Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Song of Solomon, Day 1

Episode Resources

Get more from this study. Meditate through the "Making It Personal" questions located at the bottom of the transcript.

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth reminds you that physical love in marriage is holy.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: There’s no shame with true, godly love expressed in the context of marriage. And we see here a kind of love in marriage, physical intimacy, emotional intimacy. It’s exhilarating. It’s passionate. It’s pure. And for those who are married, it’s something that is to be enjoyed to the max.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Monday, February 22, 2016.

Here’s Nancy beginning a series on a book that’s often neglected. The series is called, "How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus."

Nancy: Well, over the next few weeks, we’re going to be treading on sacred ground as we walk together through what I think is one of the sweetest, richest passages in all of God’s Word.

In this season now, leading up to resurrection Sunday, we're embarking on a series called "How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus." It's a study of the Song of Solomon. Over the years I have taught on the Song of Solomon many times as a single woman. We aired this series back in 2013, and it was a rich study of getting to know Jesus as our heavenly Bridegroom.

Last year as I got to know Robert Wolgemuth better and now as I have become his wife, the truths that I had learned from this book have become even more real and even more rich. Through this study and through my experience of being loved by Robert, I'm appreciating even more what it means to be loved by Jesus, our heavenly Bridegroom.

So whether you are married or single, I know you'll find this to be a rich, meaningful study as well. Let's start this journey through the Song of Songs together.

Nancy: Now, in case you haven’t read the Song of Solomon recently, there are many verses in this book that are probably familiar to you even if you’ve never studied it. Maybe you didn’t even know where they came from. For example, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “It’s the little foxes that spoil the vine.” That phrase comes from the Song of Solomon 2:15.

Then this phrase, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” You see it on wedding rings and wedding pieces. That phrase comes from the Song of Solomon. It actually appears in variations three times.

Maybe you’re familiar with this verse. “He brought me to the banqueting house and His banner over me was love.” That comes from the Song of Solomon. And then this verse, this passage from chapter 2, you’ll often hear it sung at a wedding or said, “Rise up, my love, . . . and come away. For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come” (vv. 11–12). That comes from the Song of Solomon.

There are numerous phrases throughout this book that we often hear used as descriptions of the Lord Jesus. We hear Him talked about as the Rose of Sharon, the Lily of the Valley, there’s a song that has that in there. The Chief among ten thousand, altogether lovely, these are phrases that come from the Song of Solomon. And throughout this book there are a lot of passionate expressions of love. This book is a love story. You remember the verse, for example, in chapter 8, “Many waters cannot quench love nor can the floods drown it” (v. 7). That comes from the Song of Solomon.

Now, in spite of how many familiar verses there are in these eight chapters, I think this is one of the most neglected books of the Bible. You don’t hear it taught very often. You don’t hear it read at church very often. It’s not only neglected, it’s also one of the most misunderstood and controversial books of the Bible. So I am diving in today where angels fear to tread because of how many different approaches and interpretive beliefs there are about the Song of Solomon.

I can remember when I was in college and studied the Song of Solomon. It's one of the poetic books that came in that course. I remember the class before we were going to start into the Song of Solomon, the professor said, "Now, in the next class we're going to be studying the Song of Solomon, and I don't want you to bring any guests to class. There are no visitors allowed for our study of the Song of Solomon." I'm not sure what he thought was going to happen if guest came into the room.

There was this sense that this book isn't for the general consumption. That's not a new thought. Jewish men in the biblical period were not allowed to read the Song of Solomon until they reached the age of thirty. It was considered that these were mysteries too great for younger people to tread upon.

In the season when the Hebrew Bible was being formed, there were many ancient rabbis who thought the Song of Solomon should not be included in the Hebrew Scripture. They thought it was too secular, that it was too explicit about the sexual love between a man and a woman—and there are some graphic descriptions in this book.

