Legacy of Marriage
Song of Solomon 8:5-7
Over the last 6 weeks we have looked at several aspects of the marriage relationship. First, we looked at God’s design for marriage – companionship, completeness, unity, and permanence. Then we spent some time on the sacrificial, sanctifying, selfless, love of the husband. The kind of love that his wife desperately needs. Third, we saw how that a wife gives of herself in respect and admiration toward her husband. Equal in creation yet under his protection and care.
The fourth Sunday we took a look at what love looks like and how it acts. We talked about what love is not and what love does. How that it is an action that is followed through with feelings. How marriage love is to picture the unconditional love of Christ for His church. Then we talked about the perfectly imperfect marriage. We learned about responding properly to conflict in marriage. Then last week we focused on passion and purity in marriage. We talked about God’s design for passion and the guardrails we need to keep passion in it proper place in the marriage relationship.
Overview of Solomon’s Love Story
Today I want to look at a passage in the Song of Solomon as we talk about our legacy of love in marriage. What do our children and grandchildren see in our relationship with our spouse and what difference does that make in their love relationships?
Though some people see the Song of Solomon as a collection of love poems, I see it as a single unified love poem, the story of two lovers. Let me give you a quick overview of Solomon’s love story.
The main characters in this poem are Solomon, the King, also referred to as the “beloved” and Shulamith the young maiden often referred to as “darling.” What is so unique about this book of the Bible is that it clearly shows us the passion and feelings of young love. We see God’s design for love in this poem and the problems love often faces. You can sense the anticipation of intimacy with one another.
We also see the tension of their love as it struggles with other things and the people that might be a hindrance to their love. We also see the tension of waiting for intimacy until the marriage. The developing love between a man and a woman is so much a part of life before marriage, but as we will see, the development of love is a continual part of our lives all through the years of marriage.
I am not going to get into a discussion as to why God would use a man like Solomon, who certainly lived an immoral life, to write of his love relationship with Shulamith showing us love as God designed it. The best way we can learn from this is to lay aside the offensiveness of Solomon’s behavior with his many wives and concubines and see what God has to teach us through this particular love poem.
The book begins by showing us how to build a proper love relationship. How we appreciate our true love’s character and praise them for the beauty of not just their physical being, but of their person. Solomon and Shulamith spend time cultivating and developing their admiration of each other.
Then we see a commitment being developed between the two, even before the marriage relationship. A commitment of passion and purity, and a commitment to wait for God’s time in their intimacy. Courage to face the destructive forces that come along in a love relationship and the painful risks they take in order to experience a deeper love in their relationship. We see a commitment to give their relationship the very best effort they can to make it better.
In other words, Solomon and Shulamith understood, that genuine love waits and it takes hard work. In chapters 4 and 5 we see glimpses into the intimacy of the wedding night. As Solomon claims his bride, the intensity of love expressed through intimacy deepens their relationship with each other. But in chapter 6 we see that insensitivity in the couple’s relationship causes problems in their marriage. But, Solomon and Shulamith determine to solve the issues they face in order to restore the relationship to what it once was.
That gives you a bit of an overview of the story between these two lovers. Then, in the last two chapters of this interesting book of the Bible, we see the delight and desire of marital love as it has matured over the years. Finally, in the passage I want to look at this morning we have the final scene of Solomon and Shulamith in the later years of their lives looking back over their marital relationship.
Follow along as I read what Shulamith is saying here, but keep in mind that this is Hebrew poetry and there are many metaphors and symbolism used to convey her message.
Song of Solomon 8:5-7
5 Who is that coming up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved? Under the apple tree I awakened you. There your mother was in labor with you; there she who bore you was in labor.
6 Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD.
7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.
The Seed of Love (v. 5)
Though we may not see it at first, in verse 5, Shulamith implies that her love relationship was a part of a much bigger picture. Though their love for each other was exclusive and reserved for just the two of them, it was truly not independent. The seed of their love came from their parents. In other words, Shulamith is saying that their parents who gave them life taught them what true love, genuine love, godly love, looks like.
