Marriage is a gift from God and it’s a gift that He takes seriously. The good news is, He gives us instructions for a marriage made in heaven within His Word. In Song of Solomon chapter eight, we look at two key components that every marriage should have.
All right, let's go! Welcome, friends in the room; Fort Worth; Houston; El Paso; Fayetteville; Phoenix; Mint Hill, North Carolina; Cedar Rapids, wherever you are tuning in from. We are wrapping up this series Rated R for Romance as we explore Song of Solomon and this relationship between this couple. I thought I would start with a couple I found out about this past week named Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher.
Who has heard of Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher in here? Nobody. I guarantee it. Here's who Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher are. They hold the record for the longest marriage in the modern era. These two got married in 1924 and were married for 87 years until he passed away in 2011. They got married at 18 and 17, and when they did, in 1924… Think about that. Calvin Coolidge was president. Most of you guys don't even know who Calvin Coolidge is. You think that's a cartoon.
Babe Ruth was the hero of the day. The Great Depression had not happened. The Roaring Twenties were taking place. We're about to be in the Roaring Twenties again, and the woman of this couple just died off in 2013, but for 87 years… I know. What's in their genetics, for real? Vitamins, or what were they eating? They went through 15 presidential administrations. They survived the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War.
They were in their 60s and married together and had over four decades of marriage when we landed on the moon. That is crazy! They were in their mid- to late-60s when JFK was assassinated, and they just died in 2013. It is the longest recorded marriage in modern history. To find a marriage similar, you would have to almost go back to Abraham and Sarah in the Bible. That is how straight-up long these two were together, and they had a marriage that clearly lasted.
They had a relationship that far exceeds anything all of us, likely, will ever experience in marriage, but what does that have to do with where we're going tonight? In a similar way that their marriage was able to stand the test of time, this series has been devoted to helping create and helping us build a foundation for dating, for relationships, for romance from God's Word so you and I can have the best chance at having a marriage that succeeds.
This was almost as if it were a marriage made in heaven. I mean, that's incredible. Tonight, we're going to wrap up this series, and what I want to do is give two takeaways and drive them home as clearly as I can from God's Word in this final chapter of Song of Solomon on what a marriage made from heaven should look like.
Inside of the room right now, most of you will be married in the next 10 years. That's not a guarantee, and it's not a promise. Statistically, the odds are in your favor. If that's true, and there are few decisions in life, other than trusting and walking with Jesus and who you're going to worship, that are going to more significantly impact your life than who you marry, so if you can go in knowing, "This is what God says marriage is about. This is the type of relationship you should be looking for," who would not want to experience that? A fool is who.
So we're going to talk tonight about the last two things from what God says. If you want to have a marriage made in heaven, here's what it looks like. Let me just say something really quickly before we dive in. There's a lot of talk in our culture about what marriage is and what it isn't. When it comes to the arena of marriage, biblically, God says you and I don't get to say what it is or what it isn't or what it should look like, because he defines marriage.
From the very beginning, he orchestrated this incredible thing. He said, "Marriage is going to be a picture and a metaphor of my love for the church." So you can add rules, change rules, do whatever you want, but when you step in the arena of marriage, it's like you're stepping on God's territory, as though all of life was not already there. If you are going to step toward marriage (like I said, most of you are), you need to know you are stepping toward holy ground. Like, "take off your sandals" type of holy ground.
What he says about marriage and what it should look like is going to define what those of us who experience a marriage made in heaven are going to have in our relationship. So we're going to continue this series. We're going to look at Song of Solomon, chapter 8. I'm going to give two takeaways. I'm going to read through the text, unpack it, we're going to give two takeaways from this text, really from the book in general, and we'll get you guys out of here with enough time to see the Astros clinch the World Series. How about that?
We'll start in verse 5 of chapter 8. In case you're joining us for the first time, here's what Song of Solomon is. It's like the Romeo and Juliet of the Bible. It is a book that was included in the Scripture that God celebrates romance between one man and one woman. Who's the one man? His name is King Solomon. He's the king. His married girl, or his "Boo," was named Shulamith, and they had this relationship we've traced for the last handful of weeks. If you missed it, you can go check it out on The Porch app or on iTunes or podcast and catch up with us.
