images time can’t erase. The Shulamite resolved not to pack that bag but to wait until the time was right. I think she was also reminding herself. Levi Lusko, in his book Swipe Right, wrote, “Unfortunately when you take a bite from what (Yah) has told you not to eat, it can keep you from experiencing what he wants you to have (Genesis 2:17).” That’s what the Shulamite was reminding her friends and herself. Sex outside marriage is in the bible plenty of times but never with a good outcome. (Yah) wants men and women to have the best sex possible…lifelong intimacy at its best and he knows that only happens within the boundaries (Me: or covenant) of marriage between a husband and wife…So we have to remember what Lusko said succinctly: “NOW yells louder but LATER lasts longer. Besides, there’s more to the journey to the kind of relational intimacy (Yah) wants us to experience than just jumping straight to sex. There is an aspect of discovery at play, as we spend time together, grow closer spiritually and emotionally and learn each other’s true character. While it takes only a few minutes to decide if we like the package, it takes more time to lift the lid and explore the heart…If reading about the Shulamite’s plea for her friends to wait is causing your heart to hurt because of the time (or times) you didn’t wait, stop right now and ask (Yah) to forgive you of your past sexual encounter…Don’t let the devil condemn you for what (Yah through Yahoshua) has already forgiven you for. If you have asked for (Yah’s) forgiveness and are still feeling condemned, know that condemnation is not coming from (Yah). (Me: But remember that you can’t repeat that same sin again, in order to be forgiven like Yahoshua told the adulterous woman, “go and sin no more”). (pgs 31-34).

Chapter 2: The Invitation to Lifelong Love: Romantic relationships tend to progress with predictable milestones. In chapter 2, Solomon was ready to take the next step and present the Shulamite to his family and friends…It sounds like the Shulamite’s introduction to King Solomon’s clan was a little bit more positive as he made what had once been a private relationship a public one. She certainly felt good about it. The Shulamite didn’t have to worry that Solomon was ashamed of her humble beginnings or that he wanted to keep their relationship a secret. He made his intentions perfectly clear when he took her hom to meet his family. (Song 2:4). I love how another translation interprets her words: “It’s obvious how much he loves me” (NLT). Yes, meeting the family takes any relationship to a deeper level and these two were ready. Shortly after that celebration, they separated for a time. Most likely he returned to the palace and she to her home in Shumen. But then the snow of winter (their time apart) melted and the spring came again. Solomon was on the move. (Song 2:8-9). Solomon was leaping across the mountains and bounding over the hills like a giddy schoolboy…The Shulamite’s heart skipped a beat so to speak when her man came back after a time apart. She saw him coming and she couldn’t wait! At the same time, it seems the Shulamite was still struggling with her insecurities, so she was hiding. “Look! There he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattice, ” she said. There’s something a little scary about love during the dating days, don’t you think? Is he serious? Will this grow into marriage? Am I hearing (Yah) correctly? What am I doing? What are his intentions? What if we do get married? Will it last? Solomon was calling her to come out from hiding so he could reassure her that he wasn’t going anywhere. He was taking the initiative not standing by idly, as Adam did in the garden of Eden when Eve conversed with the serpent. (Me: The devil was giving her doubts about Solomon). (Solomon) was taking charge, something we women love in a man of strong character and I imagine her heart was pounding in her chest. (Song 2:10-13)…As Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote, “What was the first effect of love but to associate the feeling with every object in nature, the trees whisper, the roses exhale their perfumes, the nightingales sing, the very sky seems in unison with the feeling of love; it gives to every object in nature a power of the heart.” …Solomon had wooed his Shulamite. (pgs 34-37).

When I think about the Shulamite and all of us in the early days of love, I think of the newness of spring. Solomon surely did. He beckoned his rayati to romp through the fields bursting with new life. The words captured the beauty of the season and the excitement of their love as the black and white of winter gave way to the radiant color of spring. Many commentators think this could be when Solomon actually proposed to the Shulamite. He asked her to come away with him twice. (Song 2:10-13). But even with all her longing and desire, she seemed to be a bit hesitant. He was everything she’d ever dreamed of but when fantasy became a reality, she froze. Here’s what I love about Solomon: he didn’t give up! He came bounding over the hills to see the Shulamite and even when she suddenly became hesitant, he continued pursuing her. (Song 2:14 ESV, let me see your face and hear your voice). (pgs 37-38)

Solomon didn’t just want to talk to the Shulamite. He wanted to listen to her. Listening is a big part of any courtship and a building block for any marriage. That’s how we learn about the other person. If we’re the one doing all the talking, then we’re not learning anything about the one we’re talking to…(paraphrased) Solomon wanted to know all about the Shulamite…A couple who has lasting intimacy is a couple who has learned to communicate beyond the surface of verbal exchange necessary for daily function. Great listeners don’t simply listen with their ears; they listen with their entire beings. We listen with our eyes as we make eye contact to show that were paying attention. This lets our spouses know that they are more important than anything else at the moment. They have our full attention. We listen with our facial expressions to let our spouses know we’re engaged in a positive way, not judging or condemning. Our faces don’t say, Hurry up and finish this story so I can get back to what I was doing. They don’t say, I’m not really interested in what happened between Bob and Brad at work. The wise wife’s facial expression says, Tell me more. There’s no one in the world I would rather listen to than you. We listen with our minds by asking good questions when our husbands are telling us about something that is on their hearts. Responses such as, “I’m so sorry that happened,” “How did that make you feel?” and “What happened next?” show that you’re listening and inviting deeper conversation. Judging responses such as “You shouln’t have said that.” “You shouldn’t feel that way,” or “I think you’re wrong” will shut down the conversation and lock down his heart. That husband will wish he’d kept his mouth shut and be reluctant to voice his feeling in the future. (pgs 38-39)

We listen with our hearts by listening beyond the words spoken, to the hurt behind them. Are your spouse’s words being filtered through the sieve of a hurtful past? Are your husband’s words tainted by past abuse or trauma? Rejection or abandonment? Sexual exploitation or shameful experimentation? Dig deeper to move beyond the words to discover the wounds. You might be (Yah’s) instrument in his ultimate healing…Above all, your husband needs to know that you are his safe place. He needs to have absolute confidence that no matter what he tells you, you will not repeat it to someone else, you will not judge him because of his feelings and you will never think less of him for his story. Wrap his word in the tender blanket of your understanding and love. His ability to open up to you will be determined by your compassionate reaction and unconditional acceptance. Yes, men and women are different but when it comes to being listened to, we’re from the same planet. Contemporary stereotypes would say that women are more interested in emotional intimacy than men, while men are more interested in physical intimacy than women. Isn’t it interesting that so far we’ve seen the Shulamite be the one showing the most interest in the physical aspects of the relationship and Solomon being the one who wanted her to come out from behind the cleft and have a conversation? You might think that I’ve deviated from the theme of lifelong intimacy but here’s the deal: honest, open communication is the catalyst for a meaningful sexual relationship. When we share our hearts, we are more inclined to share our bodies. It is extremely difficult to be sexually intimate with a spouse who is emotionally frigid or verbally aloof…Many times men get nervous when you say you want to talk because they fear you want to discuss some problem in the relationship or a flaw in his manhood. Make sure that when you do initiate conversation, you’re not doing it just to fuss at him; come to him with a desire to learn what’s on his heart. Then when he answers, listen with your whole being. (pgs 39-41)

Chapter 2: My Beloved is Mine: Even though the Shulamite all of a sudden became a bit shy about her outward demonstration of affection, her inward desire was still just as strong as ever. Solomon’s continual pursuit of her heart, even in her hesitancy, made her love him even more (Song 2:16-17). Nine times Solomon refers to the Shulamite as “mine.” He didn’t mean it in a domineering way, as if he owned her but in a loving way because she had given herself to him. There is a sense of equality in the Shulamite’s words, “My beloved is mine and I am his.” They knew they belonged to each other and with each other. Notice that she called him a shepherd that browses among the lilies. I love that she saw him not as a king to rule over her but as a shepherd to care for her, love her and guide her tenderly. And those lilies? That’s code for her body. We’lll see that imagery come up time and time again. All of this pondering stirred up sexual longings once again. The girl dreamed about a time when he would make love to her and they would revel in an entire night of passion. She pictured her future husband as a virile, strong stag friskily navigating the mountainous terrain of her body. I have a feeling she didn’t let him know how she was feeling but kept it to herself. Let’s see why. Page-turner! (pgs39-42)

Chapter 3: Little Foxes and Pesky Fears: If the Song of Solomon were a Broadway play, then it would need to stop right here for an intermission and a scenery change. In chapter 3 of the Song, everything was about to change. The everyday fields would give way to extravagant flamboyance. The Shulamite was getting dressed (for her wedding) and Solomon was placing the finishing details on the processional. Let’s give the stagehands a moment to set up for the Grand Celebration…the wedding. Meanwhile, we’ll talk about foxes and fears. (pg 43)

In chapters 1 and 2 of the Song, we caught a snapshot of the initial attraction, growing love and deepening desire in the courtship between Solomon and his Shulamite. The closer their relationship grew, the more difficult time apart became. The poetic symbolism we’ve read is SENSUAL yet MODEST…At the same time, there is no doubt that these two lovers couldn’t wait for the moment when they could give themselves fully and freely to one another. Even though the couple was lovestruck (lovesick) beyond reason, they were not blind to the potential problems that could sneak into any relationship. (Song 2:15), (Commentators) are not sure if these are the words of Solomon or the Shulamite. (Me: Although, the NKJV insinuates that Solomon is speaking about the Shulamite’s  brothers. Remember, the Shulamite said her mother’s sons were angry with her in 1:6. The devil could be using them against this marriage-to-be). Either way, the words speak of watching out for and capturing anything that could sneak in and ruin the budding vineyard of their love. (Paraphrased) The author says doubts or questions before marriage could possibly be foxes but she prayed right then and there so (Yah) would show her husband and herself anything or anyone that could sneak into their marriage and sully their love…It’s the same way with the “little foxes” that Solomon warned about in chapter 2. (pgs 43-45)

Vineyards bloom in late spring and the fruit isn’t ready to be harvested until late summer. By then the grapes have been sweetened by the sun and plumped by the rain; they’re mature and ready to be picked. Solomon’s reference to the “vineyards that are in bloom” lets us know that their love was still in the courting stage. But just as little foxes can sneak in and ruin a blooming relationship, they can also creep in and wreak a mature marriage. Foxes are stealthy and devious little animals that steal eggs from chicken coops, vegetables from gardens and in this case, grapes from vines. They actually love the tender buds that form before the grapes emerge. Even though they are small and seemingly insignificant animals, left unrestrained and unfettered, they can ruin an entire crop. In the same way, Solomon was on the lookout for anything that could sneak in and sabotage the blooming vineyard of their love (Me: He was on guard for satanic attacks). In most relationships it isn’t the big problems that tear a couple apart but the daily deterioration from little annoyances that chip away at the firm foundation and ruin intimacy. So what are the little foxes that sneak into and attempt to destroy a relationship? Here are a few: disrespect, dishonesty, jealousy, complacency, irresponsibility, guilt, selfishness, mistrust, self-centered-ness, bitterness, poor-communication, anger or irritating habits. Foxes could be too much time at the office, too little time alone as a couple, too many hours reclining with the remote or too many nights cuddled up with a good book. (pg 45)

Those are the ones you would expect to undermine a relationship but here are a few others that might not seem as obvious: making motherhood a priority above the marriage, serving the (assembly) more than serving your mate, caring more about a spotless house or an weedless lawn than a happy spouse. The truth is, the list of little foxes is endless and every couple will have their own version. A little fox is anything or anyone that could potentially sneak into your marriage to eat away at the fruit of lifelong love and intimacy…Remember, at the end of chapter 2 (the Shulamite) was hiding in the cleft of a rock. The author states that she was hiding emotionally. Solomon called to the Shulamite to come out of the cleft, to open up and talk about what was bothering her…(The) tendency to withdraw was a little fox that could cause big problems in the long run…The best thing we can do is to pick up on its scent before it sneaks through the front door. Sniff out the tendency to control, the proclivity toward jealousy, the propensity to pout, the bent to bully, the inclination to intimidate or manipulate. You wouldn’t expect a cute little fox darting about in a massive vineyard to cause much trouble. I’d be more prone to think Oh, he’s just a cute little thing. So what if he eats a few grapes? But with that attitude in marriage, the next thing you know a few grapes ends up being an entire vineyard and you end up with not a grape of admiration, respect or love on the vine. There’s certainly not a lot of hugging and kissing going on in a vineyard that’s been picked clean. (pg 46)

Solomon recognized the Shulamite’s tendency to hide and its potential to cause trouble. But he didn’t run away from it; he worked through it. Solomon continued pursuing her and let her know that he wasn’t going anywhere. Did you notice that Solomon said, “Catch for us the foxes” (v. 15)? Who was he talking to? Catch for us” sounds as if he were asking someone else to catch the foxes. I think Solomon was whispering a prayer, asking (Yah) to help them both recognize and remove anything that could damage their relationship. He was petitioning (Yah) to protect and preserve their love, as we all should. (HalleluYah)…If they aren’t dealt with, little foxes become big foxes with fangs of disappointment and claws of resentment. Yes, foxes come in all shapes and sizes, from dysfunction to dissatisfaction, selfishness to possessiveness, jealousy to flippancy. The key is to catch them while they’re still little before they have time to tear the marriage apart. (pg 47)

Appendix of Lovestruck: Breaking the Secret Code (Symbolism) for Song of Solomon:

2:1 Rose of Sharon—A bulb flower like a crocus, narcissus, iris or daffodil growing in the fertile watered areas; An ordinary flower (definitely not a rose as we know it)

2:1, 16 Lily of the Valley—Possibly a six-petal flower that grew in the fertile watered areas. Lotus flowers were symbols of fertility and sensuality in Egypt and Canaan.

2:4—Banqueting house—Literally “house of wine”; Not actually a banquet hall but “the place of the delights of love’

2:4—Banner—A military banner or standard used as a symbol of possession, raised when a land was conquered

2:5 Raisin—A food associated with a (ceremonial) festival, having possible erotic significance; Metaphor for love’s caresses and embraces

2:9 Gazelle—(Here I omitted part of what she wrote, this gazelle had nothing to do with any gods, more than likely symbolism for its swiftness and beautiful body like Yah compared those in the tribe of Naphtali who were known to be swift runners Genesis 49?)

2:14, 5:2, 6:9 Dove—A shy bird that mates for life; A common symbol of love

2:17 Mountains of Bether—A ravine or rugged hills that separate two areas in an unidentifiable location in Israel

 

 

 

 

The Song of Solomon: The Most Beautiful Wedding Love Song-Poem Chapter 3

A Troubled Night: The Shulamite (the Issachar Woman)

1 By night on my bed I sought the one I love. I sought him but I did not find him. 2 “I will rise now,” I said and go about the city. In the streets and in the squares, I will seek the one I love.”  3 The watchmen who go about the city found me; I said, “Have you seen the one I love?” 4 Scarcely had I passed by them, when I found the one I love. I held him and would not let him go, until I had brought him to the house of my mother and into the chamber of her who conceived me. 5 I charge you, O daughters of Yahrushalom, by the gazelles or by the does of the field, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.

The Coming of Solomon

The Shulamite (the Issachar Woman)

6 Who is this coming out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense with all the merchant’s fragrant powders? 7 Behold, it is Solomon’s couch, with sixty valiant men around it, of the valiant of Ysrayl. 8 They all hold swords, being expert men of war. Every man has his sword on his thigh because of fear in the night.

9 Of the wood of Lebanon Solomon the King made himself a planquin (A portable enclosed chair) . 10 He made it pillars of silver , its support of gold, its seat of purple, its interior paved with love by the daughters of Yahrushalom. 11 Go forth, O daughters of Zion and see King Solomon with the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his wedding, the day of the gladness of his heart.

Chapter 3: Pre-Wedding Jitters: As I mentioned earlier, many scholars think that Solomon proposed at the end of chapter 2. If that’s the case, the Shulamite didn’t give him an answer. We have no indication that she accepted either of his invitations to come away with him. Perhaps that’s why chapter 3 begins with the Shulamite’s disturbing dream about possibly losing her man (3:1-3). Have you ever had one of those dreams that seemed to go on and on and on? Scientists say that dreams can last for a few seconds or approximately twenty to thirty minutes. I’ve dreamed entire mini-series. Sometimes, I wake up during a disturbing dream and when I fall back asleep, the story seems to pick back up where it left off, I think that’s what we see happening to our friend. She had been dreaming “all nigh long on (her) bed.” In the dream, she frantically searched for the one her heart loved. You can almost feel the panic as she ran down the streets. “Have you seen him? Have you seen him?” she asked everyone she encountered. She feared she’d lost him. The night watchmen were like city guards who patrolled the streets and city walls. She asked them if they had seen the one her heart loved, which was the way she referred to him not once, not twice but four times in the first four verses of this chapter. It literally means “the one my soul loves.” She loved him with her mind, will and emotions…but entire soul. The fact that she didn’t actually say his name made it seem more dreamlike. In the dream sequence the watchmen didn’t give an answer and she kept searching. (pgs 47-48)

It is common for a woman to feel a sense of panic at some point during the dating or engagement period. Does he feel about me the same way I feel about him? Suppose I let him know how I feel about him and then he leaves me? Am I pretty enough? Am I what he’s looking for? What will he think when he finds out about my past? What will he think when he meets my crazy family? Those fears don’t stop when the couple gets married. We gals look in the mirror and wonder if we have what it takes for the long haul. We question how we measure up to the women at his workplace. We question whether we’re sexy enough, exciting enough or interesting enough to hold our husbands’ interest. We wonder if we will become a statistic. Will he still love me when my tummy pooches and my skin sags? What if he gets tired of me? Will I make him happy? Will he make me happy? Have I married the wrong person? (Me: All these questions more than likely are from the devil giving doubts to destroy the marriage).

