Character First – Song of Songs 1
“Solomon’s Song of Songs.
2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
for your love is more delightful than wine.
3 Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
your name is like perfume poured out.
No wonder the young women love you!
4 Take me away with you—let us hurry!
Let the king bring me into his chambers.” Song of Songs 1:1-4 NIV
It is sad that people spend more time learning how to drive a car in order to get their driver’s license then they do learning to be married and to get a marriage license. The state requires people learn and prepare to obtain a driver’s license, but there is no requirement for preparation for a marriage license except for submitting a few dollars and signatures.
It may not be surprising then that strong and healthy marriages have become somewhat of an endangered species in our culture. In the Song of Songs, we will spend time preparing to grow a stronger marriage. Because of the strong imagery of this book, it will be important to understand some of Israel’s culture to catch the meaning in the text.
In Song of Songs 1, we need to recognize that Solomon, the King of Israel was being spoken to by his wife. We also need to understand that for someone to kiss the King in that day, was a great honor and privilege. Culturally, if a King permitted his hand or even his garment to be kissed, this was a tremendous honor for the person present. When his bride calls for the King to kiss her “with the kisses of his mouth” she is calling for the King’s most tender affection. Now I know that husbands today are not all kings, but what we do see is that the wife here is calling for her husband’s greatest and most tender affection.
When the relationship is young, new, and fresh, it is easy to give our spouse and the relationship lots of attention, but sadly, when kids, careers, kids, mortgages, credit card bills, and kids come into the picture, it is fall into the trap of becoming too busy and to take our spouses for granted. The woman gives husbands a reminder from the very beginning of this book, “Husbands give your wives your most tender affection!”
She reminds husbands that we need to be intentional in making the effort to give our wives our greatest and most tender affection we can – even if it is challenging. Make time for the dates. Make yourself look good for her. Write the sappy love note to her. Take the walk together. Isn’t it true that if there were more courting in marriage, there would be less marriages in court? Isn’t it true that the best gift parents could give their kids – more than all the involvement in sports, clubs, and activities – is the example of a strong marriage where mom and dad genuinely love and honor each other? Isn’t it true that while babysitters cost money, in the long run, they are far cheaper than divorce attorneys?
In verse 3, the Shunamite woman continues,
“3 Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
your name is like perfume poured out.
No wonder the young women love you!”
Men wearing perfumes? Hmm… In those days, men weren’t able to shower or bathe regularly (no plumbing yet) so they would put perfumes on themselves to remain well groomed. When the woman is saying to her husband “pleasing is the fragrance of your perfume,” she was basically telling him, “You’re a nice looking man.”
What does this tell us as husbands? It is important to keep ourselves well groomed for our wives. Take a shower every day. Use soap. Shave. Dress nicely for your wife. Put in the effort to make yourself look nice for your wife. Ask her what she likes. Ask her. Does one eyebrow work for you or should I go for two? Do you like the clothes I wear? Do you like my cologne?
By the way, wives, do you recognize when your husband looks good? Do you tell him? Do you speak it to him? Do you encourage him to be the man you want him to be? I didn’t ask if you demand that he be the man you want him to be or if you nag him into it. Do you encourage him? I believe that wives have a prophetic voice in the lives of their husbands. Husbands will become what their wives speak of them. If you consistently encourage and speak life to him, he will bring life. If you consistently break him and put him down, he will be a broken man.
She continues on to say, “Your name is like perfume poured out.”
In those days, a person’s name had a different significance than ours today. A name was not used only to identify a person, but it was symbolic of their character, virtue, and integrity (ie. Abraham meant “father of nations, ” David, meant “well beloved,” Moses meant “drawn out,” Peter meant “the rock,” Ty means “handsome, smart, and athletic” – ok… just kidding about the last one!).
When she points out that his name “is like perfume poured out,” the wife is saying that her husband’s character and integrity is a blessing to those around him. That is what makes him attractive not only to her, but also to the other women around him, “no wonder the young women love you!” She recognizes that while he looks good, his character is even more attractive!
By the way wives, do you point out your husband’s strengths to him? Do you speak life to him like this Shunamite woman does to her husband? Do you point out how important he is to you? Do you tell him and remind him what a blessing he is to you or do you just put him down? Look for character traits in him that are commendable and build him up.
The Shunamite wife here is reminding us that as men, we must not only be well groomed and look good for our wives, but more importantly we must be men of Godly character and integrity. Men of God, your name and character are more important than your looks. Husbands, how you love your wife, your holiness, your honesty, and your ability to listen are far more important than your looks.
Holy Spirit empower my character to be Yours. Invade every area of my life and so that I may be the spouse that You created me to be. In Your strong name, amen.