There was a second century rabbi name Akiba ben Joseph who contended that the love relationship between a husband and wife is holy, not secular. And that human relationship reflects the love that God has for His people. This rabbi said that "in the entire world there is nothing to equal the day in which the Song of Songs was given to Israel. The whole Torah is holy, but the Song of Songs is the holy of holies." So the Jews came to think of the book as the holy of holies.

Now, the Song of Songs is one of only two books in the Bible in which there is no explicit reference to God—no mention of the name of God except for a possible reference in chapter 8, verse 6. The Song of Solomon is never quoted directly in the New Testament, unlike many other Old Testament books. But as you meditate on this book, you realize that there are a lot of references in the Song of Solomon—pictures, types, figures, concepts from the Song of Solomon that you do find in the New Testament though the verses aren’t quoted directly.

For example, in chapter 4 we’ll read about a well of living waters. Does that sound familiar? You read about that in the Gospel of John, chapter 4. There’s the concept throughout the Song of Solomon of the spotless bride. That’s a concept we’ll come upon in the New Testament—Ephesians chapter 5—a Bride without blemish, without spot. The whole concept of fruitfulness is featured throughout the Song of Solomon. And again, you come to the New Testament, John chapter 15, you see that we are called to live fruitful lives.

There is the concept of a shepherd leading his flock you’ll see throughout the Song of Solomon. Go to John chapter 10 and we read about Christ, the good Shepherd who leads His flock. The whole idea of unquenchable love is a thought that runs throughout the Song of Solomon, but it runs throughout all of the Scripture. We read in 1 Corinthians 13 about love that never fails. That’s a concept you see pictured, hinted at, glimpsed at in the Song of Solomon.

And so the fingerprints of God are throughout this precious book. And the Scripture tells us that "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16). And that includes the book of the Song of Solomon. So after these years after shying away from teaching it on the radio, as I’ve seen how God’s using it in my life in recent months, I’ve just said, “I just want to share this with our listeners” because I think it will be a blessing to you as it has been to me.

You may know the name C.I. Scofield from the Scofield Bible. He said, “Nowhere in Scripture does the unspiritual mind tread upon ground so mysterious and incomprehensible.” In other words, for those who don’t have the Spirit living in them, this book is—there’s no way of understanding it. There’s no way of grasping it. “But,” he says, “The saintliest men and women of all ages have found in it a source of pure and exquisite delight. For those who know and love Christ, this book is a source of great joy, great blessing, and great delight.”

Charles Spurgeon said about the Song of Solomon, “This sacred canticle [or song] is almost the central book of the Bible. It seems to stand like the Tree of Life in the midst of the Garden of Eden in the very center of the Paradise of God.” I like that description.

This little book is most often called the Song of Solomon. That’s probably what it says in most of your Bibles. You’ll sometimes hear it called “Canticles” a word that means songs. But the Hebrew title, which I actually prefer, is taken from chapter 1, verse 1, and that is the Song of Songs—"the Song of Songs which is Solomon’s."

When we see that verse, and if you have your Bible, I encourage you to open there to the Song of Songs or the Song of Solomon, chapter 1, verse 1.

The Song of Songs. This is the Hebrew way of expressing something that is superlative degree—the top, the best, the most, the extreme. There’s no one more than whatever this is. The King of kings. That’s the greatest king, right? The Lord of lords. There’s no lord above Him. The holy of holies. That’s the holiest place. There’s no place that’s holier. Well, the Song of Songs is a Hebrew way of speaking of that which is the best, the grandest. This is the most excellent of all songs.

First Kings chapter 4 tells us that Solomon wrote 1,005 songs—quite a song writer. But of all those songs, this was by far the best. This is the most excellent. This is the song of all songs. There’s no other song like it—no other song can compare with it. It’s the best because of its composition and style which is lovely; it’s excellent; it’s captivating. But it’s also excellent, it’s superlative because of its subject which is the greatest subject. It’s a song of love. The Song of Songs is a love song.