If you’ve been married for more than a few days, then you have most likely figured out that the blessed union doesn’t stay so blessed without a lot of work. And, I daresay, the most important “work” we can do as wives is on our knees. The psalmist (Solomon) wrote, “Unless (Yah) builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless (Yah) watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain” (Psalm 127:1). Only (Yah) can truly protect your marriage and your man. And he invites you to participate in the unleashing of his power by praying for your husband and turning the key to the storehouse of heaven’s door for blessing outpoured. Every wife will eventually come to the realization that she does not have it in her power to make marriage work. It is only through the power of (Yah) working in both the husband and the wife to make the intertwined strand of three cords unbreakable. Through prayer, our fears will fade as (Yah’s) power and provision permeate our relationship. (Me: Just as we have learned, she is saying Yah is our counselor, we are to consult Him)...Prayer can make a bad marriage good and a good marriage great. Prayer is the conduit through which (Yah’s) power is released and his will is brought to earth as it is in heaven. And (Yah’s) will for your marriage is for it to thrive for a lifetime of emotional, spiritual and physical intimacy. Finally, the Shulamite finds her man: (Song 3:4). I can envision the Shulamite’s heart pounding as her bad dream came to an end and she embraced her man. He probably laughed at her unfounded fear and hugged her right back. (Me: Solomon’s hug probably cast that demon off her). The Shulamite dreamed of taking Solomon to her mother’s house and that part of the dream came true. It was Hebrew custom for a girl to live with her parents until she married, so this would have been her house as well. This shows that she was not dreaming of a premarital sexual encounter but one that her family supported. Not until the wedding day would she leave the security of her mother’s home to be with her husband. So even though she might have been hesitant when Solomon was calling her to come out from hiding in the cleft, she was now truly ready to become his bride (wife). All fear of the future was gone. Now she knew she didn’t want to live without him one more day. As it’s been said, “When choosing a marriage partner, it’s sound advice to select not just someone you can live with but someone you cannot live without.” She had found her person and she wasn’t about to let him go.

Chapter 4: Saying “I Do and Meaning “I Will”: The stagehands had now finished the scene change. The dusty fields, apple trees and banqueting hall had been replaced with a custom-crafted carriage of gold and silver inlay, sixty armored swords-men and a host of adoring spectators. The curtain rose to the most magnificent wedding ceremony the world had ever seen. Solomon and his Shulamite were now poised and ready to become man and wife at last…In chapter 3 of the Song of Solomon, the big day finally arrived. Solomon spared no expense to make this the most memorable day of his bride’s life. As I mentioned, if the Song of Solomon were a Broadway play, this would be the second act right after the intermission when new props have been added to the scene. If it were a movie, the screen would turn from black to bursting with color! Here they came! (Song 3:6-11 is the wedding scene).

The Song painted a beautiful picture of a fragrant smoke billowing, muscular soldiers marching, golden swords glistening, purple robes flowing, hand-cut (ornaments) shimmering and young women straining on tiptoes to catch a glimpse of the bride. Just a short time ago, the Shulamite was a humble field hand working under the scornful eye of the scorching sun. She’d had not time to take care of her appearance or prepare for her future. (Me: Yet Solomon still loved her). And then Solomon had plucked her from the field and placed her in the palace…I often wonder about her mean old stepbrothers. There’s no mention of them at the wedding but I bet they were cowering in the crowd, hoping Solomon wouldn’t string them up by their toenails. For months Solomon had wooed the Shulamite with the easy tenderness of a shepherd rather than the egotistic toughness of a king. He hadn’t coerced her with his power but pursued her with his love. And yet everything about the wedding procession reflected the power and strength of the man: cedars of Lebanon, purple royal fabric, gold and silver posts and sword-bearing groomsmen. (pgs 51-53).

…Solomon had sixty (warriors) in his processional. These guys weren’t wearing boutonnieres and seating female attendees. They strapped on swords, ready to fight off anyone who dared interfere with the big day. (Me: Like her brothers). It was common for bandits and thieves to hide out and attack a royal procession. Solomon made sure his bride was safe and secure. Don’t you know she felt totally protected and cherished as sixty warriors flanked her carriage? When it comes to sexual intimacy, a woman needs to know that she is safe. We’ll get to that more in the next chapter but here we see that even before the wedding night, Solomon showed his bride that he would do everything in his power to make sure she felt secure. If there’s one thing we know about Solomon, it’s that he could be extravagant. He’d gone all out to make this day his bride would never forget. If she hadn’t known before, she would see now just how important she was to him. Also, did you notice that Solomon made the wedding carriage? He left nothing to chance by removing his royal robe and tying on a carpenter’s apron. Hammer. Saw. Nails. Splinters. Nicks. Sweat…The materials used to build the wedding carriage were very similar to the materials used to build (Yah’s) temple. Both were crafted to perfection. Both (esteemed Yah). (However) here’ the line that grabs my heart, “Its seat was upholstered with purple, its interior inlaid with love” (v. 10). Inlaid with love! What a guy! (pgs 53-54).

Why do we have such elaborate wedding ceremonies? Is it just because we want to play dress-up and have a big party? Not a chance. Or at least I hope not. Getting married is the most important decision a person can make, other than joining oneself to (Messiyah). Weddings put on display the most significant union between a man and a woman (Yah) ever created, the beginning of a covenant relationship that is meant to last a lifetime. And they invite loved ones to join in the couple’s happiness. That’s certainly a lot to celebrate. (pg 54).

Chapter 4: The (Yah-Ordained) Purpose of Leaving and Cleaving: Remember when you stood at the back of the venue waiting to walk down the aisle? A new family unit was about to brought into existence. It was a departure from the old life and an entrance into the new. Solomon and the Shulamite’s wedding may have looked different from yours and mine but some of the same elements were mingled in. At first glance, the prose in Song 3:6 reads as if Solomon were approaching his bride but in the original Hebrew, the pronoun “who” is singular and feminine, telling us that it was the bride who was traveling from her home to the king’s city for the wedding. Twice, Solomon said to the Shulamite, “Come with me” (2:10, 13) and now she was doing just that. She was leaving her people and being joined to her husband. (pgs 54-55).

Did you notice also how, later in the passage, King Solomon was wearing a crown his mother had made (3:11)? It was customary in those days for a mother to make her son a crown for his wedding day. This was the crown that Solomon would have worn not as king of (Ysrayl) but as king of his home…In making Solomon a crown, his mother showed him that she heartily approved of his choice and would support them in every way. Solomon’s mom was the woman who instructed her son with the words in Proverbs 31:10-31. Her actions seemed to say that he had found such a woman. For centuries, crowning was a part of wedding ceremonies…the wedding cap was perceived to be provided for her (the bride) by her father, in essence, the father was crowning his daughter for marriage. The groom was crowned with a simple band of gold or with a garland of flowers, usually by his mother. (Me: This is similar to how Yah or Abba is going to be giving crowns, James 1:12 and Revelation 2:10 to His children. Crowns represent power, triumph, honor, esteem, immortality, righteousness and resurrection).(pg 55)

In the garden of Eden, after fashioning Eve, (Yah) presented her to Adam. Then he said, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24 KJV). The ESV translates the word cleave as “hold fast” to his wife. The NIV says “is united” to his wife. Cleave is a word we don’t use much today. The Hebrew word is dabaq and means “to cling, stay close, cleave, stick with, follow closely, join to. Like gluing two pieces of paper together, the couple is glued in such a way that if anyone were to try and pull them apart, pieces of one would cling to the other. There cannot be a true bonding of souls if one or both of the partners in the marriage does not leave the family of origin. Leaving doesn’t mean not having anything to do with the extended family but it does mean that the most important family unit, the one that takes priority above all other earthly relationships, is between the new husband and wife…many marriages struggle because of the refusal to leave their parents and cleave to their spouse. When a man defers to his mother rather than his wife, it creates a wedge between him and his wife that (Yah) never intended. Likewise, when a wife confides in her mother rather than her husband, she is placing her mother in a position solely reserved for her husband. Two main trouble areas for couples who struggle with leaving and cleaving are dependency on parents for emotional and material support and allegiance to their parents over their spouses. Couples must not be afraid to establish healthy boundaries to keep their new family units a priority over their parents and siblings….Leaving can be painful for some couples. But I tell you this, there will be no cleaving if there is no leaving. (If you are the mom-in-law), give them gifts that foster a deeper connectedness, such as money for weekends away by themselves, date-night certificates or babysitting for times alone. Never make your married child feel conscience-stricken for choosing his or her spouse over you. Better yet, never make your married child feel as if he or she has to choose at all. (pgs 55-58).

Chapter 4: Making a Covenant Versus Signing a Contract: Solomon and the Shulamite (and their parents) seemed to grasp the concept of leaving and cleaving very well. They also didn’t have trouble remembering that beyond the fancy clothes and fairy-tale decor, there was something very important going on in their wedding ceremony, something holy (set-apart, qodesh). A wedding is an earthly ceremony of a spiritual covenant between a man and a woman before (Yah)…While it is a time for celebration, if we miss the spiritual significance, then we’ve missed the true meaning. If we miss the true meaning, then we forfeit the underlying foundation for lifelong intimacy. Solomon and the Shulamite understood the meaning of marriage. They didn’t miss it at all. Let’s go back to their wedding procession. There came the bride, with a pillar of smoke leading the way. That pillar of smoke or incense would have undoubtedly reminded the Hebrew attendees of (the Power) who led the children of Ysrayl through the wilderness with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:18-22). They would have remembered how (Yah) brought them out of Egyptian slavery and into the promised land. While there might have been an extensive guest list for the wedding celebration, (Yah’s) presence was leading the way. He was the One who had brought them together and would keep them together. (HalleluYah). But just like the promised land for the (Israylites), the promised land of marriage is not without it struggles. If we keep coming to (Yah) as a couple, however, He will help us through every one of them…(A) study showed that couples who pray together every day divorce at a rate of one out of ten thousand. So having (Yah) at the center of any marriage helps hold it together for the long haul. Inviting (Yah’s) presence into the wedding celebration is a great place to begin. Solomon’s preparation of the wedding ceremony confirmed that he considered marriage a sacred moment with (Yah) leading the way…It is the sacred moment when three strands–husband, wife and (Yah) are intertwined into one cord. Author, Mike Mason summarized it well: “Marriage is the closest bond that is possible between two human beings. That, at least, was the original idea behind it…Socially, legally, physically, emotionally, every which way, there is just no other means of getting closer to another human being and never has been, than in marriage. Every aspect of the two persons’ lives merge into a single unit. They give up much of their “independence” and give to each other selflessly. That certainly doesn’t sit well in our me-centered society. Most are more comfortable with the idea of “meet me halfway.” (pgs 58-59)

…But that’s not what marriage is. It’s not just the feeling of loving someone. It is a covenantal commitment to love someone. Living together without being married offers an easy way out of the relationship if it hits a rough spot or if one of the parties decides he or she doesn’t love the other after all. It says, “I love you but not enough to close off all other options and commit for a lifetime. And if it doesn’t work out, we can walk away. Let’s give it a try and see how it goes.” You might say, “Well getting married doesn’t ensure one of the parties won’t leave either.” And you’re right. The way you view marriage, covenant or contract will either strengthen or weaken your likelihood to beat the odds. (Me: Here the author views marriage as not being a contract but a covenant. But I must say as Israylites we know that love, covenants, vows are conditional. If we do our part, Yah always does His part. There is no unconditional love with Yah as the Christians teach). (pg 60).

The author continues, the idea of “covenant” was serious business in the bible. The Hebrew word is beriyth or berith and means “a treaty, compact or agreement between two parties.” The actual Hebrew word doesn’t mean “to make a covenant” but “to cut a covenant.” In Genesis 15 (Yah) made a covenant with Abraham. He instructed Abraham to slaughter a heifer, a goat and a ram (turtledove, pigeon). Then he laid out the slain animals…Abraham fell into a trance while Yah walked between the sacrifices in the form of a firepot and flaming torch, much like the flame that preceded Solomon’s wedding party. The idea was that the person making the covenant–in this case, (Yah) was pledging to fulfill his covenant promises. When a person made the walk, he was saying that if he failed to keep the covenant, his life would become like the slain animals. When (Yah) walked the path of blood, he made a covenant promise to Abraham to establish the Israylite nation and bless the earth through them, which he later did through (Yahoshua)…Walking this path did show the seriousness of the covenant. It’s serious business. Wedding vows are not a declaration of present love but a mutually binding promise of future love, regardless of changing circumstances or fluctuating feelings. It is more than a lifelong commitment to another person. It is a lifelong commitment to (Yah) regarding another person. At least that’s the way (Yah) intended for it to be. Romantic love, whether one realizes it (or) not, always points back to (Yah), the Creator of love itself…This is what the happy couple in Song of Songs 3 knew. This is what they celebrated. And once the festivities were about to come to a close, they were ready to sing the most sensual verse they’d ever sung. And it’d be just as sacred as the one before it. (pgs 61-62)

Appendix of Lovestruck: Breaking the Secret Code (Symbolism) for Song of Solomon:

3:3, 5:7 Watchmen—Guards who patrolled the city at night and stood sentry at the city gates and on the city walls

3:7, 9 Couch, Palanquin, Litter—A sedan chair (or stools?) that transported the king and his bride

 

The Song of Solomon: The Most Beautiful Wedding Love Song-Poem Chapter 4

Chapter 4: The Beloved: Beautiful Bride; Beautiful Garden

1 Behold, you are beautiful, my love! Behold, you are beautiful! You have dove’s eyes behind your veil. Your hair is like a flock of goats going down from Mount Gilead. 2 Your teeth are like a flock of shorn sheep which have come up from the washing , every one of which bears twins and none is barren among them. 3 Your lips are like a strand of scarlet and your mouth is lovely. Your temples behind your veil are like a piece of pomegranate. 4 Your neck is like the tower of David, built for an armory on which hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men. 5 Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle which feed among the lilies.

6 Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away, I will go my way to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense.

7 You are all beautiful, my love and there is not spot in you. 8 Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon. Look from the top of Amana, from the top of Senir and Hermon, from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards. 9 You have ravished my heart, my sister (ahkotee), my spouse. You have ravished my heart with one look of your eyes, with one link of your necklace. 10 How fair is your love. My ahkotee, my spouse! How much better than wine is your love and the scent of your perfumes than all spices! 11 Your lips, O my spouse, drip as the honeycomb. Honey and milk are under your tongue and the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon. 12 A garden enclosed is my ahkotee, my spouse, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. 13 Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates with pleasant fruits, fragrant henna with spikenard. 14 Spikenard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon with all trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices.  15 A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters and streams from Lebanon.

The Shulamite

16 Awake, O north wind and come, O south! Blow upon my garden. That its spices may flow out. Let my beloved come to his garden and eat its pleasant fruits.

Chapter 5: Lovestruck: Unlocking the Secret Garden: Solomon and the Shulamite had finally said their vows to (Yah), made promises to each other and enjoyed the celebration with family and friends. Then the moment they’d been waiting for had arrived. With festive chatter in the background, Solomon took his bride by the hand, led her into the wedding chamber and guided her to the marriage bed covered with embroidered silk and tasseled pillows. Of course, we don’t know what the room actually looked like but considering he left nothing to chance for the wedding preparations, I suspect he left nothing to chance in the (wedding bed) suite either…In chapter 4, we finally get to the (wedding night) and the halfway mark of this love poem. Sandwiched between chapters 3 and 4, the couple is finally wed. We aren’t privy to the actual wedding vows but instead skip right from the procession to the wedding night, the night the courtship would end and the marriage would begin. (Me: The Israylites teach that when she agreed to become his wife, as his fiancé, they were already married but the ceremony makes it official, so to speak). Traditionally, while the couple would be in their honeymoon suite, the wedding celebration would still be going on nearby….In some cases back in Solomon’s day, after the consummation the bride and groom would rejoin their friends for the celebration that often lasted SEVEN days. (pgs 63-65). *The author said there would usually be a party going-on when the the bride and groom were in the wedding chamber. I’m told the bloody sheets would be kept as proof that she was a virgin on the wedding night.

Chapter 5: Touching Her with Words: The author states, I wonder if she was just a little scared about what was about to take place next. I suspect she was. By the way, Solomon slowly and tenderly assured her with his words, I think he understood her timidity. Dreaming about physical intimacy is one thing. Actually engaging in it for the first time is another. Solomon took his time to make his bride feel totally loved, cherished and safe. In chapters 1 and 2 of the Song, the bride admitted her insecurities (1:5-6; 2:1) and on their wedding night the groom blew them all away with poetic praises of her beauty. He began and ended this segment in Song 4 with these compliments. First in verse 1: How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! And then in verse 7: You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you…Within these two bookends of admiration, Solomon described SEVEN of his bride’s beautiful features. SEVEN (is) the Hebrew number of perfection and he was assuring her that she was perfection to him. Some of the language may seem strange to us but in their culture, it would have made perfect sense. Each of his descriptions had hidden meaning, a secret code that she would have clearly understood. When we understand not simply what the comparisons means but what they would have meant to her, we’ll realize how Solomon’s choice of words was magical. The important thing for us to grab on to is that Solomon tenderly touched the Shulamite’s heart with this words before he touched her body with his hands. Solomon started at the top of her head and worked his way down. (pgs 65-66)

Chapter 5, verse 1, Solomon compared his Shulamite’s eyes to a dove’s, just as he did in chapter 2. The couple was about to engage in the most intimate act created by (Yah) and it began with looking into each other’s eyes. Then he reached up and began to undress her by removing her wedding cap….He compared her tresses to the black-haired goats descending Mount Gilead…In ancient Hebrew traditions a woman only let her hair down for her husband…The Shulamite responded to her husband with a smile. How do we know? Solomon next comments on her beautiful teeth. (v. 2) Her teeth were clean, literally “coming up from the washing.” The right and left sides of her teeth were mirror image and she wasn’t missing any. We might chuckle at this praise but remember, back in their day, there were no six-month checkups at the dentist’s office. No whitening strips for a dazzling smile. To have all of her teeth and have them white was a real treat! Even today, nothing is more alluring than a sparkling smile. The picture of “coming up from the washing” would have brought a picture to mind for Solomon and his bride that was more than simply “clean.” She would have understood the underlying emotions surrounding a sheep shearing. It was a festive occasion; neighbors gathered from miles around for the celebration. The newly shorn sheep scrurrying out of the water was a happy sight, bringing smiles to the adults and laughter from the children. Shulamite’s bright, playful smile is like this, a picture of joy that makes Solomon smile like he’s at a festival and laugh wit he delight of a child. (pgs 67-68)

These are some of those code words that may seem odd to us but made perfect sense to the bride. Next, Solomon moved to her lips. I think he was getting pretty excited at this point. (v. 3) Solomon loved her lips and her mouth. He loved kissing her and couldn’t wait to kiss her some more. I think he gently placed his lips on hers at this point or at least traced their outline with his fingertip. Lips and mouth are two different words in Hebrew. When Solomon and the Shulamite spoke of the mouth, as they did several times throughout the Song, they were referring to what lies beyond the lips. This was not a peck on the lips but sensual, deep, tongue-engaged, open-mouth kissing. Then he compared her temples to halves of pomegranates. The word translated “temples” includes the cheeks….The red seed-filled pomegranates were considered an aphrodisiac for arousing sexual desire and a symbol of fertility. (Me:  Also remember Leah and Rachyl used mandrakes for fertility). He could have chosen any red fruit to compare her cheeks to, but he purposely chose one with a hidden meaning that she would have understood. Then he moved to her neck. (v. 4), A long, stately neck was a mark of beauty in the ancient world. It appears she wore beautiful necklaces around that graceful neck on her wedding day, necklaces that reminded Solomon of warriors’ shields. Warriors hung their shields on the tower of David during times of peace…On that day, the bride’s neck was tall and unashamed. Her inner strength mirrored her husband’s…The bride was not embarrassed by her husband’s words but drank them in as wine before a fine meal. (pgs 68-69) *(Me: I want to add here the word pomegranate in latin means “pomum” or apple and “granatum” or seeded. In Hebrew it is called “rimon.” The fruit believed to be given to Adam by his wife Eve (HawaYah) was the pomegranate. Solomon’s crown was said to be designed like the crown on a pomegranate fruit. Yah had pomegranates and bells put on the Levite High priest’s robe and also Solomon put pomegranates and lilies on the temple pillars. Just some background history about poms. So it should make sense that poms be associated also with sex because Adam and Eve had sex shortly after the pom was eaten, if that is correct about the pom being the fruit eaten)*.

