When a husband tells his wife how beautiful
she is, it is an important way for her to know how much he loves her. When
she knows that, it makes her even more beautiful. His reflections of her
loveliness actually serve to enhance her beauty. Others can not help but
notice her enhanced beauty, and so come to admire their marriage. But she
The maidens saw her and called her happy;
the queens and concubines also, and they praised her.
"Who is this that looks forth like the
dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army with banners?"
(Song of Solomon 6:9, 10; RSV).
Return, return O Shulammite, return, return,
that we may look upon you. Why should you look upon the Shulammite, as
upon a dance before two armies? (Song of Solomon 6:13; RSV).
A devoted wife who loves her husband also appreciates
the qualities of his appearance. But he does not need to be told so much
directly. It is more advantageous for her to proclaim how attractive he
is to others, because when they see her enhanced beauty and hear her praise
him, it strengthens his reputation in the community. Moreover, he will
notice what she is doing and will rejoice in the benefits of her good influence.
Thus, both build each other up in love.
O that you would kiss me with the kisses
of your mouth! For your love is better than wine, your anointing oils are
fragrant, your name is oil poured out; therefore the maidens love you.
Draw me after you, let us make haste. The king has brought me into his
chambers. We will exult and rejoice in you; we will extol your love more
than wine; rightly do they love you (Song of Solomon 1:2-4; RSV).
While the king was on his couch, my nard
gave forth its fragrance. My beloved is to me a bag of myrrh, that lies
between my breasts. My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms in
the vineyards of Engedi. …Behold, you are beautiful, my beloved, truly
lovely. Our couch is green; the beams of our house are cedar, our rafters
are pine (Song of Solomon 1:12-14, 16, 17; RSV).
What is your beloved more than another
beloved, O fairest among women? What is your beloved more than another
beloved, that you thus adjure us? My beloved is all radiant and ruddy,
distinguished among ten thousand. His head is the finest gold; his locks
are wavy, black as a raven. His eyes are like doves beside springs of water,
bathed in milk, fitly set. His cheeks are like beds of spices, yielding
fragrance. His lips are lilies, distilling liquid myrrh. His arms are rounded
gold, set with jewels. His body is ivory work, encrusted with sapphires.
His legs are alabaster columns, set upon bases of gold. His appearance
is like Lebanon, choice as the cedars. His speech is most sweet, and he
is altogether desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters
of Jerusalem (Song of Solomon Ti:9-16; RSV).
From the time of the wedding, the husband should
be supportive, and the wife should be submissive. Moreover, during the
honeymoon period when the marriage is consummated, each awaken the other
to the joys of holy matrimony. He (the apple tree—see Song of Solomon 2:3)
bows over her in the location where offspring appear.
Who is that coming up from the wilderness,
leaning upon her beloved? Under the apple tree I awakened you. There your
mother was in travail with you, there she who bore you was in travail (Song
of Solomon 8:5; RSV).
A wife may ask her husband what she must do
to bind their relationship closer together and to rest secure in his care.
He should tell her (if she really needs to know) to submit herself to his
Tell me, you whom my soul loves, where
you pasture your flock, where you make it lie down at noon; for why should
I be like one who wanders beside the flocks of your companions?
If you do not know, O fairest among women,
follow in the tracks of the flock, and pasture your kids beside the shepherds'
tents (Song of Solomon 1:7, 8; RSV).
A man needs a source of income to support his
family. A wife may also have a source of income, and she should be willing
to contribute her share to the family treasury under her husband's management.
Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon;
he let out the vineyard to keepers; each one was to bring for its fruit
a thousand pieces of silver. My vineyard, my very own, is for myself; you
O Solomon, may have the thousand, and the keepers of the fruit two hundred
(Song of Solomon 8:11, 12; RSV).
Although a wife is clearly to be submissive
and obedient to her husband, she is by no means to be helpless and burdensome,
lying around like a pet waiting for her call to play. King Lemuel gives
a beautiful description, from his own mother's teachings, of what he calls
a worthy woman—an ideal wife at the apex of her maturity. She is a rare
and precious asset like the Lord's own Grand Lady. She is both strong and
dignified with the inner confidence of the righteous. She uses her words
wisely and kindly. She conducts business by manufacturing and agriculture,
managing her affairs well, not indulging in idleness. She enjoys much freedom
because she uses it responsibly—wisely and righteously. With energetic
zeal she works diligently with her hands from early morning to late night.
