Song of Solomon gives us useful instruction about the proper way and time to love someone. It is not the broad way that most people follow, but, rather, it is the narrow way that leads to great blessings. What are the keys that make love the blessing God intended?
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Now Mr. Hampton was last night talking about being in that giddy stage of love, and I had a flash-back, as I suppose some more of you in here did. How many of you have ever experienced - giddy? When it comes to love, you look back, and come on, keep your hands up, how many of you have experienced - giddy? Don't be ashamed about it. How many of you are in that stage right now? Don't answer, you don't have to answer that because as soon as you ask that question, every parents' head is looking around trying to see if their kid's hand is going up.
You know what I mean. It's a time when your heart just gets to thumping. I was in about a six-week long giddy stage immediately upon going to Ambassador College. Didn't intend to go there. I mean, I intended to go to college, I just didn't intend to get in the giddy stage. My first date at college started out innocently enough. It was so low key, it's probably what a lot of you wouldn't even consider a date. I just asked a fellow freshman to go with me to Bible study on Friday night. I said, "We'll come back and have some ice cream afterwards." I thought that was innocent enough, too.
But we talked and talked and talked and we just clicked. We hit it off, and we stayed outside until the dorm monitors had to come out and say, "It's curfew. Get in." And they had to come out five minutes later and say, "We really mean it this time." Something just clicked, and that was the beginning. We fell head over heels. I mean, just tumbling down, head over heels. The Feast came along, we were going out.
All through this time, we'd been having from the day of orientation and several follow-ups later in forums and assemblies, we'd been having lectures warning us, "Don't. . ." and those of you remember the past, some of the phrases, there's a phrase used for this - involved. "Don't get involved." And it was a logical warning. It was a legitimate warning because they said, "Look, you've planned to come here for years. You came here for an education. You're going to be four years here. The thing that can derail that most of all is going into romance. Your grades will suffer. Everything will suffer if you go there too quickly and prematurely." And I believed that. I accepted that. I sat there listening, and said, "Yes, sir. Not me, sir."
And one night about six weeks later, I was supposedly studying, but I was sort of just daydreaming. I found myself daydreaming about her. And all of a sudden it hit me. I'm involved! I'm involved, and it jolted me to reality. And I jumped up. I ran outside to the telephone. I said, "I need to talk to you." Five minutes later we met. Met her out there. I said, "Hey, I like you, and you like me, but this isn't what I came here for, and it is over." I think the technical phrase is I dumped her. And it was stupid. It was a typical male approach. We got a problem; we'll fix it as soon as possible. Didn't even stop to think that that girl might have some feelings about it. Nope. I just ripped her heart out and stomped that sucker flat. Dumb, dumb way to handle an issue.
Thankfully, she forgave me, I guess, because four years later, she married me, for which I'm eternally grateful. I hoped I've learned in the meantime how NOT to handle some things, but I'm still learning, as we all are. Every human hurts other humans now and then, but you know when you're in the right kind of relationship, there is something that sees you through that when it happens - it's called love. Love is pretty strong. So, it's a powerful thing. True love between a man and a woman will eventually lead you to a place where you experience something that's written about in a poem in the Bible. I'll read this little phrase out of this entire poem that says, "Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm for love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave. It's flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame, many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it."
That's what we both wanted at age seventeen and eighteen. All of our years had taught us that's what we wanted. We wanted that kind of love, but at eighteen, it just wasn't time. We were in giddy love, puppy love. Four years later, we weren't so giddy, but we were much deeper in love. Thirty-two years later, I know, Mr. Hampton, you laid a guilt-trip on all of us last night - I don't open the door the way I should, and there are things that I don't do, but the love that we have now makes what we had on our wedding day seem positively shallow. Love grows and deepens, so I've thought about that often. Thought about it last night. Also thought about it at the Feast of Tabernacles this year.
There's a person who came up to me right after a service one day and told me, "That sermon needs to be given at the winter weekend. That's a sermon that young people and parents and everyone needs to hear."
And I said, "You're absolutely right. That was a great message. There's only one problem. I didn't give it. I agree with you, it needs to be given, and there's another problem. I don't think Mr. Hanisko is going to be at the family winter weekend. I'm scheduled to speak that weekend, but we'd both reached the same conclusion about the message that he gave that day during the Feast, thought more about it, and finally reached the conclusion that this isn't all that hard. I'd given, I'd heard and given a similar sermon on this probably twenty, twenty-five years ago. I had a copy of his sermon. I could make notes, and this message can be given this weekend even if he's not here. But I did want to give credit where credit is due. I wish he was here, but since he's not, I'm happy to be covering this because I love this story. I love this love story and what it means and because it's timeless.
Something can be written three thousand years ago and as we go through it today, you're going to be sitting here saying, "Yeah, I identify with that." That's the way it is, starting with maybe the lines that I just read to you about what one sweetheart is saying to another, "I want to be a seal on your heart." In the society in which that was written, it wasn't dissimilar to ours. People in that world put stones or metal on pieces of string, put them around their neck, where they laid over their hearts, and they were symbolic, just as we have today.
And what we're going to find when we come to that section is that a woman is saying this, and she's telling her husband, "I want to be on your heart and on your arm, and your thoughts and your actions. I want to be your identity just as you are my identity, and let's be sealed with the love that is as strong as death, meaning true love does not let go of those in its grasp."
So, what is the story behind the poem? That's what I'm going to tell you today in the sermon that's titled, "Seals, Sex and Alarm Clocks," if you like titles to sermons. "Seals, Sex and Alarm Clocks."
