“2 I am a rose[e] of Sharon,
a lily of the valleys.
2 Like a lily among thorns
is my darling among the young women.
3 Like an apple[f] tree among the trees of the forest
is my beloved among the young men.
I delight to sit in his shade,
and his fruit is sweet to my taste.
4 Let him lead me to the banquet hall,
and let his banner over me be love.
5 Strengthen me with raisins,
refresh me with apples,
for I am faint with love.
6 His left arm is under my head,
and his right arm embraces me.
7 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you
by the gazelles and by the does of the field:
Do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires.” Song of Songs 2:1-7 NIV
When we think of roses, we think of the soft, flower with red petals. We think romance, Valentines Day, and chick flicks. When Abishag refers to the rose of Sharon in Song of Songs 2:1, she is thinking about something very different. The rose of Sharon is an autumn flower which was known to grow out of season. When it grew, it appeared out of place. Since Abishag is a simple country girl marrying a King, she is saying that she feels out of place. She doesn’t see anything special about herself. The rose of Sharon was a common flower that covered the landscape. It is like a Hibiscus. This is how Abishag sees herself in comparison with other women.
How does Solomon respond to her insecurities? He doesn’t put her down. Though she feels common, he doesn’t treat her as common. He assures her that he has eyes for her alone. He identifies her as a “lily among thorns.” He points out that not only is she a flower, but she is like a flower and other women are like thorn bushes. Solomon compares all other women to thorn bushes compared to her. No one would put their nose to a thorn bush to smell it!
Does Solomon live this out later in life? Sadly he does not. He messes this up later in life and turns to other women, but at this point, he is on track. At this point, he assures her that he is a man of exclusivity and that his eyes are only for her.
In 2:3, Abishag assures Solomon that he stands out to her. She says, “3Like an apple[f] tree among the trees of the forest is my beloved among the young men. I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste.” She is saying that he stands out. An apple tree in the forest stands out. It looks different. It provides better fruit. That is how she sees Solomon.
Here is the application of today’s devotion. A husband and wife need to be ruthlessly exclusive to each other. If there is a person of the opposite sex that you have a slight attachment to, cut off that relationship this week. Don’t have the lunch with them. Don’t talk about your marriage or parenting problems with them. Don’t be alone with anyone of the other sex… even if you have no intention of an affair. Let all others be a thorn bush compared to your spouse, who is your flower. Assure your spouse of your ruthless exclusivity to him or her.
Now at some point as we journey though the Song of Songs, it is appropriate to question, “Isn’t this the same King Solomon who married 600 wives and had 300 concubines? Are we really trying to learn how to create passion in our marriage from a man who blew it so badly?”
I believe the Song of Songs was written early in the life of Solomon when he not only had a strong passion for his wife, but also for his God. He wrote some Psalms and the Proverbs throughout the course of his life. It is likely that he wrote Ecclesiastes near the ending of his life.
Watch this because it is important. Solomon’s life teaches us that in marriage, how we finish is far more important than how we begin. His life serves a sharp reminder that while a marriage may start great and have a beautiful wedding, what really matters most is how well our marriages end. It is sad that we invest so much money and time preparing for a beautiful wedding day, but we fail to continually invest the time and money preparing for a strong marriage. Someone once said that the chapter you are living now is the story you are going to tell later. The decisions we make today will determine the story we are going to tell tomorrow. A husband and wife need to be ruthlessly exclusive to each other.
It is well known that Solomon had great God given wisdom when he began, but he allowed himself to fall prey to distractions that led him not only away from his spouse, but also from his God. This needs to be a reminder to men, especially men of God, that we must be vigilant when it comes to caring for our marriage. If Solomon can mess up, I can fail too. If Solomon can fail, I can fail too. Wilt Chamberlain is the basketball player who bragged that he had sex with 20,000 different women. In the final days of his life, he admitted, “With all of you men out there who think that having a thousand different ladies is pretty cool, I have learned in my life, I’ve found out that having one woman a thousand different times is much more satisfying.” I’m sure that at the end of his life, Solomon would agree with Wilt Chamberlain. The decisions we make today will determine the story we are going to tell tomorrow. Invest in your marriage today.
Holy Spirit give me the strength to empower my marriage and not strain it. I pray for a great story of empowerment and encouragement to be told tomorrow because of how my wife and I are living today. Amen.