They've had this journey where they went from not in a relationship to dating to engaged, married, honeymoon night, and conflict, and we've just explored. Tonight, we're going to get into the "Until death do us part" part of the song. It is a song, just to remind you. It goes back and forth. It's very poetic, and it's like the guy sings something, the girl sings something. Every once in a while, the friends chime in and give their two cents too.
So, we're going to pick it up in verse 5 where the friends chime in as they see this couple coming back from this bed and breakfast weekend getaway they had, which we covered last week. Here's verse 5, friends speaking: "Who is that coming up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved?""Who is that girl riding in that chariot? She's leaning on her boy. Who is that?" They know. It's rhetorical. It's her. She chimes in and begins to speak to her husband. "Under the apple tree I awakened you." Or "I aroused you," your translation may have. "There your mother was in labor with you; there she who bore you was in labor."
She basically brings up what feels incredibly awkward and weird to us, but it's an expression of the continuing legacy of love and relationships from their generation to their parents' generation. That's weird for us in this day and age. In Hebrew culture, it would have been affirming and connecting to the legacy of their family tradition. She's speaking erotically, as we've talked about apple trees being seen as an aphrodisiac. Making love in this particular place.
Verse 6: "Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm…" A seal was like a stamp that someone would have. In that day and age, people would have a seal, and it would be like, "This is a declaration. This is my possession. I'm putting my seal on different things I own so people can know it's mine." The same thing you do at your apartment with your roommates when you write your initials on the milk.
You're like, "Hey, nobody else drink this milk, because it has my initials on it. Who drank my milk in here?" Or somebody borrows my clothes, and I clearly put my initials inside of it, because I'm declaring, "That's mine, my possession." She's saying, "I want you to put that type of thing on your heart with me. All of your affections are mine, and I'm all of yours. And put it on your arm so people can publicly know and declare through your actions that we are one another's. I'm possessed by and I possess my boy."
Verse 6: "…for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord."Love is as strong as death, as in it lasts all the way to the grave. Jealousy is as fierce as the grave. In other words, death and the grave are not selective in who they choose. It takes all of us. Jealousy in the context of marriage… There's a righteous jealousy that takes place, where it is not selective toward being protective of the person it loves.
What do I mean by that? Inside of the context of marriage, there's a righteous jealousy, where you're like, "Hey, this is my girl. I don't care who you are. Nobody else is getting near her or spending one-on-one time or talking to her like her husband talks to her. I don't care if you're my best friend or if you're in my family or any of that. I'm protective." It says jealousy is as fierce as the grave.
Verse 7: "Many waters [or trials, when storms of life come] cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised." Love is such a thing that you can't buy it. This would be where you insert the Alicia Keys song. "Some people want it all. I don't want anything at all but your love," is basically what she's saying.
Verse 8. This is where it takes what I think is the weirdest turn in the entire book. It goes to a flashback where her brothers are introduced, where it says, "We have a little sister, and she has no breasts." You're going, "What are they talking about?" She's flashing back, and I'll tell you why I say that in a second. It's her brothers speaking of an earlier time in life. And by "no breasts," they're not throwing shade at her. They're saying she hasn't gone through puberty yet. "We have a little sister."
Verse 8: "What shall we do for our sister on the day when she is spoken for? If she is a wall, we will build on her a battlement of silver…" In other words, if she protects herself as a wall (talking about her purity), then we're going to put battlements, decorative battle stuff. You don't make silver for battle or for protection. It's just for decoration. "…but if she is a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar."
I love that. If you have a sister in the room, you know what these guys are saying right here. What is a door? A door is something that opens to give access to other people. So the brothers are going, "Hey, if she can't learn to control herself, we are going to board that door up." That's what they're saying. She says (verse 10), "I was a wall…" That's why we say it's a flashback. "…and my breasts were like towers…" Dang, girl. "…then I was in his eyes as one who finds peace."
There's so much in this verse to unpack. There's so much in this passage that's beautiful. Some scholars think she's taking a jab at the brothers, like, "Oh yeah? I was the sister with no breasts? Now I have some towers." The other thing is that she says, "I was like one who found peace," or shalom. The word shalom is the same translation for the name Solomon. It was as though, "Solomon found in me peace, and I found my Solomon (or my peace) through this relationship."
Then she uses a metaphor to talk about their relationship. She says, "Solomon [her husband] had a vineyard at Baal-hamon…" That's just a place. "…he [leased] out the vineyard to keepers; each one was to bring for its fruit a thousand pieces of silver. My vineyard…" She says, "In the same way, my vineyard…" Talking about her body. All throughout the book, we've addressed her vineyard is her body.
