If your married or dating isn’t it great to remember when you first met? It’s a question that always comes up, “So, how did you guys meet?” I’ll never forget the day that Niki and I met, it was July 4th, 1994. I was doing Youth Ministry, teaching Driver’s Ed, and in Seminary with no hope for meeting a girl my age. We were introduced by a guy that I went to Texas A & M with, Greg McKeever. He was from Waxahachie TX, attending medical school in San Antonio. He dropped by with two girls one of them was Niki. One of the first things he said was, “Hey Darrell, you like my new BF Goodrich tires? There’s two beautiful women and we’re talking about tires! There’s a lot that I don’t understand about relationships. That is why I’m grateful there is an entire book of the Bible dedicated to relationships!
It’s called the Song of Solomon or the Song of Songs, whichever way you hear it, it’s the same book. It’s tucked away in the Old Testament. It will give us principles and insight into how to deal with the relationships that we find ourselves in. It applies to everyone. Statistics say that the majority of people will marry at least once in their lifetime. Wherever you are, single or married this book will give you some great tips and insight. If you are married and your relationship is barely hanging on then this book can help you take some steps to move forward. If your relationship is going great then the Song of Solomon will help it become even better!
Here is what’s interesting to me. We will go to college, or a trade school, and go for four years to get all kinds of information so we move into a career path and get a job. Yet we spend hardly any time learning relational skills. Over these next five weeks we’re going to look at this book that will serve as vital information to help us grow relationally.
Three thousand years ago a guy by the name of Solomon wrote a love song. Solomon was the king over Israel from 970 – 931 B.C. He reigned in Israel for forty years in peace. He took over the throne when he was twenty years old. He wrote over three thousand proverbs, from what the Bible tells and 1005 psalms. A lot of his proverbs are found in the book of Proverbs, two psalms in Psalms but the Song of Solomon, is labeled as “the greatest of all songs.”
Have you seen the Disney movie, Cinderella? Did you know there are over 1500 different versions of the Cinderella story? Basically, it’s the story of a prince who falls in love with a peasant girl and develops this relationship. Love causes them to conquer those differences that they would have faced. There are all kinds of versions around the world. But the oldest Cinderella story that I’m aware of is actually found in the Bible here. The Song of Solomon is a Cinderella story.
Once upon a time in the hill country of Israel, there was a king, who lent out a vineyard to a family. That family worked the vineyard. The parents had died, apparently. There were two brothers and at least two sisters. The brothers treated the girls very harshly, particularly one girl who they caused to do hard labor. They caused her to work out in the field of the vineyard. One day this young woman meets a shepherd. This shepherd, as she begins to talk to him, develops a friendship. As the shepherd comes back and that friendship begins to grow. Eventually it grows into love. Now, the shepherd says he’s going to come back and take the young woman’s hand in marriage but the brothers are skeptical about it. They don’t believe it. Then the shepherd goes away for a long time. The young girl gets a summons to go visit the king. She doesn’t understand what it’s about. She goes before the king and when she walks in she sees the face of the shepherd, who was actually the king. It’s the Cinderella story of the Song of Solomon.
What we have in this book, is this love song or love poem of them interacting with one another about their relationship. It’s almost like they took a box of old photos and set it out on the coffee table. They begin to take pictures out. Look at this picture of when we were dating. We get to look into their life from that point of view. Look at this picture of when we are in conflict. We can see how they dealt with conflict. That’s how this whole song unfolds.
We don’t know the young woman’s name. It just says in chapter six, verse thirteen that she’s a Shulammite. Shulammite is simply, in the Hebrew language that the Bible was written in, is the feminine word for Solomon. So basically, it’s the story of Mr. and Mrs. Solomon. We begin to see how they interact. Marriage and family therapists will tell you that there are some major landmines that every relationship will face and deal with.
Four of the most common landmines that couples experience are these: money, communication, sex and religion. Those four areas are huge areas of potential conflict in relationships. As we look at the Song of Solomon, we’re going to learn some great principles for each.
First let’s examine the importance of character. The Song of Solomon starts with the females, the Shulammite voice. She says in chapter 1:2, “Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the maidens love you!”
Remember this is poetry. It’s a song so it’s not like reading an article in a magazine. There’s a lot of flowery language. There are a lot of metaphors and symbolism here.
She starts this love song by saying, “You know what Solomon, your scent is so pleasing to me. Your fragrance draws me.” Men in the Old Testament didn’t take a bath everyday. But they would put oil or cologne on that would give them a certain fragrance or smell.
