The Art of Intimacy – Message Three
We’ve seen that Song of Solomon is God’s Word regarding marital love and intimacy.
Sex has become a taboo topic in our world today. If sex gets brought up in church and in families, the response is “Shhh… It’s impolite to talk about that.” If sex gets brought up in schools, it’s entirely anatomical and academic. We leave the adolescent to learn about sex on the playground, which means he never truly understands it. Come fourteen, and sex becomes the most destructive thing he’s every seen. He may sweep it under the rug, but all of the sudden he gets married, and sex isn’t something he can just sweep under the rug.
God has given us an entire chapter of a book in the Bible on how to make love to your mate. This book is for everyone: those who are divorced, those who are single, and those who are married.
There are many people out there that have disobeyed the teaching found in this book. If that’s you, be of good cheer. God is carpenter, he’s always been a carpenter. He can redeem any situation.
There are five different keys of how God intended a married couple to experience marital intimacy:
“I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the hinds of the field, that you do not arouse or awaken my love until she pleases.” 2:7
This woman has waited for the right time, for the right place, and the right man. And the Lord is about to reward her greatly for her patience, and she will reap a great marriage.
We see their wedding day in chapter three, starting in verse six:
“What is this coming up from the wilderness like columns of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all scented powders of the merchant? Behold, it is the traveling couch of Solmon; sixty mighty men around it, of the mighty men of Israel. All of them are wielders of the sword, expert in war; each man has his sword at his side, guarding against the terrors of the night. King Solomon has made for himself a sedan chair from the timber of Lebanon. He made its posts of silver, its back of gold and its seat of purple fabric, with its interior lovingly fitted out by the daughters of Jerusalem. Go forth, O daughters of Zion, and gaze on King Solomon with the crown with which his mother has crowned him on the day of his wedding, and on the day of his gladness of heart.” -3:6-11
Picture this wedding day: There is perfume surrounding Solomon, because he delights in her. There are sixty groomsmen—the mighty men of David—each armed with a sword. From the start, this woman is being protected by Solomon. Their get away car is special. He’s made it so because he loves her, and thinks she is special. He wears a crown so that he might impress her. They have been patience, and this is the moment in which they will be rewarded by God.
Singles, whenever you are impatient in sex, you’ll do one of two things: You’ll either harm a good relationship, or prolong a bad relationship. Premarital sex will harm a good relationship, because it teaches you to communicate on a surface level. It will prolong a bad relationship, because passion will always feel like love. But once the fire inevitably dies out, it becomes a barren thing. Wait for God’s best.
So often, sex becomes the power of the marriage instead of the follow-through. It absolutely has to be the opposite.
God gives us sex, because we can’t always take our feelings of tenderness and appreciation and let them be known. In sex, a man can take all of his feelings and put them on the tips of his fingers. God has given us a bark on our body of sensitivity and sexual stimulation. Love your wife, provide for your wife, and make sex the final way to profess your love for her.
Solomon compliments his wife:
“How beautiful you are, my darling, how beautiful you are! Your eyes are like doves behind your veil; your hairs is like a flock of goats that have descended from Mount Gilead.” -4:1
A shepherd would see the goats and flocks coming down the mountains—coming down in streams. Solomon looks at the tresses of his wife coming down her shoulders. He’s telling her that her eyes are beautiful and her hair is soft. In those days, Jewish women wore their hair up. This woman let her hair down. This is provocative—they’re at the Sheraton right now. Yet, they don’t touch until halfway into the chapter. She’s undressing, and he’s admiring her body.
“Your teeth are like a flock of newly shorn ewes which have come up from their washing, all of which bear twins, and not one among them has lost her young Your lips are like a scarlet thread, and your mouth is lovely. Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate behind your veil. Your neck is like the tower of David, built with rows of stones on which are hung a thousand shields,all the round shields of the mighty men.” -4:2-4
This woman is grinning, and Solomon notices how beautiful her smile is. He notices the beauty of her lips, and the the redness of her cheeks. The Tower of David stood toward Assyria—it was the nation’s national defense. Solomon sees his wife’s neck and sees nobility in her. Have you noticed how a woman of nobility carries herself? With a Godly pride. Solomon is proud of his wife.
“Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle which feed among the lilies.” -4:5
How do you treat fawns? With gentleness and kindness. Solomon is looking at the naked body of his wife, and he doesn’t look at her sexually as if she is an object of passion. He’s not going to use his wife’s body. He recognizes that her breasts are two delicate things that he must handle softly and delicately.
“You are altogether beautiful, my darling, and there is no blemish in you.” – 4:7
Recall in chapter one, she is shameful of her burnt skin—she tells Solomon not to look at her. Here, she is now his wife, and he is telling her she is perfect. Their patience is about to be rewarded in the most amazing, intimate way.
Simply put, women use sex to get romance and men use romance to get sex. In other words, men are microwaves and women are crockpots.
Men are ready to have sex any time, any place. For women, however, sex is not the intermission. It’s the main event. Men, you can’t be a good lover until you have loved your wife well and have complimented her. You must be loving, tender, patient, respectable, admirable—all these things are godly, holy qualities. Selfish, carnal people simply cannot make good lovers.
It doesn’t matter how good you look or if you know what you’re doing. It is only when the man is sensitive, caring, and tender towards her that a woman wants to give herself to him. Your ability to love your wife has to do with only one thing: Your tenderness.