Here the author quotes a commentator: The “tower of David” was a military structure and the mighty men in David’s army hung their shields on its exterior during peace times. It was a dramatic expression to all the people in the land that David was prepared for war but was presently at peace. Women’s necklaces at that time were often made of coins or hammered flat pieces of metal, row upon row like a multiple strand of pearls. The woman’s necklace might very well have looked like David’s tower and she might very well have been like all that the tower symbolized, ready to spring into action to defend what she knew to be hers and equally ready to be at complete peace with the man she loved. (pgs 69-70)

That is the beauty of sexual intimacy blessed by the Creator and untainted by shame. She was at complete peace with the man she loved. Solomon then moved to her breasts. (v. 5)…Solomon was slowly moving from his bride’s eyes to her mouth to her neck to her breasts. He loved her breasts and was excited to get to see them finally! Notice how gentle he was with her, how tender, how slow. What a beautiful picture (Yah) gives us of a man taking his time with a virgin on her (wedding night). Most likely Solomon’s mention of a fawn or graceful deer was referring to the softness of her breasts, as soft as a young fawn’s fur. He longed to hold and caress them. Like a gentle shepherd, he didn’t run up and grab the fawns. He was careful not to frighten them away but moved slowly and methodically. His likening of her breasts to a fawn or a young gazelle also alluded to their youthful appearance. Notice he was browsing, taking his time…The author quotes the author Mason who wrote the mystery of marriage who explains what it was like to see his wife’s body naked for the first time. The author of Lovestruck continues: That’s how Solomon must have felt as he slid the bridal robe off his wife’s shoulders. It was an echo of Adam’s experience in the garden (waking up and seeing his wife for the first time). Wondrously looking. Helplessly staring. Irresistible compulsion simply to behold. She was more than just a beautiful woman; she was a woman like no other he had ever seen. His words were a prelude to sexual intimacy not just because they aroused passion but also because they frame his passion in loving respect for her being. Once he reached her breasts, he had to stop and take a break. He could go no farther. The author states here that she asked her husband, “What’s so intriguing to men about a woman’s breasts? Her husband responded (paraphrased), “That’s why we are called ‘opposite sex.’ This is just one of many ways. (pgs 70-72)

Chapter 5: Enjoying His Wife’s Glorious Terrain: Solomon took a deep breath when he stopped to enjoy his wife’s breasts. He was overcome with sensual longing and his passion took over. Next, he told her what he was planning on doing for the rest of the night. (v. 6), “Until the day breaks and the shadows flee…” Solomon was planning on enjoying his bride. ALL. NIGHT. LONG. I don’t know if Solomon had stamina but he sure had the desire. Notice, these are the exact words the Shulamite said in 2:17 when she was daydreaming about making love with her man. Now her dream was coming true. Notice Solomon mentioned “the mountain of myrrh” and “the hill of incense.” Where have we heard about this mountain of myrrh before? Back in the Song of Songs 1:13. The Shulamite said, “My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh resting between my breasts.” Way back when being with Solomon sexually was but a dream, she fantasized about him resting between her breasts. Now, on their wedding night, it was actually happening. Solomon would climb those fragrant hills and enjoy every moment of it. Finally, Solomon took in his wife’s naked body and came to this conclusion: “You are altogether beautiful my darling; there is no flaw in you” (4:7). The Hebrew word mum is translated, “flaw, defect, spot, or blemish.” I love how the NLT translates verse 7: “You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way.” Solomon wanted his wife to know he found her to be beautiful not only on the outside but also on the inside. Those are words every woman wants to hear…Solomon in all his wisdom, let the Shulamite know that regardless of how she saw herself, he thought she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen (Paraphrased, he said this because we women tend to see the things that we believe are wrong with ourselves). And that made her love him even more. As he undressed his bride, he unveiled her beauty. She saw herself through the mirror of his eyes once again. I wonder if that was when she truly started to believe him. (pgs 72-74)

Chapter 5: Inviting His Bride on a Marvelous Journey: Solomon took a break from describing his bride’s beauty and invited her on a wonderful journey. He knew what was about to happen to his body at the culmination of this experience and he wanted her to experience it too. (4:8 ESV) In verse 8 Solomon called his Shulamite his “bride” for the first time. Within five verses he used the word five times (vv. 8-12). No doubt Solomon was excited to be able to call her that at last! Notice, he called her to come with him. The question is, come where? He wasn’t talking about going on a trip from Lebanon to his hometown. It was another destination he had in mind. Solomon was not selfishly thinking of his own sexual gratification and satisfaction; he wanted his wife to enjoy the same release as well. He was about to take a trip to the pinnacle of sexual ecstasy and he wanted her to come along with him. It is a myth that orgasm should come naturally for a woman. On the other hand, it is not the husband’s sole responsibility. Reaching a climax takes some effort on the wife’s part as well. Very few women get a view from the top of the mountain without taking the effort to make the climb. Soaking in a bubble bath. Wearing pretty lingerie. Setting the mood of the bedroom. These are just a few ways to engage your most important sex organ…your mind, before you slip beneath the sheets. What we think about sex will determine whether we enjoy it or endure it. That’s why this book is so important to me. I want you to see that physical intimacy is a (Yah)-given gift and each time you enjoy making love to your husband, (Yah) cheers. Tommy Nelson wrote, “A woman…gets ready for sexual intimacy through what she thinks and feels and to a great extent, she thinks and feels the way a man leads her to think and feel. Nothing calms a woman’s fears and excites her passions as much as having a man tell her how wonderful she is. (pgs 74-75)

But suppose you don’t have a husband who is as good with words as Solomon. When it comes to the bedroom, most men aren’t. That’s when we need to take time to prepare our minds. Some women do that by marking time for intimacy on their calendars and doing a little planning ahead. It is a myth that the best lovemaking is spontaneous. Many who are waiting for the spontaneous magic moment end up just simply waiting. When you take the time to plan ahead and let your husband know that you’re looking forward to your time together, he thinks he’s the (most blessed) guy on the earth! Not only does your husband want to be wanted, he wants you to enjoy sex as well. Did you know that your husband longs to see you sexually fulfilled? His heart races when he sees you respond to his advances. It’s really not all about him. It’s about you too. He wants to know that he is the one who can take you to the moon and back with the crescendo or climax he created….As Dr. Kevin Leman, the author of Sheet Music, wrote, “There isn’t a husband on this planet who doesn’t want to know he can make his woman go crazy in bed. Leman also stated, “Even more than your husband wants to have sex with you for his own sexual relief, the truth is, he wants t please you even more than he wants to be pleasured. It might seem like it’s all about him but what he really wants, emotionally, is to see how much you enjoy the pleasure he can give you. If he fails to do that, for any reason, he’ll end up feeling inadequate, lonely and unloved. Most of us men want to be our wives heroes (author ends quote).”  Solomon wanted to be his wife’s hero. He invited her to take the climb and he was more than happy to help her get there. (pgs 75-76)

Chapter 5: Surrendering the Key to Her Private Garden: Solomon had to catch his breath after enjoying his wife’s breasts but he wasn’t quite finished praising his bride and caressing her with his words. (v. 9-11 ESV) Solomon moves from looking to tasting, to smelling, to touching, reminding us that sex involves all the senses because (Yah) made us that way. If you remember, in chapter 1, the Shulamite compared her beloved’s kisses to wine and his fragrance to perfume poured out. Now Solomon was doing the same (comparing her to wine). It might seem rather odd for Solomon to call his wife his sister but in Near East poetry, sister was a term of endearment for one’s wife. The inference was that the new wife was now related to her husband a closely as s blood relative. Just as the pillar of smoke in the wedding processional reminded the wedding party of (Yah’s) presence leading the children of Ysrayl out of Egypt, Solomon now compared his wife’s kisses to the choicest fruit of the promised land. She was (Yah’s) promised land to him, flowing with milk and honey. That promised land had been like a locked-up garden but she was about to hand over the key.(pgs 76-77)

(v. 12-15) Gardens were a beautiful metaphor in Hebrew poetry. (Ysrayl) is an arid land. Before modern irrigation, gardens only grew around a water source. They were places of rest and refreshment in a hot, dusty world. Usually, private gardens were protected or guarded by a rock wall. This was the picture Solomon painted in the Shulamite’s mind. She was a private garden behind a protective wall. Notice Solomon didn’t compare his beloved to just any garden but a garden filled with a variety of fruits, spices and scents: pomegranates, henna, nard, saffron, calamus, cinnamon, myrrh, aloes, every kind of incense tree and the finest spices. He took great pleasure in gazing at his bride’s landscape as well as grazing on the choice fruits of her body. The ESV and NASB translate verse13 as “your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates.” The NLT reads, “Your thighs shelter a paradise of pomegranates with rare spices.” Most likely what Solomon was referring to were the delicacies that lay between her thighs…We have thought about (Yah) as the enemy of sexual pleasure and these passages assure us that not only is he not against it. he is the Creator of sexual pleasure (when done righteously). So let’s keep going. Solomon does. The Shulamite’s virginity had been like a locked-up garden, an enclosed spring, a sealed foundation. And now, on her wedding night, she was giving her husband the key…the only man who would ever have access…as a garden enclosed, closed off to trespassers and open to only to him (4:12). He belonged to a club so exclusive that it only had one member…He (Solomon) was the great explorer. She the magnificent discovery. (pgs 78-79)

Chapter 5: Responding with Delight: How did the bride respond to her husband’s loving advances? With passionate sensual ecstasy! In Song of Songs 2:7 and 3:5, she begged her friends not to awaken love until the right time. Now was the right time. She was ready to awaken love with Yah’s blessing. (v. 4:16) When the Shulamite spoke of the north and south winds, they were pretty much what you’d guess. She had come to a climax of ecstasy. The north wind were strong and the south winds were gentle. She was ready to love her husband with everything she had, holding nothing back. This is every husband’s dream. He longs for his wife to want him sexually. He wants her to be responsive to his touch, receptive to his advances and released to enjoy him fully as he enjoys her. At this point, Solomon and his wife had become what Yah had fashioned a married couple to be: ONE FLESH. When the Shulamite responded to her husband, she made sure that he knew what was previously “her garden” was now “his garden.” She was fully his, just as he was fully hers. What a stunning picture as we end chapter 4, with the bride handing the key to her husband and his unlatching the lock. What began in the garden of Eden with the first man and woman continued with Solomon and his bride as she lovingly gave her garden to him. (pgs 79-80)

Chapter 5: Savoring the Holy (Qodesh) Gift: If anyone says that sex is dirty or shameful, we have an entire bible to contradict them. (Yah) created the gift of sex for a husband and wife to enjoy in the safety of marriage and called it good (Genesis 1:31). We are to “honor marriage and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband” (Hebrews 13:4 THE MESSSGE). To honor something means that you put a high value on it; you esteem it as valuable. Sex within marriage is a good thing; its a (Yah) thing. We are not “less holy” when we are passionately loving our husbands and we should never be embarrassed or feel guilty about it. I honestly think the Enemy who comes to “steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10) has done a pretty good job of distorting what intimacy should be between a husband and a wife. Let’s not let him win. It is easy to think of a marriage as a holy union designed by (Yah). But we must remember that sex is also a holy union designed by (Yah). The oneness that occurs is physical intimacy is not matched in any other way. If you strip away the spiritual and emotional significance of sex, it becomes a physical source of pleasure that lasts for a moment. When you grasp the (Yah)-intended dimension of the physical union, it becomes a renewal of the marriage covenant that lasts for a lifetime. “There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact” (1 Corinthians 6:16 THE MESSAGE). Author quotes Matt Chandler: “There was something holy taking place between husband and wife (in Song of Songs 4). It was sacred, special, unique. ‘Holy’ has often been defined as ‘being set apart for special use’. Sex certainly fits that description. It is not for everybody. It is set aside for special use in marriage. Sex is holy.”

When you consider physical intimacy from (Yah’s) perspective, rather than the current culture’s perception, you begin to comprehend the depth and breadth, the weightiness and incredible value…of THE GIFT. (pgs 81-82)

Appendix of Lovestruck: Breaking the Secret Code (Symbolism) for Song of Solomon:

4:1, 6:5 Mount Gilead—A high plateau east of Galilee and Samaria

4:1, 6:5 Flock of goats—Long-haired black goats whose hair would blow in cascading motion as they ran down the hills of Mount Gilead

4:2, 6:6 Sheep just shorn—newly shorn sheep that are clean and still moist with water coming out of washing

4:3, 13; 6:7, 11; 7:12 Pomegranate—A round, red, seeded fruit that often represented fertility and lovemaking

4:4 Tower of David—An armory tower of King David; Represented the pride and (esteem) of a city; Long necks, like a tall well-built tower were seen as beautiful in the ancient Near East

4:4 A Thousand Shields—Phrase referring to warriors’ practice of decorating towers with shields, as a woman’s neck was decorated with ornaments and/or necklaces

4:8 Amana, Senir, Hermon—Landmarks of the area; Neighboring peaks or perhaps different names for the same peak; Symbolizes rough places

4:9, 10, 12; 5:1, 2; 8:8 Sister—Term of endearment in the ancient Near East

4:13, 14 Henna, Nard, Saffron—Most likely spices that Solomon would bring from the Far East along with calamus and cinnamon, symbolizing the sweetness, attractiveness and value of his bride

4:14 Myrrh and Aloes—Aromatic aloes used to perfume royal nuptial robes

The Song of Solomon: The Most Beautiful Wedding Love Song-Poem Chapter 5

Chapter 5: The Beloved

1 I have come to my garden, my sister, my spouse. I have gathered my myrrh with my spice. I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey. I have drunk my wine with my milk.

The Shulamite’s Troubled Evening: The Shulamite

2 I sleep but my heart is awake. It is the voice of my beloved! He knocks, saying “Open for me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one. For my head is covered with dew. My locs with the drops of the night.” 3 I have taken off my robe. How can I put it on again? I have washed my feet. How can I defile them? 4 My beloved put his hand by the latch of the door and my heart yearned for him. 5 I arose to open for my beloved and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh on the handles of the lock. 6 I opened for my beloved but my beloved had turned away and was gone. My heart leaped up when he spoke. I sought him but I could not find him. I called him but he gave me no answer. 7 The watchmen who went about the city found me. They struck me, they wounded me. The keepers of the walls took my veil away from me. 8 I charge you, O daughters of Yahrushalom, if you find my beloved, that you tell him I am lovesick!

The Daughters of Yahrushalom

9 What is your beloved more than another beloved. O beautiful among women? What is your beloved more than another beloved, that you so charge us?

The Shulamite

10 My beloved is white (pure) and ruddy chief among ten thousand. 11 His head is like the finest gold. His locs are wavy and black as a raven. 12 His eyes are like doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk and fitly set. 13 His cheeks are like a bed of spices, banks of scented herbs. His lips are lilies, dripping liquid myrrh. 14 His hands are rods of gold set with beryl. His body is carved ivory inlaid with sapphires. 15 His legs are pillars of marble set on bases of fine gold. His countenance is like Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. 16 His mouth is most sweet, yes, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Yahrushalom!