In fact, there are over sixty references to love in this short, little book. As you read through this book, and I would encourage you to read it multiple times over these next weeks. If you want to follow along the way I'm teaching it through the New King James Bible, you can pull up Biblegateway.com, and you can read through the translation I'm using. But as you are reading through the Song of Songs, just circle every reference to the word "love." It will become so apparent that this is a love song.

There is no higher theme in Scripture. “Now abide faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 tells us. What did Jesus say was the greatest of all the commandments? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart.” And what’s the second commandment? “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 19:18–19). There’s no greater commandment. Love is the greatest. The ultimate song, the Song of Songs, is a song of love.

As you begin to read this text, and maybe you’ve never read it before, I would encourage you to do that. You are going to see very quickly that the Song of Songs extols the beauty and the wonder of love between a man and a wife. Marital love. That’s very obvious throughout this book.

If I could just real quickly summarize the plot for those who may not be familiar with this story—and it is a story. It’s poetry that tells a story. There’s a king who decides he wants to get married, so he sets out to find a wife. And long story short, he sets his affection, his sights on a peasant girl—quite unexpectedly—quite contrary to what others would have expected him to do. He doesn’t marry one of the daughters of Jerusalem. He goes out into the country, out into the farmland. He finds a peasant girl who has been out working on the family farm—perhaps they are farmers who farm for the king on one of his properties.

But here’s a girl who is unlovely by all accounts. She’s unloved, and yet he pursues her. So we have the story of their courtship and their wedding, the consummation of that relationship. Then we have the growth and development of that relationship over a period of time and the challenges of that marriage and that relationship.

If you were to just come across this little book by itself in a bookstore or a library somewhere and you were to read it without the rest of Scripture’s context, you could conclude that it was nothing more than simply a lovely, romantic tale. And it certainly is that. But this love story takes on even greater meaning when you read it in the context of all that Scripture has to say about human love, marriage, sex. As you see the whole of Scripture’s teaching on this, this little book becomes a jewel talking about the whole issue of marital bliss.

For example, as you look at all of Scripture and you see this little book, you see the power and the beauty of true love within the context of marriage. You see that the husband/wife relationship in a day when marriage is being challenged as whether it’s even necessary, you see that it’s beautiful. It’s wonderful. It’s good. You see that physical and emotional intimacy in the context of marriage is holy. It’s delightful. It’s desirable. It just gives you God’s perspective on love, sex, and marriage in this little book. It also exposes faulty and perverted views of love, marriage, and intimacy that we see in our highly sexualized culture that devalues marriage.

So this book is a corrective to modern views of love and sex and marriage—particularly when we talk about the whole area of sexuality. Sex has been abused. It’s been misused. And for many it’s come to be associated with either perversion or promiscuity or with shame or guilt. And as a result, for many entering into marriage today, the sexual relationship is not something they approach with joy or anticipation but with fear or with dread.

Even for many women who have been married a long time, the whole aspect of the sexual relationship in marriage is not considered a blessing. It’s not considered something holy. So many think of it as something that’s dirty, it’s twisted, it’s perverted. This book helps correct our views of love, sex, marriage.

Along that line, there are two key phrases in the Song of Solomon. We’ll come back to these as we get into the study, but they address a perspective of marriage that’s really important. The first phrase which you read three times with slight variations is this one. “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” Now that’s an important; that’s a key phrase in this book.

It says that within the context of the marriage covenant there is great freedom to express and experience love—verbally, physically. It takes you back to the first couple in the Garden of Eden. “They were naked and not ashamed” (Gen. 2:25). There’s no shame with true, godly love expressed in the context of marriage.

We see here a kind of love in marriage, physical intimacy, emotional intimacy. It’s exhilarating. It’s passionate. It’s pure. And for those who are married, it’s something that is to be enjoyed to the max. And for those who are not married, it’s something to be looked at within the context of marriage as something that is amazing. For those who will be married, it is something special worth looking forward to and worth waiting for.