"…my very own, is before me; you, O Solomon, may have the thousand, and the keepers of the fruit two hundred." She's talking about her body, saying, "I'm giving all of the fruits of myself to you." He says, "You who dwell in the gardens with friends in attendance, let me hear your voice!" She says, the last line of the book, "Come away, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or like a young stag on the spice-laden mountains." Talking about her breasts again.
She's basically like, "Hey, we're going to hit repeat. I'll make love to you all night long, and keep that track rolling," is essentially where the book ends. Now what I want to do is I want to cover two takeaways from something we learn from this couple in this passage and, really, throughout the entire book that are the marks of a marriage that is made from heaven, of the type of marriage God wants you to have.
1 . Marriage is a covenant. What do I mean by that? This is really, really important. What is a covenant? That's a word that maybe you've heard before and people kind of throw out there. Biblically, you can look at Hebrews 9, you can look all throughout the Bible. A covenant is a relationship that two parties enter into, and it is only able to end by death of one party. It is a covenant that people enter into, and it's until death do us part every single time. You cannot get out of it in the same way you would get out of a contract.
A lot of you guys are in contracts with AT&T, and you're like, "Dude, if Verizon could beat them, I would go over to them in a heartbeat," and that's a contract. A covenant is a relationship that you mutually enter into that can only end in death. Marriage, biblically, is a relationship two people enter into that can only be ended by death. It is the fact that it is a covenant and the reason the text says, "Love is as strong as death." It matches it all the way to the grave.
They are entered into a relationship that is a covenant that lasts an entire lifetime. That's what their marriage is. That's what marriage biblically is. This is why the couple can have the mark of jealousy and it be a righteous thing, because they've entered in and agreed, "I'm his and he's mine for life. I have possession over this person." There can be a righteous jealousy to that. You may think jealousy every time is all bad. That's not true. Jealousy can be, "Hey, I rightfully have rights over this thing in this marriage."
God, we're told, has jealousy over you. Do you know that? He yearns jealously over his people who are rightfully his. Now, what is not righteous jealousy… Let me just say this, because this is one of the things that gets asked by people. What's not righteous jealousy and what this does not apply to is those of us in the room who are in dating relationships for whom jealousy is kind of like our… We just claim it as "That's just kind of who I am. I need to see your phone and see who you've been texting or see what DMs you've been passing on to other girls."
That type of jealousy is not what the Bible is talking about. Generally speaking, that type of jealousy or the type of jealousy where the guy is like, "Hey, I can't believe you were talking to that guy. I'm about to go punch that dude right in the face," and you're like, "Easy. He was taking my order at Starbucks…" That type of jealousy is not what the Bible says is a healthy or righteous, typically good thing.
In fact, let me be like a friend here and a big brother to you. Typically, when I hear someone talk about, "My girlfriend is so controlling. She wants to see my phone. She wants to see who I've been talking to" or the girl is describing how her boyfriend struggles with rage or jealousy… Those are consistently red flags, and if you are experiencing those, you should be concerned. Why do I say that?
Almost every time that's happening, one of two things is happening. Either the girl in that scenario, if she's the jealous one, or the guy if he's the jealous one… There's some baggage from the past they have not worked through, so they hide behind the banner of, "I'm just slow to trust," and it's because they haven't healed from their past baggage. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13 that love always trusts. As a Christian, you do not get the excuse to hide behind, "I just don't trust people easily."
So if they're in that scenario, there's either baggage from their past or current baggage of their present. Maybe somebody cheated on them. Something painful happened in their past. But generally, it's like, "Dude, she hasn't healed from that" or you are a sleazeball and not trustworthy. It's typically one of those two scenarios. Either way, it's not a great reflection of the relationship. It's like, "Oh, no, no. She doesn't have any baggage. I'm just a total sleazeball." Not a great sign of the relational health.
If you're in that scenario, you should at least have some concern and be thoughtful about that. "Why can I not trust this person?" Is it baggage you need to heal from and you need to own or are you dating people who are not trustworthy? You should not date people who are not trustworthy, who are not worthy of your trust or have not proven worthy of your trust. But in this covenant context, there was an appropriate jealousy that was being displayed here, because it was a covenant.