Thus, her family is secure and well provided for. And her house is filled
with fine furnishings. She is also kind and generous to the deprived, sharing
what she has. Her husband trusts her fully because she adds to his prosperity,
and to his prominence in the community. Her children and her husband all
justly praise her. She deserves to reap the benefits of her labor and enjoy
the reputation of her industriousness.
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her
price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in
her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not
evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh
willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth
her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat
to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field,
and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She
girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth
that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth
her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth
out her hand to the poor, yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household
are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her
clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he
sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh fine linen, and selleth
it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. Strength and honour are her
clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth
with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well
to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her
children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth
her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord,
she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own
work praise her in the gates (Proverbs
Marriage is a good thing in the Lord's eyes,
and a good woman is a gift from the Lord. She will ennoble and enrich a
A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband…
(Proverbs 12:4; KJV).
Every wise woman buildeth her house…
(Proverbs 14:1; KJV).
Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing,
and obtaineth favour of the Lord (Proverbs 18:22; KJV).
House and riches are the inheritance of
fathers: and a prudent wife is from the Lord (Proverbs 19:14; KJV).
The potentially beautiful relationship between
men and women has not escaped the corrupting influence of modern times.
Men and women together are truly made in the image of God and precious
in His sight; but they have differences in body, mind, and role. The Lord
intended from the beginning that men have authority over women. Paul said:
For man was not made from woman, but
woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man
(1 Corinthians 11:8, 9; RSV).
It is very unpopular in today's world to admit
that the Lord made the masculine gender both stronger and wiser (although
not so extreme that there is no overlapping). But the fact is obvious not
only in Scripture but also in nature. In Solomon's three books we find
only one rather abstruse reference to this difference.
Behold, this is what I found, says the
Preacher, adding one thing to another to find the sum, which my mind has
sought repeatedly, but I have not found. One man among a thousand I found,
but a woman among all these I have not found (Ecclesiastes 7:27, 28;
But Paul said plainly:
Let a woman learn in silence with all
submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men;
she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was
not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor
(l Timothy 2:11-14; RSV).
And Peter said:
Likewise you husbands, live considerately
with your wives, bestowing honor on the woman as the weaker sex, since
you are joint heirs of the grace of life, in order that your prayers may
not be hindered (1 Peter 3:7; RSV).
Although the Lord has given men authority over
women and children, there are times when they rule over men. See Isaiah
3 for an explanation.
In sum: A husband and his wife should
work together for their mutual welfare. A worthy, obedient wife is an invaluable
In this dark world there will be disturbances
even in a paradise. A husband and his wife together must be vigilant in
purging whatever (however small) may invade their lives threatening the
health and productivity of their home, especially when there are children.
Catch us the foxes, the little foxes,
that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom (Song of
Solomon 2:15; RSV).
There will also be times of misunderstanding
between a husband and his wife, causing sorrow. Solomon's wife mentions
one. He approached her at an unusual hour, unexpectedly; and she (not being
prepared) was slow to respond. And so he withdrew, motivated perhaps by
a combination of impatience, misunderstanding, and a desire not to impose.
Such circumstances can produce a temporary period of disharmony of feelings
that makes reconciliation difficult. Certainly, misunderstanding and disappointment
in love can produce a state of dismay. But when such minor occasions arise,
it is a mistake to involve outsiders. Whatever may be their motives, they
will only multiply sorrow and expense. Even his wife's friends were unsympathetic.
I slept, but my heart was awake. Hark!
my beloved is knocking. "Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect
one; for my head is wet with dew, my locks with the drops of the night."
I had put off my garment, how could I
put it on? I had bathed my feet, how could I soil them? My beloved put
his hand to the latch, and my heart was thrilled within me. I arose to
open to my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid
myrrh, upon the handles of the bolt. I opened to my beloved, but my beloved
had turned and gone.
My soul failed me when he spoke, I sought
him, but found him not; I called him, but he gave no answer. The watchmen
found me, as they went about in the city; they beat me, they wounded me,
they took away my mantel, those watchmen of the walls. I adjure you, O
daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you tell him I am
sick with love.