It's a story of love and sex and it's written for young people. Lessons are in it for all of us. It's found in a book that we seldom go to in sermons. If you keep up with the Bible Reading Program in July, you were taken on a long tour through it, a hundred pages of commentary was written on this short little book.
You think, "How can you write a hundred pages on an eight-chapter book?" Well, because there's a lot in it. There are many theories and analogies and lessons, and the Bible Reading Program covered all of those theories that are proposed. It concluded that there's no just absolute clear cut way of how to interpret this book because it is a song; it's in poetry, and it's subject to symbolism and interpretation, and there are many way to look at it, but what was in the Bible Reading Program that is put forth by some commentaries; the book is the Song of Solomon, and what is put in this is called, "The shepherd's theory."
It's an interesting theory. Many people have studied this book and tried to conclude, "What is God telling us?" What is it about, and why was it included in the Bible? Among the theories that are out there is that some say, "Well, this is the story of the love of Solomon for a shepherd girl."
And others say, "Well, that's true, but it is symbolically about Christ and the church."
Others say, "Well, that's good until you read it, and then you try to figure it out," it's just hard to take all the parallels completely through.
It is quite graphic, and as a result, some say, "Well, it's a marriage manual," but if you're going to use it as a marriage manual, you'd better be prepared to explain a lot because a lot of wives would die laughing if their husbands talked to them about things in here that we will see.
Others question whether God would use Solomon as a type of Christ's love for the church. It's not that he lacked experience, he had three hundred wives and seven hundred concubines. You have to ask is he the one who is the type of Christ? If so, then you'd have to say, well, you'd have to look at this book as written early in his life, and even there it's hard to because of some of the internal evidence indicating polygamous relationships when this was written.
Commentators who promote the shepherd theory say it's not really about Solomon and a girl. It's about three people. It's about Solomon, a girl, and another guy, the man that the girl loved. And when you look at it that way, you can make some sense of it.
There's another group in the subplot called, "The daughters of Jerusalem." They were the girls of the harem, Solomon's harem. Some of these girls, if you understand how harems were put together, some of them are given by their parents, some were part of political trade-offs, arrangements, some were simply taken by force. If the king wanted them, he got them. There were a number of people in Solomon's harem as time goes on.
As you read through the book, at times it's a bit confusing because it's not always clear who was saying what. Most versions, most translations have headings on them that indicate who is saying what, but you have to understand, those were put there by humans. It's just one person's opinion of who was saying what, and one theory doesn't always match another. And the shepherd's theory depends, as all others, on whom you designate as the speaker in any given part of the book here.
So I'm not going to take time as we go through, because time is of the essence today. I'm not going to take time to explain why it says this person is saying what, but on the assumption that we're dealing with the shepherd's theory and the three-way convolution here, I'll just go through it and make comment along the way, and then you can study it later if you wish.
All that aside, regardless of which theory you take there's a basic theme that is clear. This has to do with the love of a man and a woman; it has to do with friendship; it has to do with purity; it has to do with respect, and it has to do with choosing the theme of this weekend. Super highway, or the straight and narrow? It's a powerful example of that. A very clear theme and very relevant lessons. Let's get just a little bit of background. I Kings 11:1-4. Historically, we find this about Solomon.
I Kings 11:1 - (But) KingSolomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharoah: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites -
Verse 2 - And he loved women from the nations of whom the Lord had said to the children of Israel, "You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. For surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods." Solomon clung to these in love.
Mr. Winner was talking about respect. It begins with respect. He did not respect God. We had an announcement made. It's very simple. We have a standard. The law of the land has a standard. Families have standards. The church has a standard. If somebody says, "I don't care. I'm under twenty-one and I'm going to drink anyway," you've got a "respect" problem.
You disrespect people. And drinking is probably the least of the issues you're going to have to face with that. It starts fundamentally with, "What do I respect in life," and Solomon here, a great king, simply did not respect a simple thing that God said.
Verse 3 - Eventually, (And) he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart.
Verse 4 - For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David.
Now here's the way it is. The super highway is a toll road. You just don't pay the toll as soon as you get on it. You pay the toll later. Some people act surprised. "I didn't know there's a toll, or I didn't know it'd be this much." But there's a toll on the super highway that leads to destruction. Solomon disrespected God and he started walking down the super highway instead of saying, "One will be fine. One is enough. The queen will be enough." He said, "Hey, I can have the super highway," and he paid a price. But he didn't pay it as soon as he got on the road. The price came later, and God warned him, and it happened.
In Ecclesiastes 7. Turn to Ecclesiastes 7, if you will, right after Proverbs. Notice part of the price that he paid. Now everybody wants to be loved. Everybody wants to have that special bond; it's something within us that we need. But Ecclesiastes is the summary of his experimenting and his life and writing the lessons, and he made a statement here,
Ecclesiastes 7:28 - Which my soul still seeks but I cannot find: one man among a thousand I have found, but a woman among all these I have not found. Now, was it a problem that he just didn't look far enough? Did he maybe - maybe he wasn't casting his net - maybe he needed two thousand because - no. The problem was with Solomon. The problem was with Solomon. Maybe there was one who got away because he was going about his search in all the wrong ways. He wrote about his experiences. That's one thing about Solomon, he was pretty open about the good and the bad, and fairly objective.
Let's go back to I Kings 4. I want to show you one last thing here.
I Kings 4:29 - And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore.
Verse 30 - Thus Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the men of the East and all the wisdom of Egypt.
Verse 31 - For he was wiser than all the men - and it lists a bunch of wise men. . . .and his fame was in the surrounding nations. He had everything going for him.
