Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Song of Solomon, Day 24

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 remembers getting some important guidance.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I’m so thankful for parents in my life who had the courage to say “no” at times; to have a dad who would say, when I came down for my senior recital, “No, on that dress.” 

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Thursday, March 24, 2016.

For several weeks we have been studying the Song of Solomon. The series is called, “How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus.” Here’s Nancy to continue.

Nancy: Well, we come today to a passage in the Song of Solomon that I think is perhaps the Old Testament version of that great New Testament love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. There are a lot of similarities. I’m referring to a passage in chapter 8, verses 6 and 7, where the bride says to her beloved: (We looked at the first part of this in the last program.) 

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; its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised.

Now, chances are that you’ve heard those verses at one time or another at a wedding. That’s really an appropriate place to use them. But I want to suggest that this description of love speaks more broadly of the nature of genuine love in whatever context, and in particular of Christ’s love for His people, because it’s His love that is the source of our love for Him and our love for others. You can’t have this kind of love in marriage if you don’t have the love of God flowing into your heart filling you and flowing through you to your mate.

Now the question is asked in this paragraph: “Love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave.” Is this speaking of the bride’s love for her beloved? Or is it speaking of his love for his bride? Is it speaking of our love for Christ? Or His for us? I think the best answer is probably, “Yes.” It’s speaking of both. The fact is, according to 1 John 4, We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19 NKJV). We couldn’t love Him if He didn’t love us. But He does love us, and that enables us to love Him.

So we see in this paragraph that true love is powerful; it’s passionate; it perseveres; it’s priceless and precious. I want to just take a little bit of time on each of these phrases and remind us of things we know in our head but we need to be reminded of in our hearts about the love of God—His love for us and how He enables us to love others.

First we read the phrase: “Love is as strong as death.” Think about how strong death is. There is no earthly power is stronger than death. No one on this earth is powerful enough to resist death or to overcome it. So we’re reminded that the love of Christ is as strong as death. His love is so strong that it can break the hardest, most stubborn hearts.

His love is so strong that it can break the hardest, most stubborn hearts.

Not only is His love as strong as death, but His love is even stronger than death. We know that death met its match in the love of Christ. Death could not overcome Him. Because of His great love for mankind, He came to this earth. He chose to die, to lay down His life to rescue His Bride. He stared death in the face. He ran into the jaws of death, and He overcame it. Christ put death to death! Could I hear a hallelujah? Yes, He did. Love is as strong as death. The love of Christ is even stronger than death.

And then, “Jealousy [is] as cruel as the grave.” If you’re using the ESV, it says “jealousy is as fierce as the grave.” That word cruel or fierce means "unyielding, firm." It’s strong. God’s love is a jealous love. He’s a jealous God. When we think of jealousy, we think of that in very human terms, which are generally not pure. But the jealous love of God is an incredibly, intensely perfect, pure love. He loves us with an intensely passionate fierce love that is so passionate it will brook no rivals. That’s how jealous His love is for us.

He loves us so much. He’s so jealous for His glory and for our love that if there are other loves that are competing in our lives, He will do whatever is necessary to protect His glory and have us for Himself. He wants us to be bound to His heart, bound to His arms as we saw. “Set me as a seal upon your heart as a seal upon your arm.” He wants us to be bound to Him in that way, and so He has to strip away those things that vie for our attention and for our love—those idols in our hearts. He is a jealous God, and that love is intensely passionate.

It says, “Its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame.” Now, some of your translations say there instead of “a most vehement flame,” it says, “the very flame of the Lord.” They’re not clear which translation is best. But if it’s the latter, this is the only reference to the name of God in the whole book of the Song of Solomon—the only explicit reference though you can see His fingerprints everywhere.

But these flames of love or flames of fire—a very vehement flame—the very flame of the Lord. God’s love is a burning hot, consuming, fiery love. Again, it will burn away anything in our lives that could take His place.

David Livingstone was a missionary statesman to Africa in the nineteenth century. He wrote a prayer that I’ve prayed many, many times over the years. He said, “Sever every tie but the tie that binds me to Thy service, and to Thy heart.”

So, “God, break it, burn it, remove it, strip it. Everything that I hold on to, everything that binds me, everything that I love more than I love You, everything that competes for Your place in my life, sever it; every tie but the tie that binds me to Thy service and to Thy heart.”

Is that your prayer? It’s a little scary, isn’t it? But it’s so important to say, “Lord, burn it all away, everything that’s chaff, everything that’s temporal, every love that would rival my love for you. Be a jealous God in my life, so that I may live bound to You.”

Verse 7: “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.” We’ve seen that the love of God is powerful; it’s passionate, and now we see that the love of God perseveres. Many waters cannot quench it. The floods cannot drown it. The fire of God’s love cannot be extinguished or drowned.