Lovestruck Chapter 5: Glowing in the Aftermath: Solomon understood the gift and the Giver and he was thankful for both. Song of Songs 5:1 really seems like it should be attached to the end of chapter 4. The couple had made love for the first time and Solomon was glowing in the aftermath. (Song 5:1). Solomn reveled and rested in the release of passion. The months of dreaming about being joined as man and wife had finally ended; It was now reality. He seemed euphoric as he remembered their night of lovemaking. The once tense muscles relaxed. The tension of restraint was released. The buildup of hormonal urges subsided. Like exhausted dancers at the end of a raucous song, the couple rested. There was no guilt or shame but pure joy in knowing the night was sanctioned and sanctified by (Yah). The union of their bodies was complete; The journey of their souls intertwining had taken a monumental leap forward. Remember, as strange as it may seem to us, there was a party going on outside the bedchamber. We aren’t real sure who said the next words: “Eat, friends and drink; Drink your fill of love (v. 1). Some say it was Solomon calling through the door for the party to carry on without him, he was going to be awhile. Others think it could be (Yah’s) voice encouraging the couple to enjoy the gift He had given. “Drink up!” the Creator shouted. “This is a gift I have given to you! Enjoy!” Either way, the bible makes it clear that sexual intimacy between a husband and wife is something to celebrate. At this midway mark of the love song, all was right with their world. But we know what they didn’t know quite yet. Marriage isn’t one long (wedding night). If someone tells you it is, don’t believe a word of it. Life is hard. Marriage is hard. Weaving throughout the most passionate love affairs are threads of disappointment, disillusionment and discord. The question is, how will we handle the discord when it comes? How would they? It all starts with grace. (pgs 82-83)

Lovestruck Chapter 6: Trouble in Paradise: …I’m sure the possibility of waning passion never entered Solomon’s nor the Shulamite’s mind on their wedding night…Then real life begins. Passion is still possible but not without being intentional and mindful. The infection of indifference toward intimacy is one of those little foxes that can sneak in and destroy a marriage before you even notice the pesky critter is in the garden. Even Solomon and the Shulamite’s marriage was not immune to the invasive infection of indifference. I’m sure it surprised Solomon just as much as reading about it surprised me. (pg 86)

Chapter 6: The Locked-Up Garden: Song of Solomon 4 ended with a beautiful picture of passionate love-making and the afterglow of requited desire. The Shulamite had given her husband the key to her locked-up garden and he had entered to enjoy all the fruits saved just for him. But in chapter 5 it seems something went awry. The Shulamite’s door was slammed shut and Solomon couldn’t find the key. Let’s join her in the bedroom as he came knocking. (Song 5:2-3) “Open to me, my sister, my darling, my dove, my flawless one.” Can’t you just hear his wooing through the paneled door? He’s cooing the fourfold words of adoration, words that at one time made her heart melt like butter on a hot biscuit. The man is smooth. He can’t wait to see his woman. To be with her. To make love to her. But she’s not interested. Before the Shulamite and Solomon were married, she couldn’t wait to hop in bed with her man. She had to have talks with herself to wait until the (wedding night). And now that she had him, she wasn’t all the interested. She was taking him for granted and turning him away, apathetic toward the man who had once made her “faint with love” (2:5). The Shulamite still called Solomon her dodi (5:2, 4-6, 8) but she sure didn’t treat him like one. Author Stu Weber reminds us, “A woman can so easily crush a man’s spirit. With a look. With a word. With a shrug of indifference…On the other hand, a woman is equally capable of causing her husband’s spirit to soar.”  When the Shulamite heard the knock, she had a choice: crush his spirit or make his heart soar. She chose the former. (pgs 86-87)

It’s interesting that in these eight short chapters of romance, marriage and sexual intimacy, 20 percent of the content is dedicated to conflict. Perhaps the greatest lesson is that these verses are included at all. Yes, there will be ups and downs in marriage. Passion will ebb and flow…Most conflict and frustration in marriage is a result of unmet expectations. This snapshot of the Shulamite’s marriage is no exception. Solomon had been out working all day and hoped to spend some “quality time” with his wife. He was expectant. Or perhaps she expected him to communicate more clearly about his plans and was disappointed when he kept her guessing. We certainly see that he expected her to be glad to see him and she wasn’t. Whatever the case, unmet expectations were the breeding ground for their first recorded conflict as a marriage couple. The issue of unmet expectations is almost always tied to self-centeredness, one of the main enemies of marriage. If self-gratification and personal satisfaction are on the throne of a marriage, it will not be a happy kingdom. It is only through the power of the Holy (Set-apart) Spirit working in us and through us that we can truly put our selfish desires aside for the desires of another…Often, when a wife is caught up in how her husband is not meeting her needs or the husband is focused on how the wife is not meeting his, arguments become about what is best for the individual rather than what is best for the marriage. However, if we focus on what is best for the marriage, self has to be knocked off the throne…In these (next) pages, we’re going to follow Solomon and the Shulamite’s lead and focus on one particular conflict, one little fox that crept into their relationship. This scene isn’t about just any conflict. It is a conflict of sexual apathy and rejection. He knocked…she didn’t answer. (pgs 87-89)

The Danger of Indifference: Marriages typically go through three stages. The first stage is the romantic stage….Whatever the length, the romantic (or honeymoon) stage is a sweet season of romance and passion with little conflict. The couple is getting to know each other…The next stage is often called the disillusionment or distraction phase. The couple becomes distracted with life: taking care of a home, raising a family, building a career and managing finances. They may become disillusioned about what they thought their marriage would be like….The rose-colored glasses come off and reality sets in. The couple realizes it takes work to keep a marriage strong. This is where many marriages fall back to earth with a thud. The final stage is dissolution, resignation or contentment and commitment. Forty percent of married couples dissolve their marriages in this phase. They give up and say it’s just not worth the trouble. Some resign themselves to having a mediocre marriage with little expectation of true happiness. And then there are those who decide to work on their relationship and commit to love their mate fully and biblically for the rest of their lives. These are the happy ones. Since you’re holding this book, I’m thinking that’s you. (pgs 89-90)

In the Song of Solomon 5, the couple was moving into the second phase. The honeymoon was over and real life came knocking at the door. Back in those days it was common for the king and queen to have separate bedrooms. That would explain why Solomon knocked on the Shulamite’s chamber door in the middle of the night…Have you ever ignored the knock? Have you ever dismissed your husband’s desire or rejected his advances? Have you ever left your man figuratively standing out in the cold? Let’s look at what Paul wrote in Corinthians about the dangers of withholding sex in a marriage: “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). What Paul was saying is this: Wives must put their husbands’ needs above their own. Husbands must put their wives’ needs above their own. Tommy Nelson wrote, “Each must give sacrificially and generously to the other, in sexual behavior and in all other ways in a marriage. Marriage is mostly about giving, not receiving. Only the holy and selfless can truly be great lovers.”(pg 90)

Now let’s look at the same passage in 1 Corinthians taken from Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase, The Message: “It’s good for a man to have a wife and for a woman to have a husband. Sexual drives are strong but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder. The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality, the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out. Abstaining from sex is permissible for a period of time if you both agree to it and if it’s for the purposes of prayer and fasting but only for such times. (Me: Remember no sex on Friday nights, the Shabbat night). Then come back together again. Satan has an ingenious way of tempting us when we least expect it. I’m not, understand, commanding these periods of abstinence, only providing my best counsel if you should choose them.” (pg 91)

The marriage bed should be a place of mutuality…the bible points to mutual responsibility to serve each other in marriage. Even in the often-debated passage about submission in Ephesians 5:21-33, Paul led with the words, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Messiah.” Notice in the letter to the Corinthians that Paul didn’t imply that it was only the husband who had sexual needs…Some have said that the bible is oppressive toward women but this passage shows otherwise.  In Paul’s day women were considered their father’s property. When they married, that ownership was passed to the husband for the purpose of producing legitimate heirs who would inherit property and carry on the family name. But Paul’s radical teaching put women on the same level with their husbands when it came to sexual intimacy and marital rights (in the bedroom). Paul redefined marriage as a context for mutual satisfaction, a  call to serve each other in every way. Paul was assuming that couples were having sex and having sex regularly. In fact, he encouraged it! In his estimation the only time a couple should abstain from sexual intimacy is by mutual consent or agreement, for a time of prayer and fasting…Discounting illness or injury, most of the time lack of sex for an extended period of time is due to bitter resentment or self-centered apathy. However, other factors such as pornography, self-stimulation, verbal abuse, alcoholism, obesity, childhood trauma, painful intercourse and certain medications can decrease libido and sex drive. Whether it is current sin, past experiences or medical issues, the lack of intimacy in marriage needs to be addressed. Perhaps one of the most important things we can do to protect intimacy for a lifetime is to guard against apathy or indifference. We can also root out bitterness due to unmet expectations and relinquish resentment due to disappointment. (pgs 91-92)

Chapter 6: Painting an Easy Target on His Back: What did Paul tell us about the possible repercussions of withholding sex from our spouses? It paints a target of temptation on the back of the one left unfulfilled. The Enemy (Satan) is an opportunist and he is looking for just the right time to put temptation in your man’s path. The Devil gets just as excited about a marriage without sex as he does about sex without marriage. Both are out of (Yah’s) will. Being unfulfilled sexually in a marriage puts out the welcome mat for the Devil to move right in. Yes, we need to pray for our husbands to resist temptation but we also need to put some action behind those words. Jame’s warning, “Faith without deeds is useless (2:20), applies to this area of our marriage as well. As one husband said, “Stop praying for me all the time and make love to me instead!” …It is like saying “I will” but then switching it up on him and saying “I won’t.” If you say, “Well, he doesn’t deserve it. He doesn’t treat me the way Solomon treated his wife,” then you are turning sex into a reward for good behavior. (Yah) did not create sex between a husband and wife as a reward for good behavior or a manipulative tool to get what you want. Intimacy is first and foremost a response to (Yah’s) idea and ideal…If you want to change your husband, punishment won’t do it. Grace and love will. Sometimes the wife is more interested in sex than the husband. Studies show that at least 20 percent of wives belong to this camp. When it is the wife who is less interested than the husband, sex still usually occurs. When it is the husband who is not interested, it rarely occurs or never occurs. Just as a woman would not want her husband to demand sex, a husband in this situation doesn’t want his wife to nag him about it. Threats and complaints usually make matters worse…Professional intervention…It could be something as simple as low testosterone, an easy fix. Or it could be more complicated with issues a counselor ( or an elder) could help unravel…Sexual addiction, physical and verbal abuse and pornography are more complicated and challenging matters. These will destroy a marriage and need to be addressed…(pgs 93-94)

Chapter 6: Fulfilling His Greatest Desire: What about those nights when you’re just not in the mood? What do you do then? If you move ahead with resentment in your heart, because you feel as if it’s your marital “duty” as a wife, your husband will be able to tell. If you have the attitude, “I don’t want to do this but I’ll get through it to satisfy him,” guess what? He won’t be satisfied at all. Yes, he might feel a release once the song is sung but he will not be fulfilled. A husband doesn’t want duty; He wants desire…And you know what? The husband of such a wife knows when a wife wants to make love and when a wife is having sex out of duty. Most men would rather reshingle a roof in hundred-degree heat than have sex with a wife who is doing it out of duty. A man is sexually fulfilled when he knows that his wife is also fulfilled. Duty will not get him there. So what do you do if you don’t have the desire but you also don’t want to act out of duty? There is another choice. Act out of a decision to love. This is the opposite of duty because of the heart behind the action. Duty is an attitude of obligation that says, “I don’t want to do this but I feel like I have to.” A decision to love says, “I’m not in the mood but I am deciding to put my husband’s desires above my desires in order to love him selflessly.” (pgs 94-95)

In her book For Women Only, Shaunti Feldhahn shared the results of a professional survey about what men are thinking and feeling. “On each survey and in my random interviews around the country, an urgent theme emerged. Men want more sex than they are getting. And what’s more, they believe that the women who love them don’t seem to realize that this is a crisis, not only for the man but for the relationship….for your husband, sex is more than just a physical need. Lack of sex is as emotionally serious to him as, say, his sudden silence would be to you, were he simply to stop communicating with you. It is just as wounding to him, just as much a legitimate grievance and just as dangerous to your marriage.” She goes on to say, “In a very deep way, your man often feels isolated and burdened by secret feelings of inadequacy. Making love with you assures him that you find him desirable, salves a deep sense of loneliness and gives him the strength and well-being necessary to face the world with confidence. And, of course, sex also makes him feel loved, in fact, he can’t feel completely loved without it.” (pgs 95-96) (Me: Wow, wasn’t that deep?!)

In Shaunti’s survey of married men, 97 percent “said getting enough sex wasn’t, by itself, enough, they wanted to feel wanted.” Three-fourths said they “would still feel empty if their wives weren’t both engaged and satisfied.” “Not tonight, dear” says to a man that he is not capable of turning on his wife. It tells him that she cares more about her sleep than loving him….Most likely she’s physically tired, mentally worn out or emotionally drained. But that’s not how he interprets it, mainly because he can still want to have sex when he is physically tired, mentally worn out or emotionally drained. For him, sex is the magic cure. A husband’s self-image is vitally linked to his sexuality, so when a wife resists his advances, he sees it as a personal rejection. This tears at the heart of his self-esteem. If he knows his wife wants him, then he feels his world is a safe place. George Gilder wrote in Men and Marriage, “The truth is, the typical man worries a lot. He worries about his sexual performance, his wife’s enjoyment and his ability to satisfy her. A man who feels like a failure in the marriage bed will seldom have the deep, abiding self-respect for which he longs.” That seems contrary to popular belief, doesn’t it? Modern men are portrayed via the media as always being confident and assertive sexually. But most are not as confident as they might seem. Did you know that almost every time your husband initiates intimacy, he has an inkling of fear that you’ll turn him down? He’s making himself vulnerable to rejection time and time again. But, as Jill Renich writes, “To receive him with joy and to share sexual pleasure builds into him a sense of being worthy, desirable and acceptable.” To please your husband sexually is to build his sense of value as a man. Here’s another way to look at it. We can view sexual intimacy as something we HAVE to do or something we GET to do…The spirit of obligation is the enemy of joy. So which will it be? Obligation or opportunity? Have to or get to? We get to choose. (pgs 96-97)

If you do truly need to wait until a better time, though, make sure that your words are tender and kind. Make sure he knows, without a shadow of a doubt, that you are crazy in love with him, that you’re not rejecting him…When I am not particulary in the mood but am determined to serve and love my husband well, all it takes to help me get there is my intentional welcoming of his advances. Here’s the great thing about how (Yah) made husbands and wives to respond to each other: after a few minutes of caressing, I am in the mood! Oxytocin and dopamine start to flow to the brain and BAM, my attitude is miraculously transformed. Isn’t (Yah) brilliant? When our hearts are right, (Yah) ignites the fire and it’s a win-win for both. Here’s an idea: If you are too tired, how about saying, “Honey, I am so tired tonight. But if you can wait until tomorrow, I promise I’ll make it worth the wait”? Then prepare your mind, follow through and make him feel like the (most blessed) man on earth. And don’t be surprised if he comes home from work early that day. I suggest the twenty-four hour rule. If you say no to your husband, then make sure you say yes within twenty-four hours. Don’t let too much time pass. It becomes an elephant in the bedroom, which weighs heavily on the heart. I hope this chapter doesn’t make you feel guilty for a lack of interest in meeting your husband’s sexual needs or angry that he is wired the way he is. Remember (Yah) made him that way. My hope is that you’ll understand the emotional link to intimacy that the warrior in him may not easily reveal. I hope that you’ll understand how his confidence and security is bound up in his wife’s response to him physically. (Yah) has given wives incredible power to build up or tear down their husbands. I pray we will use it well. (pgs 97-98)

Chapter 6: Extending Forgiveness and Grace: I’m sure that Solomon was disappointed when his Shulamite didn’t open the door and respond to his sweet words. Any man would have been. She basically told him to go sleep on the couch…his couch. As he stood outside in the night air, he most likely felt unloved and unwanted. Here’s what happened next: (Song 5:4-6) Solomon didn’t respond as you or I might expect. He didn’t get angry or bang on the door to demand entrance. He didn’t yell or scream in frustration. He could have said, “Hey, I’m the king. How dare you ignore me! I rescued you from working in the fields all day. Look how I’ve provided for you! and this is the thanks I get?” Instead, he simply slipped his hand through the keyhole and poured myrrh on the latch. In other words, he left his calling card. The keyholes in Solomon’s day were large enough to put your hand through. The bottom had a ledge. That’s where Solomon left his gift. All through the Song, the couple referred to myrrh as their special perfume. Perhaps you have a special perfume that your husband loves. Maybe he has a certain cologne that drives you wild. Myrrh was their fragrance. Rather than stomp away angrily, Solomon poured their special perfume on the latch to let the Shulamite know he had been there. When she put her hand on the lever to open the door, her hand became drenched in the love he left for her. Solomon’s response did not mirror his wife’s rejection. Paul wrote, “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else” (1 Thessalonians 5:15). We tend to read verses such as these and think of everyone other than our spouses but there’s no one more important to apply this verse to than the one we call ours. As husbands and wives, we are going to hurt each other. We are going to make each other angry, furious, as a matter of fact. Learning how to respond to difficult situations is an important key to lifelong intimacy…Angry outbursts or passive-aggressive withdrawals are equally destructive to a healthy relationship. Solomon did neither but left a “note” to let her know that he still loved her. He extended grace and forgiveness before she even asked. (pgs 98-100)

I know this example is of a husband’s loving response to his wife’s unloving action, however, we women can learn so much from Solomon. What a wonderful example of how we can respond with kindness when what we’d really like to do is throw a hissy fit and make our husbands pay for how they’ve hurt us. Solomon later wrote, “A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). His gentle answer melted his bride’s heart. Oh, that we wives would do the same. But, by the time the Shulamite opened the door, her man was gone. She could have said, “Fine. I don’t care. Go off and pout then.” She could have climbed back in bed and gone right back to sleep. But she didn’t. She tore off after him in panic. (Song 5:6-8) This scenario sounds much like her dream in chapter 3 but with a greater sense of urgency. You can almost feel the panic as if she were saying, “What have I done? Rather than sit in her room and wait for him to come back to her, she went looking for him, seeking reconciliation as soon as possible. As we saw in Song of Solomon 3, the night watchmen were guards that patrolled the city walls. They would have known she was the queen and I doubt they would have laid a hand on her. I suspect she was using poetic imagery. (Me: When I read about the bruises and the taking of the garment, it reminded my of Yahoshua). Every time she asked someone if he or she had seen her man and they replied that they hadn’t, she felt beat up and bruised by her own actions. Either way, whether literal or figurative, her heart took a beating. She showed us just how dangerous apathy in marriage can be. I suspect Solomon’s kindness toward her in leaving the calling card of myrrh on the door latch exacerbated her feelings of remorse. Sometimes it almost feels better when someone yells back at you than when they kill you with kindness. Paul called that heaping “Burning coals” on someone’s head (Romans 12:20). When our bad attitude is met with love, there’s an ache of remorse, a wishing we could take it all back. As Rob Flood wrote, “The course of a conflict is not determined by the person who initiates but by the person who responds.” Whether you are in the wrong or your husband is in the wrong, the person with the power to determine the ending of the story lies with the one who responds. Solomon responded to the Shulamite’s refusal with grace and love. She replied with repentance and remorse. (pgs 100-101)

Chapter 6: Surrounding Yourself with the Right Kind of Friends: We haven’t given much attention to the third set of characters in this song. I think of them as the backup singers. They are referred to in the heading as “friends” (NIV), “others” (ESV) and “daughters of Jersusalem” (NKJV). I consider them “friends”, my friends. The Shulamite surrounded herself with positive friends who supported her marriage. Never once do we hear them speak disparagingly about Solomon. On the contrary, they encouraged the Shulamite to think the best of her husband and to remember what drew her to him in the first place. (Song 5:9) What do your friends tell you when you get in a spat with your man? Do they take your side and tell you what a dog he is? Do they feed your feelings of anger and bitterness with the fuel of resentment? Or do they listen with understanding but ultimately lead you back to restoring the relationship? …Remember, there are always two sides to that flat pancake. Girls, we don’t need friends who tear our husbands down, even if they are agreeing with us at the moment. If your friends speak negatively about your man, you need new friends. Maybe your mom is your best friend. If so, beware of discussing your marital issues with her. She’ll almost always side with her little girl, no matter how old you are. Then, when you and your husband kiss and makeup, your mama will still be mad at him. (pgs 101-103)