As she recalls how they came together in this love relationship, she refers to being awakened to what it means to love a man. She came from the wilderness, not a literal desert, but a wilderness of love. The wilderness represents a time in her life when Shulamith did not have someone to love and now she leans upon the breast of her beloved, Solomon. The apple tree is not a real tree somewhere that Shulamith and Solomon fell in love under, but rather a metaphor for a time when the fruit of their love was awakened.
Keeping in mind that Shulamith is using the apple tree as a metaphor for the awakening of her love, she says that this love was also exampled by her parents, a love that resulted in giving birth to her. So, she is not just talking about the feeling of love, but of the intimacy of love that resulted in her conception and birth.
As Solomon and Shulamith reminisce about the beginning of their love relationship, she realizes, that they were indebted to their parents, who had given them life and had taught them love. Like Solomon and Shulamith, every loving couple is indebted to their parents and many others who have sacrificed for them, shaped their lives, and taught them how to love their spouse. We learn how to, or how not to, love our spouse first hand through the love Mom and Dad displayed in the home.
You might be able to identify how your parents influenced your love relationship with your spouse, be it good or bad. You see, there is an eternal dimension to human love. On the one hand, love draws from the past through your parents. On the other hand, love invests in the future through your children. The loving environment of the home contributes much to a young person’s preparation for marriage.
In other words, the way you treat your spouse . . . will be picked up by your children and grandchildren. They will most likely love or not love their spouses in the same you love or not love your spouse. You are leaving a legacy of what marriage looks like for your children and grandchildren.
So, the question we must ask ourselves is this. What are we teaching our children and grandchildren about the marriage relationship? Is it a relationship that brings honor to God? Does it seek to bring Him glory and draw us closer to each other? Or does marriage become more distant, less intimate, less loving over the years? Do our children and grandchildren see a marriage relationship that has grown cold and harsh. What is the legacy we are leaving for our children? We are planting the seed of love in our families.
The Commitment of Love (vv. 6-7)
In verses 6 and 7, Shulamith exclaims that their love through the years had developed not only a deep and power emotion of love, but that it is rooted in their deep commitment to each other. She gives us four pictures of their commitment to each other.
Seal (v. 6a)
Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm,
First, Shulamith says that their love is like a seal upon the heart and arm. In those days, a seal was an inscription or stamp in a piece of clay or metal to indicate possession of something or a legal status of something. The idea was that whatever was sealed could not be changed. It was a mark of permanence. Sometimes seals were worn on a chain around the neck and or on their hand. It was there as a reminder of what was sealed. On the arm or around the neck meant you had this reminder with you at all times.
Shulamith is simply indicating that the desires of their hearts for the love they have for each other is total and permanent commitment to each other. In other words, for Solomon and Shulamith, as they looked back on the years of their marriage, she describes their love as a sealed commitment to one another.
Think with me for a moment about a prenuptial agreement. What does signing a prenuptial agreement before a couple is even married, say about the level of commitment they have before it even begins? Someone has said that a “Guarded love is no love at all.” A prenup portrays a devotion to self, not a commitment to marriage.
Shulamith says their commitment is like a seal upon the heart and arm.
Death (v. 6b)
for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave.
Second, Shulamith likened her love to death. Now this may seem strange at first, but this also speaks of the irresistible permanence of genuine love. Death will come to all of us, unless the rapture happens first. Death is relentless, persistent, and irresistible. Thus, Shulamith is saying that the love they have is relentless and persistent. You should not be able to stop genuine love any more than you can stop death from coming.
Shulamith continues by identifying the jealousy of love as something as fierce as the grave. Here jealousy is a resolute devotion rather than a selfish ambition. This kind of jealousy is found in our relationship with the Lord and should be in our relationship with our spouse. I believe Shulamith is trying to indicate an intensity of her love. When she thinks of Sheol and the intensity and fierceness of it, she says that her desire for Solomon is just as fierce and intense.
