Keith Hunt - Solomon on Sex #3 - Page Three   Restitution of All Things

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Solomon on Sex #3

In the Bridal Chamber

We continue here with Mr.Dillows fine commentry on the true
meaning of Solomon's Song.



(Reflection #3, Song 1:15-2:7)


     The royal couple has left the wedding banquet and has
retired to the bridal suite. In the ancient world, it was
customary for a king to build a special bedroom for his new
bride. As they enter the bridal chamber, Solomon begins his
lovemaking to his wife with praise (1:15). She responds with
greater praise (1:16-2:1). Solomon tops her praise of him (2:2)
and she then outdoes his praise of her (2:3). Thus the lovers are
mutually extolling one another's charms with increasingly
powerful descriptions of one another 's beauty.
     It seems evident that this increasing level of praise is
intended by the author to reflect the increasing level of their
passion as their lovemaking progresses. This must be the intent
because the end product of these praises is a request by
Shulamith to be refreshed with raisin cakes and apples (erotic
symbols) a reference to lovesickness (sexual passion), and a
request to be embraced (fondled 2:5-6).
     Before going on to comment on the text itself, I think it
would be appropriate to pause a moment and lay out some of the
reasons for understanding these first three reflections as
occurring on the wedding day and night.

Anticipation and fulfillment

     There seems to be a theme of anticipation and fulfillment
within the first three reflections. In 1:1-5 she longs to be in
the bedroom with her husband and in 1:15-2:7 we find them in the
bridal chamber. In 1:3,4 she desires the king's caresses and in
2:6 she receives them. She anticipated sexual intercourse in 1:4
and experienced it in 2:4-6. This anticipation and longing for
her lover is highly appropriate for he wedding day but would
violate the entire ethic of the Song (as well as the rest of the
Scriptures) if these reflections described pre-marital events.
     Thus, the longing and fulfillment motif seems to unite these
first three reflections into a single unit describing the wedding

The banquet table

     This reference to a banquet table (1:12) fits very naturally
with a wedding banquet since this is a book about courtship,
wedding, and marriage. It is therefore improbable that any common
banquet would be meant.

The sexual intimacies described

     There are many allusions to sexual intimacies that would be
wholly inappropriate to a pre-marital scene. In 2:6 she requests
that Solomon "embrace" her. Most Hebrew scholars agree this means
to "stimulate sexually, or fondle." Kramer notes an interesting
parallel phrase in second millennium B.C. love poems. In the
Sumuzl-Inanna love romance we find the phrase, "Your right hand
you have placed on my vulva; Your left, stroked my head." The
parallelism seems too direct to be coincidental.
     She also says she is "lovesick." This is a reference to high
sexual passion. Furthermore, raisin cakes and apples are
frequently connected with sexual arousal. The great Hebrew
scholar Jastrow comments, "The raisin is again because of its
sweetness, an erotic symbol, like the apple in the following line
to suggest that the lovesick maiden can be rescued from her
languishing condition only by the caresses and embraces of her
     In 1:2 she describes in anticipation (daydreaming) her
husband's love skill. His love is "going to be" sweeter than
wine. The word for love here is sometimes used to mean sexual

The banquet hall

     In 2:4 Shulamith comments that the king has brought her "to
his banquet hall." The Hebrew literally translates, "house of
wine." Every banquet of pleasure and joy in the Hebrew idiom is,
as we have noted, called by the name "wine." The "house of wine"
was a common oriental reference to the bridal chamber. Thus, the
text places us in the wedding night.