Here’s what we can learn from the Shulamite about the sort of friends we need to have and the kind of friend we need to be. We need friends who will encourage us to reach out to our husbands when we want to pull away. To let go of an offense when we want to hold on to a grudge. To think the best when we tend to think the worst. To listen when we want to lash out. To press on when we want to give up. When you’re angry with your husband, a good friend will listen but also try to steer you toward reconciliation. “Now that I’ve heard all the things you don’t like about your husband, tell me what you do like. Why did you fall in love with him in the first place?” These types of questions can change your perspective and encourage you to stick it out. These are the types of questions the Shulamite’s friends asked her. With that little bit of coaxing, the Shulamite remembered why she fell in love with her man when she was but a tenant working in the fields. When there’s trouble in paradise, that’s the kind of friend we need. The Shulamite eventually did find her husband after a night of searching. She knew just where to look. I’m so glad chapter 5 is included in the Song of Solomon, aren’t you? It lets us know that even the most romantic beginnings will have raw-hurt middles. No marriage is immune from the infection of indifference, the arctic-cooling of apathy or the slippery slope of self-centeredness. Recognizing the symptoms early is the key to a quick recovery. Ignoring the signs is a prescription for disaster. And the cure for most of a marriage ills? Grace and forgiveness. Is it easy? Never. Is it worth it? Always. I know the Shulamite was thankful for good friends to help her over this bump in the road. My hope is that you and I will have the same kind of friends throughout our journeys. (pg 103)

Lovestruck: Chapter 7: This is My Beloved, This is My Friend: The author begins this chapter by telling a story. A man lost all his money when he started a business. His wife did not leave him, she lit some candles one evening when their electricity was shut off. As a matter of fact she still encouraged him (to succeed). That was the lesson in the story; No matter how down things seem to be or are, a wife should be an encourager. The author continued…(Yah) had given Solomon an encourager in the Shulamite, too, but for a moment, she had simply forgotten what a wonderful man he was. From time to time, we all just need a little reminder. When the Shulamite opened the door and discovered her man was gone, she panicked. Sometimes we need a little wake-up call when we’re taking our marriage for granted. Thankfully, she had good friends who coaxed her to remember how blessed she really was. “What makes your husband so special? They asked. “Let’s talk about that!” (Song 5:9). Once she got started talking about her dodi, it was difficult for her to stop. (v. 10-16). (pgs 105-106)

Just as Solomon took an inventory of SEVEN of his bride’s stunning features on their wedding night, the Shulamite took inventory of TEN of his. In the bible, the number TEN, like SEVEN, is a number for PERFECTION. She started with his complexion. It was ruddy and radiant (Me: He was red like David)…from tending flocks. The original Hebrew word actually means “to glow” or “to shine.” I love that! He’s shiny! He’s dazzling! Just as Solomon compared the Shulamite’s hair to the flowing black fleece of goats running down the hillside, she compared his head (not hair) to the nobility of gold. He wasn’t just the king of Ysrayl; He was the king of her heart. She went on to describe his seductive eyes set like (ornaments) on his handsome face. His eyes brought her a sense of peace, like a gentle dove. This is the only comparison that they both used for each other. They saw love reflected in each other’s eyes. She pondered his yummy cheeks that begged to be kissed, his sensuous lips that dripped with myrrh and his muscular body that outshone ten thousand men. Even though he was gentle and tender with her, she admired his strength. She compared his arms to rods of gold set with topaz, certain parts of his body to polished ivory tusks decorated with lapis and his legs to pillars of marble set on bases of pure gold, all the finest resources that the land had to offer. His stature was like that of the cedars of Lebanon. He stood firm and could not be shaken by the winds of adversity. When she called his mouth “sweetness itself,” she most likely was referring to the words he spoke to her: tender, loving, kind. I envision her wanting to hold his face in her hands and give him that kiss he wanted earlier. “This is my beloved, this is my friend, daughter of Yahrushalom,” she sighs. “Thank you for reminding me.” Have you forgotten what drew you to your man in the first place? Tomorrow, look at him. Really look at him. Notice his hands. His eyes. His arms. Look at him and admire his wonderful qualities rather than focusing on his worst…When it comes to appreciating our husbands, sometimes we just need a little reminder…When was the last time you told him that you loved his smile or admired his talent? Can’t remember? Well, today could be the day! That’s your homework. Use your words to build up that man of yours. Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Make the most of the best and the least of the worst.”….What was the Shulamite’s final answer to her friends’ question? “This is my beloved, this is my friend” (v. 16). When we focus on the positives, we’ll most likely come to the same conclusion. (pgs 107-109)

Chapter 7: The Power of a Good Word: Other than (Yah’s) Word, your words are the most important words in your husband’s life. You have the ability to build him up or tear him down, give him courage or take away his confidence, inspire him to reach for his goals or conspire with his deepest insecurities to make him quit…I want to be a wife who uses her words to build up her husband rather than tearing him down, who encourages him to reach for his dreams rather than throwing cold water on his enthusiasm, who lets him know that he is loved rather than leaving him questioning his worth…Something that I always want to remember (from the story that I paraphrased in the beginning of chapter 7)…A wife has the power to bolster her husband’s confidence or break his spirit with but a word. Jane (the wife from the story) chose to be “his encourager.” After the Shulamite came to her senses, she made the same choice. Proverbs 12:25 reminds us, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down but a good word makes him glad” (ESV). All through the day, your husband has words thrown at him that could cause anxiety to rise and self-esteem to fall. But you, dear one, have the ability to make him glad with a word and especially glad that he came home to you. And here’s more good news: notice the proverb is about a good word. You don’t have to have a lot of words. You don’t have to…make a speech. Just one little word can make all the difference…”I’m so proud of you.” “I missed you today.” “I love you so much.” “Thank you for working so hard.” “I’m so glad I married you.”…When the Shulamite enumerated her husband’s magnificent qualities, she did so in front of an audience. “This is my beloved, this is my friend, daughters of Yahrushalom” (Song 5:16, emphasis added). Nothing makes a man’s heart swell more than his wife bragging on him, except when she brags on him in front of others. The Shulamite inspires us to speak positively about our husbands to other people. Better yet, do it in a place where he can hear it. Then watch him smile. (pgs 109-111)

Chapter 7: Don’t Allow Time to Tarnish Wonder: His thrifty turns into tightwad. Her fun personality turns into annoying. His adventurous spirit turns into irresponsibility. Her organizational skills turns into a controlling attitude. Now, I know this isn’t true across the board. These are huge generalities. But the point is, after a few years of marriage, we can forget why we married that incredible man in the first place. What was I thinking? We wonder. This is not what I signed up for. This is not who I thought he was. And the truth is, our husbands are probably thinking the same thing. One way to polish the tarnish of resentment and disappointment off of our original starry-eyed wonder is with words of admiration and appreciation. You can blot out the sun with your thumb if you bring it close enough to your eye. In the same way, you can blot out your husband’s admirable qualities if you hold a thumb of disapproval close enough to your heart. We need to avoid focusing on the 5 percent negative and concentrate on the 95 percent positive. Cheer him on in the good stuff and give the rest to (Yah). I suggest making a list of all your husband’s admirable qualities. Not just his outward appearance but also his inner strengths…Then if you’re smart, one day you will give him the list…The term confirmation bias refers to the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories. Whether you tell yourself that your husband is selfish or selfless, you will begin to look for actions and attitudes to back it up. If you tell yourself your husband is useless around the house, you’ll look for evidence to support that and overlook all the ways he does contribute to running the family. If you tell yourself that your husband is a giver, you’ll be tuned in to the ways he helps those in his sphere of influence. You believe more of what you say to yourself than what anyone else says to you. Say positive words about your husband to yourself and you’ll begin to think and act positively toward him. When you are feeling irritated with him, ask yourself, “What have I been telling myself about my husband? Have I been telling myself that he is irresponsible, clueless, lazy or prideful? Or have I been telling myself that he’s a gift from (Yah), a hard worker, a great lover and a caring friend?” Whatever you tell yourself, you’ll believe it. Once the Shulamite started reminding herself of her husband’s positive qualities, she remembered just how blessed she really was. The same will happen in our hearts when we follow her lead. (pgs 112-114)

Chapter 7: The Importance of Admiration and Respect: We’ve already seen that a husband wants to know he is satisfying his wife sexually. But he wants to satisfy her in a host of other ways as well. More than anything, your husband wants to know that you admire and respect him, he wants to be your hero. Paul (Shaul) taught husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands (Ephesians 5:33). As much as you long to be loved and cherished, your husband longs to be admired and respected. That’s just the way (Yah) made him. What exactly is respect? It is a feeling of admiration for someone elicited by his or her abilities, qualities or achievements. It is holding someone in high regard. We show respect by how we value a man’s decisions and abilities. We communicate respect by how we talk to him and about him. If a man doesn’t feel respected, he will not feel loved. You have no control over what happens to your husband in the workplace but you do have some control over what he feels in the homeplace. His self-esteem teeters on the precipice of your approval and you can make or break him with your words. If he doesn’t feel admiration from you, he will seek other areas where he can succeed. He’ll work late at the office to hear “Good job.” He’ll hang out with the guys on the basketball court to hear “Great shot.” He’ll go home to mama to hear “You’re such a good boy.” Listen to what a few respondents told me when I surveyed men for my book, Becoming the Woman of His Dreams:

“All men need more encouragement. They need to know that they have a t least one big-time fan.”—Gene

“A man dreams of being needed and wanted by a wife. There are times when I know my wife looks up to me, respects me and honors me. That is when I love her the most and feel the best about myself as well. When I feel strong, I am strong. More than any other person in the world, she holds the key to my confidence.”—Al

“I don’t think any single thing takes away a man’s strength of character more than the loss of respect…Don’t dwell on his weakness but dwell on the positives. Men are in a fight for our lives. We are at war mentally. We’re out there trying to conquer the world. A man needs to know that home is a safe place to be instead of feeling like you’re leaving one battle for another.”—Don (pgs 11-115)

When (Yah) fashioned man and woman in his image, He did something astounding. He gave us the gift of words. He didn’t give words to any of the other creatures on the face of the earth. He gave them to you and to me. With our words, we can change the course of someone’s life. As scripture tells us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21 NASB). The death and life of a marriage are in the power of the tongue as well. All day long, your husband is dealing with people in the workforce with negative words. He needs to know that there is one person who is for him, who is on his side and believes in him. If you could listen to the thoughts in your husband’s head, you’d most likely hear whispers of inferiority, insecurity and inadequacy. Even though most men put on a strong persona, inside they’re wondering if they really have what it takes to make it in this world as a man, a provider, a lover and a friend. Your husband questions his masculinity, his gifts and his abilities. Let him know he has what it takes to succeed. Men are less likely to expose or admit their need for encouragement than women are, I believe, because it goes against the world’s idea of masculinity. Men are taught to be tough and thick-skinned. But they crave admiration and are attracted to sweet words of encouragement like bees are to honey. As Solomon later wrote in Proverbs, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (16:24NASB) but “Words of the reckless pierce like swords” (Proverbs 12:18). Your words become the mirror in which your husband sees himself. In one of his marriage series, Andy Stanley said, “Your husband should be able to tell how much (Yah) loves him by the way you treat him and love him  and admire him. (pgs 116-117)

At her friends’ prompting, the Shulamite remembered that she was married to the most magnificent man on earth. When she finally found him, I have no doubt she let him know just how she felt. Every man longs for his woman to do that. They are silently asking, Do you respect me? Do you admire me? Are you proud of me? So let’s tell them. Let your husband know that he’s brave and brilliant, loving and logical, tough and tender, masculine and magnificent, sexy and savvy. That’s the stuff of his dreams. Your husband wants not only to BE loved but also to be TOLD that he’s loved. Do you want to see your husband’s face light up? Tell him you are amazed that he knows how to (blank) or that you are impressed by his (blank) and then sit back and watch him glow. As the Shulamite said, he’ll be SHINY. (pg 117)

Chapter 7: The Daily Decision to Cheer or Boo: Every day we make decisions to cheer or to boo our men…The desire to be cheered rather than booed starts at a very early age. We all have it. Your man has it. (Here the author tells a story of a dad who did not belittle his son when the son’s rock climbing wasn’t perfect. The dad choose to tell his son how awesome he was for trying to do it)…the author continued…Miss that moment and you’ll miss a boy’s heart forever. It’s not a question, it’s THE question, the one every boy and man is longing to ask. Do I have what it takes? Am I powerful? Until a man knows he’s a man he will forever be trying to prove he is one, while at the same time shrinking from anything that might reveal he is not. Most men live their lives haunted by the question or crippled by the answer they’ve been given. You, dear wife, have that power, right under your nose, to let the little boy in that grown man’s body know that he has what it takes. In his mind he’s asking you, Do you think I’m a wild man (awesome)? Let him know that you think he is all that and more! (pgs 117-120)

Chapter 7: Strengthening the Bond of Friendship: …Interestingly, the Song of Solomon is much like a folded (love) letter. The Song was written using a chiastic structure. A chiasm is a repetition of similar ideas in reverse sequence, like taking a piece of paper and folding it down the middle. One half is a mirror image of the other. This organizes the poem into themes and serves to give emphasis to those themes. You’ll notice repeated words or phrases as we move along. The second half of the Song is a reflection of the first but goes deeper. In the first half of the letter, the Shulamite mentioned the importance of friendship in a budding romance. In the second half she emphasized the importance of friendship in a deep-rooted relationship and lifelong intimacy.

At the very end of the Shulmite’s elaboration of her husband’s finest qualities in chapter 5 (of the bible), she took a deep breath and sighed, “This is my beloved, this is my friend” (v. 16)…What started as passionate romance with a hint of friendship grew into a deep abiding, an intertwining of souls, a forever friendship, the qualities that tether a couple together for a lifetime. Solomon first called the Shulamite his friend in chapter 1 (vs. 9-15). As we’ve already seen, the Hebrew word RaYah is translated “darling” in the NIV but literally means “companion.” (Me: Rayah means FRIEND OF YAH in Hebrew. Ya’ll do remember that there is a friendship theme that runs through the whole bible. Yah called Abraham and Moses “friend.” The friendship theme was in the book of Ruth. Yah pairs friends together like Yliyah and Ylishua (Elisha). Yahoshua was surrounded with friends, 12 of them. There will be two friends, as witnesses in the book of Revelation. The Most High is serious about friendships, y’all). Now the Shulamite says the same about her dodi (that they are friends, too). Marriage expert John Gottman wrote, “The determining factor in whether wives feel satisfied with the sex, romance and passion in their marriage by 70 percent, the quality of the couple’s friendship. For men, the determining factor is, by 70 percent, the quality of the couple’s friendship. So men and women come from the same planet after all.” The author continued, one of the destroyers to lifelong marriage is the slow deterioration of the bond of friendship. Chores. Children. Roles. Responsibilities. Before you know it, lovers are no longer friends sharing an adventurous life but roommates sharing an arduous existence. Sheldon Vanauken called this slow dissolution that catches couples unaware “creeping separateness.”

(Here the author quotes Vanauken) “There is such a thing as creeping separateness. What do young people who are freshly married do? They can’t rest when they’re apart. They want to be together all the time. But they develop separate interests, especially if they have separate jobs and some separate friends. So they drift apart. Pretty soon they have little in common except, maybe, the children. So the stage is set for one of them to fall in love with someone else. Later they’ll say the reason for the divorce was that he/she fell in love with someone else but it wasn’t that at all. It was because they let themselves grow apart.”

“We just don’t have anything in common.” “We’ve grown apart.” “He’s not the man I married.” “I don’t know how this happened.” These are common complaints from couples who have allowed their friendships to fizzle. A good marriage doesn’t happen. It takes intentionality and creativity to weave commonalities into a life that is intertwined beyond unraveling. (Yah) has placed in each human heart the desire to know and be known. We long for intimacy, even as children. Little girls want a best friend with whom to share secrets, hold hands and write love notes. Little boys want a blood brother with whom  to make a secret pact, have a special handshake and form a members-only club. While we may have glimpses of intimate friendship throughout our lives, marriage is the pinnacle of true intimacy or least it can be. Oftentimes, this kind of intimacy is difficult to achieve As with any close friendship, there is the fear “if he really knew me, he may not like me.” Intimate friendship goes beyond that fear. A true friend is one who knows all your faults and loves you anyway. Naked and unashamed. There’s no way you are going to share everything with your husband and you shouldn’t. He will have some interests that are solely his (like golf) and you will have interests that are solely yours (like sewing)…However…always make sure to enjoy certain activities together…like dancing, playing Scrabble, Sunday walks on the beach hand in hand…We share secrets, struggles and insecurities. We laugh together. Cry together. And do nothing together. He is my lover He is my friend (says the author). Your spouse should always be your best friend. Oh sure, we need to live in community and have friends of the same gender. But that best friend? The one person in your life with whom you can share your deepest longings and greatest fears? That should be your spouse. The words we share as friends are one of the most important elements of any marriage. Whether it’s encouraging each other to reach for dreams, emboldening each other to stand courageously when weak, romancing each other with words of love, delighting in each other’s positive qualities or sharing as two friends who simply enjoy each other’s company. Words are one of the most powerful forces in the universe to strengthen or weaken a marriage and they’re right under your nose. (pgs 120-123)

Appendix of Lovestuck: Breaking the Secret Code (Symbolism) for Song of Solomon:

5:14 Chrysolite (Beryl)—Possibly a yellowish or greenish stone such as topaz

5:14 Sapphires Azure—Blue lapis

 

 

 

 

The Song of Solomon: The Most Beautiful Wedding Love Song-Poem: Chapter 6

Chapter 6: The Daughters of Yahrushalom

1 Where has your beloved gone, O beautiful among women? Where has your beloved turned aside, that we may seek him with you?

The Shulamite

2 My beloved has gone to his garden, to the beds of spices to feed his flock in the gardens and to gather lilies. 3 I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine. He feeds his flock among the lilies.

Praise of the Shulamite’s Beauty: The Beloved

4 O my love, you are as beautiful as Tirzah, lovely as Yahrushalom, awesome as an army with banners! 5 Turn your eyes away from me for they have overcome me. Your hair is like a flock of goats going down from Gilead. 6 Your teeth are like a flock of sheep which have come up from the washing. Every one bears twins and none is barren among them. 7 Like a piece of pomegranate are your temples behind your veil. 8 There are sixty queens and eighty concubines and virgins without number. 9 My dove, my perfect one, is the only one. The only one of her mother. The favorite of the one who bore her. The daughters saw her and called her blessed. The queens and the concubines and they praised her. 10 Who is she who looks forth as the morning, beautiful as the moon, clear as the sun, awesome as an army of banners?

