(A follow-up article to a sermon I preached on Song of Solomon 2:8-17)
Song of Solomon is a poetic book that praises the practice of marital intimacy God’s way. Throughout history all the way up to our current cultural moment it’s message is indispensable. But, we tend to believe, it is narrowly focused: the message of a faith-driven and satisfying marital intimacy is only for those in our church who are married (or are engaged and going through pre-marital counseling with an elder). Yet, Song of Solomon (like every other book of the Bible) finds the fulfillment and goodness of its wisdom in the gospel of Jesus Christ, thus making the book good for the whole church, in all of the relational stages its members find themselves in.
So, what does Song of Solomon have to offer those who are single? I believe it is two-fold. First, and most obviously, Song sets the expectation for marriage God’s way. Song, in this sense, cuts through our false or naive views of what marriage is and meant for by poetically illustrating God’s good design. Song points out that marriage is for God’s glory essentially. It celebrates the physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational satisfaction that faithful marriage alone brings. It distinguishes the roles of the husband and wife. It warns of marital obstacles and our sinful reactions to them. It energizes us to pursue our spouse no matter the cost. It forbids intimacy outside the covenant of marriage. It offers practical advice on love making. It reminds us to love our spouse as God loves us – actively and selflessly. Song of Solomon sets our faith-driven expectation for marriage.
Secondly, Song of Solomon gives us a look into faith-driven intimacy inside the church. Granted, we cannot and should not share the same level of marital intimacy that Song of Solomon explicitly advocates for amongst the whole church body… but we can pull principles from what a healthy marriage looks like and apply them to church life. Paul does this in Ephesians 5 when ties the faithful love of a husband and wife to the faithfulness of Christ to His beloved church. Somewhere along God’s wondrous design of all things the love of marriage and the love of union in Christ parallels. Here are four ways church life parallels taken from Song of Solomon 2:8-17:
- Galatians 6:1-5 – Faithful pursuit. Church members selflessly pursue other Christians lost in sin for relational restoration and sanctification.
- 1 Peter 5:1-5 – Faithful leadership and support. Church members show faithfulness to God by following their elders as the elders show faithfulness to God by shepherding His flock.
- 1 Timothy 6:3-12 – Guard the church. Church members guard the purity of the church by removing false teaching, greed, and slander and taking hold of eternal life.
- Psalm 16:9-11 – Satisfied in God. Church members find satisfaction in the Lord together – sitting under preaching, singing spiritual songs, attending care groups, and fellowshipping at bagel time.