The Art of Faithfulness

We’ve come to the final installment of our Song of Solomon series. We’ve taken our couple all the way from attraction in chapter one, courtship in chapter two, and marriage in chapters three and four. We’ve seen our couple face conflict in chapters five and six, and they deepened their relationship in chapter seven. In the previous chapters, this couple was youthful and strong and exuberant. Now we’ll watch them grow old together, and watch as they commit themselves to the end of their lives.

In chapter eight, our couple is coming home from a date. Last time we left off, they went out together and now they’re returning. In verse five, we see that the woman is unrecognizable:

“Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved?” – 8:5

The women that see her say, “Who is this?!” Marital love is meant to transform. This man has nourished and cherished his wife, and she’s coming in from the wilderness completely unrecognizable. Look at what kind of love Solomon has for his wife:

“Beneath the apple tree I awakened you.” -8:5b

In the time of Solomon, the fig tree is the place of meditation, the olive tree is the place of Israel, and the apple tree is the place of love.

He compares his romance to her like a girl waking up. what does that mean? we’ve seen it 3 times: don’t arouse or awaken love until it pleases! Here’s what the awakening of her love was:

“There your mother was in labor with you, there she was in labor and gave you birth.” – 8:5c

Love is painful labor. Remember in chapter one she said, “Don’t stare at me. I am swarthy.” Love involves insecurity. In chapter two, she wanted him but she had to learn to restrain herself. Love is vulnerable. In chapter six, they had a fight and they had to learn to deal with conflict.

If you have the notion in your head that your marriage is going to be a perfect union with the perfect person, I’ve got news for you: Whenever the sweetness wears off, you’re going to have to love the unloveable person. There will undoubtedly be times in your marriage when he or she will be unloveable, and you’ve got to learn to work with damaged goods. That’s what you’re marrying.

The woman says:

“Put me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm.” -8:6a

Love is not only painful. It’s also possessive. She says to Solomon, “I want to be a precious thing on your heart and on your arm.”

On your heart: She wants the prime place in your emotions.

On your arm: She wants security.

She wants you to possess her. She wants to be precious to you. This means she owns your heart. It means your strength on your arm is in her affection. You don’t give your career your best, you give your wife your best. You don’t play softball twice a week and you don’t head off hunting without checking in with her. That woman is precious and she is possessive of you and she wants you.

But it doesn’t mean you smother her.

Commit yourself to developing her. A lot of husbands have a selfish and perverted love for their wife. They don’t develop her, they just hoard her. That’s not love—that’s kidnapping. Develop your wife. I want my wife to think the smartest thing she ever did was marry me, because he I study her and know her and love her and make her the greatest she can be.

So if she wants to learn to breakdance, I’ll get her a breakdance instructor. But her breakdance instructor won’t be taking her out to eat.

“For love is as strong as death, jealousy is as severe as Sheol; its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord.” -8:6b

What do we know about death and hell? They never give up. Death is permanent. It’s give to a man to die once, and that’s the way this woman wants their love to be. Severe as death and hell itself. Hell does not turn loose its dead, and neither does love.

God’s name in this verse, is the Hebrew word, Yahweh. It’s the word from which we get Jehovah. This name means, “I am who I am.” When God says that, He says, “I’m always the present, and I will never, ever, ever break my word.”

This is the kind of passion this woman wants: a divine passion.

When I marry couples, I say, “Do you swear in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit?” You know why? Because you’re going to the death for this thing, and that’s the way God is. I put my faith in Jesus Christ, and God will never forsake me. Not even death can separate us. I will never lose my salvation, because God is a whole lot better lover than any man.

That’s the way you love. It’s the flame of God.

“Many waters cannot quench love, nor will rivers overflow it; if a man were to give all the riches of his house for love, it would be utterly despised.” -8:7

This fire of God’s love will never be quenched. It will never fizzle or go out. My wife is not a perfect woman—she is sinful. But you know what? Love bears all things. What if she doesn’t change? Love hopes all things. What if she still doesn’t change? Love endures all things. It never fails and it will never be done away with.