The Shulamite

11 I went down to the garden of nuts to see the verdure of the valley, to see whether the vine had budded and the pomegranates had bloomed. 12 Before I was even aware, my soul had made me as the chariots of my noble people (Hebrew Ammi Nadib).

The Beloved and His Friends

13 Return, return, O Shulamite. Return, return, that we may look upon you.

The Shulamite

What would you see in the Shulamite, as it were, the dance of the two camps? (Hebrew Mahanaim)

Lovestruck Chapter 8: Forgiveness and the Dance of Two Camps: The author begins this chapter by telling of a story about a couple who forgave each other…That’s exactly what Solomon and the Shulamite were about to do in Song of Solomon 6. I’m so glad the most romantic book in the bible includes a spat between lovers. It shows us that, even in the best marriages, conflict is inevitable. We’ll also see that forgiveness is key to a couple’s staying power. Here the author gives a quote, “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” But when it comes to taking steps toward reconciliation and forgiveness, someone has to make the first move. (pg 125)

We left the Shulamite affectionately enumerating all of her husband’s finer qualities at the prodding of her friends. She got so distracted recalling and recounting all the reasons why her husband was the most amazing man on earth that she forgot where she was for a moment. In her dreamy-eyed wonder, it slipped her mind that Mr. Wonderful had knocked on her door and she had refused to let him in, that she had totally ignored his advances and sent him packing. She forgot that she needed to make amends. But thank (Yah) for those friends. They reeled her in and roused her back from her mesmerizing stupor. “Come on, girl. Get back to reality. Remember what you did? Remember what just happened? Don’t you think you need to make things right with your man?” First, they prompted her to remember. Then, they coaxed her to take action, to make the first move. I just love these friends! (Song 6:1). The Shulamite didn’t have to wonder where to find her husband. He was consistent in character, conviction, and behavior. She didn’t have to speculate if he was gallivanting with another woman, storming around in anger, or planning revenge for her lapse of judgment. That wasn’t who he was. Even though they had occasional arguments, misunderstandings and disappointments as any couple would, she had no doubts about the strength of their relationship or the stability of their commitment. She knew just where to find him. (In his garden, v.2-3). (pgs 125-126)

I’ve read myriad commentaries and books on the Song of Solomon while writing this one and all of them were written by men. The guys have shared some helpful insights about how men process information. Matt Chandler offered this male perspective on what Solomon was most likely feeling after his wife’s rejection: “He went to the garden. If I had to guess, I think he was probably wrestling with his frustration. He probably knew his frustration wasn’t valid. So he sat alone, working through, processing and praying. This is a fairly typical male trait. Wives, you may think that in times of conflict, your husband is ‘shutting down’ and this means he’s not as engaged not as invested in the relationship as you. Men tend to process things a little differently than women, though. Women tend to be more verbal in their processing, able to access multiple thoughts and feelings simultaneously and express them fairly quickly. Men need a little more stewing…Men tend to process more internally. It’s likely that Solomon was doing just that. He didn’t want to react in a poor way, so he gave her a sign that he loved her and then stole away for a bit to be alone and work through his frustrations.

While that is an interesting report of what goes on in a man’s mind, I don’t think that’s what the Shulamite was describing in 6:2-3. In every other reference to the “garden” or “lilies” in the Song, the couple was referring to physical intimacy. I think she had found her man and they were making up. True to the folded letter idea and the repeated themes of a chiasm, The Shulamite’s words in 6:3 mirror her words in 2:16-17: “My beloved is mine and I am his; He browses among the lilies. Until the day breaks and the shadows flee.” And then there are Solomon’s words from chapter 4: “Your breasts are like two fawns, like twin fawns of a gazelle that browse among the lilies” (v. 5). SEVEN times “lilies” or in some translations, “lotuses” refers to the Shulamite’s body and one time to Solomon’s lips. But every time, “lilies” refers to some aspect of physical intimacy. He gathered and he grazed. Yep, I think they were making up in verses 6:2-3. Her lover was in his garden (4:12, 15-16; 5:1) because she had opened the gate once again. I love how Solomon welcomed the Shulamite with open arms. Not once do we read that he rebuffed or rebuked her; Instead he simply took her in his arms and rekindled their romance. The Shulamite could have pouted for a few days. Solomon could have stewed. But she made the first move toward reconciliation and he reciprocated swiftly. With these selfless attitudes we can never go wrong. (pgs 127-128)

Chapter 8: Understanding Biblical Forgiveness: It doesn’t take very long for a couple to figure out that marriage isn’t a continuously fun and easy ride, a big bundle of happy days tied up with a sparkly bow of hugs and kisses. It’s often the sandpaper of chafing personalities, unmarred expectations and hurt feeling that rub us the wrong way and leave us feeling rather raw. Being able to forgive past offenses and let go of past hurts is an essential component for growing a strong marriage and maintaining an intimate relationship that lasts a lifetime. One the other hand, unforgiveness blocks intimacy on an emotional and physcial level. The Gottman Institue, a research-based relationship organization noted, “The capacity to seek and grant forgiveness is one of the most significant factors contributing to marital satisfaction and a lifetime of love.” Without forgivness, we will never be able to have a healthy, thriving marriage…Forgiveness, when we look at it from the Greek perspective with the word aphiemi, means “to let go from one’s power, possession, to let go free, let escape.” Biblical forgiveness means cutting someone loose. This word picture is one in which the unforgiven is roped to the back of the unforgiving. When we refuse to forgive, we bind ourselves to what we hate. When we forgive, we cut the person loose from our backs and set ourselves free as well. Forgiveness can also be seen in terms of canceling, a debt. In the Old Testament, when someone paid a debt, a notice of the debt paid in full was nailed to the lender’s door…Our debt was paid in full (by Yahoshua)…When you forgive your husband, you cancel his debt, which he never could’ve paid back anyway. Forgiveness is no longer holding the offense against the offender.

The first step to forgiveness is prayer. The bible tells us to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44). I hope your husband is never your enemy but there may be days you feel like he is. So let’s follow (Yah’s) instruction and start by praying for him. It may not turn your husband’s hardened heart to putty in your hands but it will melt the hardness of resentment in your own…It’s difficult to stay mad at someone when you’re praying for him (HalleluYah). How many times are we to forgive? Peter (Kepha in Hebrew) asked (Yahoshua) that same question. “Master, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? SEVEN times? (Yahoshua) answered, “No, not SEVEN times but SEVENTY times SEVEN” (Mathew 18:21-22 NLT). This doesn’t mean on the 491st offense we can choose not to forgive. (Yahoshua) was saying that there is no limit. But what about big offenses? You know the ones I’m talking about. That is a good question. Pornography, alcoholism, drug abuse and a host of other addictions must be addressed and dealt with for any marriage to survive and thrive. No one is doing his or her spouse any favor by allowing such destructive behavior to continue. To ignore such issues is enabling sin to continue and poisoning the marriage with the arsenic of apathy or fear. (Yah’s) call for us to forgive does not mean that a woman should stay with a man who is abusive…Separation is sometimes the best course of action. The wife needs to make sure that she is safe. A wife can separate from her husband, pray for her marriage and continue to trust (Yah) to bring healing and restoration….There’s a difference between forgiveness and trust. This is where the idea of reconciliation gets a bit muddy. Forgiveness can be immediate. Trust is rebuilt through right behavior over a period of time. The author quotes someone here: “Forgiveness is letting go of the past. Trust has to do with future behavior. Forgiveness must be immediate, whether or not a person asks for it. Trust must be rebuilt over time. Trust requires a track record. If someone hurts you repeatedly, you are commanded by (Yah) to forgive them instantly but you are not expected to trust them immediately and you are not expected to continue allowing them to hurt you.” After a betrayal, trust can be built again over time. However, it cannot be built if the one betrayed continues to knock down the blocks of positive behavior with the bat of past offenses. And what is the ultimate example of forgiveness? The way (Yah) forgives you and me. (Me: Read Matthew 6: 14-15). Paul wrote, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as (Yah) forgives you” (Colossians 3:13). And how does He forgive us? Totally and completely as soon as we ask (1 John 1:9).

Chapter 8: Relinquishing Your Rights: I think one of the most difficult aspects of forgiveness is the lingering desire to be right when wronged. We can hang on to our hurts and almost make an idol of them. The offense becomes more important than the repentant offender. We can put the hurt in a prominent place in our hearts, dusting it off every now and then with a rag of resentment, when what we really need to do is throw it in the trash. And that’s exactly what Solomon and the Shulamite did. The Shulamite reached out to her husband for forgiveness and reconciliation. He pulled her in with mercy and grace. They both shared the desire to wipe away the tension and start anew. Likewise, in our own marriages, when both parties long for reconciliation, it is nearly always possible. But if one party clings to his or her rights and refuses to forgive, reconciliation is very unlikely. The Shulamite could have said, “I’m sorry I didn’t come to the door when you knocked but it was late. I was expecting you home by seven o’clock. What took you so long anyway? You’re partly to blame here too! I have a right to be upset.” Of course, Solomon could have argued back with the declaration of his rights. After all, he WAS the king! But clinging to our own rights over (Yah’s) call to forgiveness and reconciliation never ends well. (pags 128-132)

…The author quotes someone here: “Sometimes one spouse will need to abandon “rights” in order to renew or restore the relationship. Each spouse must recognize that individual rights within a marriage are never more important than the unity and love of the relationship as a whole. If in demanding your rights or insisting that you have the right idea or opinion, you are threatening to destroy the harmony and loving foundation of your home, you are wrong, no matter how right you think you are. A greater harm is in danger of being done to your marriage and your family by your stubborn resistance than ever could have been done to you personally in the first place.”

Relinquishing our rights, particularly in our highly egocentric culture, can be one of the hardest things we ever do. The world constantly screams for individuals to fight for their rights and it can feel completely counterintuitive not to. “After all,” they say, “Who’s going to stand up for you if you don’t stand up for yourself?” …What did (Yahoshua) do regarding his rights? Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians: “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as (Yahoshua): Who, being in very nature (LIKE YAH), did not consider equality with (Yah) something to be used to his own advantage. Rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a (stake)! Therefore, (Yah) exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of (Yahoshua) every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue acknowledge that (Yahosha ha Maschiyach) is Messiah to the esteem of (Yah) the (Abba, Father). (Philippians 2:5-11)

Chapter 8: Opening Arms of Grace, Reassuring with Words of Love: Does it bother you when people throw around the phrase, “Forgive and forget”? The “Forgive” part I understand. The “Forget” part? That’s a conundrum. How can someone wipe the memory of an offense from his or her mind? If there were a delete button on your brains, sure. Having one of those would make life so much easier. Even Paul talked about forgetting the past. He wrote, “I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on” (Philippians 3:13-14 NLT). Paul had been abused and falsely accused by religious leaders who wanted to shut him up and shut him down. Yet, he knew that in order to move forward in the cause of sharing the (Good News) of (Yahoshua ha Maschiayach, means Hebrew Yahoshua the Messiah), he continually had to forgive those who had beaten him, imprisoned him and spoken ill of him. He needed to put it behind him and move on. (pg 135)

The bible says that (Yah) forgets our sins and remembers them no more (Yeremiyah 31:34). Another conundrum. How does an omniscient (Power) forget? In an effort to try to understand this whole “forgetting” puzzle, I looked up the opposite: What it means when (Yah) remembers. It turns out, every time the bible says, “(Yah) remembered,” it means that (Yah) was about to do something. He remembered Noah and stopped the rains from coming down (Genesis 8:1). He remembered Rachel and opened her womb to bear a child (Genesis 30:22). He heard the children of Ysrayl groaning and remembered His covenant with Abraham, Yitshaq and Yaqob, so He called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery (Exodus 2:24). When (Yah) chose to forget, the opposite was true; He was not going to act. When Scripture says that (Yah) forgets our sins, it means he is not going to act on them (to punish us more). That I can understand. When we forgive and forget, then, we are choosing no longer to act on the offense or let it act on us. The other extreme of this type of “forgetting” is keeping a record of wrongs and reviewing the list so that you won’t forget, which Paul says is the opposite of love (1 Corinthians 13:5). The termites of refusing to forgive and forget will destroy the foundation of any marriage, especially when the offense is brought up time and time again. Putting the offense behind you is not sweeping an issue under the rug but putting the issue to rest and burying it in the grave of grace. It’s up to you not to dig it up again. (pgs 135-136)

Suppose you are the one who needs to ask forgiveness. Here are some steps to consider:

  • Admit what you did or said was wrong.
  • Express remorse for the pain you caused.
  • Apologize for your actions.
  • Ask for forgiveness with the words, “Will you forgive me?”
  • Be patient with your spouse if the feelings of forgiveness do not come right away. Give him time to process and heal from the hurt. (pg 136)

We aren’t privy to the exact words the Shulamite said to her husband when she found him but we do see that he opened his arms with grace and forgiveness and never mentioned the incident again. Instead, he began to reassure her with wooing words that melted her heart. (Song 6:4-9). Once again Solomon elaborated on the Shulamite’s beautiful features. He used many of the same words he used on their wedding night, which told her that his love, commitment and adoration hadn’t changed. Let’s break the code and uncover the clues of his romantic reassurances hidden in the poetic language. He began with, “You are as beautiful as Tirzah, my darling.” Tirzah was an ancient city located six miles northeast of Shechem. The name meant “pleasure, pleasantness, or beauty.” The city was known for its beauty and strength. That’s what she was to him. He also compared her to Yahrushalom (Jerusalem), the magnificent capital in the south. By comparing her to the exquisite city of Tirzah in the north and to the resplendent capital of Yahrushalom in the south, he reaffirmed that she was the most beautiful woman in the entire land. I love how Peterson paraphrased Solomon’s description: “Your beauty is too much for me, I’m in over my head. I’m not used to this! I can’t take it in. (v. 5, The Message) (pgs 136-138)

I imagine she was giggling with joy at this point. But he wasn’t finished! Once again he complimented her on her flowing hair, her dazzling white teeth and her (beautiful) cheeks. He was so distracted and befuddled by her eyes that he had to turn away from gazing into them so he could think straight. Solomon let her know that, out of all the women in his entire kingdom, she was his dove, his perfect one, unique and one of a kind. In his eyes, there was no one like her. Unlike his previous recounting of her beauty, Solomon stopped at his wife’s face. Perhaps he wanted her to know that this wasn’t just about sex. He loved her for who she was, not what she could give him. The friends, who had been aware of this marital squabble, were ecstatic that the couple had reconciled. (v. 10). In other words: “Oh, girl, you look absolutely radiant. Your glowing countenance is a far cry from your gloomy face last night. Love looks good on you. Aren’t you glad you reached out to your man? We’re so proud of you!” In the next snapshot of the love story, the Shulamite had taken a place of honor in the royal chariot riding among her people, a public display of Solomon’s total trust in her (v. 12). She reveled in the assurance that her husband loved her and they were at peace. The Shulamite received complete forgiveness from her husband, the same kind of forgiveness we want to offer our men.  (pg 138)

*Me: I was surprised that the author made no mention of verse 9 where she is praised and called blessed….like the Proverbs 31 woman!!!

Chapter 8: Celebrating Restoration: In the final words of chapter 6, Solomon’s wife was doing a dance for her husband. It was a private party, just for the two of them. “Why would you gave on the Shulamite as on the dance of Mahamaim? (v. 13). This was the only time Solomon referred to his wife as “The Shulamite.” The name could be a variation of the word Shunammite, meaning “a young woman from Shumen,” or it could be the feminine form of the word Solomon, meaning “Solomon’s girl” or “Solomon’s counterpart.” (pg 139)

So what is the dance of Mahanaim? It all began back in Genesis 25 with the story of Jacob (Yahqob) and Esau, two very nonidentical twins. Hairy Esau was Yitshaq’s firstborn and therefore his father’s principle heir. With the help of his manipulative mother (Ribqeyah), Smooth Yahqob stole his brother’s birthright and his inheritance. For the next twenty years, Yahqob hid from his angry brother. He accumulated wives, children, flocks, servants and great wealth while living with his father-in-law, Laban. But eventually, Yahqob decided he wanted to return to his homeland and his people. There was one problem. Esau. So Yahqob divided his peole and possessions into TWO CAMPS. One was to approach Esau first. If Esau and his four hundred men killed the first wave, then the second group would flee. If Esau didn’t kill the first wave, then the second wave would proceed. When the first camp approached Esau, rather than attack them, he ran to embrace them. The same happened with the second group. When Yahqob brought up the rear, Esau embraced his brother and their relationship was restored. Yahqob said that looking into Esau’s face of forgiveness was like looking into the face of (Yah). We are never more like (Yah) than when we forgive. This moment was so important in Ysrayl’s history that they named (it) the site of reconciliation, Mahanaim. In Hebrew, the word means “TWO CAMPS.” Mahanaim would forever remind the Israylite nation of a time when a possible crossfire of animosity became a ceasefire of peace. Yahqob and Esau united with tears and dancing after years of hostility. Just the night before, Yahqob had been preparing for the worst but he was met with forgiveness as Esau offered him the best. (Me: If I’m not mistaken, an angel of Yah had a little “talk” with Esau before he met up with Yahqob). After the tension of conflict in Song of Songs 5, Solomon and his Shulamite had come to their place of Mahanaim. The two camps had come together and all was forgiven. I suspect they would visit Mahanaim many times through the years. (They would visit forgiveness)…Just as you and your husband will. And each time we will have a choice to turn away from each other and stand our ground in two separate camps or come together with grace and forgiveness to the rhythm of Mahanaim and the tune of grace. (pgs 139-140)

Appendix of Lovestruck: Breaking the Secret Code (Symbolism) for Song of Solomon:

6:4 Tirzah, Jerusalem—Two beautiful, magnificent cities in Israel located SEVEN mile northeast of Shechem in Samaria

 

 

 

 

The Song of Solomon: The Most Beautiful Wedding Love Song-Poem Chapter 7

Chapter 7: Expression of Praise: The Beloved

1 How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O prince’s daughter! The curves of your thighs are like ornaments, the work of the hands of a skillful workman. 2 Your navel is a rounded globlet; It lacks no blended beverage. Your waist is a heap of wheat set about with lilies. 3 Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle. 4 Your neck is like an ivory tower, your eyes like the pools in Heshbon by the gate of Bath Rabbim. Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon which looks toward Damascus. 5 Your head crowns you like Mount Carmel and the hair of your head is like purple, a king is captive your tresses. 6 How beautiful and how pleasant you are, O love with your delights! 7 This stature of yours is like a palm tree and your breasts like its clusters. 8 I said, “I will go up to the palm tree. I will take hold of its branches.” Let now your breasts be like clusters of the vine, the fragrance of your breath like apples–9 And the roof of your mouth like the best wine.