Which leads me to the second key phrase as it relates to marriage in the Song of Solomon. “Do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases” or “until the right time” (Song 2:7, 3:5, 8:4). The point here is that—one of the applications, I think, of that verse is that outside of the context of marriage, true love waits.

Now in our culture we say you shouldn’t have to be deprived. If you want to have sex, have it with anyone, everyone, whatever, whenever—just don’t deprive yourself. But this passage helps us to understand that to partake of the fruits of physical oneness, emotional oneness, even spiritual intimacy prior to marriage is to deprive yourself and your future mate of something very precious. That kind of intimacy can best be enjoyed in the context of marriage. And so we see that within the context of marriage it’s to be fully enjoyed—delighted, love, sex, marriage, romance.

I had two conversations recently—different conversations with women at church. In both cases I was just talking about the fact that these sessions were coming up, and I was going to be teaching on the Song of Solomon. In both instances their husbands were standing just kind of listening in on the conversation. Both of the men said, “Wow! Great!” They were excited that women were going to be listening to this teaching on the Song of Solomon. And I thought, You know what? This is important for married women to get God’s perspective on sex, on intimacy, on romance in the context of marriage.

In recent years, many Christian speakers, Bible teachers have taught that the primary, if not the sole interpretation of the Song of Solomon has to do with human marriage, with human love, sex within the marriage relationship. That perspective is also seen in many excellent study Bibles that you can use today. It’s tough to disagree with some of the finest teachers and scholars in the world. But over many years of meditation and study on this passage, I am more convinced than ever that Song of Solomon is about far more than human love and marriage.

You see, Scripture teaches that human marriage is an earthly picture. It’s a parable of a cosmic, eternal reality, and marriage, human marriage is intended—it’s very reason for existing is to magnify God and put His glory on display. That’s what it’s about. Marriage is temporary. God’s glory is eternal. Your marriage, if you are married, is intended to reflect to the world a reality that is far greater than your marriage.

Now historically, both Jewish and Christian believers and commentators have understood the Song of Solomon to point to a spiritual relationship of which marriage is an earthly picture. For sixteen hundred years or more of Christian history, these commentators, Jewish and Christian, believed that Song of Solomon was not primarily about human love, but about divine love. You don’t hear that taught often today. But as we get into this series, I think you’ll see why that makes so much sense.

Old Testament Jewish believers saw in Song of Solomon a description of God’s relationship with Israel. In the Old Testament God was seen as a Bridegroom and Israel as His chosen bride. And God’s covenant with Israel was pictured as a marriage. Listen to these verses from Isaiah:

“For your maker is your husband—the Lord of Hosts is his name.” (Isa. 54:5)

“As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” (Isa. 62:5)

“I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride.” (Jer. 2:2)

In fact, it’s traditional for Jews to read the Song of Solomon during the Passover season as a reminder of God’s covenant relationship with the Israelites. That’s why, by the way, that we’re airing this series as we come up on the Passover observance, the Jewish Passover observance, where we’re going to be studying this book during that season.

Then throughout the history of the church, New Testament believers have understood the Song of Solomon to be a picture of the relationship between Christ and His Bride, the church, and between Christ and the individual believer.

You say, “Where do you get that?” Well, Christ Himself claimed to be the subject of the Old Testament. In John chapter 5, verse 39, Jesus said, speaking of the Old Testament Scriptures, including the Song of Solomon, “they bear witness about me.” It’s about Him. The whole Scripture unfolds the story of redemption. It all points to Christ.

The Scripture, Old and New Testament, is one grand story of how He came to rescue and redeem unworthy, unlovable people and to take them to Himself as a Bride. How He cherishes and loves His Bride dearly and wants an intimate relationship with those who belong to Him. The love of God, the love of Christ, it’s the pattern, it’s the source, it’s what enables all human love including marriage.