Her sexual awakening

     In Song 8:5, which occurs years later, Solomon and Shulamfth
pass an apple tree as they walk along a country road. He comments
that it was there that she was first "awakened" - introduced into
the joys of marred sexual love. The awakening is associated in
8:4 and 2:6 with "fondling." In 2:6 Shulamith requests that "...
his right hand embrace me," and then warns against the careless
"awakening" of love in the following verse (2:7). Similarly,
after requesting that "his right hand embrace" her in 8:3, she
refers again to the careless "awakening" of love in 8:4. Then
Solomon says it was under the apple tree where he awakened her
     This association with physical fondling suggests the
"awakenings" in this book refer to that of sexual passion.
Furthermore, this verb is used to mean a "violent awakening"
whenever it is found in this form (Deut.32:11). The word
translated "awake" is used at least once in the Old Testament in
awakening of sexual passion (Hos.7:4). The only other place in
the book there is reference to her being awakened under the apple
tree is Song 2:3. If 8:5 explains Song 2:3 to be a sexual
awakening, this probably places the first three reflections on
the wedding night.

     Having suggested this chronological order, let's take a look
at the beauty of their first night together. First, a basic
commentary provides information on the meaning of the symbols and
then some comments are made which are applicable to twentieth
century marriage.


     The scene that follows becomes more and more intimate as the
bride and groom leave the wedding banquet and proceed to the
bridal chamber. Although this is not explicitly stated, it is
implied in 1:16 when she comments on the luxurious bed they are
lying on. They have moved from the table (1:12) to the bed

1:15 SOLOMON: 
     How beautiful you are, my darling, 
     How beautiful you are!
     Your eyes are like doves.

     The dove is a symbol of innocence and purity; the appearance
of the eyes an index of character. Hence Solomon says she is
beautiful and pure - a virgin.

     How handsome you are, my beloved, 
     And so pleasant!
     Indeed our couch is Iuxuriant!

     The fact that the Hebrew word for bed comes form a verb
meaning "to cover" suggests that originally a bed was considered
a covered or canopied couch. Certainly the canopied bed was
common with Ancient Near Eastern Monarchs. Numerous illustrations
in Egyptian wall paintings of this era depict a canopy over the
bed of the Pharoah and his wife. At any rate, the richest man in
the world would fashion a bed from the most luxurious material
available, probably satin a silk.

     The beams of our houses are cedars, 
     Our rafters, cypresses.

     As Shulamith lies on the luxurious couch, she observes
Solomon's thoughtful preparation in constructing the bridal
chamber. Because she comes from a rural background, Solomon has
apparently outdone himself to construct a bedroom that would
remind her of the open air and the country that she loved. Its
cedar-beamed ceiling and cypress rafters create a separate world
for them to enjoy away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Solomon constructed much of his palace with cedar beams from
Lebanon (1 Kings 7:1-12). Furthermore, he built a separate house
for his wife.
     Lebanon, Shulamith's home, is above all famous for its dense
forest cover. These mighty cedars have become symbols of majesty
and pride in biblical imagery. These cedars and conifers
furnished the finest building timber in the ancient East and were
sought by the rulers of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Syria-Palestine.
The most celebrated of such deliveries was that sent to Solomon
by Hiram of Tyre for the temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 5:6-9).
Solomon probably used some of this very timber to construct the
bridal chamber.

     I am the rose of Sharon, 
     The lily of the valleys.

     She likens herself to a tender flower that has grown up in
the quietness of rural life. Sharon is a region between Tabor and
the Sea of Galilee in the neighborhood of Nazareth where Jesus
grew up in northern Galliee (1 Chron.5:16). The rose of Sharon
was a flesh-colored meadow flower with a leafless stem which,
when the grass was mown, appeared by the thousands in the warmer
regions. Humbly describing herself as a meadow flower, she had
understandable fears of being out of place, a common meadow
flower in King Solomon's palace.
     The lily of the valley is a beautiful red flower commonly
found in Palestine. She thinks humbly of herself in comparison to
the king and alludes to herself as a common country girl.

     Like a lily among the thoms,
     So is my darling among the maidens.

     Solomon takes up the comparison and gives its notable turn.
He says all the other maidens in Jerusalem are as thorns compared
to her. As Shulamith entered the splendor of the palace she had
apparently been struck by the beauty of the "maidens," the palace
pretties. But Solomon says her nobility of character and virgin
purity set her above all the sophisficated court ladies who have
spent their lives "caring for their own vineyards."

     Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, 
     So is my beloved among young men.

     The tempo of their lovemaking has increased; they are now
actively involved in their love play. Shulamith praises the
erotic and sensual lovemaking ability of her husband. The apple
tree is a very frequent symbol in the Near East for sexual love.
In the Egyptain love song, "Song of the City of Memphis," a man
says to his lover, "Her breasts are like mandrake apples."
Gordis, the Jewish commentator observes, "Raisin cakes, which
were used in fertility rites (cf. Hos. 3:1), served like the
apples as an erotic symbol on the subconscious level." Zockler
also sees the apple tree as a symbol of sexual passion: "... just
as the sweet fruit of the apple tree serves to represent his
agreeable caresses."
     The apple tree is used throughout the Song as a symbol for
sexual love (cf. 8:5). In effect, then, Shulamith is telling
Solomon what a skillful lover he is. He is an apple tree, skilled
at making love.

     In his shade I took great delight and sat down, 
     And his fruit was sweet to my taste.

     As she sits (presumably on cushions in the bedroom) beneath
Solomon's shadow - cast perhaps from a lamp in the room, she
delightfully "tastes his fruit" Several different interpretations
have been given for this phrase.
     Some have said it refers to being refreshed by his presence
as an apple refreshes a weary traveler. However, in view of the
obviously erotic nature of the symbols (raisin cakes, apples) and
the context ("Let his left hand 'fondle' me), this seems
     Others have seen it as a reference to the sweet taste of his
words and works which make a happy impression on the one who
experiences them. Others see the sweet fruit of the apple tree as
a symbol of his caresses. In other words, she "tastes" his sexual
     In extra-biblical literature, "fruit" is sometimes equated
with the male genitals - or with semen, so it is possible that
here we have a faint and delicate reference to an oral genital
caress. At any rate, it seems to speak of the intense sexual
enjoyment they share.

     He has brought me into his banquet hall 
     And his banner over me is love.

     As mentioned above, the "banquet hall" was a common oriental
expression for the bridal chamber. The banner of a king was a
long pole with a cloth attached like a flag. It spoke of the
king's protective care. As Shulamith sits in Solomon's shade
(protective care), she immediately associates his "banner" with
his love, since his love provides security, care and protection.

     Sustain me with raisin cakes, Refresh me with apples,
     Because I am lovesick.

     The phrase "I am lovesick" is literally "I am sick with
love." She means that at this point in their lovemaking she is
completely overcome with sexual desire. In order to alleviate the
"lovesickness" she requests that Solomon sustain her with raisin
cakes and apples (symbols of erotic love). In other words, she
asks him to satisfy her sexually without delay!

     Let his left hand be under my head, 
     And his fight hand embrace me.

     Shulamith tells her husband exactly what she wants him to do
in order to alleviate her lovesickness, or sexual passion. As
they lie on the couch she requests that his left hand be placed
under her head and his right hand embrace her. Delitzsch says the
Hebrew word means "to fondle." She desires him to fondle and
stimulate her by touching her body. The description of the
consummation of their love in sexual intercourse is reserved for
a later section (4:16-5:1).

     I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, 
     By the gazelles or by the hinds of the field. 
     That you will not arouse or awaken (my) love 
     Until (she) pleases.

