Focus: This is Solomon’s song of songs, more wonderful than any other. Song of Solomon 1:1
Confession time – when I saw the list of who was writing devotionals for which Bible readings, I dreaded this assignment. I considered begging and pleading one of my friends to trade me. I have written some devotionals around some difficult Biblical topics (I remember one from the Book of Lamentations earlier in the year that was pretty tough material). So why would I struggle with this one so much? It’s not about death and destruction. It’s not even directly about sin. Instead it’s about something we all are kind of fond of – attraction and dare I write it sex. Well the challenge for me with today’s devotional is kind of personal; it’s actually something I encouraged – my teenage daughter is reading these devotionals regularly and starting to engage me in conversation about the devotionals, especially the ones I write. All the same, I felt God speaking to me that this wasn’t one I should ask for a pass on; rather, I should approach it prayerfully (as I do with each of these), and let God lead my words.
I would encourage anyone who wants a detailed look at the Song of Solomon to go back and watch the sermon series the Vineyard did earlier in the fall. In this series, Chris, Barry, and Jenn did an excellent job of exploring the many aspects of a partnership between husband and wife to include attraction, love, sex, conflict, rekindling the romance, commitment, and perhaps most importantly, how that relationship fosters faith and grows both partners closer to God.
The focus verse says the Song of Solomon is “more wonderful than any other” song. Why would the Bible tell us that a song about sex is more wonderful than any other song if it didn’t have God’s blessing? This brings to mind a C.S. Lewis quote: “Pleasure is God’s invention, not the devil’s”.
As I was preparing for writing this devotional, I kept coming back mentally to a talk from the Alpha series that I remember Nicky Gumbel giving (Talk 16: How can I make the Most of the Rest of My Life). I think part of it is directly relevant to this devotional:
God is the Creator of marriage. God is the Creator of sex. It was God who invented sex. He came up with the idea of sex! He’s not looking down from heaven thinking, ‘Goodness me! Whatever will they get up to next!’
And the Bible affirms our sexuality. God made us sexual beings. The Bible celebrates sexual intimacy — the delight, contentment, the satisfaction that it brings. But the Inventor and Designer also tells us how this beautiful gift is to be enjoyed to the full. And the biblical context is lifelong commitment in marriage. Jesus quoted the Creation account: ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ First of all there’s a public act of leaving — in other words, the making of a lifelong commitment.
Secondly, there’s a gluing together, being united. Not just physically and biologically, but emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, socially. And in that context the one-flesh union takes place. It’s God’s perfect plan that children should be brought up in an atmosphere of love and commitment and security. And the Creator, the Inventor, then warns us of the dangers of going outside the boundaries, of ignoring the instructions, if you like.
There’s no such thing as casual sex. (emphasis mine) Because every act affects this one-flesh union. I sometimes demonstrate this by taking two pieces of corrugated cardboard: one with a picture of a man, and the other with a picture of a woman, and gluing those two pieces of cardboard together. That’s what the Hebrew word means: they’re glued together. And if you then try and pull those pieces of cardboard apart, there’s this ripping sound, and little bits of each person are left on the other.
And that’s what we see all around us. And in contrast we see the blessing where God’s standards are kept — in Christian marriages.
I have directly experienced some of what Nicky is discussing here. I was in a marriage that was not equally yoked – I became a believer and my ex wife was not. Without getting into details, we didn’t practice the Biblical standards of marriage, and just like with Nicky’s example when things became horribly broken and our marriage came apart, there was that painful ripping away with pieces of the other never returning. I’m not condoning divorce, but I’ve confessed and repented of my faults in that relationship. I know God has forgiven me, and I believe that He has offered me a second chance at a marital relationship that honors and glorifies Him. I have been remarried now for over five years. My wife, Sherri, loves the Lord. We had both made mistakes in other past relationships. We made the commitment early in our dating relationship with each other that we would honor God and His plans for a Godly relationship in all areas including sex. There were some tempting times, but God gave us strength, and we stayed true to that commitment. Five and a half years later, we both say that we are blessed in all areas of our relationship. Neither of us think it because of something special about us – we both believe and give credit to God that because we sought His forgiveness from past sins and restoration and we chose to honor Him and His standards, He in turn blessed us with an intimacy and passion towards one another that was better than either of us could have imagined possible. In turn, He uses our marriage to draw our family into a closer relationship with Him.
I mention this personal account for a couple of reasons: 1. I truly believe that God wants us to enjoy His creation, but He wants us to do so in a way that allows us to enjoy it freely without the pain and confusion that comes from stepping outside of His standards. 2. I believe that it’s never too late. God wants to restore wholeness to our lives; He wants to give us a new start. That redemption and wholeness is through Jesus’ redemptive death on the cross and resurrection. Jesus died on the cross for us; He died so our pasts could be forgiven and we could be in a right relationship with God. As Nicky Gumbel says later in that same Alpha talk “Jesus died for us.. [s]o that the past can be wiped clean, so that the scars, if there are scars, can be healed.” As Jesus Himself tells us in John 10:10: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Prayer: Lord, thank You that You came to earth and took on a frail human body; that You suffered; that You died for Me. Please forgive me for my disobedience to you. Please search my heart and my mind – especially right now my views and deeds as they apply to sexuality. Please convict me of the areas where I need forgiveness and give me the courage to confess and turn away from those thoughts and actions. Please help me to forgive myself as well. Please also help me to be hopeful and remember that You truly want me to enjoy Your creation; because You made it, it is good. Help me to live life according to the standards You have given, so I can enjoy Your creation and life to the fullest. In Jesus’ name… Amen.