What is your beloved more than another
beloved, O fairest among women? What is your beloved more than another
beloved, that you thus adjure us? (Song of Solomon 5:2-9; RSV).
After describing in detail how wonderful her
husband is and how much she loves him (see Song of Solomon 5:10-16). they
are finally persuaded to help. But it was all unnecessary; they are together
again—time heals minor wounds best without the help of others.
Whither has your beloved gone, O fairest
among women? Whither has your beloved turned, that we may seek him with
you? My beloved has gone down to his garden, to the beds of spices, to
pasture his flock in the gardens, and to gather lilies (Song of Solomon
6:1, 2; RSV).
Solomon mentioned even more serious problems.
Besides that most deadly of all women—the adulteress—he spoke of another
kind that is grievous to have to live with. It is better, he said, to live
in a closet or in the hot desert than have to endure a contentious, fretful,
quarrelsome woman. This type of woman is like the infamous Chinese water
torture, and she is impossible to restrain. No wonder so many husbands
of her kind flee.
…the contentions of a wife are a continual
dropping (Proverbs 19:13; KJV).
It is better to dwell in a corner of the
housetop than in a roomy house with a quarrelsome woman
(Proverbs 21:9; 25:24; NAB).
It is better to dwell in a desert land,
than with a contentious and fretful woman (Proverbs 21:19; RV).
A constant drip on a rainy day and a quarrelsome
wife are alike; he who would restrain her would restrain the wind, or grasp
oil with his right hand (Proverbs 27:15, 16; AAT).
Perhaps even worse is the woman who is treacherous
and domineering. She is a bitter tormenter—a suitable reward for sinners.
And I find more bitter than death the
woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth
God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her (Ecclesiastes
An evil wife destroys her own home and afflicts
her husband like a deadly disease.
A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband:
but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones (Proverbs
Every wise woman buildeth her house: but
the foolish plucketh it down with her hands (Proverbs 14:1; KJV).
In sum: Problems between a husband and his
wife are to be expected. How successfully they are resolved depends largely
upon the quality of their spirits.
Rearing children is one of the most rewarding
experiences of life. They, too, are a gift of God. Solomon, no doubt, had
many of them, and he said:
Lo, sons are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are
the sons of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them
! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate
(Psalms 127:3-5; RSV).
Of course, daughters are desirable too; but,
as China's recent only-child policy is demonstrating, parents typically
prefer sons. Being worried about having too many children is like being
worried about having too much property. Managed wisely, they eventually
bring strength and prosperity. Those weak in faith may worry about too
many children. The righteous of the Bible worried about not having enough;
and the barren womb was likened to poverty and drought. "Be fruitful and
multiply" was the first command God gave to mankind.
Nevertheless, as every parent knows, rearing
children is also one of the most challenging tasks of life. The pain is
not over after the delivery. Suffering and sacrifice go along with proper
child rearing. We all owe our parents an incalculable debt. One could not
hire someone to provide all the attention and tender loving care that righteous
parents give free of charge. To do the job right, parents need honor and
respect. Children have a grave responsibility to honor and obey their parents.
One of the original ten commandments states:
Honour thy father and thy mother: that
thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee
(Exodus 20:12; KJV).
Jeremiah gives an example. He tells of a special
blessing the Lord gave to a certain man's sons because they were so careful
to respect their father's orders.
"Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God
of Israel: Go and say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
Will you not receive instruction and listen to my words? says the Lord.
The command which Jonadab the son of Rechab gave to his sons, to drink
wine, has been kept; and they drink none to this day, for they have obeyed
their father's command. I have spoken to you persistently, but you have
not listened to me. I have sent to you all my servants the prophets, sending
them persistently, saying, 'Turn now every one of you from his evil way,
and amend your doings, and do not go after other gods to serve them, and
then you shall dwell in the land which I gave to you and your fathers.'