     At this point the reflection abruptly ends with this warning
addressed to the chorus, here personified as the daughters of
Jerusalem. Remember they are a literary device, not a real group
of people. Here they provide an "audience" to hear the warning.
The words in parentheses are not in the original Hebrew and
should be omitted. A proper translation would be: "That you will
not arouse or awaken love until it pleases."
     Gordis convincingly demonstrates that the oath taken "by the
gazelles or by the hinds of the field" parallels the flsting in
some of the biblical books such as Esther and Ecclesiastes in
which an attempt was made to avoid the mention of the Divine
name. Hence, Shulamith replaces the customary oath "by the Lord
of Hosts" or "by the Almighty" with a similar sounding phrase in
Hebrew, "by the gazelles or the hinds of the field" choosing
animals which symbolize love. It is likely that the Septuagint
retained some recognition of Shulamith's oath by rendering the
unique Hebrew phrase as "in (or by) the powers and the forces of
the field."
     The phrase "that you will not arouse or awaken love until it
pleases" is difficult and has been interpreted in various ways.
It has been suggested the statement is a warning against forcing
love to develop prematurely; it should develop naturally.
However, there are no indications in the entire story of either
her or Solomon attempting to "force" the relationship to develop.
Delitzsch sees it as Shulamith's plea to the daughters of
Jerusalem not to interrupt their embrace. While this makes good
sense in the context, it requires an unlikely translation of the
verb "awake." Delitzsch would translate, "That ye arouse not and
disturb not love Till she pleases." Robert Gordis suggests, "Do
not disturb love while it is passionate, lit. 'while it desires.'

Again, the Hebrew word means "awaken" and not "disturb."
It seems more probable the passage is a warning against the
awakening of sexual passion before "it pleases." Schonfield
translates, "Do not wake, do not quicken passion, Before it is
ready to stir." This view is defended by Zcckler. He says
Shulamith is giving a stray warning to the court ladies that they
are not to plunge rashly and unbidden into the passion of love,
that is to say, not before love awakens of itself ("till heart is
joined to heart, till God Himself gives you an affection for the
right man').
     Although there are numerous other Scriptures that warn
against premarital intercourse (1 Cor.6:19), this passage seems
slightly different. It is a warning against the arousal of sexual
passion with anyone other than the person you feel God has
definitely led you to marry. Sexual passion is not to be aroused
until "it pleases" - until it is appropriate. While there is
still some ambiguity about the phrase "it pleases" and one cannot
be dogmatic about the meaning, this interpretation seems
preferable for several reasons.

(1) The theme of pre-marital chastity is stressed in several
other places in the Song, and its virtues are praised (Song
4:12,8:8-12). This interpretation of the warning thus fits well
with a major theme.
(2) As demonstrated previously, the "awakenings" are most likely
sexual awakenings. Furthermore, she was sexually awakened "under
the apple tree" while in the "house of wine" (the bridal chamber)
according to 8:5 and 2:3-6. Since in the context immediately
preceeding the warning not to awaken love, Solomon and Shulamith
are in the "house of wine" and she is being "embraced" it would
seem that the natural connection would be the sexual awakening
just described. Thus, the text becomes a warning against doing
what Solomon and Shulamith have just done (made love), until "it
pleases," (until a couple enters their own house of wine or
bridal chamber).
(3) This interpretation explains two similar passages in the
book. In all three cases the warning is not only connected with a
physical embrace, but it comes at the conclusion of a sequence of
reflections which leads naturally to a warning concerning a major
theme of the book (pre-marital chastity). These passages, 3:5 and
8:4, will be discussed in the commentary to follow.


Bedroom atmosphere

     As Shulamith gazes upon the cedar beamed ceiling in the new
bridal chamber (1:17) she must feel touched by Solomon's
creativity and thoughtfulness. Where does cedar grow in
Palestine? In Lebanon! Solomon was trying to do something any
married couple should consider: creating a bedroom with
     Their bedroom created a "world-apart" atmosphere to which
they could escape. Many wives decorate their bedrooms as if they
were trying to impress the neighbors rather than create an
atmosphere for their married love. On the other hand, some wives
spend hours decorating the living room, kitchen, and the
children's rooms. But "no one will see the bedroom," they say, so
why spend all that time and money? Your husband will see! Have
you even considered creating an atmosphere conducive to romance
for you and your husband?
     In many homes, the bedroom becomes the household "garbage
dump." When guests come for dinner, all the unfolded laundry,
clothes baskets, and other debris is cast behind the bedroom door
so the living room appears spotless. On a daily bass the average
bedroom is often cluttered with perfume bottles, hair spray cans
decorate the dresser tops, and if there is a desk, don't open it
or the entire contents will spill out onto the floor. REAL