So, marriage is a covenant. A covenant can only end in death. Most of you are going to get married in the next 10 years. You're going to step into something God says is his, and it is a relationship he has said only ends in death. "Wait, David. What about divorce? Doesn't that end a relationship or can't a marriage end in divorce? I've seen all kinds of relationships… My parents' marriage ended in a divorce" or "A divorce took place in my marriage."
So am I saying that actually was not the dissolving of that relationship? Maybe. Jesus is asked about marriage in Matthew, chapter 19, and he's asked by these guys who come up. They're called Pharisees. They're basically the religious leaders of the day. They're coming to trap Jesus. They go up, and they're like, "Hey, Jesus. What are the circumstances when it's okay to divorce your wife?" Jesus gives them this answer. This is Matthew, chapter 19, starting in verse 3.
"And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, 'Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?' He answered, 'Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh"? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.'"
People come up. They're like, "Jesus, what are the circumstances under which it's okay to get a divorce? If they cheat on you? If they are mean to you? If you just don't like them that day? If you're ready to move on? When is it okay?" Jesus in response to them asking, "When is it permissible?" gives an answer that reflects, "I'm not even sure it's possible." The state of Texas may recognize your divorce, but that doesn't mean God does.
There may be a scenario where people came together and were like, "Mutually irreconcilable differences. We're over this," and you have stamped it, and you have seen a divorce, but that doesn't mean God says the marriage is over in his eyes or that that person is free to remarry, because God says, "Marriage is mine, and when you bring those two together, it's as though I fuse them into one," and it is hard to "un-one" what God made one.
It's like this. There's an old illustration we've used here before. If I take this and I'm to pour what represents one person in the relationship, and then this is you… Guys are blue and ladies are as close as we could get to pink. I pour this in here, and then I decide, "I'm not really digging the whole… What is that? Crimson or maroon? I'm just going to separate these things back out." And I try to pour the blue back in here and the red back in here. It wouldn't work, because they've moved together.
The Bible says, as crazy as this is… I need you to hear me, because this is what you are walking into. There isn't some like, "Hey, if this doesn't work out, we'll just hit the 'ejection' button." God says, "You have moved together in a way that you cannot un-one and separate from one another." Now, there are people who disagree or there are people who would say inside of the Bible there are two exceptions. If they abandon you or if there's adultery, those would be times where the marriage would dissolve.
I don't have time to get into all of the different scenarios and opinions, but godly people would disagree. Here's what everyone would agree on: marriage is a big deal to God. It is something you should not take lightly. He does not take it lightly, and he says in Ephesians 5, "It is a reflection of me and my love for the church. The reason you cannot just leave is because I do not just leave. Every time a marriage is broken apart, especially by Christians, it is an indictment or it is a poor reflection of my covenant (Jesus speaking) and my love for my bride, the church."
Marriage is a covenant that only ends in death. If you're interested, you can go check out our Real Truth. Real Quick. by our senior pastor Todd. Type in "Real Truth. Real Quick." Type in "divorce." You can find out more answers on specifics of that stuff. There are people who disagree on some of the implications or some gray areas, but no one disagrees that marriage is a big deal. In Malachi 2:16, God says, "I hate divorce."
If you've come from a home like I did, it's no wonder why, because of the pain and the destruction that divorce introduces to the couple, to the children, to the family, to anyone who's involved. I feel the pain of divorce at every holiday, as I know many of you do. Sadly, more and more… As a pastor, I'm part of weddings all the time, and it is a rare thing for me to do a wedding where the bride and the groom both have parents who stayed together.
It becomes this whole orchestration of "Here's my mom and stepfather" and "Who's going to sit where?" and "Who's going to say, 'Her mother and I'?" It is a tragic thing. God who loves you doesn't want you to experience that. So, as someone who is incredibly vested in your success and your future marriage being amazing, because marriage is amazing, I want you to go in with eyes wide open. My whole goal for this talk is for you to go in going, "Whoa! That's a really big deal," which is exactly how the disciples responded to Jesus' teaching.
In other words, at the end of Jesus saying that, the disciples go, "Whoa! Jesus, that was a little intense. If that's the case, maybe it's better to not marry." Jesus isn't like, "Oh, no. Guys, it's the best. Are you kidding me? No, you've got to try it. It's so great." He basically kind of walks off. He's like, "Some people can accept it, some people can't," and he walks off. Yes, it is a big deal, and you need to know you are entering into a covenant. So that's the first thing: marriage by definition is a covenant.