We are not animals mating in a room. If that were the case, sex would be the constant expenditure of your selfishness. God has not created us for that. It won’t work unless the man treats his wife like she is precious.
“Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, may you come with me from Lebanon. Journey down from the summit of Amana, from the summit of Senir and Hermon, from the dens of lions, from the mountains of leopards.” – 4:8
Hermon is a mountain in Israel, and it’s the most intimidating thing you’ll ever see. It’s shrouded by mist, topped by snow, and utterly frightening. That’s what this bride’s life was like, and that’s what Solomon is calling her from.
Men, these women you will date and marry have been hurt by other men. Their self-images have been damaged, and they’re frightened because of the expectation set by the men previously in their lives. Your attitude has to be on of protection—especially in the bedroom. When a woman marries you, she’s taking a calculated gamble. Is your bedroom a place of protection where she knows she is received and loved amidst a world that may scorn her? Once those lights go out, there should be a tender man who knows her like no other man.
“You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride; you have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes, with a single strand of your necklace. How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than all kinds of spices! Your lips, my bride drip honey; honey and milk are under your tongue, and the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.”
They have progressed from looking to touching. To put it blatantly: They’re French kissing.
Here’s the intended progression of physical intimacy:
Hand to hand
Hand to shoulder
Hand to waist
Hand to face
Hand to head
Mouth to face
Mouth to mouth
Hand to body
Mouth to body
Body to body
If you’re single you’re going to get the law of diminishing returns if you don’t watch it. Once you’ve held hands for a while, you’re ready for something more. So you put your arm around her. Soon, that doesn’t satisfy you, so you progress. It’s intended to continue this way until you reach sex–God designed it that way.
“A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a rock garden locked, a spring sealed up.” – 4:12
Keep in mind, Solomon is a king. There is nothing that is locked away from him except this: The sexuality of his wife. She is sealed. She has a divine stamp, and is hands-off.
“You are a garden spring, a well of fresh water, and streams flowing from Lebanon” – 4:15
Biblically, the sexuality of a man is spoken of as a spring. For a woman, it is called a well (for obvious anatomical reasons).
Sex is meant to be the greatest vacation that there is. It is a joyous place to get away. I can come into my house, lock the doors, and turn out the lights and I have a little bit of heaven right there—no matter how hard my day has been there is someone that loves me, is tender and kind with me, and accepts me. That is sex. It’s the highest degree of vulnerability, and my wife still loves me.
But up until this time? Solomon has said, “Hands off!” The spring does not flow until the wedding day. Sex is meant for virgins.
The Song of Solmon is the norm for sex; just as Romans is the norm for salvation. Anything outside of this book is abnormal. Sex before marriage creates abnormal tendencies and appetites and habits. The worst thing you can do for your future sexual relationship is get into sex.
“Awake, O north wind, and come, wind of the south; make my garden breathe out fragrance, let its spices be wafted abroad. May my beloved come into his garden and eat its choice fruits!” -4:16
Throughout this book, it has said, “Don’t awake or arouse until it pleases.” Now, on their wedding night, is the time to be aroused.
The north wind is a strong, powerful gust. The wind of the south is a gentle breeze. She is saying to Solomon, “Be strong and gentle! Make my garden breathe! Let it carry out its aroma!” How sensuous is this text? Answer: It’s as sensuous as your mind can imagine.
Will your righteousness ever exceed the expectation of the command in Romans? Never. Will your unity ever exceed the book of Ephesians? Never. Do you really think your sensuality is ever going to exceed the divine expectation in Song of Solomon? No chance. We think we wrote the book on love and sensuality, but we don’t even come close to what God calls sensuous.
If you ask a million men what makes a great lover, you’ll get the same answer a million times: Responsiveness. That means all women are at the same starting line. Physical looks are at the very bottom of the sensuality rung. It’s in the way she kisses, the way she touches—it takes wisdom and creativity and holiness on the woman’s part to be a great lover.
Guys: You have to be a gentle shepherd in sex. Your parameters of sex and creativity in what goes on in bed is much wider than your wife’s. When you watch an orchestra begin, the concert master strings the violin and everyone adjusts to him. You’ve got to listen to your wife when you go to bed. You can’t just go and pull the trigger. You have got to go and be sensitive and listen to the pulse of your wife. God has rigged it this way. Shepherd your flocks among the lilies—selfish oafs don’t make good lovers.
Couples: Talk about sexual relationships. When you go on your honeymoon, you will spend most of your time laughing at each other. Turn the lights on. Guide each others hands. You don’t know what to do—it’s all new. Talk. Men, speak with tenderness. Women, listen with open ears. Say to one another, “This is pleasant. This at times isn’t pleasant.” One of the greatest things that happens in marriages is the development of signals.
The two become one flesh when you have sex. It’s not when you get the same mailbox, or the ring on your finger. Marriage is a financial, domestic, social, emotional, spiritual, and physical commitment. It start way down deep in your heart and it works its way out until your wedding day—and now you’re one. Singles, that is why you don’t have sex with people who are not your wives.
How personal do you think God is? How much do you think God loves you? If He can communicate this profoundly through something behind locked doors and lights off, he wants you to be deeply, deeply happy.
Tommy Nelson is the Pastor of Denton Bible Church and guest instructor at the Kanakuk Institute.