Verse 32 - He spoke three thousand proverbs, and his songs were one thousand and five. Of those three thousand proverbs, we have about three hundred, and of his one thousand and five songs, we have one that God said, "I want this one kept. I want this one preserved so that everybody can read it and learn from it." And that is the Song of Solomon. And it's a very interesting song.
Let's give a little bit of the setting as we turn there now to the Song of Solomon. First of all, the setting in which it takes place is a harem. We're not used to harems today, but you've probably read about them. How many of you saw, The King and I years ago? Old classic musical, great, that was the setting of the King and I. It's a true story set in Thailand about an English teacher who was sent there for the king's children, and she falls in love with the king, but there's a subplot in the movie, and it's about a young princess from Burma who was captured and brought to the king's harem, and she has a guy that she loves, and she wants to be with him. She doesn't want to be in the harem, and he's heart-broken that she's gone, and she is too, and so he sneaks into town and he hovers outside and that was a dangerous thing to do. You don't mess with the king's stable of women. And she wants to escape. The song, "We kiss in the shadows," is about that girl and her lover. They just want to be - just the two of them. Very dangerous.
Now we know that Solomon had a harem. Wonder what harem life was like. How would you like to be one of a couple hundred girls in the harem, ladies? Like a big dormitory, and it's all the king's brides. I mean, you talk about, you can't think about this place without thinking, there must have been a lot of jealousy, probably a lot of cattyness from time to time. Maybe frustration, a lot of empty talk. That's where the whole story takes place.
Now the king could come into the harem anytime and pick anybody he wanted. There's something else to think about. What about the people left back at home? You know, women could be taken, as I said, by force, or by political arrangements, or their parents could make deals, as Mr. Hampton was reading last night. Think about it, as Solomon's numbers grew in his harem, for every woman there, there were fathers and brothers and maybe some boyfriends back home. How would you like it if you were a boyfriend and some of the king's soldiers came by one day and said, "Hey, we'll take her back to the king." How would you like it, guys, if you're engaged to somebody, and all of a sudden, she's just taken, and she ends up in the king's palace along with all the other women? We're going to read something a little bit later that Solomon was not liked by some people. Enough that he kept some body guards around him all the time. So this was part of the problem there.
One of the shepherd's theory is that this is what happened to this girl, because as she speaks along through here, she keeps talking about, "her beloved," and "my beloved." Sometimes even when she's with the king, and the theory is she's not talking to the king; she's talking, her mind is with someone else, her true beloved, because let's face it, if you're in a harem with a few other people, love is not the issue. There's no way that all two hundred others are going to be in love with the same guy, and he's going to be in love with all of them. It wasn't about love. She is in love with someone.
As we go here, I'll give you the rating before we go in. It's at least PG-13, maybe more. Song of Solomon is not prudish. It is sometimes graphic with word pictures, but that tells you something. The Bible presents sexuality in a very open and honest and beautiful way. Solomon had a big harem, of course, here at the beginning of it.
Song of Solomon 1:1 -The setting is the song of songs, which is Solomon's.
Verse 2 - Let me kiss him with the kisses of his mouth - (for) your love is better than wine.
Verse 3 - Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, your name is ointment poured fourth; therefore the virgins love you.
Verse 4 - Lead me away!The margin says, draw me away. Now some people say that means, pick me! If he came in the night, and said, "Hum." Pick me! There's a lot of status that goes with being there. We will run after you. The king (has) brought me into his chambers. We will be glad and rejoice in you. We will remember your love more than wine. Now, then there's something different said here. But here's the harem. The thinking is these are people, the harem groupies are just running after Solomon, you know, we want to be the one that you choose. I mean, you're lying around all day, sunning out by the pool, you know, doing your nails, waiting for Solomon, got the posters up on the wall of Joab and all the hunks of the military around, listening to your music, "Hooty and the Goat Herd." If Mr. Winner was there, his favorite group would be, "Lost Lonely Shepherds." He likes "Lost Lonely Boys." Well, you know what goes on all day long, week after week, well, the groupies here can be the celebrity for the night. Then the scene changes, and this one girl says,
Verse 5 - I am dark, but lovely. . . Now it wasn't a racial thing. It had to do with, as you read here, I'm suntanned from being a country girl. I've been out working in the fields. That's where I've been. I've been . . .
Verse 6 - Do not look upon me, or look down on me because I am dark, because the sun has tanned me. I've been out in the vineyards. I grew up in the country, and I've been out working a hard life, but you know, I guess I was good enough to be selected to be here, too.
Now notice Verse 7. The setting is not the harem.
Verse 7 - Tell me, O you whom I love, where are you feeding (feed) your flock. Where are you (make it rest) resting at noon. This isn't talking about the harem. She's asking I wonder where my love is. Where is he today? I wonder what he's doing. Where are you? And it's as though the others start teasing her in Verse 8, and women, I mean girls teasing girls can be cruel. But on the other hand, there's nothing worse than a love-sick girl either. There's probably some in this room. I wish he would text message me. I hope I run into him at the dance. Maybe I'll meet him at the ball game tomorrow. I don't know his name, but I know where he's from. And girls, you know how giddy is, you know what it's like in the giddy stage, you can go on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and after a while, the rest of the girls say, "Just shut up," you know.
Verse 8 - It's like the others are saying, If you do not know, O fairest among women, follow in the footsteps of the flock, and go feed your little goats. Go, find him. Go to the shepherd's tent.