But you did not incline your ear or listen to me. The sons of Jonadab the
son of Rechab have kept the command which their father gave them, but this
people has not obeyed me. Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of hosts,
the God of Israel: behold I am bringing on Judah and all the inhabitants
of Jerusalem all the evil that I have pronounced against them; because
I have spoken to them and they have not listened, I have called to them
and they have not answered." But to the house of the Rechabites Jeremiah
said, "Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Because you have
obeyed the command of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and
done all that he commanded you, therefore thus says the Lord of hosts,
the God of Israel: Jonadab the son of Rechab shall never lack a man to
stand before me" (Jeremiah 35:13-19;
Paul restated Moses' command by saying;
Children, obey your parents in the Lord:
for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment
with promise; that it may be well with thee and thou mayest live long on
the earth (Ephesians 6:1-3; KJV).
Parents should not have to worry about earning
respect from their children. Of course, parents should so live as to encourage
love in their children, but honor is their natural right, and the Lord
does not take lightly the dishonoring of parents. Simply cursing or striking
a parent was a capital offense. (See Exodus 21:15, 17.) It, too, is a deadly
moral poison contributing to social decay.
He that doeth violence to his father,
and chaseth away his mother, is a son that causeth shame and bringeth reproach
(Proverbs 19:26; ASV).
Whoso curseth his father or his mother,
his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness (Proverbs 20:20; KJV).
Hearken unto thy father that begat thee,
and despise not thy mother when she is old (Proverbs 23:22; KJV).
Whoso robbeth his father or his mother,
and saith, It is no transgression; the same is the companion of a destroyer
(Proverbs 28:24; KJV).
There are those who curse their father
and do not bless their mother. There are those who are pure in their own
eyes and yet are not washed from their own filth (Proverbs 30:11, 12;
The eye that mocks a father and scorns
to obey a mother will be picked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten
by young vultures (Proverbs 30:17; MLB).
A strong father in a healthy home is a great
asset to a child, and so he has a vested interest in supporting his parents.
…the glory of sons is their fathers
(Proverbs 17:6; RSV).
Parents have a grave responsibility to train
their children. They do not develop well on their own. Parents must chasten
and encourage them to hate the evil and love the good—not abusively, but
with love. Remember Paul said:
Fathers, do not exasperate your children;
instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord
(Ephesians 6:4; NIV).
And Solomon said:
He who spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him (Proverbs 13:24;
Chastise your son, while there is still
hope of him, and do not let him run to ruin (Proverbs 19:18; MOFFATT).
Do not withhold discipline from a child;
if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. If you beat him with the rod
you will save his life from Sheol. My son, if your heart is wise, my heart
too will be glad. My soul will rejoice when your lips speak what is right
(Proverbs 23:13-16; RSV).
My son, be wise, and make my heart glad,
that I may answer him that reproacheth me (Proverbs 27:11; KJV).
Both parents and children must cooperate in
the process of education and development.
Hear, my son, your father's instruction,
and reject not your mother's teaching, for they are a fair garland for
your head, and pendants for your neck (Proverbs 1:8, 9; RSV).
Hear, ye children, the instruction of
a father, and attend to know understanding (Proverbs 4:1; KJV).
My son, keep thy father's commandment,
and forsake not the law of thy mother: bind them continually upon thine
heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee;
when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall
talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and
reproofs of instruction are the way of life (Proverbs 6:20-23; KJV).
A wise son heareth his father's instruction:
but a scorner heareth not rebuke (Proverbs 13:1; KJV).
A fool despises his father's instruction,
but he who heeds admonition is prudent (Proverbs 15:5; RSV).
If both children and parents succeed in working
together, both will reap the rewards. If either parents or children, or
both, neglect their duty, both will suffer the consequences.
A wise son makes a glad father, but
a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother (Proverbs 10:1; RSV).
A wise son maketh a glad father: but a
foolish man despiseth his mother (Proverbs 15:20; KJV).
He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his
sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy (Proverbs 17:21; KJV).
A foolish son is a grief to his father,
and bitterness to her that bare him (Proverbs 17:25; KJV).
A foolish son is ruin to his father… (Proverbs
Train up a child in the way he should
go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6;
The father of the righteous shall greatly
rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. Thy
father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice
(Proverbs 23:24, 25; KJV).
Whoso keepeth the law is a wise son: but
he that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father (Proverbs
A lover of wisdom brings joy to his father,
but one who keeps company with harlots squanders his wealth (Proverbs
The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a
child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame (Proverbs 29:15;
But each person—father, mother, son, daughter—is
ultimately responsible for his own soul. (See Ezekiel 18 for amplification.)
