The Beauty of Love
“You are beautiful as Tizrah, my love, lovely as Jerusalem, awesome as an army with banners.Turn away your eyes from me, for they overwhelm me—Your hair is like a flock of goats leaping down the slopes of Gilead” (Song 6:4–5).- Song of Solomon 5–6
In his teaching series Wisdom, Dr. R.C. Sproul says that “there is so much wrong with the romance we experience in our own culture. But the answer is not to…deny the reality of the sensuous attraction between the sexes or the erotic dimension of marriage, but rather to understand it in a way that is pleasing to God. If you want to know what real love is, spend some time in the Song of Solomon.”
Married or single, sexuality is a central aspect of our humanity. Though it can be perverted, the physical relationship between men and women is deemed “very good” within marriage (Gen. 1:31). Solomon’s song is one of many biblical encouragements for husbands and wives to enjoy their sexual union (see also 1 Cor. 7:1–5). Though we do not have time to discuss this point fully, there are all sorts of double-entendres and word-plays in the Hebrew text that, in no uncertain terms, tell us Solomon and his bride take great pleasure in one another (Song 4:10–16; 5:2–5, 10–16; 7:1–10).
Today the church often acts as if sex is a taboo topic. Yet we are not to ignore it because the Lord talks about it in Solomon’s song. If the church does not work to shape our sexual ethics according to God’s Word, we cannot be surprised when pagans define them. Ministries to men, women, singles, and youth, and discipleship groups, are all avenues through which the church should not only warn people that sex is wrong outside of marriage but also affirm its goodness, the depths of which can only be reached within marriage.
One of the ways the Song of Solomon encourages married people to celebrate their physical relationship is through words of praise to one another. Some of these are strange to us, such as Solomon’s comparison of his wife’s hair to a “flock of goats” (Song 6:5), but in that culture, centered as it was around animal husbandry, this was a great compliment indeed. In fact, a modern scholar once said he never understood how such a thing could be beautiful until he saw with his own eyes a flock of goats descending a mountain in Palestine. The compliments we offer may be different today, but the Song of Solomon exhorts us to build up our spouses through words of praise.
Dr. R.C. Sproul says in his series Wisdom: “There is nothing wrong with being in love. There is nothing wrong with extolling the beauty of our wives or of our husbands.” Husbands and wives, when was the last time you complimented your spouse on their appearance? When was the last time you did something to enhance your beauty? Married or not, find trustworthy Christians with whom you may discuss relational intimacy and God’s Word regarding it.
Passages for Further Study