Well, the scene changes, and here comes Solomon. Solomon walks in; he's looking for somebody to be with for the evening. He's finished a hard day of writing Proverbs and he wants to relax. Now, guys, all you guys here, let me give you a little advice. You should learn to compliment, genuinely compliment a girl. It's the right thing to do, and you should be able to do it without being embarrassed, but you have to be smart, you have to be careful, you have to be up with the times, and as we go through here, you have to understand symbolism and great lessons, not literalness. Okay? Because this was written in a different time, and people saw beauty in different way, and Solomon loved horses. So this was his way.
Verse 9 - I have compared you, my love, to my filly. . . Now those of you who live in Kentucky and the horse areas, don't go to a girl tonight, have a couple of dances with her and say, "Oh, you dance like a mare down here at the horse farm." It worked then. Find a different thing for now.
Verse 10 - Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with chains of gold.
Verse 11 - We will make you some ornaments of gold (with studs of)and silver. You'll look good in jewelry. We'll dress you up. We'll fix you an outfit, and she's not interested. She's not interested.
Verse 12 - While the king is at his table, my spikenard sends forth its fragrance.
Verse 13 - A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me, that lies all night between my breasts.
Verse 14 - My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blooms in the vineyards of En Gedi. You can be the king on the couch, but I'm thinking about my beloved. She has her mind on the man she loves. She has the one she loves, and she knows one day, we'll be married. Poetically speaking, she is saying, "If anybody is going to have my love, it's going to be my love." She did not say, "Tonight, he's going to lie with me." But she's thinking of a time when she will be married. Solomon's not used to being turned down. He can turn on the charm.
Verse 15 - O (Behold) you are fair, my love! (Behold) you are fair! You have dove's eyes. Forget the horses. Dove's eyes. He's cooing.
Verse 16 - O behold, you are handsome. . .she says. . .my beloved! Yes, pleasant! (Also) our bed is green.
Verse 17 - The beams of our house(s) are cedar. We don't live in the palace. We live in a log cabin. We're out in the country. We live in the village. (And) our rafters (of) are fir.
Song of Solomon 2:1 - I am a country girl (the rose of Sharon.) But Solomon is smitten apparently.
Verse 2 - Like a lily among thorns, so is my love among all the daughters. I have all these girls here. Oh, you are - they're like thorns compared to you. Now what girl is not going to be impressed if a guy is dancing tonight and says, "I've looked over all these girls here. They're like a briar patch compared to you. You are a rose in a briar patch."
The Shulamite is saying, "Oh, brother." She remembers her boyfriend.
Verse 3 - Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods. You want to talk about analogies, Solomon? (So is my beloved among the sons.) This is the way my beloved is - he's among the sons. I sat down in his shade with great delight. And his fruit was sweet to my taste. This book does not advocate immorality. It does not advocate fornication. It does not advocate sex out of marriage, just the opposite. It is, repeat, about respect for oneself, for family, for true love, for God, and how beautiful life can be at the end of the narrow path.
Verse 5 - At the end of the verse, she says: . . .(For) I am lovesick. I am lovesick. And it's as though she's in a dream state. The commentary on the shepherd's theory will state this that she's like she's dreaming, and she's actually talking to the rest of the girls in the harem.
Verse 6 - His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me. She's just thinking of the one she loves and being in his embrace, and what it will be like. And then she turns to the other women there.
Verse 7 - The tone changes; she looks at all the others around her and says, I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the does of the field. . .And she makes the first of three statements that will be made in this book. Three times this phrase is stated, and it makes you begin to realize God wants us to get a point, a very important point. Do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases. Now that doesn't mean, like, until it feels good, and that pleases me. No, it means until the right time. Do not stir up nor awaken love until the right time.
The Shulamite was onto something that was a profound understanding. Here's where the alarm clock in the sermon title comes in. When is your alarm clock set for awakening love? For every young person in here who is not married, when is your alarm clock set for awakening your love? Do you have it set? Have you thought about setting it, or are you going to let somebody else chose when they wake you up and don't have any control over it? Does it matter? Is it important? We'll revisit this as we come along.
But here's the first time she's telling the other girls, "Look, this isn't the way." Flirting, chasing after the king, "pick me," hoping he'll choose you to commit fornication with tonight. That's not the way. Now there's one thing about her; she's not married but she understands her sexuality. She's not afraid of it. She's not ashamed of it. She's not scared to be a woman, but she had it very clear - "I saved myself for true love. I saved myself for the man who loves me for life." And it's a simple warning, save your kisses and save your embraces and save your sexuality. Don't stir up love early because the drives in human beings are difficult to control mentally and emotionally when we fool around physically. It's just, nothing has changed in three thousand years. It's just the same. Well the scene changes, and it seems like she is dreaming and back home.
Verse 8 - The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes leaping upon the mountains, skipping (upon) on the hills. A man's man. That probably does not evoke the most strong urges in any of the girls here. "Here comes my beloved skipping on the hills." (Laughter)
Well, no that's not what it means. It means, I think Mr. Hampton used the phrase last night, with a spring in your step. And that's the way you feel. Have you ever seen a guy getting ready for the prom, and the girl that he wanted to go with is going with him. And he's, I mean, there's a spring in your step. There's just something that makes you alive when you're in this state of time and that's a good thing. That's what it's talking about. So she goes through here and she's talking about this dream about her beloved.
Verse 16 - My beloved is mine, and I am his.
Verse 17 - (Until the day breaks.) Get out of here. It's daybreak. Get out of here. It's dangerous. It's a death penalty if you get caught. It continues in Song of Solomon 3. It's as though she's sort of half awake. We've all been there before. You're having a dream that is so real, even when you wake up you're wondering whether it was real or not. There's this dream here, and it's so real, she wishes it were true.
Song of Solomon 3:1 - By night on my bed I sought the one I love; I sought him, but I did not find him.
