This past Saturday I had the honor of officiating the wedding of my sister-in-law, Marci, to my new brother-in-law, Darryl. It was a great day! The couple picked out a scripture from Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs- depending which Bible you’re looking at) and the four points that I shared with them about cultivating a marriage that will last a lifetime.
1. Ground Your Marriage in Trust:
“My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” Song of Solomon 2:14
The man is calling out to his bride-to-be and sees her as a gentle dove hiding in the clefts of the rocks. This is a remote place that is difficult to get to. A dove would have to feel safe to come out of the rocks- to come out of her hiding place.
Relationships/marriage must be built on trust. We do not grant our trust to another on the first date- it is grown over time. When each person feels safe in a marriage they are able to be themselves- their real selves. There is no need to hide, no need to pretend to be something you are not if there is trust. Trust allows us to be God created us to be knowing that our spouse loves that person.
If we break trust, the text implies that the dove will not come out of the hiding place- or perhaps the dove will fly back there after time. If we want to grow in our marriage, we must establish a firm trust in each other and fight to maintain and grow that trust.
2. Eliminate Little Foxes Before They Become Big Foxes:
“Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” Song of Solomon 2:15
In the passage- foxes come and destroy the vineyard. Looking at the poetic language, vineyards are an image for the relationship between the man and the woman- and it is in full bloom! Foxes are the problems and stressors that show up and threaten every relationship. It could be a lack of trust; money issues; working too much; bad communication; conflict resolution; pornography; drug abuse- these are all foxes that destroy the vineyards that are in bloom in a marriage.
The solution? Catch the foxes (problems) while they are small before they get to be big problems. This makes sense, but is often harder than we think because we can be reluctant to be honest with our spouse about issues or problems in our relationship (or within ourselves). We must cultivate a relationship of trust where we can be honest that there are foxes in our midst and deal with them before they become destructive.
3. Choose Love Daily:
“My beloved is mine and I am his: he browses among the lilies.” Song of Solomon 2:10
Love is a somewhat difficult thing to define in our culture. Much of what is called love is often a combination of lust and hormones- at least in pop culture. When it comes to real and lasting love- love is commitment. As we come to marriage, we are committing to wake up each morning and choosing to love our spouse. As husbands, we choose to lay down our lives for our wives as Christ laid down His life for the Church. We choose to present our wife as a radiant bride without blemish or stain. For wives, you must wake each morning choosing to honor and respect your husband and to be his biggest cheerleader (because we men are often insecure). Love is choosing to submit to one another out of our reverence for Christ Jesus.
There are going to be times in marriage where we may not like our spouse- perhaps it is while dealing with a fox that has worked its way into the marriage- but we must still choose to love- to say “My beloved is mine and I am his!”
Root Your Relationship in God:
Interestingly in Song of Solomon, God is never mentioned. Yet the book has been part of the Jewish and Christian scriptures for thousands of years. In ancient Israel, where the book was written from, the worship of God at the temple was a central aspect to one’s spiritual and social life. Faith in God wasn’t meant to be an afterthought, but so ingrained and inseparable from who we are.
I encourage you to root your relationship in God- allow the seeds of faith in your life to grow and bloom. Just as you begin your life as husband and wife here- before friends and God- invite God to be part of every aspect of your relationships and life together. God will be a source of strength, of comfort, of peace, and a light during times of darkness.
This passage encourages us in our marriage relationships to Ground our relationships in trust, to get rid of foxes while they are small, to choose love daily, and to root our relationship in God. Let’s see what happens to this couple and their love for each other:
“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned.” Song of Solomon 8:6-7
A love chosen daily, grounded in God and rooted in trust that seeks to eliminate the foxes is a love that is as strong as death. It burns like a blazing fire lighting up the darkness around us. This kind of love is able to withstand the flood waters of doubt, of insecurity, of trouble that life sends our way. This love is so valuable that a price cannot be placed on it.
This is the kind of love that God desire us to grow in our marriage relationships. This is the kind of love that your friends and family pray will grow between you. This is the kind of love that the world needs to see- a love that comes from God that never gives up and never surrenders.
Choose love. Build Trust. Live with God. Work on problems together. When you do this- your life together will blaze like a fire in the night.