The love that is pictured here is willing to fight for the one it loves. This love holds on tight and does not let go of the one it loves. This love is not a painless emotion, rather it is persistent and fierce.
Fire (vv. 6c-7a)
Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it
Love is described as flashes of fire. Those moments in marriage when romance and love just seem to click. We are quickened by the power of love in our marriage. But did you notice the reference to the Lord? This is the only mention of God’s divine name in the entire book of the Song of Solomon. How fitting this is. Shulamith describes the flame of their love as being the very flame of Jehovah. What she is doing is identifying the source and design of their love as coming from God.
Often, when we experience the flame of love in our lives, we treat it as something that comes from within us, but here Shulamith acknowledges that the flame of genuine love is the very flame of Jehovah.
Then, the image of many waters that cannot quench love in verse 7, picks up the image of love as a fire in v. 6; the floods of life are unable to drown it. Shulamith knew that even the worst of problems in life cannot overwhelm true love. Our love will be severely tested by troubles in life, but they will not triumph over true love.
We face many things in life today that want to extinguish love in our marriages; busyness, physical illness, putting children ahead of the marriage, make our work or ministry more important than our spouse, finances, etc. But true love that has its source in the very flame of Jehovah cannot be quenched by the floods of life.
Priceless (v. 7b)
If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.
The commitment of love is priceless. Even if a man were to give all his wealth in an effort to purchase genuine love, he would find that love is not for sale. This man and his wealth would be despised. Why? Because the genuine love that Shulamith and Solomon had . . . cannot be negotiated or purchased. There is no such thing as bargain love. A love that is purchased is no love at all.
Love is priceless, Love is like an unquenchable fire, Love as relentless as death, and love is an unbreakable seal. Four pictures of the commitment of love in a marriage relationship. As Shulamith reflects over the years of marriage, these are the four pictures she has for their commitment to each other.
This afternoon is a very special time for we renew, refresh, and celebrate that commitment in the marriage relationship. I am excited as 18 couples want to show their friends and families what genuine, God-sourced love looks like. It will be a great celebration of marriage.
For Shulamith the seed of this love began with what she saw in her parents lives. Her love resembled the love relationship she was brought up with in her home. And now as Solomon and Shulamith grow old, it is a commitment for life.
Today as we close this series on marriage, I hope that you have found that this love is not about what we can get from each other out of marriage, but rather what we can give into the marriage. Marriage is not 50 – 50. Divorce is a 50 – 50 deal. Marriage is to be 100 – 100. We are to give all that we can into the marriage relationship. It is not about splitting everything in half, it is about giving everything you’ve got.
For many of you here today, you are a testimony of the commitment of love, 40 – 50 – 60 years together. You have faced floods that could have quench your love, yet you remained true to your love. We live in a society that has settled for a much lower view of marriage. Marriage to many in our world is finding fulfillment in pleasures, possessions, or projects. A view of marriage that says when I no longer FEEL love for my spouse, I just give up and go on to someone else.
We have seen that under God’s design for marriage there is pleasure, joy, fulfillment, and satisfaction. We need to spend time with our spouse reading the Bible, praying, and talking about our spiritual struggles and wellbeing. We are to have a sanctifying effect on one another, helping each other grow in our walk with the Lord.
Our marriages are to be a picture of what God is like and how He responds with love and grace even in times of tension. Our marriages should give our children and grandchildren a clearer picture of God. There should be romance in our marriages. Isn’t it interesting that God designed to have romance, but keep in mind that romance looks different from the perspective of the husband and wife.
There are no perfect marriages and the expectation to have a perfect marriage is unrealistic. Give your spouse room to fail, forgive them when they do, and encourage them in their walk with the Lord. Wives, you need to treat their husbands like a man, not like a child. Husbands need to love their wives like the beautiful woman she is, not like she is your mother.
If you are married here today, you are in the most beautiful “One Flesh” relationship ever designed and we need to know that our children and grandchildren are watching and learning from us. What legacy are you leaving for them concerning marriage?
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