     Many things could be done to enhance your bedroom's romantic
atmosphere. Some couples like fur bedspreads and a wood-beamed
ceiling. A number of couples have testified to the new vitality
introduced to their love life by a water bed. Others prefer a
four-posted bed and softly quilted comforter; some desire a
coordinated effect with matching drapes, wallpaper and bedspread.
What you like is what is right for you! Together you should
decide what you would like your love hide-a-way to look like and
then get busy making it just that!
     Solomon's and Shulamith's bed was no doubt covered with silk
sheets. While that is financially out of range for the average
couple unless they are a king and queen, satin sheets add a
delightful feel to the bedroom atmosphere and are not prohibitive
cost-wise. Reserve them for "special occasions" (like when your
husband comes home from a lengthy trip).
     There is no reason why bed room lighting has to be plain old
white light bulbs. If you have extra colored bulbs, such as red,
amber, or blue, in the nightstand drawer, you can change the
entire atmosphere of your love hide-a-way with a simple change of
color. Candlelight is also a fun illumination in the bedroom.
Anyone looks better by candlelight, and what better time to look
your best? A scented candle adds an extra touch. Ferns and other
plants provide a relaxing, warm atmosphere.
     Music can be a real addition to your bedroom atmosphere. Why
not channel the stereo into your love hide-a-way? One man I know
recently surprised his wife by bringing her home after a date
into a bedroom in which the stereo was playing some romantic
music and the room was lit by scented candles. They began to
dance to the music and share their love. As they danced they
gradually disrobed one another and danced and talked in the nude
for about thirty minutes before making love.
     It is this kind of sensitivity and romance that brings the
spiritual dimension of the intimacy of a relationship into the
sexual experience. Too many husbands tend to divorce the physical
aspect of their relationship from a total spiritual and
psychological intimacy.
     Privacy is very important to a romantic bedroom. If at all
possible the master bedroom of your house should be very isolated
from the rest of the house. A lock on the bedroom door is very
important to most wives; total privacy is a key factor in
reducing any inhibitions.

     Both Solomon and his Shulamite bride need a retreat they can
enjoy together to escape from the pressures around them. Solomon
needs an escape from the pressures of state, and his bride needs
the same in view of the pressures involved in being a queen. Your
husband needs an escape from the pressures of work, and you need
a retreat from your work or from the children.

She praised her husband's love skill

     When in 2:3 Shulamith says, "Like an apple tree among the
trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men," she
is complimenting Solomon on his skill in making love. Would that
many twentieth century wives were as wise!
     Frequently in the marriage counseling room a wife will
complain that her husband is routine, unimaginative, and
unromantic in his lovemaking. A basic principle in getting him to
improve is to emphasize what he does right - not what he does
wrong! Skill in lovemaking is probably more intimately connected
with a man's sense of masculine identity than a woman's skill is
related to her feminine identity.

     It is much easier for a woman to establish a sense of sexual
identity than for a man. The basic biological functions of
menstruation, breast development, changes in bodily form, nursing
and bearing children, establish this at an early age. The man, on
the other hand, has only one basic biological identity point as
far as masculinity is concerned: his success in lovemaking. This
is not to say this defines masculinity biblically - not at all!
But it does explain a nearly universally observed difference
between men and women. A man can only establish his identity by
doing something. The woman, on the other hand, receives her
identity passively as her native biological functions mark her so
     Some have suggested this is a biological reason why males
tend toward aggressive behavior and females lean toward more
passive behavior. Thus certainly seems to be some truth in this
even though there is no biblical comment on it. If this is true,
it helps explain why a man's sense of masculinity is so intensely
tied to his success as a lover.
     It is extremely important to most men that they feel
successful in giving their wives sexual fulfillment. If he feels
like a sexual failure, it can spill into many other areas of the
marriage. This is why impotence or even premature ejaculation can
be a crushing thing for a man. He takes a lack of response from
his wife in a personal way that many wives fail to understand.
When she doesn't express interest equal to his, he thinks she
considers him a failure as a man. He has not succeeded in a male
function that uniquely defines him as a male. Since a woman
doesn't need sexual intercourse to define her as female, she
might view her husband's reactions to her lack of interest as
     If you want your husband to act like a man, make him feel
like one! Continually compliment him on what a good lover he is.
Anything he does right, let him know! Furthermore, pray that the
Lord will give you a response pattern that perfectly complements
your man. The extent to which you can make him feel like a
success in his lovemaking affects his aggressiveness and
self-confidence in the business world, his sense of masculinity,
and his motivation to take over spiritual leadership in the home!