Verse 2 - " I will rise now," (I) she said, "(and) I'll go (about) around the city. . .and I'll (I will) seek the one I love." . . .but (I did not) couldn't find him.
Verse 3 - The watchmen hadn't seen him. . .and so it goes on through here.
Verse 4 - And she finally finds him. . .(I had brought him to the house of my mother,) brings him to her mother's house, and then she wakes up. And she comes out of this dream, and what does she say?
Verse 5 - I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the does of the field, . . .. it's the second time. . .do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases. Now, she's thinking about love. She wants to be with the man she loves. Nothing wrong with that. But she said there's a timing to everything that is very important.
It's confusing today to a lot of people. Love is so overused, abused. Love is pure. You don't have to sneak around if it's true love. If it's love in the right way. Now for those of you in this room, can you think of anybody, any guys, any girls, that you would like to say this to? Don't stir up love, don't wake it up until it's the right time. I think there are a lot in here that would say, "I know somebody." We all need to hear it. Guys, don't act that way. Girls, grow up. Get serious about life, understand. She's smart enough. She's warning the others about it. Well, Solomon is back for another try. This is great, Verse 6. I love this.
Verse 6 - Who is this coming out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke. . . (sound of a motor cycle, run, run, run…) . . .perfumed with myrrh. . .He's been down to Dillards, he's been smacking on this latest nice smelly stuff, . . .with all the merchant's fragrant powders?
Verse 7 - Behold, it is Solomon's couch, with sixty valiant men around it. . . I'll show up in force. I'll show her everything I've got. Girls love a guy in a uniform, don't they? I'll bring about sixty of them. Oh, yeah, this'll get her.
Verse 8 - They all hold swords, being expert in war. Every man has his sword on his thigh because of fear in the night. What was Solomon afraid of? Well, I don't know. It's not here in context, but there might have been a few fathers and brothers and boyfriends who might not have liked him too much. Now going on -
Verse 9 - Of the wood of Lebanon Solomon the King made himself a palanquin. It's the latest model. A palanquin.
Verse 10 - He made its pillars of silver, its support of gold, its seat of purple. . . and notice. . .its interior paved with love by the daughters of Jerusalem. Hum. It's a funny way to describe something, isn't it? Now a palanquin, if you have a marginal reference like I do, it says, "A portable enclosed chair."
We have this covered curtained couch carried by men on their shoulders, real hunks, the "wow" factor is in here, I mean he's got twelve speakers, a moon roof, purple leather, it's loaded; you're in for a GOOD TIME if you go out with Solomon and his "love wagon." Well, we laugh. Are you impressed by that? Not by Solomon. Are you impressed with fast cars, guys who have lots of whatever to impress you with? Well, that's what he shows up in.
Verse 11 - Go forth, O daughters of Zion, and see King Solomon with the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his (wedding) espousals, the day of the gladness of his heart. The ole crown is probably getting a little worn. Every time you get married, you have to be crowned again. It's a sad thing. He was going all out. He starts trying. Now again, before we read chapter 4, you need to understand that different societies see different things in different ways.
Song of Solomon 4:1 - Behold, you are fair, my love! (Behold,) you are fair! You have dove's eyes behind your veil. I see your eyes. Your hair is like a flock of goats, going down from Mount Gilead. It's not going to work, guys, you know. Your hair is like a flock of goats. Just don't even go there. But there's something here about goats that Solomon thought was a great parallel. He goes on.
Verse 2 - Your teeth are like a flock of shorn sheep which have come up from the washing, every one of which bears twins, and none is barren among them. Some things are just lost on me. But don't tell a girl, "Your teeth are like pregnant sheep that have just been shorn. Your teeth aren't fuzzy." Fuzzy teeth, there's one thing I like in a woman is when their teeth aren't fuzzy. Whatever it was here, he was trying to turn it on. It was normal for the time.
Verse 3 - You remind me. . .your temples. . .are like a piece of pomegranate.
Verse 4 - Your neck is like the tower of David, built for an armory. Your body reminds me of my military storehouse where I put all the tanks. Well, he goes on here.
Verse 5 - Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle, which feed among the lilies. You get the impression that he's just looking her up and down. And he's impressed, all right. He's impressed. What's missing? What is missing here? There's nothing about her mind. There's nothing about her emotions. There's nothing about her feelings. There's nothing about what they have in common. There's nothing about what their love has been based on. Why does he love her? How well do they know each other? Everything he says, "Uh-wee, you are hot!" And the girl sees through it. She sees through it.
Verse 7 - . . .there is no spot in you. . . You are a ten! And the shepherd's theory says the girl speaks in Verse 8 and says.
Verse 8 - Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse. . . Come and get me out of here. The language changes here. There are different terms, different languages, not talking about goats and armories anymore.
Verse 9 - is interesting. Now the commentary says that she is contrasting Solomon's attention with what she is willing to hear and actually what she wants to hear. She just wants to hear it from the right person, someone with the right intentions, but Solomon is cheapening it, and the other girls were falling for it, and she was saying, "Don't do that. Be smarter than that." But in Verse 9, this is apparently her boyfriend. You have ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; You have ravished my heart with one look of your eyes. . .
Verse 10 - How fair is your love, my sister, my spouse! He interchanges these phrases here and apparently it's in the relationship of a young man who treated her as a sister for a long period of time. There's another statement in here where she calls him her friend. The greatest relationships that I've seen over the years are those who were friends, who grew into romantic love. Not the ones who say, "Ooo, you look great. Let's have romance." But friends. It's like almost growing up, my sister, now my spouse.