The Shulamite

The wine goes down smoothly for my beloved, moving gently the lips of sleepers (read, lips and teeth). 10 I am my beloved’s and his desire is toward me. 11 Come, my beloved, let us go forth to the field. Let us lodge in the villages. 12 Let us get up early to the vineyards. Let us see if the vine has budded, whether the grape blossoms are open and the pomegranates are in bloom. There I will give you my love. 13 The mandrakes give off a fragrance and at our gates are pleasant fruits, all manner, new and old, which I have laid up for you, my beloved.

Chapter 9: The Ageless Beauty of Committed Love: The author begins this chapter with an analogy about keeping fires going in a fireplace. She says after you build the fire, you must stoke the fire. You must add logs ever so often and the same with a marriage…don’t let it get cold or don’t let the fire die out. Enjoy the fire…the author continues…That’s exactly what we see happening in the last two chapters of the Song. We get to learn Solomon and the Shulamite’s secret to sexual intimacy and lifelong passion through the passing years. So let’s pull up a chair by the hearth and see what we can find out about how to keep the home fires burning for a lifetime.

Chapter 9: The Girl’s Still Got It: At the beginning of Song of Solomon 7, we find Solomon and his bride in the bedroom…again. The years had passed and the topography of their bodies had changed but their passion had adapted to the graceful aging of the garden delicacies they so enjoyed. The truth is, you and I might see a woman like the Shulamite walking down the street and not think much about her appearance but her husband is enthralled with her beauty still. And that’s really all that matters. Solomon was that enthralled husband in Song 7, praising his wife’s beauty once again. (Song 7: 1-2). Yep, the Shulamite’s body may have softened, shifted and even sagged but Solomon still thought she was the most captivating woman he had ever seen.  I want you to picture him on his knees, holding her feet in his hands as she sat on the side of the bed. He did not literally worship the ground she walked on but he certainly loved the feet that did the walking. Historians point out that only those who were trusted to leave the palace and return again wore sandals. Those who were not trusted, such as slaves and women in harems were often kept barefoot. The fact that Solomon’s wife wore sandals shows that he trusted her implicitly…This reminds me of another verse many scholars believe was penned by Solomon’s mother (Bathshua) about the sort of wife she hoped her son would find: “Her husband was full (of) confidence in her and lacks nothing in value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:11-12). That’s the kind of wife I want to be. I know you do too. He didn’t have to worry that she would embarrass him in public or make fun of him in front of his family and friends. He wasn’t concerned that she would keep secrets or hide things from him. If they’d had the internet, he wouldn’t have wondered if she was contacting an old boyfriend or striking up an inappropriate relationship on Facebook. He trusted her with his kingdom. He trusted her with his heart. (pgs 141-143)

After he removed her sandals, Solomon slid his palm up her leg to admire (Yah’s) handiwork. In his eyes, her legs were graceful, perfectly shaped and alluring. He loved the curves of her calves and the rounded shape of her thighs. She probably had spider veins and cellulite at this point but he didn’t mind or perhaps even notice. Remember in chapter 1 when Solomon compared the Shulamite to a mare in Pharaoh’s chariots? No doubt her legs still reminded him of the graceful horses prancing and galloping through the kingdom. I suspect if he’d had a wallet, Solomon would have had a picture of her legs (the author says like her father-in-law had in his wallet of her mother-in-law’s legs). (Me: I have a cute little story to insert here. When I was a teenager, I asked my dad what attracted him to mom. He said, “She had some big pretty legs!” I fell out laughing and never forgot what he said and yes he had a lot of pictures of her, now that I think about it). In the old testament strong legs were a symbol of strong character, of steadfast loyalty and strength. Solomon didn’t just praise his wife’s beauty but her character as well. Remember what the Shulamite said about Solomon’s legs? “His legs are pillars of marble set on bases of pure gold” (Song 5:15). Just as she had admired Solomon’s character, he now praised hers. He remembered his mother’s words about the type of woman she hoped he would marry: “Many women do noble things but you surpass them all” (Proverbs 31:29). He had found such a woman. (pgs 143-144)

Solomon moved from admiring his wife’s legs to praising her abdomen and surrounding area. He paused to admire and possibly kiss her navel, which he compared to an ever-filled chalice of wine. On their wedding night, Solomon compared the Shulamite’s arousal and growing passion to water, first a trickling garden spring, then a deep well of refreshment and finally a roaring stream from Lebanon. Now he likened her passion to a goblet of blended wine that never ran dry. Just as (Yahoshua) changed the water into wine at the wedding ceremony in Cana, the couple’s love had changed from water to wine in their later years. It had matured, fermented and become more flavorful with age. “Your navel is a rounded goblet that never lacks blended wine” (Song 7:2). He was still intoxicated by her body, it would never run dry no matter how old they grew. (pg 144)

Most likely Solomon and the Shulamite had been married for quite some time at this point. We don’t know for sure but there are a few clues, one being the way he lovingly admired her hips and abdomen. “Your waist is a mound of wheat encircled by lilies” (v. 2). No longer was her tummy flat as the desert plains. Time (had) taken its toll. Perhaps she had given birth to several children. We don’t know for sure. But we do know that her tummy had a pooch and Solomon loved her even more because of it. Perhaps it is what that mound of wheat represented: Passing years, bearing of children, maturing love and enduring passion. (Me: Before I bought this book, I did some research on how many children Solomon had. Y’all remember that Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines but most of these relationships were for political purposes and not for love-making. Many people thought that these marriages were because Solomon loved to make love yet Yah told Solomon not to get to many wives because they would turn his heart from Him. That being the said, I would expect for Solomon to have many children like Gideon, if his marriages were all for love-making. Do y’all know that Gideon had 70 sons? (Judges 8:30) So you would expect that Solomon would have, had a hundred or two of his own, right? No. Solomon only had (up to) four children with three women!! Solomon had a son with an Ammorite woman named Naamah and their son’s name was Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:21). It is said that Solomon had a son with an Ethiopian Queen named Mekeda or Malikah or Sheba (1 Kings 10:1,2) but there is no mention of him (Menelik) in the bible. It is said that she went home with a baby in her stomach (Menelik). Now this is the interesting part…Solomon had TWO daughters and there is no mention of whom their mother is. First, in 1 Kings 4:11, his daughter’s name was Taphath and then in 1 Kings 4:15, his other daughter’s name was Basemath. Could the Shulamite be the mother of these two girls? Take a look at this: The name Taphath in Hebrew means “drop.” According to Zondervan, circa 1988 the name means a drop of myrrh! Remember this is Solomon and the Shulamite’s love fragrance…his calling card left on her door. It seems appropriate that she would remember him in naming their children. The other daughter, Basemath (Bashemath or Basemath) means “Fragrance” according to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, circa 1915. The name Basemath is yet another nod that she was thinking of Solomon when she named the children because Solomon loved gardening and all things plants and flowers. Does this make sense to you? Some of y’all might be wondering if the Shulamite was jealous that Solomon had two sons with two different women? She may have been but remember the Israylites were use to “blended” families long before it was fashionable to call them “blended” families. Remember we read that the Shulamite had brothers…her mother’s sons from a different marriage more than likely her father died. And then there is Solomon, David his father, had a few wives. Solomon even went to “war” with one of his brothers, Adoniyah for the throne of Ysrayl. Even with many wives, Solomon loved the Shulamite deeply or maybe the most. How do I know? He wrote this love poem to her…HalleluYah.

Solomon didn’t see his beloved’s mound of wheat as a negative. He loved it! And he let her know so. Never once did he speak negatively of (her) physical features. As I’ve said before, he was a wise man. Wheat is harvested in the spring and grapes which are processed into wine, are harvested in the fall. From the springtime of their lives through the fall and winter, her love satisfied him. From her navel filled with mixed wine to her abdomen like a mound of wheat, her love was the sustenance that fed his heart. He kissed, caressed and praised once again the gift (Yah) had given him in this woman. Perhaps, he even nibbled like a gazelle grazing among the lilies. What a picture (Yah) has given us of sexual intimacy the way he intended. (pgs 144-145)

Chapter 9: Admiring (Yah’s) Magnificent Masterpiece: Back in Solomon’s day women were covered up with full-length robes. No one got to see the Shulamite’s shapely legs, graceful arms or rounded abdomen but her husband. And certainly no one ever saw what was coming next but him. (Song 7:3-4). Solomon stopped to pause at his wife’s breasts. This was the same compliment he gave her on their (wedding night) (4:5), which makes me like him even more. Those fawns most likely weren’t as frisky and perky as they had been those many years ago but that didn’t diminish his admiration or deter his passion. He was still enamored with her seductive sexiness. What woman doesn’t want to know that she’s still got it after years have morphed youthful beauty into something quite different, that her husband still finds her attractive and alluring? He let her know that he did. What about that nose? It wasn’t a little pug nose. It was “like the tower of Lebanon” (7:4). It’s what we might consider…large. Oh, friend, we have got to stop allowing our (western) culture to dictate what true beauty looks like…Solomon looked into his wife’s eyes and compared them to deep pools of water, pools of Heshbon. These were pools in a Levitical city where the priests dwelled. Most likely they ceremonially cleansed themselves in the pools before and after performing certain tasks. Also, the pools were in a desert area, about twenty miles east of the north end of the Dead Sea. Imagine traveling through the hot, dusty desert and coming upon refreshing pools of water. That was what Solomon felt when he looked into his wife’s eyes. That is what our husbands can feel when they come home from an arduous day’s work…if we’re intentional. We can be the refreshment they long for after fighting giants in the workplace. (pgs 145-146)

The Shulamite was no longer the timid girl from their wedding night but instead a mature woman who loved deeply and completely. Solomon let her know that she was still just as beautiful now as the first time he saw her. He knew exactly what to say to make her feel secure and where to touch to arouse passion. No one is harder on a woman’s appearance than the woman in the mirror. We can become so self-conscious about what we feel are imperfections, especially as we age. Our insecurities about our naked bodies can put a damper on what should be a fun, carefree, intimacy-building time in the bedroom. But did you know that most husbands have no problem with the areas that their wives consider imperfect? Your husband just likes looking at and enjoying your naked body! Do you have a mound of wheat rather than a flat plain? Don’t worry about that. He loves it. He’s not concerned about the cellulite on the back of your legs when you’re making love. He’s just thinking about how much he loves you and loves loving you. You are a magnificent masterpiece! Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are (Yah’s) handiwork.” Another translation says, “We are (Yah’s) masterpiece” (NLT). The Greek word translated “workmanship: or “masterpiece” is POIEMA. It is “a work of masterful creativity, a work of art or handiwork.” POIEMA is where we get the English word POEM. The only other time in scripture Paul used the word was in Romans 1:20: “Since the creation of the wold (Yah’s) invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” In that case, it took four English words, what has been made to describe the one Greek word, Poiema. (Yah) wants you to understand that you are an epic poem. Here the author quotes another author: “Tiny, insignificant you are more glorious than the sun and more fascinating than Orion. For the sun cannot perceive its Creator’s power in its own blinding glory nor can Orion trace his Designer’s genius in the precision of his heavenly course. But you can. You are part of the infinitesimal fraction of created things that have been granted the incredible gift of being able to perceive the power and native genius of (Yah)! And to you and you only, is given a wholly unique perception and experience of (Yah’s) holy grand POIEMA. There are some verses (Yah) will show only to you. What kind of being are you, so small and weak and yet endowed with such marvelous capacity for perception and wonder? This is not inspiration poster kitsch. This is biblical reality.” (pgs 146-147)

A woman was and is one of (Yah’s) most magnificent creations. As we’ve seen before, she was the grand finale of (Yah’s) creative genius and the inspiration for man’s first poetry. Regardless of your self-perceive physical imperfections and the culture-driven definition of your anatomical flaws, you are a magnificent creation of a masterful Power. And you are beautiful. As we’ve also covered, it is difficult for a woman to give herself freely to a man when she feels unattractive. But (Yah) wants you to have lifelong initimacy with your husband, one for the history books or at least your history book. And it begins with seeing yourself as (Yah) sees you: stunning.  (pgs 147-148)

Chapter 9: Romancing the Queen of His Heart: Finally, Solomon got to the top of his wife’s head. I imagine it took awhile, as he stopped to enjoy the scenery along the way. (Song 7:5). On their wedding night, Solomon had removed his bride’s (head cover), allowing her hair to fall down and around her shoulders and likened it to cascading flocks of goats running down the hills of Gilead. On this particular night, he said her hair was like a crown. Queens wore their crowns only at royal and public events. He saw her hair as a perpetual crown worn only for him. She was the queen of his kingdom and the queen of his heart. I don’t think the Shulamite’s earlier years were all she’d wished they’d been. At some point her father died, her mother remarried and her stepbrothers, her mother’s sons, made her work in the field under the scorching sun. Life had not been easy. And yet, Solomon assured her that he considered her royalty regardless of her humble beginnings. Sure, she was a queen by marriage but to her husband, she was royalty long before she moved into the castle…No matter what you have gone through, your past experiences do not define your present identity. (Yah) does. Just as Solomon called his wife a princess, the King of kings calls you his child, His princess. I love how the NIV Bible Commentary summed up Solomon’s passionate appraisal of his wife’s face and form in chapter 7: “This poem reflects the perpetual charm of the female form to the male. This song has been sung an almost infinite number of times. There is repetition here. Some of his figures are the same as those used in 4:1-15 and 6:4-10. But that is the nature of love. Our language has its limits. Our love pushes those limits and falls back in frustration at the inability of our words to communicate our ecstasy. That’s what we see in Song of Solomon 7. Sometimes there are just not enough words. I’m not sure what the Shulamite thought of her changing appearance. But I do know that Solomon held up the mirror of his words in hopes that she would see herself through his eyes….I think the Shulamite felt the same way. She was thrilled that her husband still desire her physically. “I belong to my beloved and his desire is for me…for me!”He’s still romancing her even though he caught her years ago. I know we’re looking at Solomon’s words to his wife in this section but remember, your husband wants to know that you see him as a masterpiece as well. He wants to know that he’s still got it! Picture yourself starting with his masculine calloused feet, which have stood firm for your family and working all the way up to the crown of his head. He might not have as much hair on that crown as he did when you first married him and his mound of wheat might be more like a haystack but he still wants to know that, in your eyes, he is a marvel of masculinity that melts your heart. Go ahead. Give it a try. Let me say here, several times when I’ve told women that I’m writing about the Song of Solomon, they’ve made comments such as, “That man knew how to treat a woman.” But girls, remember this: the Shulamite knew how to treat a man. She showered him with praise and admiration just as much or more than he did her. If we want a Solomon, then we need to be a Shulamite. (pgs 148-150)

Chapter 9: Tasting the Sweet Fruits of Love: Now that Solomon had finished his second rendition of “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,” he told his wife what he was planning on doing with this virtual buffet displayed before him. (Song 7:6-9) Okay, friend again, clusters of fruit are not the old and new testament, as some of the older biblical scholars supposed. Solomon was clearly ready to stop admiring his wife’s body and to take hold of all that was his. He compared his wife’s breasts to a cluster of dates nestled in the leaves of a palm tree. He was ready to climb that palm tree and take hold of its fruit…The writers of The NIV Cultural Background Study Bible explained more about this tree. “The date palm was (and remains) a highly valued tree in the Near East. It had many uses (e.g., it fronds were used in weaving baskets) and its fruit is sweet. The tree is sometimes associated with fertility goddesses in ancient artwork and the clusters of its fruit somewhat resemble a woman’s breast. As such, it here represents the pleasures that the woman gives.” To Solomon, lovemaking was a feast of delicious  dates, intoxicating wine, fragrant apples and clusters of grapes on the vine. Dates, grapes, apples and wine were symbolic of the Shulamite’s refreshing nourishment to his body, soul and spirit. She fed his heart emotionally, his body physically and his inner man spiritually in a way nothing else could. A truly good marriage will have that effect on both husband and wife. That’s the way (Yah) planned it. “How beautiful you are and how pleasing, my love, with your delights” (v. 6). Solomon was…totally captivated. (pgs 150-151)

Chapter 9: Serving One Another: We aren’t sure how much time passed since Solomon caught his first glimpse of the Shulamite working in her brother’s field but we do know that he was still wooing her and pursuing her long after they said, “I do.” Solomon began chapter 7 by admiring his wife’s sandaled feet and slowly moving up to her flowing tresses. His appraisal was very similar to his bouquet of adulation in previous chapters (4:1-7; 6:4-10). However, this time Solomon switched up the order. Earlier, he’d begun at the top of her head and worked his way down. This time he started at the bottom of her feet and worked his way up. Solomon assumed the position of a servant and took his wife’s sandaled feet in his royal hands. He might have been the king of the castle to the outside world but within the confines of their bedroom, Solomon became the servant stooping low to unfasten his wife’s sandals, a job reserved for the lowliest attendants. During this time in history, it was a servant’s job to remove their master’s or mistress’s sandals. Servants also removed the sandals of honored guests and often washed their feet to remove the dust of travel. With no Reeboks or Nikes, men and women wore leather sandals as they walked the dusty, often muddy, roads of Ysrayl. That’s if they had shoes at all. Nothing felt better than to sink calloused, throbbing feet into a cool basin of water and rise away the cares of the day. Remember when (Yahoshua) wrapped a towel around his waist and washed his (apostles) feet during the Last Supper? (John, Yahcanan 13:1-5). (pg 152)

Not all the (apostles) were comfortable with (Yahoshua) stooping servant-low to wash their feet. Peter (Kepha) balked at the idea of the (Messiyah) choosing the towel over the throne. And then, to top it off, as (Yahoshua) wiped the last bit of grit and grime from the (apostle’s) feet, he turned and said: (John 13: 12-17). When (Yahoshua) washed the (apostle’s) feet, it wasn’t simply an act of kindness. He was actually fulfilling a need that they had refused to meet. It was customary for the host of a dinner party to have a servant wash the guest’s feet. However, at (Yahoshua’s) Last Supper with his (apostles), no servant was available to wash the guest’s feet and no one volunteered. So (Yah) made a man wrap a towel around his waist and did what no one else was willing to do. (Yahoshua) did for his (apostles) what Solomon did for his bride so many years before, he humbled himself to honor another. Solomon tenderly held the Shulamite’s sandaled feet in his royal hands and began to unfasten the straps holding them in place. I imagine he even placed a kiss on her toes. (pg 153)

