Last week we began looking at the Song of Solomon in the Old Testament. The Song of Solomon is a Cinderella story. It’s a story about King Solomon and the girl he fell in love with who was a common laborer. We read how they meet, date, court, marry, have sex, and fight. This is a song of all songs. It’s a song that was told in a couple different voices, her voice and his voice as they express their love towards one another. It’s like snapshots throughout the book. We are able to take those pictures and look at them and get principles for our relationships as they tell us about the different seasons in their relationship.
Today we are looking at “How to Have a Healthy Marriage.”
Too often after couples make their commitments, the romance and communication are reduced, we settle into the grind of life and the relationship can get boring.
The first principle for a Healthy Marriage from the Song of Songs is simply this,
- Quality Time Together
10 My lover spoke and said to me, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me. 11 See! The winter is past…12 Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.” Song of Songs 2:8-13
Solomon wants to go out on a walk. The winter is past, the rains are over and gone. Flowers are here. The season of singing has come. Spring is here – life is abounding everywhere. Just as springtime is a representation of life, so too, time together as a couple should produce life. Twice he says, “come with me” “Come with me!” Lets spend time together, let’s do something. Time is the most valuable resource I have and I am going to invest it in you!
Quality time together is not just for single people. Too often what happens is that we get married, we exchange vows then the time spent together changes. Guys are pursuers by nature. We pursue. We go after a prize. Then we win her and she takes the ring. The prize is won! Then we move on to the next thing. We can’t stop spending time together. We have to continue to have fun. She needs to be pursued. Ask most guys what the most creative date they’ve ever done is. They will tell you it was the night they asked their wife to marry them. It ends then. “You know that time I asked her to marry me, forty years ago, that was awesome.” She still needs to be pursued today.
Niki and I set a time together each week. Both of us take Thursday off and we will just spend the day together. We may go see a movie, go eat somewhere, sometimes we will just stay in our pajamas and watch movies or read. We turn off our phones. That’s right, turn off your phone and spend time together. Now, you may not have that much time, but take a night, one night a week, or a night every other week, drop off the kids at a baby sitter. Or find a couple to trade off with, watch their kids while they go on a date, next week, they watch your kids while you go on a date. We book it on our calendar. We lock it in. It’s in concrete. It’s an appointment that I have that’s not movable. That’s my time with Niki. It’s important that we have quality time together. It’s important for all couples. Secondly we need a…
2. Willingness to Solve Problems
14 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.
This woman is an innocent dove up in the cleft of the rocks giving the idea of being hidden from all who would cause harm. In a relationship between a male and female, there are hidden deep things that you will not share with anyone, but as your relationship deepens, it’s like the dove coming out of its cleft. Leaving its protection to come out and fly. This is what God has intended for marriage – to know the deep things of one another, to help each other to grow as one and ultimately to become one. As we find out more there is the reality of differences of opinion, differences in feelings, male and female differences. Conflict is normal! Conflict will happen. We will look at this in depth in two weeks. We have to be willing to face these differences.
15 Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom. Song of Songs 2:14-15 (NIV)
Catch the foxes. In Israel there were actual foxes that would make their way into the vineyards and cause destruction. These little foxes were seldom more than 15 inches tall; and in digging their holes and passages, they loosen the soil so the vines do not grow. They would also eat the blossoms; therefore, it would never bud to produce the fruit. The fruit would never come to maturity because something would eat it. This business of keeping foxes out of vineyards is more difficult than it sounds. Vineyards in Palestine were surrounded by stonewalls topped by a hedge. The families stayed in villages in the middle of the vineyards to protect them from wild animals. This demanded much perseverance; if the people failed to watch, the foxes would begin their work of destruction. It’s the same in a relationship; unresolved conflict will destroy a relationship.
Paul Myer says, “Ninety percent of all those who fail are not actually defeated. They simply quit.” Have you quit trying? God is a God of second chances. If you are feeling, “I have allowed those little miserable foxes to destroy my vineyard that God has given me.” The Bible tells us that God can restore what the locusts have eaten. Jesus first miracle was turning water into wine. He is in the business of recreating. Recreating death into life, sinners to become righteous. Don’t quit. Try a different approach and ask God to change you. God is in the business of restoration. If you are successful at catching or keeping the little foxes out of your vineyard here is what takes place (v. 16-17) “My beloved is mine” I trust him, I belong to him, safety and security. Its an environment to grow trust, admiration and passion. That is how chapter two ends.
In Chapter 3, verse 6 the woman describes her wedding day.
6 Who is this coming up from the desert like a column of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and incense made from all the spices of the merchant?
7 Look! It is Solomon’s carriage, escorted by sixty warriors, the noblest of Israel, 8 all of them wearing the sword, all experienced in battle, each with his sword at his side, prepared for the terrors of the night. 9 King Solomon made for himself the carriage; he made it of wood from Lebanon.
10 Its posts he made of silver, its base of gold. Its seat was upholstered with purple, its interior lovingly inlaid by the daughters of Jerusalem.