You read this concept in Romans chapter 8, the great love passage. “Who can separate us from the love of Christ?” And then it lists all these things. Can this or this or this? No, the answer is.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, [nothing] shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (vv. 38–39 NKJV).

That’s how God loves you and me—this permanent, unquenchable, inextinguishable love. That means there is nothing you can do to cause Him to love you less. There’s nothing you can do to cause Him to love you any more. And that is how He wants us to love Him. That’s how He wants to love others through you, with passionate, permanent, persevering love.

There is nothing you can do to cause Him to love you less. There’s nothing you can do to cause Him to love you any more.

That’s how He wants to love your mate. That’s how He wants to love your children through you. That’s how He wants to love the people in your workplace and in your church and those you serve with—the lives around you. He wants to love them through you with that persevering love that cannot be extinguished.

Then we see that the love of God is precious and priceless. “If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised.” Genuine love can’t be bought. There’s no amount of money that can purchase it. And don’t we sometimes foolishly try to buy the love of God or try to buy the love of others?

We think, “Boy, if I just had my quiet time more often . . . If I just have a longer quiet time . . . If I just memorize more Scriptures . . . If I just screech less at my kids . . . If I lose more weight . . . If I fast more . . . If I do this . . . If I do that . . .” No. You can’t buy love. It has to be freely given.

That’s why the love of Jesus is so amazing. He has loved us freely, generously, permanently, perseveringly, in a precious and priceless way. That’s the love of God.

One writer put it this way:  

Put together all the tenderest love you know, the deepest you have ever felt, and the strongest that has ever been poured out upon you, and heap upon it all the love of all the loving human hearts in the world, and then multiply it by infinity, and you will begin, perhaps, to have some faint glimpse of the love that God has for you.

I have a dear friend, who, when she was a teenager, I think, or a younger woman, her dad left the family, left her mom. It created some serious trust issues in her life—some difficulty really believing that God loved her, difficulty receiving the love of God. As my friend has been married over the years, there have been points where she found it very difficult to receive love from her husband—who has only proven himself to be a very faithful man. There have been fears and doubts and difficulties receiving the love of God and the love of her mate.

We would talk about this over the course of several years. We had multiple conversations about it. Not having lived where she's lived, and not being wired the way she is wired, I sometimes found it difficult to understand. Sometimes you just want to shake somebody and say, "Just believe it! Just get a grip. Get it; God loves you. Your husband loves you." Well, that's not really helpful. I know there are times the Lord and others would want to shake me and tell me to get sometimes that I'm not getting.

She understood it intellectually. She understood it theologically. I find this is true of a lot of women. They know that God loves them, but they don't really know it. They don't feel it. They don't believe it. They don't trust it. That's even hard to admit.

But we would talk about this and pray about it. One of the things on my heart was to just keep getting her to the character of God. Over several years I watched as she really got into the Word, memorizing Scripture, meditating on it, letting the Word just wash her and renew her mind.

I remember so clearly sitting in my living room one day having a chat. She turned to me and just real casually said, “You know, I’ve been wanting to tell you that in the last few months I’ve come to really believe that God really does love me.” I wanted to come out of my seat. Like . . . woo hoo! What a breakthrough. It didn't happen overnight. It probably won't happen with you overnight if that is something you struggle with.

One of my burdens in this whole Song of Solomon series has been for a lot of women like my friend who just struggle, based on whatever you've experienced with the frailties and failures of human love, to really believe that God does love you. I just know for her it was a process of immersion in the Scripture, immersion in the character of God, letting Him change her thinking, strip away the lies, replace them with truth.

If you struggle to know that God really loves you, you know you’ve placed your faith in Christ, you know you’re trusting Him to save you, but it doesn’t connect from your head to your heart. (Now, it's possible that you're not a child of God.) But if you are, but you struggle to receive His love or perhaps then to receive the love of your mate . . .

No matter how many times when he would say, “I love you.” She would think Well, yes, but you are supposed to say that. It just didn’t grip her. I don’t think it grips any of us the way that it should and the way that it could if we would let God continue to wash our hearts with His love. I’m hoping as a result of these weeks that you have come or are coming to experience the amazing love of God—whether you are married or single, young or old, widowed or divorced, kids or not kids—whatever your season of life—I hope that you’re coming to experience the love of God in a fresh way.

I know there’s been some repetitive aspects of this series because there are some repetitive things in the Song of Solomon, and I’ve just tried to walk through it. But I think some of the value of that repetition is if we hear it and if we take it in over and over and over again, we’re counseling our hearts with the truth of the amazing love of God. I want you to experience the reality of that love.

Well, let me move on in chapter 8 to verse 8. And the bride says to her beloved after this great description of how powerful and persevering and passionate and pure love is, she says to her beloved,

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?  