What are the limits?

     My wife recently taught a seminar to about two hundred women
on this subject of "How to be a Creative Counterpart." The last
one and one-half hours of this two-day seminar deal with the
biblical view of sex in marriage.
     At the conclusion of the session, she passed out slips of
paper and asked the women to write down any unanswered questions
they didn't feel she had covered. One lady asked, "What are the
limits God sets on sexual play between a husband and a wife? How
far should I let my husband go?"
     Her use of the word "let" is a sad comment on the vitality
of their sexual life. (It kind of reminds you of high school,
doesn't it?) It implies she is the keeper of the "sacredness" of
sex while valiantly resisting the unsacred pressure of her
husband. But her question often comes up. Three biblical
principles would be helpful for each couple in setting their own

     First, unselfish love must be the motive. This is clearly
the thrust of 1 Cor.13:4-7. Love turns to lust when a man or
woman is obsessed by a particular form of sexual expression, when
he or she can no longer be happy without it. I'm speaking here of
forms of sexual expression other than sexual intercourse, such as
the oral genital love mentioned above (2:3). Paul says,
"Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is
beneficial. Everything is permissible for me - but I will not be
mastered by anything:' (1 Cor.6:12).
     There is another aspect of the notion of unselfish love. Is
your motive simply to use your mate for your own pleasure, or is
your motive to bring him, or her, pleasure? Ask yourself that
question the next time you want to insist on a particular form of
sexual expression that does not appeal to your mate.

Secondly, it must be based on mutual agreement. Consider Phil.
2:1-4 in this regard:

     If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ,
     if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the
     Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy
     complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being
     one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish
     ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others
     better than yourselves.... Each of you should look not only
     to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
     Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.

     I once taught a Bible study on the Song of Solomon and after
hearing my exposition of Song 2:3, one husband went home to his
wife and said, "There! It's in the Bible so now you must do it!"
He had totally missed the point.
     The fact that some particular form of sexual expression is
found in Scripture does not make it right for every couple. This
will be stressed over and over again throughout the pages of this
book. The issue is mutual agreement. The Bible is silent as to
the question of limits. Each husband and wife are free before the
Lord to work out pleasurable and meaningful forms of sexual play
as long as they are within general biblical principles.
     Many of the characteristics of Solomon's and Shulamith's
relationship simply would not be in "character" for your
relationship. Fine. God doesn't ask anyone to be something they
are not. He does, however, ask us to work on our negative
attitudes and try to be what our mate wants within the limits of
our own personality. Thus, everything in this book will not apply
to everyone.

     The third biblical criterion for "limits" is quite simply,
mutual submission. This seems an appropriate application of Eph.
5:21, "... and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ."
While sexual relationships are certainly not in Paul's mind when
he makes this statement, would not this verse apply here also? If
it does, then a basis of limits would be your mate's desires.
If a wife prefers certain forms of sexual expression and her
husband is hesitant or unwilling to meet her needs, he should
work on his attitudes. Likewise, a wife who refuses to consider
some particular form of sexual expression desired by the husband
violates this principle of "mutual submission."
Obviously, our submission to Christ is not a "duty" but is in a
spirit of joyful obedience. Once the great breadth of biblical
"limits" are realized, it is proper to work on one's inner
attitude to become all your mate desires. Obviously, immoral
activities like wife-swapping are excluded from this principle of
"mutual submission" by numerous other Scriptures.