So that’s why when we come to Ephesians chapter 5, that amazing treatise on marriage, it’s all tied in to Christ’s relationship with His Church. All that teaching on husbands loving their wives and wives reverencing and submitting to their husbands, it’s all grounded in the love of Christ and His relationship with His Church and the goal to put that on display.

So in Ephesians 5 we read: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh [talking about human marriage]” And then the very next verse, “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and His church” (vv. 31–32). That’s the point of marriage.

And so the Song of Solomon is a love song. It’s a song of human love but first, and foremost it’s a song of divine love. I believe it's a song of Christ and His love. As we approach this Passion Week and Passover season over these next weeks, we’re going to see in this book a picture of the love of our redeeming God and the love of Christ who is our Passover. As one Old Testament commentator said, "No Old Testament book is so full of Christ."

We’re going to see the unveiling of the splendor and the loveliness of the Lord Jesus. We’ll see Him to be a lover, to be a king, to be a shepherd. He’s a brother; He’s a friend; He’s a provider; He’s a protector.

Someone asked me last night. “What are you hoping to accomplish in this series?” I said, “I want women to really experience and believe that God loves them—to experience the love of Christ and then having experienced it to have a whole new capacity to love Him, to love their mate, to love others with that love.”

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth in part one of the series called, "How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus." We’ll be in this study of the Song of Solomon through Easter weekend. I hope you’ll take advantage of this series, stick with us each day and follow up by going through the Bible study of the same name. Nancy’s here to tell you more about it.

Nancy: During this series, we’ll be exploring rich truths in the Song of Solomon. And this series will be even more meaningful if you make it your own—if you make it real to your own heart. I’ve written a booklet to help you get this material deeper into your heart. The booklet is called “How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus.” There’s an entry that goes along with each day of the teaching. So each day in your quiet time, you can read the passage we list.

If you want, you can re-listen to this teaching at ReviveOurHearts.com. Then you’ll find a series of what I call “Making It Personal” questions. These questions will help you evaluate your heart—where you are currently in your walk with the Lord, and where you’d like to be. You’ll be challenged to put into practice the things you’re learning from this precious passage in God's Word. When you support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount, we’ll send you this booklet, “How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus.” Your support is crucial in helping us continue bringing you in-depth Bible teaching series like you’ve heard today.

Ask for the booklet when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com. We’ll send one booklet per household with your donation during this series.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. The Old Testament tells us that Solomon’s heart was led away from the Lord by his many wives. So why would God use him to write the ultimate love poem, the Song of Songs? Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth will explore this question tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries. 

All Scripture has been taken from the ESV.  Song of Song references have been taken from the NKJV.

Making It Personal

To get the most out of this verse-by-verse study of the Song of Songs, try to read through the entire book several times during the course of this series. You should be able to read this short book in approximately 15 – 20 minutes. This will give you a birds-eye view of the whole story. (This study is based on the New King James Version. You may want to print out the text at www.BibleGateway.com so you can follow along.)As you read, make a note of any observations or questions that come to mind. Also, record your thoughts in relation to these two questions:

  • What insights does this book give you in relation to human love and marriage?
  • What insights does this book give you regarding God’s love for His people and the relationship between Christ and His Church?

Introduction (Song of Songs 1:1)

  1. The Song of Songs is an amazing love story. The relationship between this husband and wife points to an even more spectacular story. What is the bigger picture in this story? Does this perspective alter your view of the Song of Songs?
  2. How does the world’s view of sexual intimacy differ from God’s perspective? Why do you think so many women struggle with physical intimacy in marriage? If you are married, what are some hindrances to intimacy in your relationship with your mate?
  3. Though His name is not mentioned in the book, how does God reveal His heart in the Song of Songs? How is the love of Christ revealed in this great love story?
  4. What are some ways Christ is pictured in this book that are particularly meaningful to you? Which ones would you like to experience in a greater way as we continue in this series? (Lover, King, Shepherd, Brother, Friend, Provider, Protector?)

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