Of course, I am not suggesting that we wash our husband’s feet…We have indor plumbing these days…We can follow (Yahoshua’s) and Solomon’s examples by serving our spouses in many other ways. We do that every time we do the laundry, cook a meal, clean the house and a host of other mundane chores. But what about in the bedroom? Have you ever considered that you are honoring (Yah) by serving your husband in the bedroom? We’ve already talked about the difference between approaching sexual intimacy with the attitude of duty of desire. We’ve also looked at a third alternative: the decision to love. Making a decision to love, to serve in a way that only you can, honors (Yah) and your husband. That is the polar opposite of acting out of duty…Choose to see sexual intimacy as a way to serve your husband. Not only that, but a (Yah)-ordained way to serve your husband! I think you’ll get so much pleasure out of serving your man in a way that (Yah) intended that you’ll enjoy sex as never before…”The best sex makes you want to weep tears of joy not bask in the glow of a good performance.” Paul wrote, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3-4). Sometimes it seems easier to think Paul was referring to everyone other than our husbands. However, there’s no one more important to apply that principle to than the man we call ours. Whether we are using a telescope to get the big picture or a microscope for close examination, the wise wife pays close attention to her husband’s needs, desires, dreams, joys and sorrows. She looks closely at his heart and thinks of ways to serve him.(pg 154)

But what about husbands? What does the bible say about his part in serving his wife? Paul wrote in Ephesians: 5:25-33. When Paul said “profound mystery” (NIV) or “great mystery” (NASB), he used the Greek word mega-mysterion. The author quotes Tim Keller here…He called it “an extraordinarily great, wonderful and profound truth that can be understood only with the help of (Yah’s) Spirit.” He also explained: “The secret of marriage is the message that what husbands should do for their wives is what (Yahoshua) did to bring us into union with himself…(Yahoshua) gave himself up for us. (Yahoshua) the son, (Edited: on one accord with the Father)…(He understood) our human nature (Philippians 2:5ff). But further, he willingly went to the (stake) and paid the penalty for our sins, removing our guilt and condemnation so that we could be united (on one accord) with him (Romans 6:5) and take on his nature (2 Peter 1:4) (Be like Him). He gave us his (esteem) and power and became a servant. He died to his own interests and looked to our needs and interests instead (Romans 15:1-3). (Yahoshua’s) sacrificial service to us has brought us into a deep union with him and he with us. And that, Paul says, is the key not only to understanding marriage but to living it…Do for your spouse what (Yah) did for you in (Yahoshua) and the rest will follow.” (pgs 154-156)

Serving doesn’t mean the bondage of slavery. As (Yahoshua) put on the towel and served his (apostles), he proved conclusively that (Yah’s) kind of serving love flows from choice not coercion, from strength not weakness, from gladness not guilt. What stands in the way of serving our husbands as (Yahoshua) so beautifully demonstrated? One word: SELF. When “we” becomes “me” when what I want becomes more important than what my husband wants, the strands of the intertwined relationship begin to unravel. Keller wrote, “The result is always a downward spiral into self-pity, anger and despair, as the relationship gets eaten away to nothing.” Putting others before yourself isn’t thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. To make a marriage sing, as we’re seeing in the Song of Solomon, we must take ourselves off the throne and put the needs of our spouses above our own. Sound impossible? I think it is…if left to our own ability to do so. That’s why we need the power of the Holy (Set-apart, Qodesh) Spirit to do it through us. (Yahoshua) said, “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38). In most cases, when you give selflessly to your husband, he will give to you in return. However, it may be entirely possible for you to serve your husband and feel you are not receiving anything in return. That’s when you remember that your heavenly Father is always watching. The measure you use to bless your husband, your Father will use to bless you in return(Me: Her last sentence, for some reason, makes me think of Leyah, how Yahqob, her husband, treated her and yet Yah blessed her abundantly). (pgs 156-157)

Chapter 9: Responding with Enthusiasm: What would you do if your husband approached you the way Solomon approached his wife in chapter 7: What would I do? The Shulamite didn’t miss a beat. At his words, “May your breasts be like clusters of grapes on the vine, the fragrance of your breath like apples and your mouth like the best wine,” she responded eagerly and expectantly. (Song 7:9-11). “Bring it,” “I’m all yours!” Want to make your husband really happy? Nothing turns your man on more than knowing that he has turned YOU on. Let him know that he still excites you, that his touch still sends shivers down your spine. Then watch him smile. I bet Solomon grinned from ear to ear. In verse 10, the Shulamite used the Hebrew word teshuqah, which is translated “desire.” It occures only two other times in the bible, both in Genesis. It can mean “sexual desire” or “a desire to control” as when (Yah) spoke to Eve (Hawyah) in Genesis 3:16. In the garden of Eden, after Adam and Eve disobeyed (Yah) and ate the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the harmony of marriage was turned to discord, the symphony of intimacy to the cacophony of competition and strife. But here and only here, the Shulamite alluded to the harmony restored: “I belong to my beloved and his desire, his pure and holy desire, is for me.” The desire she spoke of mirrors what (Yah) had intended all along, no control, no strife, naked and unashamed. Keller wrote, “Sex is perhaps the most powerful (Yah)-created way to help you give your entire self to another human being. Sex is (Yah’s) appointed way for people to reciprocally say to one another, “I belong completely, permanently and exclusively to you.” That’s what the Shulamite was saying to her man. “After all these years, I still desire you! You still desire me! I can’t wait to make love to you, to feel your hands mover over the palm tree and to drink in the wine of your kisses.” (pgs 157-58)

The Shulamite delighted in giving him pleasure just as he delighted in receiving it…She let him know it. You need to let your husband know that you delight in his touch and that you delight in giving him pleasure as well. This is how (Yah) planned it. The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote, “Soul meets soul on lover’s lips.” This is not just having sex. This is about the intertwining of souls for a lifetime of covenantal intimacy. “I am my beloved’s and his desire is for me” is the chorus to each stanza of a hug, a kiss, an embrace, a coming together as one. It is the covenant renewed each time we come together as man and wife. Craig Glickman wrote about he Shulamite, “Her body is a passionate instrument playing a song of love from her heart to his.” The sound of the instrument mellowed and sweetened with time, especially when the couple made sure to keep it tuned with intentional romance. (pg 158)

Chapter 10: Keeping Romance Alive with Intentionality and Ingenuity: Why is that passionate romance routinely fizzles out over the years? Why does a soulmate so easily become a roommate? Why does the rapid heartbeat of excitement in the early years? There are many reasons why passion cools and we’ve already looked at a few. But passion in marriage doesn’t have to fizzle out with the passing years. That certainly isn’t (Yah’s) plan. He has a much different desire for your marriage and mine. Yes, sexual intimacy will change as we grow older. Hormones wane. Libido lessons. Stamina decreases. Bodies don’t always cooperate. That’s a given. But I believe intimacy can grow and mature into something sweeter, deeper and more profound than any clothes-ripping frantic frenzy ever could be. I mentioned my outdoor fireplace in the last chapter. Here’s something I’ve noticed when we do actually use it: It only take a little bit of kindling, a few wads of paper and one match to ignite a fire. However, it requires diligent effort to keep the fire going. To have a steady flame, you have to add logs to the fire when it starts to die down, poke the wood so the charred ash falls off and new sparks fly and sometimes fan the flame so it will burn brighter. Sounds a lot like what we’ve learned about maintaining lifelong intimacy. Left on its own, a fire or a marriage won’t flourish but turn to ash. It takes intentionality and ingenuity to make lifelong intimacy a reality. It happens to every couple, the monotony of matrimony. Kid’s schedules, long workdays, pills of bills, mounds of laundry, never-ending housework and the grass that needs cutting every single week! It is so easy to collapse into bed each night, give each other a quick peck on the cheek and click off the bedside lamp…only to get up the next day and do it all over again. Who has the mental capacity to be creative in the bedroom? Who has the energy to be spontaneous? Who has time to break from the routine for a date night? Who has the energy to make lovemaking a priority after doin all that we have to do on any given day? I’ll tell you who. A smart woman who knows that strong marriages don’t just happen. They take a lot of work. Marriages that sing with intimacy that lasts a lifetime are intentional, purposeful and playful. (pgs 159-160)

The Shulamite was a WISE woman who took deliberate action that left nothing to chance. I envision her in the next stanza sauntering up to her husband as he’s overseeing the fields. She whispered in his ear and her warm breath teased his neck. Tempting him. Flirting with him still. (Song 7:11-13). In chapter 1, Solomon came bounding over the hills, coaxing the Shulamite to come away and enjoy the spring day with him. Now, she was coaxing him to steal away to spend some alone time with her. No doubt Solomon had been busy running the kingdom, overseeing his land and ruling his people. Just like all married couples, they needed to get away for some time by themselves. I can just picture her tugging on his robe and pulling him away from his work. “Come, my dodi,” she coaxed. “Let’s go to the countryside like we used to. Let’s spend the night in one of those quaint little cottages where no one knows who we are or where we are. We can open the windows and enjoy the scent of the henna blossom wafting on the breeze. I will give you my love and you can enjoy my garden.” Then she winked and coyly teased, “I have the old fruit that you enjoy so much and I even have some new fruit, a few new tricks up my sleeve, that I think you’ll enjoy as well.” The Shulamite is very intentional with the words she used to entice her husband. Glickman noted: “Her play on words is as creative as the lovemaking she promises, provocatively revealing her desire to entice Solomon to come with her. At our doors, she says, are erotic fruits. But the word for doors is also the word for openings, a variation in the form she has used to describe the opening of blossoms in the previous lyric. She uses this term instead of the more common one for door so she can give it an erotic double meaning. But she also infuses it with beauty, having just used it to portray the opening of flowers in spring. It’s a lovely depiction of her sexuality, blossoms unfolding, revealing treasures of delicious fruit. (pgs 160-162)

I don’t think it took too long for Solomon to change his schedule, cancel his meetings and pack his bags. (Me: laughs out loud). The Shulamite mentioned pomegranates again, those seed-filled symbols of lovemaking and fertility in the ancient world. She also mentioned mandrakes. An enormous amount of lore and superstition was associated with the mandrake plant in the ancient times (Genesis 30:14-16). (Me: Leyah and Rachyl bargained with the mandrake because Rachyl wanted to use the mandrake root to increase her odds in getting pregnant. Remember Yahqob did not love his wife Leyah but anything Rachyl wanted him to do, he did. So he slept with Leyah that night. That was the deal between sisters). The author continues, It had a pungent scent much like ginseng and was considered an aphrodisiac. The shape of the root resembled human form. (Me: It resembled human genitals…breasts, vagina and penis depending on how each root grew…just to clarify so you clearly understand what the author means by ‘human form’). The word MANDRAKE literally means “love plant” and was thought to help woman conceive. Walter and Keener wrote, “In Egyptian artwork, women hold the fruit under their noses or the noses of their husbands, apparently as a preparation for love-play.” It might be like you or me waving a scented piece of lingerie (underwear, panties) under our husband’s noses. (laughs). In light of the folklore that surrounded the mandrakes, Solomon would have known that his wife was not suggesting a stroll through the produce stand in the marketplace. (pg 162)

Traditionally, men are seen as the aggressors or initiators and women the recipients or responders but did you know that your husband dreams about your being the initiator as well? When I surveyed men for a previous book, they let me in on a little secret. They dream  about their wives initiating intimacy, not all the time but occasionally. What this says to your husband is, “I want you!” In this case, Solomon’s wife was the initiator. Was their love-making tedious and monotonous, as some suppose love in the later years is bound to be? Absolutely not. It certainly could have been but she made sure it was neither stale nor stodgy. That is not to say that every time a husband and wife comes together in physical intimacy it has to be off-the-charts exciting. That certainly isn’t realistic. But a wise couple does make time for a “gourmet meal” every now and then. What if you’re just not as interested in romance and physical intimacy as you used to be? (Here the author gives an analogy). She knew that she needed to give more time time in her life for bible study…I needed to establish some disciplined times of bible reading and prayer…and have accountability…I had to be intentional to keep the relationship strong. It’s the same way with a husband and wife. Remember, marriage is a physical example of a spiritual relationship with (Messiyah). If we have to practice certain disciplines to grow and mature in our relationship with our heavenly bridegroom, then it only makes sense that we would have to do the same with our earthly bridegroom. In chapter 7, the Shulamite is taking the initiative, inviting her husband to come away for some time alone. It wasn’t even their anniversary…just a beautiful spring weekend. (pgs 162-63)

Chapter 10: Prioritizing Your Relationship: Great marriages don’t just happen. They take a lot of work. As we’ve seen, some of that “work” is a lot of fun. As I noted earlier, there is no mention of children throughout the entire Song of Songs. I think that’s important; This love song is about the two of them. They’ve laid aside their roles as parents and focused on their roles as lover and friend. I think grandma Bathshua did a lot of babysitting, especially for their nights away. It’s crucial for a couple to keep their marriage a priority. Years ago, a woman with children who didn’t have an outside job was called a HOUSEWIFE. Now tha same woman is called a STAY-AT-HOME MOM. Some might think that’s a good change. Who wants to be married to their house, right? But here’s the tragedy. Rather than focusing on being a wife, the focus has shifted to being a mom and marriages have suffered because of it. (Me: Remember she said that the devil is at war against marriages)…(Next the author talked about how her parents argued a lot and there was a lot of passive-aggresiveness….Remember to keep your marriage a priority. Do it for your husband . Do it for your kids (Me: To clarify, do it for the kids because they watch mom and dad)…If you can’t afford to go away for the weekend, send the kids away to stay with friends or relatives. Hello, Grandma! A good goal is to have a date night once a week and an extended time away at least once a year. Children need to know that mom and dad have certain times that they spend together, just the two of them. They might not understand when they are little but believe me, they will be so glad you did when they are older. Not only that, you will be modeling the proper way for married couples to build and maintain a strong relationship….Sometimes your husband wants you all to himself. He might not tell you but he does! He needs to know that you can take off the mommy hat and give him your full attention….The author says over thirty-five years ago, she and her husband made a decision to have at least one weekend each year…If you’re empty nesters and are home alone every night anyway, that doesn’t count. A date night needs to be time away from the home to reconnect and have fun. There’s more to getting away as a couple than romance, it’s also about deepening your friendship and simply having a good time together. (pgs 163-165)

Chapter 10: Relishing the Sweetness of Aging Intimacy: You’ve seen it. So have I. You’re watching a movie or television program when a man and a woman catch each other’s eye. Before the sixty minutes are up, they’re ripping each other’s clothes off and having passionate sex, usually standing up against a wall. But that’s not the reality of lifelong intimacy. The author quotes sex therapists Joyce and Clifford Penner: “Those initial high-drive desires are fueled by the brain chemical dopamine, which is a powerful motivator or driving energy. As the brain production of dopamine decreases, the couple needs to shift to an attachment fueled more by the brain chemical oxytocin. Oxytocin, which is associated with bonding, is released during hugging and pleasant physical touch and plays a part in the human sexual response cycle. This oxytocin-fueled attachment is deeper, binding love that lasts a lifetime. Yes the shift from large doses of dopamine to this oxytocin-fueled connection can feel like a loss. Be assured: Desire isn’t gone, it is just different. Nor have you lost your attraction to or love for each other. That also is just different! Embrace and enjoy the shift to a softer, more subtle urge for closeness and touch. After fifty-three years of marriage, we can promise you it is wonderful!”(pgs 165-66)

Here we go getting scientific again. Isn’t it amazing to see how (Yah) has engineered the human body to work, even well into our older years? This is His plan! Here’s something that might surprise you. When the National Health and Social Life Survey completed an extensive survey of American’s sex lives, they found:

  1. Sexually active singles have the most sexual problems and get the least pleasure out of sex.
  2. Men with the most “liberal attitudes about sex” are seventy-five percent more likely to fail to satisfy their partners.
  3. Married couples by far reported the happiest satisfaction with their sex lives.
  4. The most sexually satisfied demographic group of them is that of married couples between fifty and fifty-nine!

Fifty and fifty-nine? Yep. Intimacy grows sweeter with time. As a husband and wife grow old together, some aspects of love-making will change. A man’s testosterone peaks in his mid-twenties and then decreases 1 percent every year. After menopause, a woman’s libido lessens and her vaginal walls become drier and thinner. There are way to remedy both of these situations but the point is, our bodies change. It is the perceptive husband and wise wife who are attuned to what brings pleasure as these changes occur and are then intentional about bringing satisfaction and joy. A nurse who worked in a nursing home commented about an elderly couple in her care: (I’m going to paraphrase here)…The couple were married for seventy years. They did not share a bed at this point in their lives but they still sexually flirted with each other and the nurse could see that they were still in love. The nurse said they still had the hots for each other. (pgs 166-67)

No doubt Solomon and the Shulamite’s relationship in chapter 7 was very different from their relationship on their wedding day in chapter 4. They weren’t elderly by any means but older for sure. Like a couple who has been dancing together for years, there is an intermingling that becomes almost second nature…People often talk about the (splendor) of the (wedding) night but the real (splendor) come much later. The longer a couple is married, the more comfortable they become. The awkwardness gives way to confidence as each learns what the other enjoys (in bed) and how their bodies respond. The wine of love-making grows sweeter with the years. The garden grows to be abundant with ripened fruit. Inexperience gives way to comfort and ease. Such is the beauty of maturing love as lovers morph to the rhythm of change, like shape-shifters keeping pace with aging topography and ageless hearts….Here the author talks about her mom and dad-in-law still in love in their elderly years….Still LOVESTRUCK in the winter of their lives. Every husband and wife’s dream.

Appendix of Lovestruck: Breaking the Secret Code (Symbolism) for Song of Solomon:

7:4 Pools of Heshbon—Pools in the city in Transjordan, east of the Dead Sea now called Tell Hesban; serene and calm

7:5 Mount Carmel—A wooded mountain in northern Israel

7:5 Royal Tapestry—Purple royal cloth

7:7 Palm Tree—Highly valued tree in the Near East which fronds were used for weaving baskets and the sweet fruit for eating; Sometimes associated with fertility goddesses in ancient artwork; Fruit clusters somewhat resemble a woman’s breasts

7:13 Mandrakes—Fruit with a pungent scent similar to ginseng and considered an aphrodisiac; Associated with fertility; Can be used as a narcotic; Has root that can resemble a human form