Verse 12 - A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. What does this mean? It means she was just saving herself. She was saving herself for him when they were married.
Verse 16 - Awake, O north wind, and come, O south! Blow up on my garden, that its spices may flow out. Let my beloved come to his garden and eat its pleasant fruits. She's saving herself for him, not Solomon. Chapter 5 goes into another dream.
Song of Solomon 5:2 - I sleep, but my heart is awake; it is the voice of my beloved! And he's saying, "My head is covered with dew. . .the drops of the night. I've been out all night looking for you." And she's in this state. She misses him.
Verse 4 - And in this dream - he puts his hand on (by) the latch of the door. . . .my heart yearned for him. . . .my heart yearned for him. . . Any of you in here have an old King James version? I heard a chuckle. Maybe that means you've already been reading that in the old King James. That's why you have to sometimes check with multiple versions. The old King James doesn't say - heart. The old King James version says - my bowels moved for him. It's a little different analogy. I loved you so much I had. . .(laughter) . . .in our society, what do we use today? We use the heart. It's not the heart. It's a stylized version of the heart, and it symbolizes love. If we drew a real heart and put it on the card and give it to your beloved, and they go, "What's this?"
"Well, that's a ventricle. I love you." Some societies use liver, and some use kidney. It changes everything. Aw, sweet kidney. You're the greatest. Well, we have hearts. At their time, bowels were used to describe where you felt emotion, and in a way, it is. Where do you feel things a lot of times? Right in the pit of your stomach. It's not up here thumping in your chest. It's in the pit of your stomach. It's not weird. We just say it differently. "I'm giving you my heart. My heart skips a beat when you walk down the street." She had other problems.
Verse 5 - It was gone.
Verse 6 - (I) She sought him, (but I) couldn't find him . . .
Verse 7 - She said. . .the watchmen. . .struck me, they wounded me. . .
Verse 8 - She says, I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, (that you) tell him I am lovesick! Tell him I still care. Maybe he thinks I don't care, and apparently the girls in the harem started to get a little compassionate. This girl is serious. She's upset. What is so special about this guy? Okay tell us now. Verse 8. They're not saying, "Yeah, go out and herd your little goats." They say, "Okay."
Verse 9 - What is your beloved more than another beloved, O fairest among women? What is your beloved more than another (beloved) that you so charge us? There was something they didn't have. It's like they didn't understand that there's something so special, one on one. They said, "What is this?"
That's the trouble with awakening love too soon. You could lose respect for what the right relationship can be like. You can lose respect for self. Sometimes those who've been around look down on girls and guys. There was a movie made just a while back called The Forty-Year-Old Virgin. I didn't see it. I had no desire to see it, but I knew the theme of it. They make fun of a guy who's a virgin. It happens all the time, and I know you live in that world, and it's hard to live in a world where people make fun of you, something is wrong with you, but be strong on that regard as this girl is here. And so she says, "You want to know? I'll tell you." And she says it in words that are probably very similar to what most women in here would describe their husbands as.
Verse 11 - His head is like the finest gold; His locks are wavy. . . Used to be wavy. . .(and) black as a raven.
Verse 12 - His eyes are like doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, (and) fitly set.
Verse 13 - His cheeks are like (a) the bed of spices. . .and she goes on through this description. I like Verse 14.
Verse 14 - His hands are rods of gold set with beryl. His body is carved ivory inlaid with sapphires. I told my wife, that's how I'd like to be called. And she said, "Well, you're sort of like ivory. . .soap. . ." That's been sitting in the hot tub too long and has gotten a little mushy, but uh. . .
Verse 16 - His mouth is most sweet, yes, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend. . . This is my friend. You ever saw the movie, Shendoah, there's a part where this young guy goes up to James Stewart, and he wants to ask for the hand of his daughter in marriage. He goes, "Mr. Stewart. . ." O, not Mr. Stewart. That wasn't him in the movie, whatever his name was, he said, "I'd like to marry your daughter."
And he says, "Well, son, do you like her?"
And he says, "Oh, sir," he said, "I love her."
He says, "Well, do you like her?"
"That's what I'm trying to tell you. I love her, sir."
"That's not what I'm asking. I want to know if you like her?"
And he says, "Good. You've got to like them." You like somebody when they're your friend, and then that grows into love and there's something there that is your best friend. Now to get that, you have to wait for that. It has to grow.
So they're impressed, and I'm going to have to zip along through here. Song of Solomon 6, they say, "We'll help you find him." Let me say something here about Verse 2. She says, My beloved. . .and she's using this phrase. . .has gone to his garden. For all of you young people in here, most of you don't know who your beloved is. They're alive right now. They may be sitting in this room. The person you end up marrying may be here, maybe you've not met them yet. Maybe you're sitting here thinking, I know who it is. I hope I know who it is. But it may not be, but they're alive somewhere right now. They're out there.
You may not know who it is which is exactly why you need to respect everybody highly. You may even reach a point where you may think you have found your beloved, and then later it turns out not to be true, which is another reason why you must respect them highly with words and actions because if it turns out that they're not going to be your beloved, they're going to be somebody else's beloved, and the way you look back on life will be pretty important to be able to say, "Everything was respectful and honorable in our relationships." Someone else's beloved is here, and every person you play basketball with, or dance with, or talk with, end up riding and communicating with, having good times with, dating, there's a good chance they're going to be somebody else's beloved somewhere down the road, so treat them with respect.