They had a freedom of communication

     A lady came in for counseling concerning some of the
physical aspects of her marriage. Her concern was that in twenty
years of marriage, she had never had an orgasm.
     The counselor's first question was, "Have you and your
husband ever really talked about this?"
"No," she replied.
"Well, have you ever explained to your husband exactly what you
would like him to do to stimulate you?"
"No," she said, with quite a bit of emotion. "Why not?" the
counselor probed.
"Well, we just don't talk about it."

     This dear lady had been experiencing twenty years of tension
because "we just don't talk about it." She had been doubting
herself as a woman and her husband doubted himself as a man
because he wasn't able to bring his wife to an orgasm. Untold
hurt, emotional pain, and frozen communication barriers had been
experienced all because "we just don't talk about it." (In
Appendix 1, some helpful suggestions are given from a biblical
and medical viewpoint toward overcoming orgasmic dysfunction, but
communication based on mutual love and understanding is

     Notice the lovers in this chapter are very vocal in
describing one another's charms (1:15,16), in describing the
sexual pleasure the other is giving (2:3-5), and in describing
what they want each other to do to stimulate them (2:6). Your
partner may not know what you like unless you tell him or her.
Don't keep your mate guessing, upset because he or she doesn't
please you as you would like. Tell your mate exactly what pleases
you, and let your mate take it from there.

Do not awaken sexual passion until "it pleases"

     Shulamith does an amazing thing from the point of view of
today's attitudes about sex. She emphatically warns the daughters
of Jerusalem not to become sexually involved with any man other
than the one they intend to marry. This warning for maintaining
chastity is repeated in 3:5 and 8:4; thus we know God wants us to
pay special attention to it. Why is the warning regarding
pre-marital sex interjected here, in the midst of the love scene?
Possibly because as she describes the beauty and freedom of love
on the wedding night, she associates that freedom with
pre-marital chastity. Thus a beautiful ethical setting for their
wedded love is provided. Sexual love is only intended for one
partner - the one God leads you to marry - and no one else.
     As an orthodox Jewish girl she was raised in a home where
pre-marital chastity was stressed (4:12, 8:8-12), yet she seems
to have nothing but a healthy, positive attitude about sex in
     Sex education in the home is often an attitude communicated
by the parents rather than actual information or rules regarding
sexual behavior. Thus, a home with very specific standards will
not produce children with negative attitudes about sex as long as
the attitudes on sex and the spirit of the physical relationship
between the parents is healthy. A child often picks up attitudes
about sex from the spirit emitted by the parents.

     It seems some evangelical Christians need to readjust their
attitudes on sex along biblical lines. Not long ago an
evangelical magazine had a cover photo of a young husband and his
pregnant wife walking together down a beach. Believe it or not,
many letters came to the editor expressing moral indignation and
shock, threatening to cancel their subscriptions. The cover was
considered "suggestive."
     When another magazine described a major denomination's
report on sexuality, which included an affirmation that sex is
fun, a woman wrote in to imply it was virtual blasphemy to call
sex "fun" when God meant it to be "sacred."
     Unfortunately some Christian wives tend to view sex as a
duty, as something to be endured as part of being submissive to
their husbands. They would never call sex evil because they
believe the Bible and know God created sex. But, on the other
hand, to call it 'joy' is just too much. Therefore, they settle
on the word "sacred," at the same fime giving the impression it a
something highly undesirable, a hush-hush subject one doesn't
talk or think about.

     The Song of Solomon calls for some radical rethinking of the
"Christian" view of sex in marriage. In this beautiful love story
the twentieth century couple can find many points of contact with
their marriage experience. Let's turn our attention in the next
chapter to a Christian view of engagement as we glimpse
Shulamith's reflections of their date life.


To be continued with "A Time for Preporation."

Entered on this Website June 2007

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