11 Come out, you daughters of Zion, and look at King Solomon wearing the crown, the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his wedding, the day his heart rejoiced. Song of Songs 3:6-11 (NIV)
Now you may read that and think, “Well, that’s interesting.” That’s not exactly how you think of a wedding, but in the ancient world, they did it different.
Notice in chapter 3:6 she says, “Who is this that comes like a cloud of smoke out of the desert.” I think that’s an interesting choice of words. As you look back at the early chapters in the book of Exodus in the Bible, how did God led the people of Israel into the Promise Land? As a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night. This was very important in their culture. They would talk about this. It was part of who they were. She’s saying, “Solomon, I see you coming. You are coming as if you are being led by God himself to come and take me in this processional to be your wife.” God was in charge.
That’s what we do when we exchange vows. Marriages are done by mostly by clergy: pastors, priests, rabbis or a justice of the peace who also is supposed to act on the behalf of God. Vows are conducted before couple, before some witnesses but most importantly before God.
I think about all the couples that I’ve married over the years. I do about 4-6 weddings a year on average. As I stand at the altar and look into their eyes, there is love in their eyes. Then at some point the conflict, differences and selfishness drive a wedge in the love. Relationships get hard. Relationships take work. I have a news flash for you: It’s not easy to be married. It’s just not. People think, and I’ve heard this all the time, if you are in a relationship with your soul mate, with the one and only, then it wont take any work. When you look at a couple with a good marriage and it seems that the grass is greener with them, the truth that the grass is greener where you water and fertilize!
Too often we base our actions in a relationship on our feelings. Feelings are fickle. Here’s what I propose to you… your feelings can literally be shaped by your actions. What were the things that you did when you had all those feelings of love and excitement? Think back to it. What did you do for her? What did you do for him? What were those actions? Start doing those actions again. Feelings can follow actions. Do the actions like you are head over heels in love.
If you think, “That feels hypocritical. If I feel like I don’t I love him/her as I used to, how am I supposed to get giddy about that?” Here’s what you do: You realize that you aren’t being hypocritical. You are honoring the marriage vow that you already took. The marriage vow was not a vow to say, “I take you to be my lawfully wedded wife when I feel like it.” It was, “I take you to be my lawfully wedded wife.” That’s an action that I’m going to involve myself in. It can take your relationship to a whole new level. Do the things that you would do when you were head over heels in love. Feelings can follow actions.
We recently took time to renew our vows for all of our married couples at the end of the message last week. We gave each couple a certificate. Think through with me what those vows really mean and let’s learn how we can recapture some of those first feelings we had when we stood there and you were head over heels in love with this other individual.
We take these vows in sickness and in health. We take them in prosperity and in need. We take them till death do us part. That’s a tough issue. You look around our culture. Over half of marriages end in divorce. People who stood there and said till death do us part. There are people who would tell you in their marriages and in their relationships when they stood beside that altar and lit the unity candle that what they didn’t know was they were actually lighting a time bomb. It was just a matter of time before the thing went off in their lives. I understand that it’s complicated. I will tell you this; marriages are micro pictures of God’s desire of our relationship with him. I think that’s one of the reasons why God’s ideal is for us to be in one relationship through the course of our lifetime. So that’s the third aspect of a healthy marriage…
3 Lifetime Commitment
The Bible says God says in Malachi, “I hate divorce.” I quickly want you to hear this. It doesn’t say I hate divorced people. Big difference there, isn’t it? He says He hates divorce. God hates what divorce does in people’s lives. It rips families apart. It rips homes apart. I think most of us are in agreement with God on that point. God wants marriage to be a picture of our relationship with Him. That’s why you read through the Bible and God is the groom. The church is the bride of Christ. In Revelation 19:7, on the final day we will have a wedding celebration. They call it the “Wedding Celebration of the Lamb.” We are going to be there together. Our hearts are bound together. God’s going to do it because He loves us and cares for us.
We take these vows, “till death do us part.” While in our own earthly relationships, those vows don’t always remain. Here is what’s true…no matter how well or poorly you’ve done in your relational past, there is one relationship that will not disappoint. There is one relationship where He will always be faithful. That is your relationship with God. No matter where your relationships are today; whether they are going well or terribly, maybe you are barely hanging on. I want to challenge you to get one relationship right before you leave. All of us some day will die. All of us will face that moment of death. The promise of the Bible is that we can be in a relationship with God because He sent His son, Jesus Christ, who died for us, for our forgiveness and we can be with Him for eternity. That is an awesome promise. It’s a picture of a marriage between God and His people.
I believe God can do more to help you and your relationship more than anything else I could offer you. He can do more than a self-help book more than marriage principles, more than anything else to help you. What I’ve learned is that when you grow like Christ and your spouse grows like Christ you will begin to grow closer together spiritually.
Next week is racy and steamy. In chapter 4 the couple enjoys their honey moon and we read as they have sex. Until then!
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