She says not only is he a wonderfully smelling person, “Your scent draws me to you externally, but “your name is like perfume poured out.” This is very important. The name in the Old Testament stood for a person’s character.
1. Character is Critical.
It was their reputation. She said, “Your name is so valuable its like perfume poured out. It’s a sweet fragrance.” In other words, you are not only beautiful on the outside; you are beautiful on the inside. That’s what draws me to you. Your character draws me to you. This is so important for us to hear today. Beauty is only skin deep. Beauty fades, but character remains. Looks are important, yes, but character is critical.
If you e in a dating relationship, I want to challenge you to put character at the top of the list of the qualities for the person you are looking for. As I look around at our society, character seems to find it’s way at the bottom. We think, “I’ll change him or her.” Not likely. They may eventually change on their own but you are looking at a war if that’s the way you try to go about navigating a relationship.
How do you determine a person’s character? How do you figure out who they really are in a dating relationship? We get a couple principles out of this verse that we just read in the Song of Solomon. Now I want to put it to you in the form of questions you can ask to help determine a character.
Ways to Examine Character…
How does this person act under stress? How do they act when they are under pressure? She said, “Solomon, your name is like perfume that’s poured out.” The way they made perfume in that day, some translations translate that phrase “it’s like purified oil poured out.” They would take olives and put them under incredible pressure. Out of that pressure would come the oil that would become the cologne of their day. If you want to determine what their character is really like then look at how they deal with pressure. When they are under stress? Watch how they handle that. It will tell you a lot about who that person is.
What do others say about this person? Another question to lay over a person’s life if you are in a dating relationship is this, what do others say about this person? You should listen to the voices around you. The Shulammite said, “Solomon, all the other maidens love you.” The people loved him. In other words, everyone says good things about you and I’m not ashamed to be in a relationship with you. Have you ever known someone who dated someone and kept it back in the closet? My question is if you are not willing to take that relationship public, if this is a person you are not proud to be with then why are you in that dating relationship? Let me tell you what’s happening. If you are dating a bad boy because they’re bad or a bad girl because she’s bad and you’re in this relationship and ultimately see it going nowhere, here’s what’s happening…you’re shading your own character in that relationship. Character matters. Ecclesiastes 7:1 says this, “A good name is better than fine perfume.” Is this person that you are with someone you wouldn’t be ashamed to take home and meet the parents?
How does this person treat others? Another question you can ask if you want to determine a person’s character is this, how does this person treat others? If you are in a relationship and you are dating a guy and you’re dating him for a couple weeks and you notice him telling a lie to one of his friends, don’t be so naïve to think he wouldn’t tell a lie to you. If you are in a dating relationship and this guy just stole from someone else don’t be so naïve to think that at some point he wouldn’t steal from you. If he’ll do it to someone else, at some point he has every capability of doing it to you. Look at how a person treats other people and you’ll get a real window into their character and who they are and how someday they may treat you.
Those are some critical questions. External beauty is only skin deep. Put character at the top of the list if you are in a dating relationship with another person. Character is critical.
Another tip that we see here in the Song of Solomon is to
Communicate Love and Respect.
He Communicates Love.
For men to communicate love to the woman in their life is important. Solomon has done that with this Shulammite. In chapter one, verse five here’s what she says, “Dark am I, yet lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, dark like the tents of Kedar, like the tent curtains of Solomon. Do not stare at me because I am dark, because I am darkened by the sun. My mother’s sons were angry with me and made me take care of the vineyards; my own vineyard I have neglected.” A couple things we need to see here. First of all, in our culture everyone is about getting a tan. We go to great lengths to get a tan. There are tanning beds, tanning salons and tanning lotion.
This had nothing to do with race. In Solomon’s culture a tan implied that you were a laborer. A tan implied that you had been working out in the fields. She says, “Don’t look down at me. Don’t despise me because of my skin. I have a farmer’s tan to prove I’m not of the same social class that you are.” It’s something she doesn’t like about herself. Don’t we all have things that we don’t like about ourselves? She says, “I’m dark. Don’t look down on me.” Here’s what he does, Solomon communicates love to this woman to such a degree that you see her change over the course of the book.
In the early chapters you see some self-doubt expressed but as the book goes on she begins to find more and more confidence. She’s gone from viewing herself as somebody who may be unacceptable or as someone who may not be as beautiful as someone else to seeing herself as the most valuable thing in his world. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Solomon says, “There is no one like you in my world.” He has communicated that to her so that she understands it and receives it.