Solomon's advice is to take good care of
your family: neither trouble nor neglect it.
He that troubleth his own house shall
inherit the wind… (Proverbs 11:29; KJV).
Like a bird that strays from her nest,
is a man that strays from his home (Proverbs 27:8; AAT).
Producing a successful family results in one
of the richest rewards of later life.
Grandchildren are the crown of the aged…
(Proverbs 17:6; RSV).
In sum: Parents have a grave responsibility
to train their children, who must, in turn, show honor and obedience. When
child rearing is successful the whole family benefits. When it fails all
Young girls should be prepared for marriage
early in their lives, according to their temperament and special nature,
by cultivating their individual talents. If one be reserved, let her learn
well how to protect and shelter. If one be sociable, teach her how to be
a gracious hostess. Solomon's wife was reserved, and she brought both beauty
and peace to his life.
We have a little sister, and she has
no breasts. What shall be do for our sister, on the day when she is spoken
for? If she is a wall, we will build upon her a battlement of silver; but
if she is a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar. I was a wall,
and my breasts were like towers; then I was in his eyes as one who brings
peace (Song of Solomon 8:8-10; RSV).
A young man should also prepare for marriage.
He should gain possession of quality goods—durable and attractive—and he
should have all-round protection to ensure adequate security. These are
things needed to aid a couple as they journey together through life. And
all of the young ladies should be invited to the wedding so that they may
come to recognize the joy that marriage brings.
What is that coming up from the wilderness,
like a column of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all
the fragrant powders of the merchant? Behold, it is the litter of Solomon!
About it are sixty mighty men of the mighty men of Israel, all girt with
swords and expert in war, each with his sword at his thigh, against alarms
by night. King Solomon made himself a palanquin from the wood of Lebanon.
He made its posts of silver, its back of gold, its seat of purple; it was
lovingly wrought within by the daughters of Jerusalem. Go forth, O daughters
of Zion, and behold King Solomon, with the crown with which his mother
crowned him on the day of his wedding, on the day of the gladness of his
heart (Song of Solomon 3:6-11; RSV).
Those with experience in marriage should offer
to share counsel and good advice. And those who are inexperienced should
be desirous to learn.
O you who dwell in the gardens, my companions
are listening for your voice; let me hear it (Song of Solomon 8:13;
In sum: Young men and women should be properly
prepared for marriage.
The Power of Love
Love between a husband and his wife is a
powerful force, able to stir strong feelings. Care and tenderness are both
necessary. A lovely modern song advises, "Try a little tenderness" because
"love is her whole happiness." Solomon's wife reveals the intensity of
Sustain me with raisins, refresh me
with apples; for I am sick with love. O that his left hand were under my
head, and that his right hand embraced me! I adjure you, O daughters of
Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the hinds of the field, that you stir not
up nor awaken love until it please (Song of Solomon 2:5-7; RSV).
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
by the gazelles or the hinds of the field, that you stir not up nor awaken
love until it please (Song of Solomon 3:5; RSV).
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
if you find my beloved, that you tell him I am sick with love (Song
of Solomon 5:8; RSV).
O that his left hand were under my head,
and that his right hand embraced me! I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
that you stir not up nor awaken love until it please (Song of Solomon
And Solomon confesses her power over his feelings:
You have ravished my heart, my sister,
my bride, you have ravished my heart with a glance of your eyes, with one
jewel of your necklace (Song of Solomon 4:9; RSV).
Turn away your eyes from me, for they
disturb me… (Song of Solomon 6:5; RSV).
Solomon makes a plea (relevant for both husbands
and wives) for loyalty and faithfulness, else terrifying storms will be
unleashed. Love is a priceless commodity, and it cannot be bought and sold
or traded about like merchandise.
Set me as a seal upon your heart, as
a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, jealousy as cruel as
the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a most vehement flame. 1Many
waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered
for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly scorned (Song
of Solomon 8:6, 7; RSV).
In sum: Love is a very powerful force, able
to bring marvelous joy or terrible sorrow.
Copyright 1997 by Walter
L. Porter may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no cost to