When Marriage Gets Rough
11 I went down to the grove of nut trees
to look at the new growth in the valley,
to see if the vines had budded
or the pomegranates were in bloom.
12 Before I realized it,
my desire set me among the royal chariots of my people.[l]” Song of Songs 6:11-12 NIV
As I began to read through this study in the Song of Songs, it became clear that these were some challenging verses to dig through. The NIV version credits these verses as being spoken by Solomon. The ESV credits these verses to the Shulammite. Either way, there are people much smarter than I who are in disagreement about who is speaking.
As such, verses 11-12 are hard to wrestle with. For the purpose of this devotion however, I will assume that it is the Shulammite who is speaking since that seems to be the flow we have been following.
If she is the one speaking, it appears that she goes down to a grove of nut trees because she is frustrated with her life. When her husband is busy at work, she goes for a walk in the country. She returns to some simple pleasures she had when she was younger and while on the walk, she begins to long for home. She says in verse 12.
“12 Before I realized it, my desire set me among the royal chariots of my people.[l]”
We can see in verse 12 that the Shulammite wants to go back home. She wants to turn back to the “chariots of my people.”
One of the great challenges in marriage today is that when it gets difficult, husbands and wives often turn back to their families, when they should instead work out the problems with their spouse. If we recall from Genesis 2, God had made marriage such that a man should “leave behind his father mother and cleave to his wife.” Part of cleaving to your spouse means leaving your mom and dad. Running away from your problems won’t solve them. She needs to stay and work through the problems. Running away from your marriage won’t help. Here is the first thing to learn from this passage:
When marriage gets rough, don’t run to your parents.
Song of Songs 6:12 says in other versions:
The English Standard Version says, “Before I was aware, my desire set me among the chariots of my kinsman, a prince.”
The footnotes from the New Living Translation says about verse 12, “Or to the royal chariots of my people, or to the chariots of Amminadab. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.”
I’ve read another commentator who suggested that the verse could be speaking of another suitor who wanted to be with the Shunammite when she was younger – a prince of her own people. If she married him, she would probably have lived closer to home.
If this is the case, she may be wondering if she married the wrong guy in Solomon. If she married Amminadab, she wouldn’t be living in the city. She wouldn’t be so far away from home. Amminidab probably would not have been as busy as Solomon was. She would have more time with her husband. She’s probably wondering, “Did I marry the wrong guy?”
In marriage it is sometimes easy to think that you married the wrong person. Marriage with Solomon is hard. Just because they said “I do” didn’t mean that the journey would be easy. Marriage today is not easy. Instead of focusing on whether or not you married the wrong person, it is important to focus on becoming the right person.
You’ve had enough relationships go wrong to know that the myth of “finding the right one” is just that, a myth. If you are single and wondering about finding the one right person, don’t ask the question “How do I find the one?” You need to ask the question, “Am I the person, the person I am looking for, is looking for?”
The Shulammite was learning to stick with her marriage – to work through the hard times. She was learning that when marriage gets rough, not to think you picked the wrong one.
When you think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, it is time to start putting fertilizer on your own grass. Someone else said, “The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence. It is greener where you water it most.”
When her heart turned back toward home, let’s see what her friends cried out to her.
13 Come back, come back, O Shulammite;
come back, come back, that we may gaze on you!
They encouraged her to come back. Maybe some husbands need to be encouraged to come back and water their marriages today. Maybe some wives need to be reminded to come back and water their marriages today.
Holy Spirit give me a spirit to endure and enjoy my marriage. I choose not to turn my eyes elsewhere, but to water the marriage that You have blessed me with today. Amen.
We’ll see what Solomon says in the next devotion.