Now at this point the bride is expressing her concern for others who’ve not yet experienced the kind of love that’s just been described—mature love. She expresses this concern by speaking of a little sister who has not yet developed physically into a mature woman. She’s physically undeveloped. She’s still young and immature.

It’s interesting she says, “We have a little sister,” not “I have a little sister,” or “You have a little sister,” but “We have a little sister.” When you’re in love with Christ and you’re walking in union and communion with Him, what matters to Him matters to you. And what matters to you, matters to Him. What touches His heart touches your heart. So she has this concern for “our little sister who is undeveloped. What can we do for her?”

And by way of application here, I think this could speak, these little sisters, these immature ones, could speak of those who are not yet in the faith, or immature, undeveloped believers. She asks the question, “What shall we do for our little sister in the day when she is spoken for?” In other words, “How can we prepare her for her future, for marriage, for her life calling?” You see, she wants others to experience the kind of love and marriage that she is enjoying.

This concern for others to come to a place of maturity is a concern that should be on the heart of every believer. I think of the apostle Paul in Colossians 1:28–29, where he says, the goal of our ministry which we strive at, we work at with all our hearts with the grace of God, the goal is to present every person mature or complete in Christ. That’s why we’re laboring. That’s why Paul endured all those things that he did and the difficulties of his ministry because he wanted to present this mature bride to Christ.

In Galatians 4:19 he calls the Galatians “my little children.” “My little childen, for whom I am again in the travail . . .” This is the word used of a mother giving birth—birthpangs. “I am in travail for you until Christ be formed in you.” It’s a concern for those who are spiritually young, little children. “I’m in travail until Christ be formed in you.”

In 2 Corinthians 11 Paul says, I want to “present you as a pure virgin to Christ" (v. 2). I want to prepare you for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb—for the wedding supper in heaven. We have this little sister. How can we prepare her for marriage, for maturity.

Evidence of mature love in your relationship with the Lord is that you begin to carry burden for those who are spiritually babes in Christ—those who are immature, those who are young. You care about them.

You don’t just want to drift through life. I just see so many Christians just drifting through their spiritual life, not really concerned about others who are stuck in sinful habits or those who aren’t growing spiritually or their neighbors who don’t know Christ. If you have a heart for Christ and you’ve experienced the richness of His passionate love, then you are going to care about others enjoying that kind of relationship with Him as well.

So what shall we do for this little sister we have who needs to be developed? Well, the beloved responds in verse 9. He says, “If she is a wall, we will build upon her a battlement of silver [or a tower or turret of silver]; and if she is a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar.”

I think here we are encouraged to envision what every believer could be if they were mature in Christ—transformed from something very ordinary, a wall or a door, into a beautiful edifice. “If she’s a wall, we will build upon her a battlement of silver. If she’s a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar—a very expensive, beautiful wood. We will do this.”    

Now, I want to park here on this verse for just a moment because I think there is another application that could be made of it as we disciple daughters and younger women in the ways of God.  “If she’s a wall, we’ll handle her in one way. If she’s a door we’ll deal with her in a different way.”

I think this is a picture—I’ve seen it many times over the years—of the fact that there are basically two kinds of women. Some women are more naturally a wall, and some are more naturally a door. You can see this in young women. You see it in teenagers. You can even see it in little girls. Some are more naturally a wall, some are more naturally a door.

What do I mean by that? Well, a wall, think about it, is firm and unyielding. You don’t move it easily. You can push up against it, but it’s not going anywhere. A door, on the other hand, swings on its hinges. It can be opened or closed. You can push it. And women tend to be one of these two types—a wall or a door.

Now the goal for both types is maturity, it’s usefulness. “If she is a wall, we will build upon her a palace,” King James says, or here we have “battlements or towers of silver.” This woman, her life is going to become an edifice of great beauty and distinction. I want to encourage us to pray and ask God to bring a new generation of young women to a place where they will be a wall, when it comes to how they respond to the advances of men, to be firm and unyielding outside of the realm of marriage, and when necessary to put up appropriate barriers, to be discrete.

If she’s a wall, then there’s a foundation to build a beautiful tower on her. But if she’s a door, if she yields easily to the advances of men, what are we going to do? We’re going to enclose her with boards of cedar. We’ll put restrictions around her, board her up until she becomes a wall. You see, if a girl or a young woman is a door, she needs protection. As parent, you’ve got to be willing to provide that where needed.

I’m so thankful for parents in my life who had the courage to say “no” at times—to have a dad who would say when I came down for my senior recital, “No on that dress.” Now, I knew he loved me. I knew he cared. But I didn’t understand all that stuff at whatever age I was—mid-teens there. But he did. He said, “I want my daughter to be a wall—a place fit to build a tower of silver.”

We want to ask God for a generation of young women who understand what it is to be a wall instead of a door. I think of a door as being that kind of woman—she’s bold, she’s flirtatious, she gives in easily to pressure, sexual pressure. But it’s not just in the realm of boys and girls and sexual issues. Part of our calling is to build up young, immature believers and help them to become firm places where God can build a thing of beauty on their lives.

