Summary: In love, if we start by asking God what he wants, chances are we will find a love like the one in Song of Solomon, and it will become its own song.
The Song of Solomon, or Song of Songs, is one of the most interesting, unique books in the Bible. Nothing else is like it. Psalms has poetry, but not like this. Ruth and Esther have love stories, but not like this one. Paul talked about marriage, but not as Song of Solomon does. This book of the Bible is a little difficult to understand, a little out of place (at first glance), and even a little uncomfortable. But what Song of Solomon contains is worth navigating the cultural language, the poetic descriptions, and even the inevitable blushing because it accurately and beautifully conveys the emotions of a very real, very passionate love story.
Before we get into some specific study in this book, I need to put everything on the table: this book talks about a young couple meeting and getting to know each other; it talks about engagement and the excitement that brings; it talks about the wedding—and the wedding night; it talks about sex; it talks about conflict. It’s all here, and we’re not going to shy away from it. Because while some of that stuff seems at times uncomfortable or out of place in church, the truth is that it’s real life. And I love that this slice of real life is in Scripture—because it’s a great reminder to us that God created and cares about all of life, even this part of it.
As we begin this study of attraction, love, marriage, and everything that comes with it, we’re going to start at the beginning: attraction. Something in all of us is made to feel attraction, and how we process and handle it is important. In fact, I love that this book is called a “song,” because love, at its most beautiful, is just that, and how the song starts is just as important as how it progresses.
I think we tend to ask ourselves three important questions in the beginning phase of a romantic relationship, so let’s analyze those three questions in the order they typically come up:
What Do I Want?
The first question most people ask, whether out loud or just in their minds, is something like this: “What do I want?” That’s a good question. I remember being a fourteen-year-old, just in high school, and making a list of all the things I wanted to look for in a wife. Yes, at fourteen. Some of that list is funny now, and some of it is pretty cool because I found it in my wife: beautiful, smart, funny. The typical stuff.
Attraction begins with what we want. That’s what attraction is. One of the ways the dictionary describes it is, “something that attracts or is intended to attract people by appealing to their desires and tastes.” It involves what we want. That’s OK! If I wasn't attracted physically, mentally, intellectually, and emotionally to my wife, we wouldn't have been able to spend the hours together that we did when we were dating.
Do you remember that first moment of attraction? Remember all those feelings? Maybe, if you have that in your minds, you can feel some of it when you see this first meeting, too:
Not too much is that noteworthy. It might just have been an insignificant meeting, but when attraction is involved, it becomes something different, something memorable, something ... life-changing.
We see this kind of attraction in Song of Solomon. Look at chapter one, verses 9–11:
Read Song of Solomon 1:9–11.
This is the first time we hear from the man in Song of Solomon, and he was talking about—what else?—how beautiful this woman was. The image he used in verse 9 is a really fun one. The word harnessed that you see in some translations isn't actually in the original Hebrew writing. It was the translators’ attempt to understand this image. But the sentence actually makes a lot more sense without that added word. He said that she was like “a mare among Pharaoh’s chariot horses.” This was a common battle tactic—releasing a female horse around the enemy’s chariots, and the male horses would get distracted and could no longer pull the chariots. That’s what the man said his beloved woman was like—a distraction so powerful, so beautiful that he couldn't focus on anything else.
He talked about her cheeks and her jewelry, and he was drawn to it. Attraction. This is what he wanted. And that’s a good thing!
She had a few things to say as well. Look back at verse 2:
Read Song of Solomon 1:2–4.
She was obviously seeing something she wanted in him, too. This was not a bland, emotionless arrangement of two people. There was passion here. She wanted him to kiss her; she said she would rather be loved by him than enjoy good food and drink. In verse 3 she said he smelled good. He had put on cologne, and she liked it. She was drawn to it.