I'll tell you something scary. A few years ago, I shouldn't do this, well, (chuckle). I'll tell you something scary, in Sacramento, after we moved there in 1996, just before we moved there had been a wedding between a couple, and the man was about twenty-eight, and the lady was about twenty. There was an eight or nine years gap between them. A few years go by, they have their family, their children, and one day at a teen Bible study, I was talking about romance with the teens, and I say, "You know, think about this couple here in the church." Nice young couple, good examples. I said, "Do you remember how old they were when they got married? There's an eight or nine year gap.
That means, if that happened to you, if that ever happened to you, if you're eighteen years old now, that means the girl you could marry ten years from now is nine, or ten. They go, "Uhh!"
Well, you know, things change when you go along. It's a respect that you carry to everybody. You may be thirty-five when you get married, and maybe the girl is twenty-five. If you're eighteen now, that means she's eight now. Scary now. Won't be then, if you fall in love. It means you have the highest standards for everyone. Solomon comes in again, Song of Solomon 6:4.
Song of Solomon 6:4 - (O) my love, you are. . .lovely as Jerusalem, you're awesome as an army with banners! And she's going, "Yeah, and just as hard to get."
Verse 5 - Turn your eyes away from me, for they have overcome me. . . O, come on! She's going, "Yeah, yeah. You've tried that." . . .Your hair is like a flock of goats. . . Yeah, yeah.
Verse 6 - Your teeth are like (a flock of) sheep. . . Heard it before.
Verse 7 -Like a piece of pomegranate. . . Oh, yeah. You need to revisit the fruit section. I don't like pomegranate. Finally, he goes through, and he comes to something very telling in Verse 8.
Verse 8 - Look, There are sixty queens and eighty concubines, and virgins without number. What's he telling her? There are sixty queens (and) eighty concubines, and virgins without number. "Look, kid, I've got a waiting list. I'm doing you a favor. You're the lucky one because I want you. You can't turn me down." But this is the way it is, Solomon had lost respect for love. He'd lost respect for proper relationships. He was treating it as a commodity. He'd lost concepts of honor and commitment. All he could do was flatter. Flatter, and be impressive, and who he was was supposed to make any girl fall over, and he couldn't understand this girl. And so they go on.
Verse 9 - The end of Verse 9 - . . .The daughters saw her and called her blessed. . .The girls in the harem looked at her and said, "You are blessed. You have something. You're different. You're respectable and respected. You are blessed." The queens and the concubines, and they praised her. So apparently Solomon's last stand, Song of Solomon 7, he pulls out everything he's got. He's very open. The intentions are not subtle. "I want you," and again the Bible is not coy or squeamish.
God built men and women to be attractive to one another, to be appreciated by one another, but I'll tell you something. Guys especially are visually oriented. If you haven't figured that out, the way the chemicals work in the mind, guys are visually oriented, but guys in the church, for the most part, and I know this because I've taken surveys for twenty-five years informally in various areas, asking guys, "What do you want to see?"
And everyhere the guys when they write anonymous surveys say, "We want the girls in the church to dress modestly. We want the girls to be feminine. Not like the world. We don't want it. That's all over the place out there. We want to see the Shulamite.."
Verse 10 - She says I am my beloved's. . . "Keep your hands off; I'm my beloved's. I'm engaged; I'm not going to compromise; I'm not going to cheat. Your appeal's not going to work. I just want to go home." And it seems like he lets her go back to her village.
Verse 11 - Come, my beloved, (let us) let's go (forth) to the field; (let us) let's go to (lodge in) the village(s). Not in the palace. I've saved myself for you. Song of Solomon 8 is rather graphic.
Song of Solomon 8:1 - Oh, that you were like my brother, who nursed at my mother's breasts! If I should find you outside, I would kiss you; I would not be despised.
Verse 2 - I would lead you and bring you into the house of my mother, she who used to instruct me. And that's important. We'll come back to this some more. . . .she used to instruct me . . . I wish I could kiss you; I wish I could hold you. She is a woman who doesn't know what sex is going to be like, but she knows she is going to like it. She knows, she's been instructed by her mother about how to live. She's not a prude. She understands that sex will be great with the right man at the right time in the right way. God built this in, but it has to be controlled and it has to be guided so the desires are a blessing. And she is saying as a witness that has been repeated over and over in history - there is a right way to do it. The way to do it that makes you glad forever for the rest of your life.
Verse 3 - She says again - His (left) hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me. And it's like a parting shot on the way out.
Verse 4 - I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases. And when the time is right, then you stir it and awaken it, and it's beautiful.
True love is worth waiting for. She's saying, "Don't you see how happy I am? Don't you see this?" And that's a message for us today. It's timeless. Do not stir up nor awaken love (until) before it pleases. And on the way, until the time is right, all young people, be real men and real women. You can be young. You can be sixteen and take a man's stand. You can be seventeen and be a woman in your thinking in terms of maturity and taking a stand and say, "I'm going to be valiant. I'm going to be a warrior. I'm going to be courageous. I'm going to be strong. I'm going to have character. These are issues of character. I know where I'm going, and I know how to get there."
And you young men, fight for your sisters. Fight for your sisters. Guard their purity. Don't try to steal it. It's disrespectful to a whole lot of people. Guard their purity. Don't be moral wimps. It takes no courage to try to get sex out of somebody. That takes no courage. It's cheap. Take the right kind of pride in being a standup guy. Being a standup guy that girls can trust, that parents can trust, that peers will respect, and that comes only from being a man of moral conviction.
And you girls, you girls out here, you young women, you need to fight for your brothers as well. You need to fight for your brothers. It's a sexual battleground out there in the world, and your brothers need strong young women who understand it and know what is right and why life works the way it does and understand the power of sexuality and femininity and the Godliness that controls it. The male brain, as I said, is much more visually oriented than the female brain, and there's all sorts of research showing how men and women think differently when it comes to sex. Don't give your brothers reasons for their minds to wander.
