Carrots & Sticks
May the wine go straight to my beloved,
flowing gently over lips and teeth.[o]
10 I belong to my beloved,
and his desire is for me.
11 Come, my beloved, let us go to the countryside,
let us spend the night in the villages.[p]
12 Let us go early to the vineyards
to see if the vines have budded,
if their blossoms have opened,
and if the pomegranates are in bloom—
there I will give you my love.
13 The mandrakes send out their fragrance,
and at our door is every delicacy,
both new and old,
that I have stored up for you, my beloved.” Song of Songs 7:9-13 NIV
As they work to resolve their marriage challenges, Solomon and Abishag
are trying a different approach. They have wrestled with the
challenge of Solomon being too busy at work (after all, it takes work
to be the King of a country) and when he came home, he was stressed
out and hoping for some love from his wife. For Abishag, being
ignored all day didn’t quite get her in the mood, so tension built.
We’ve seen earlier in this book when Abishag tried to shutting out her
husband and used the “stick” so to speak, to punish him. That didn’t
work very well and only led to more hurt, distance, and isolation.
This time they are trying something different.
By the way, is an important part of creating passion in a marriage is
having the willingness to try something different. I used to have a
quote that I kept up in my office for several years which said, “The
definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different
results.” We often default to doing the same thing in marriage and
get frustrated when we get the same results. Solomon and Abishag are
trying something else to work out their problems.
In verse 11-13, we see them planning a Marriage Sabbath. Because
Solomon is too busy with work, they are planning some time to get away
together to “spend the night in the villages.”
Instead of withholding love from her husband (using it as a “stick”),
Abishag tells Solomon that when they go away, “there I will give you
my love.” In other words, she is not withholding intimacy from him as
vengeance, but rather puts it before him as an incentive or “carrot”
that he gets to enjoy when they reach their marriage Sabbath.
Life gets busy and time gets tight. Work becomes overwhelming and
kids can become consuming. If the Devil cannot destroy your marriage,
I’d imagine that his next tactic would be to cripple it by bombarding
you with such a barrage of things going on around you that your
marriage may continues on, but remains stale, lifeless, and a poor
example to a lost world looking for answers. Rather than killing you,
he can cripple your influence, and show the world that marriage is no
different for those in the world and the people of God. It is
important to arrange for a Marriage Sabbath to breathe life into your
spouse. It is important to be sure, for the sake of your children,
for the sake of those you know who need Jesus, and for your family, to
fight for your marriage.
When was the last Marriage Sabbath you and your wife have taken?
Maybe it is time to start planning one today.
Holy Spirit empower my wife and I to show what a godly marriage is to
a lost world. May we not simply endure our marriage, but enjoy it.
May we not simply have a marriage that just survives, but one that is
surpasses. May we not have an ordinary marriage, but an extraordinary
marriage. In the strong name of Jesus Christ. Amen.