Not only is love persevering, it’s priceless.

Now, single people, we’ve come to the greatest text in the Bible regarding how to know when you’re ready to be married.

The brothers of this girl are about to speak. Remember who they are? Think back to chapter one. We don’t know where the dad is, but in chapter one the woman tells us that her mother’s sons are angry with her. That they’ve made her caretaker of the vineyard, when she can’t take care of her own vineyard. Her own vineyard? That’s her body.

We see that God is much more concerned with her being obedient, humble, and diligent, than He is with her being pretty.

The brothers speak:

“We have a little sister, and she has no breasts; what shall we do for our sister on the day when she is spoken for? If she is a wall, we will build on her a battlement of silver; but if she is a door, we will barricade her with planks of cedar.” -8:8-9

They’re saying, “If our little sister is mature enough to be a wall and to be moral, to have a defense system toward her body, if she can say no toward men, if she can learn to be godly as a single woman, then she can be married. But if she is a door, letting men in and out, if she’s easy, then we’ll nail her room shut.”

So. When is a girl ready to be married? When she’s mature enough to be moral.

Think about the kind of attitude this girl had. She was obedient to authority—her brothers in the vineyard. She did not act lower her standards, or act as a prostitute to get a man.

The most important day of your marriage is not the day you get married. It’s the day you decide to quit playing around with God.

If the couple can’t do it as singles, then they sure can’t do it in a marriage. Period.

Check out the girl’s response:

“I was a wall, and my breasts were like towers; then I became in the eyes as one who finds peace.” -8:10

She was faithful. We see that in chapter one, verses six and seven. She had standards of purity, and she went after a certain kind of man. She was obedient and hard-working. She built up her inside.Just as you would look at two towers, her body was a thing to be respected. Nobody touched her.

But when she came to that point, God made it known to her that she was ready and became peace in the eyes of Solomon.

Here is the Biblical way you get married: You commit yourself to being under authority. You commit yourself to standards and moral purity. Then you wait.

Girls, there is nothing in a man’s eyes that is more beautiful than a sunburned, calloused-handed girl who has chapter one, verses six and seven morality, purity, love of God, and obedience to authority. See what God was committed to building in her? Her heart.

The nastiest, ugliest thing on earth, though? A girl who is so pretty—looks great, moves great—but has a ten cent soul.

God built this girl’s character at the expense of her looks.

Here’s where we see God’s sense of humor:

“Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon; he entrusted the vineyard to caretakers. each one was to bring a thousand shekels of silver for its fruit. My very own vineyard is at my disposal; the thousand shekels are for you, Solomon, and two hundred are for those who take care of its fruit.” -8:11-12

That vineyard in which the girl slaved away? Solomon owned it! She kept saying, “I’ll never find a husband! I’m stuck in this vineyard.” But he was there the entire time. She thought she was becoming a sunburnt servant, but she was getting prepared to marry a king.

It wasn’t about when she found him. It was about when he saw in her the qualities that God was building up. You don’t hunt for a husband. You develop character.

Want to know why she could give herself completely to Solomon? Read verse 12 again. Who were the guys that took care of her fruit? Her brothers.

Parents, do you see what this girl feels like? She says, “I’ve got a vineyard. I’ve got fruits to give to my husband.” You’ve got to have this attitude with your children—especially your daughters. You have a duty to protect her and to protect her vineyard.

“O you who sit in the gardens, my companions are listening for your voice—let me hear it!” -8:13

Allow me to translate what Solomon is saying: “While I’m at work, I’m thinking about nothing but getting home to you.”

Ladies, here’s your response:

“Hurry, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices.” -8:14

Remember the hills of Bether? The hill of and the mountain of myrrh? That’s the breast of his wife. Guess what the mountains of spice are. The woman’s sexuality.

Ladies, your response should be, “Young stud, hurry home, because your wife is here waiting for you.

That’s the way you continue in a marriage. Faithful until death.

Tommy Nelson is the pastor of Denton Bible Church and guest instructor at the Kanakuk Institute.

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