2 . In marriage, love is a choice. There's a lot of debate, even as I was thinking of working on this message this week. I know some of you guys right now are disagreeing with me. You're like, "Yeah, sometimes it's a choice, but other times it isn't." There are even things we talk about in culture. We're like, "Love is a verb" or "Love is a noun" or "Love is a feeling," these different expressions. We disagree and we agree. It's kind of all of them. Right? No. Biblically, love is a choice, and it's a command in marriage.
What do I mean by that? This is getting a little bit heavy. Everybody put their thinking caps on. Here we go. This is an educated crowd, everyone listening in. I'm confident you've got this. In Hebrew, which is the original language Song of Solomon was written in, there are three different words in the book of Song of Solomon for love. Each of them has a different variation. In other words, in Hebrew, there are three ways you can talk about love or three types of love.
In English, we're pretty simple. We just like to use love. So we're like, "I love chocolate, and I love the Astros, and I love her, and, God, I love you." We use the same word. In Hebrew, there are different expressions you would use for different scenarios. There are three types of love. The first love is called rayah. It's in the book. It's a companion love, like, "You're my companion, my friend. I feel affection." You can have this kind of like, "Hey, we're platonic, just bros here." That's a type of love.
The second type of love is dod. This is erotic or sexual love. This was like the honeymoon night. That's what they were using there. The third type of love is the love they mention in this chapter. It's called ahava. It is a word that, by definition, means a love of decision. It's a word that literally comes from the root to decide to give of oneself. It is the type of love that says, "I see everything messed up, and no matter how hard it gets, I'm not going anywhere."
It's not the erotic love, which can't make a marriage last. It's not just the companion, "Hey, you're my buddy" love. It is a "I am committed, and I'm keeping the covenant" love. That's what the ahava is in that text. The ahava is the one that is as strong as death. By definition in here, it is that love is a deciding love. It is a choice you make. That's what is mentioned here.
Biblically, in Ephesians 5, the apostle Paul would pick this up, and he would say, "Husbands, here's how you should think about love." Here's what he says in Ephesians 5:25: "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…" That's nuts in our day and age. Here's what I mean. If you think about it, the number of times that people are like, "I just don't love her anymore" or "I'm not in love with her anymore…"
Paul would say, "Here's what I hear you saying, twenty-first-century person. You are directly rejecting the command of God in your life. You're choosing to say, 'Hey, God, I'm choosing to be disobedient to what you command in the Bible.'" Think about that. Paul would say, "It's not, 'Husbands, love your wife when you are in love' or 'Husbands, love your wife when you feel love.' It is 'Husbands, sacrificially lay down your life for your wife.'"
It is a command, it is a choice, and in marriage, it is not an optional thing. It is "I'm making the decision. I am laying down my life. My desires and my preferences come second to yours," and mutually doing that together with your spouse. Love is a choice. It is not a feeling that "Hey, I only do this whenever I feel like it." Biblically, love is a command of God, and as soon as you enter into that…
This is what makes marriage both amazing and really hard. Here's what marriage is: it is one day of dying to yourself after the next, after the next, after the next. Dude, let me be honest. Marriage is amazing. This is the tension I feel. You don't want to have people be like, "Oh my gosh! I'm never getting married," and you also don't want people to be like, "Yes, it's amazing. Our love will last us through a lifetime. It's going to be great."
Marriage is amazing, dude. It's incredible. It's one of the greatest gifts. You can have sex whenever you want, or whenever they're willing, and you can just have an amazing time together, and you have this friend, and you're always there. It's awesome. It's the greatest thing ever, yet it is also really, really hard. One of the reasons it's hard is because love is a command in the Bible, where you constantly have to go, "I have to die to myself, and I'm choosing not to just do what I want in this moment but to put the needs of the person in front of me there."
Here's why this matters: you are going to step into a marriage, and there's going to come a day you're going to wake up, and you're not going to feel like loving that person that day. Here's what happens in dating. You guys just have no idea. In dating, you're in this stage right now…I remember it…where opposites attract. You're like, "Oh man. They're so quiet. They're so mysterious over there." Everything about them, you're like, "Gosh."