As one put it in ABC last year, "Life is tough enough as it is. Don't give me reason for my eye to go in a wrong way." Fight for your brother. Fight for your sister. It's an atmosphere that when we have that, that is a healthy atmosphere in which true love will begin to blossom. You want to find the path to this. Follow that way.
Parents, you need to explain and talk with your sons and daughters about the way that minds work, and in a positive way. You notice that in Song of Solomon 8:2 - I want to take my husband; I want to take my boyfriend back to Mom's house, the one who used to instruct me.
Did she just come up with this overnight? I don't think so. You need to talk with your kids about the way God built the differences, and the chemical reactions, and the cross-linking between right and left hemispheres in the brain and how it affects our thinking about sexuality and love and romance and explain these things and how it works. We need understanding, like she was given. There's an old saying: Guys give love to get sex, and girls give sex to get love. And it reduces to a very simple thing, a complexity that goes on in the emotions and the thought processes. And if we stumble through life ignorantly, we'll make mistakes. And if we have knowledge, but we use sex to manipulate, which is what goes on a lot in society, sex is used to manipulate people, and that's the worst of all forms, and that's what the world is teaching today, manipulation, how to be sexy, how to be alluring, and it's primarily done without marriage and love being in the picture. If a girl knows how to manipulate a guy, she can do so very easily, and guys can do the same way toward girls, just in different ways.
Sex is powerful. Love is powerful. It's very wonderful, but you've got to walk a narrow path. You have to walk a narrow path, and you know what? It's not that hard to walk the narrow path, not when you have your eyes set on the goal, when you have your eyes on the goal. But you have to set your alarm clock. You've got to set your alarm clock. You have to know well in advance when you want the alarm clock of sexuality to awaken, and that's what the Shulamite did.
When did she set hers? Apparently it was early in life because she had a family that talked about these things. She understood reality. She made a choice to live a certain way. The time to set your alarm clock is while you're sitting here in church, while you're talking to Mom and Dad, when you're praying to God, that's the time to set the alarm clock. If you wait until Sweet Pea has you in his car, and he's talking about his goats and how much you remind him, and you fall for that stuff because he is showing you attention the way that nobody else has, or what you've been looking for that other people get, it's too late then to set the alarm clock. You don't set an alarm clock after you go to sleep. It's set at night when you think things through. When do I need to wake up in the morning? That's when the alarm clock is set.
Okay, the beauty of it is, Song of Solomon 8:5.
Song of Solomon 8:5 - Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?. . . She's back. She's coming home. He went to get her and they're back home. . . .I awakened you under the apple tree. And the old generation here remembers a song, probably from the forties - "Don't sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me," great song, you know, and that's what you want, this exclusivity.
Verse 6 - Set me as a seal. . . This was the context. Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave. . .and so on as we read. I want this commitment. Love can die if it's not taken care of, but where true love is burning it cannot be quenched. It cannot be quenched. We go on, I'm going to - I'm a little overtime, but I got a late start, and I don't begrudge it.
Verse 8 - Now is the wedding day, the way it should be, and her family now chimes in, and something profound is said here. We have a little sister. . .They're thinking aback, I remember when she was just a kid. Here she is. We have a little sister, and she has no breasts. What shall we do for our sister in the day when she is spoken for? Parents know the feeling. They come here. They look around the gym and their lovely daughter isn't anywhere to be seen. You start worrying. You worry. You start looking outside because you know all these guys are lurking around the garbage cans, and you know, they're out to get your daughter. And you say, "I know these are nice boys, and their mothers love them, but I don't." You know, "That's my daughter." That's my daughter. This is a concern. Anybody who is responsible for other people and their children, ask this question - "What are we going to do when my daughter starts getting interested in guys?" "When my son starts getting interested in girls. What am I going to do?" And here is the principle that the brother said.
Verse 9 - If she is a wall, we will build upon her a battlement of silver; and if she is a door, we will (en)close her with boards of cedar. It's very simple. You can be a wall and put up resistance. You can be a wall and put up resistance that that will be rewarded. If she is a wall, we won't worry. But if she is a door, if she's going to let people in and out, we're going to board it up. We're going to take care of her that way. And in Verse 10,
Verse 10 - She said, I am a wall. Looking back on it, I was a wall, and my breasts like towers; (Then) I became in his eyes as one who found peace. It worked out right for me. I found peace.
Verse 11 - Solomon had a vineyard at Baal Hamon; he leased the vineyard to keepers; everyone was to bring for its fruit a thousand (silver coins) pieces of silver. Solomon had it all in many ways and then the shepherd, her beloved says:
Verse 12 - My own vineyard is before me. You, O Solomon, (may have a) you can have your thousand. I've got one, and my one is worth more than all of your thousand. I have more than you will ever have. Go write. Go write your musings in the night about not being able to find one among a thousand. I have one. It's a wonderful, wonderful book about how young men and women can go about finding friendship and then love with one another. He says:
Verse 13 - You who dwell in the gardens, the companions listen for your voice - let me hear it! And he says, "Everybody else tells me about what you say, and they listen to you. I want to hear you, my wife." He lets her have the last word.
Verse 14 - And she says, Make haste, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices. It's time to waken. We're married. It's time to waken our love.
For all of us here, regardless of your age, these are wonderful words and there are spiritual parallels that I won't cover here, but as we walk through this life, and we choose, super highway or narrow path. Let us be people of conviction, young people of strength and courage that say we will not walk that super highway that leads to nothing. We'll walk the narrow way that leads to blessings.