In chapter 1:9 Solomon says this, “I liken you, my darling…” That’s significant so I want to stop right there. That phrase, “my darling” could literally be translated, “my female friend.” They developed a friendship. If you want a relationship that lasts, it has to be built on an intimate friendship. You can get into a relationship based on sex. Studies say that in as little as one year that relationship will dissolve if built on sex alone. You can get in a relationship based on any number of things but the relationship that lasts is a relationship that’s anchored in a friendship and an intimacy. He says, “I liken you my female friend.” Do you know what I think the greatest challenge is in intimacy, in relationships today, is simply time. We are so busy, aren’t we? We are going in so many directions with so many responsibilities. There are so many things that we need to do that it’s hard to find time to be around.
A relationship can only go so long if that friendship and time element starts to break down before it starts to drift. We’ve got to work hard. We’re going to look over the next six weeks how we can carve out time to develop that friendship and community. Solomon says this in verse nine, “I liken you, my darling, to a mare harnessed to one of the chariots of Pharaoh. Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings, your neck with strings of jewels. We will make you earrings of gold, studded with silver.” Just a word of caution here guys. You probably don’t want to go home and when the wife walks out before a date say, “Honey, I liken you to a mare.” She’ll say, “Are you calling me a fat horse?”
In Solomon’s culture it was different. Mares weren’t harnessed to chariots. In Egypt and other parts of that world it was a stallion that would be harnessed to a chariot. If a stallion was about to charge into battle and someone were to bring out a mare, the stallions would be distracted. Here’s what Solomon is saying, “You are like a mare hooked to a chariot.” In other words, when you walk in the room, all my attention goes to you. When you come into a room, everything stops. You are my number one greatest distraction. You are the only one I can think of. He’s communicating love to her.
Here’s what Solomon has learned how to do, he shows us how to communicate love so she receives it. He communicates love to her verbally so it changed her own image of herself and he’s communicated it to her with gifts. It’s all these little things. It’s not once a year. It’s the little things that add up. Tell her that you love her in front of her friends. Tell her you love her hair. Tell her you love the way she looks. You love this about her. You love that about her. What you will find is that your love quota (your love ability) will begin to just rise in your household. It will begin to rise in that dating relationship as you are communicating what the other person needs. You are communicating it in a way that they need to hear.
She Communicates Respect.
As you look at the Song of Solomon you can just tell that she has so much respect for him. It comes off of everything she says, even in those couple of verses that we just read. “Your name is like a perfume poured out.” She is drawn to him and she respects who he is as a person. This is really, really important. Ladies, hear me on this. I’m convinced men’s primary need is not simply love. I think that’s a woman’s primary need. A man’s primary need, even before love, is respect. Ephesians 5:33 says this, first it speaks to husbands, “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself. The wife must respect her husband.” It doesn’t say, “Husbands love your wives and wives love your husbands.” It’s says, “Husbands love your wives and wives respect your husbands.” Think about the implications of that. I believe a woman’s primary need is to feel loved. But a man’s primary need is to feel respected. In fact, I read a poll where they sat down with four hundred different men and asked them this question: If you had to choose between being alone and unloved for the rest of your life or being disrespected by everyone, which would you choose? Seventy-four percent of men said they would choose to be alone and unloved the rest of their life rather than being disrespected. Sometimes our problem might be that women are trying to love their men but what men need is respect. Out of that respect, they will be motivated to love them and meet those needs. *There’s a whole book based on this called, “Love & Respect” it’s a best seller and a Connect Group that we have offered before.
One woman I read about started to implement this in her relationship. She said this, “Just a few days ago I decided to tell my husband that I respect him. I felt so awkward to say the words but I went for it. The reaction was unbelievable. He asked me what I respected about him. I listed off a few things. Although I could have said much more, I watched his demeanor change before my eyes.” Too often we think that love needs to be unconditional but respect is earned. Maybe at work, but not at home. Love AND respect is unconditional.
Ladies respecting your man will begin to transform the way they love you and communicate their love to you. It can take the relationship to a whole new level.
Next week we’ll look at how to have a healthy marriage. We’ll discuss dating and why dating shouldn’t end when you walk down the aisle, we’ll look at conflict and how to reduce it and how to communicate show our commitment. When it comes to relationships the Song of Solomon has so much to say. Until next week!
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