So the bride says in verse 10: “I am a wall, and my breasts like towers; then I became in his eyes as one who found peace.” This bride is realizing that she was once immature herself. She was once a spiritual babe, and she’s so grateful for the grace of her beloved in her life that has matured her—has made her a wall—has kept her firm. As a result of her relationship with her bridegroom, she has experienced peace and favor and blessing. It’s all a work of grace. “By the grace of God, I am what I am.”

If you’re a wall, if you have found favor, if you have found peace with your beloved, it’s not your own doing. You can’t take any credit for that. It’s the grace of your Beloved. And now having received that grace, she wants to respond by helping others experience the same mercy and grace that she has found.  

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. She’s been explaining what might seem like an obscure passage in the Song of Solomon. It’s a passage that compares women to either a door or a wall. But Nancy’s illuminated that verse and has shown us why the concept is so important.

When you listen to this entire series, you’ll keep getting that kind of insight into the Song of Solomon—a book that’s far too often overlooked. If you’ve missed any of the series, you can hear all the messages and read the follow up questions at ReviveOurHearts.com, or get the series on nine CD’s. Just look for the series, “How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus” at ReviveOurHearts.com.

I know Revive Our Hearts listeners have gotten a lot out of this series. For instance, one woman came to our listener blog at ReviveOurHearts.com. She wrote: “I’ve been thoroughly enjoying this study. Song of Solomon is a book that I’ve always found hard to understand. But thanks to your series on it, I am beginning to see its beauty.”

And Nancy, she is just one of many women who’ve let us know that this series has made them take a fresh look at the Song of Solomon.

Nancy: Yes. I’m always so thankful when listeners stop by the comment blog, or they drop us an email to let us know how God is using this teaching in their lives. This book, the Song of Solomon, has meant so much to me for a long time. As I studied it and taught it for this series, it made me want an even deeper and more passionate love relationship with Jesus.

At Revive Our Hearts, we’re committed to bringing you this kind of in-depth Bible teaching series. I’m so thankful for everyone who supports this ministry to make that possible. Now, series like this one on the Song of Solomon help people go deeper in their walk with God. But they don’t tend to generate as much financial giving as series that are more topical in nature. So if you’ve appreciated this series and you want to hear more like it, would you consider supporting Revive Our Hearts with a financial gift? It will help us continue bringing you the teaching you appreciate and that ministers to your life.

And when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we want to say “thank you” by sending you a book that I wrote called, The Wonder of His Name. It’s an exploration of thirty-two of the wonderful names of Jesus. You’ll get new insight into who Jesus is and what He’s done for you as you get to know Him through these names. So ask for The Wonder of His Name when you support ˆwith a donation of any amount. The number to call is 1–800–569–5959, or if you prefer to make a donation online, you can visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: Are you longing for Jesus' return? Tomorrow, Nancy will show you more about this from the Song of Songs.

Nancy: This is the cry of every true believer's heart, "Come quickly, Lord Jesus!"

Leslie: Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

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

All Scripture is taken from the ESV unless noted. Song of Songs references are from the NKJV.

Making It Personal

Day 24 – Mature Love 5: A Wall and a Door (Song of Songs 8:6–10)

  1. What characteristics of God’s love can be seen in this passage?
  2. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it. (8:7; see also Romans 8:35–39). Do you believe that there really is nothing that can separate you from the love of God? Is anything holding you back from receiving His love that is as strong as death?
  3. Does the Lord Jesus truly have first place in your heart and life? If not, who or what is vying for that position?
  4. Nineteenth century missionary statesman David Livingstone prayed: “Sever any ties but the tie that binds me to Thy service, and to Thy heart.” Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? Are there any “ties” God may want to sever in your life, so you can be bound more closely in love to Christ?
  5. If she is a wall, we will build upon her a battlement of silver; and if she is a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar (8:9). As it relates to your faith, are you more like a “wall” (firm and unyielding in your convictions) or a “door” (one who is easily swayed and needs greater restraints)? What about in your relationships with men—are you a “wall” or a “door”?
  6. In the Song of Songs, we see the Bride and her Beloved pursuing the deepest and most mature love possible. What do these verses tell us about God’s goals for believers: Col. 1:28–29; Eph. 4:13–16; Gal. 4:19: 2 Cor. 11:2? How serious and intentional are you about pursuing spiritual growth and maturity?
  7. What shall we do for our sister . . . ? (8:8). Mature lovers of Christ have a desire to share with others the grace they have received from Christ. They are burdened for those who are younger or less mature in their faith, and desire to help them grow and become mature, fruitful believers. Whom has God placed in your life that you could you help to build up and encourage in their walk with God? In their marriage? 

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