Then you get in marriage and you're like, "Uh, is anything going on in there at all? You're so quiet." The thing that attracted you all of a sudden you want to attack them for. There's a psychologist who said, "Opposites attract, and in a marriage they attack." All of a sudden, you go from "Man, she's so fun-loving and free-spirited, and I'm kind of buttoned up, and it's great to have her around…" Then you get into marriage, and it becomes not like, "She's so fun-loving." It's like, "Do you ever focus on anything?"
Or the guy… You're like, "I just love that he's athletic." Then you get married, and you're like, "All he cares about is sports. That's it. That's all he cares about." Whatever the thing that you're like, "This is the thing I really like about this person," all of a sudden, you find yourself going, "Man, I'm not sure I like them." "She's so sweet" turns into "She doesn't have an opinion or a backbone at all." That's what it becomes.
In that moment, in those times, and in those scenarios, you have to make the decision, "I am not going to listen to whatever lies I may be tempted to believe. I love this woman, I love this man, and I am choosing to lay down my life." You are choosing, "I am putting the needs and the cares of this person in front of me."
The apostle Paul would say, "Here's what love does" in 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, a verse you've probably heard before. "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends." Love in marriage (I hope you never, ever wonder this question again) is a command. God commands it, and any husband and any wife who says, "No, I'm not doing that" says, "I reject the Word of God, and I am choosing to live in rebellion against it."
It is a command. It is not optional, and it is not feelings based. As you go into marriage, you need to make sure you have a lock on that idea and that truth from God's Word. You have a lot of expectations. You need to go in expecting, "There are going to be days I do not feel like this, and I'm going to have to say, 'Die to self. I'm choosing to put you and your needs in front of me. I don't want to, and I don't feel like it, and I'm choosing to do that.'"
It's like this. All of us came into the room, and there are different expectations that fill your mind and your heart as it relates to what your marriage life is going to look like someday. Here's an expectation you need to make sure of. What do I mean by that? Like, truly. I remember being single. There are just different things you're thinking, whether it's when you're going to get married, what this person is going to look like, what your wedding day is going to look like, what life is going to look like.
So you're going to go in there, and most of us in the room probably expect… Maybe there are some of us who don't, but you're going to get married someday. So here's your wedding ring. You're going to get married. Even the timing… You're like, "Yeah, before 30, for sure, but not until after 25, because I have to get some things in order." So your expectation would be, "Hey, someday I'm going to get married." Of course, there's going to be a lot of great sex in marriage. That's a great expectation.
This is just an expectation you have in your marriage box, if you will. "We're going to have great sex." Maybe your expectation is "Someday we're going to travel the world, and we're going to go see the Eiffel Tower in Paris. We're going to go see things together. Oh, of course, at some point we're going to have little ones, and here we are just walking in the woods together. We're doing family photos. That's an expectation I have, and we're all dressing up the same. Of course, we're doing matching pajama pictures at Christmastime." This is your expectation.
You have a million of them, some said, some unsaid. Guys, you're probably going like, "I don't even know exactly which ones I have expectations on. Where's the sex one again? That's pretty much it." Whatever they are, but all of us came into the room with expectations. We have a dog in here, for some reason…a house. "We're going to have this white picket fence together. We're going to wake up and have our quiet times. It's just going to be incredible. It's always going to be great. Coffee, quiet time. Yes, please. Namaste in bed. Then we're going to grow old together and sit on this park bench."
All of those are great. I hope every expectation you have and every hope and dream, whatever those things you've thought about and "This is going to be so sweet" and "I can't wait till…" that all of those happen. Put them in your box. Put them in the marriage expectation box. None of that is wrong. I want to make sure you leave with the expectation that "Included in my box needs to be the covenant-keeping love," that ahava. "I'm deciding to stay, even when it's really hard, even when I don't want to. I'm deciding that I'm going to love you and sacrifice and lay down my life for you."
The Bible says, "Greater love has no man than this: that he lays down his life." The decision in marriage is a constant, "I'm putting the needs of my spouse before myself. I'm choosing to be God's provision and to be an extension of God's grace to this person and to serve them and care for them, and I'm not going anywhere, no matter what happens."
You need to make sure that in that marriage box you know, "It's going to be hard. It has a lot of great things, and there are going to be times where I am not going anywhere." You need to make sure the person you marry, above everything else, has that in there and that you, above any other expectation, have that in your marriage box.
In conclusion, marriage is a covenant, and love inside of marriage is a choice. Song of Solomon has been God's design and celebration of the incredible gift of romance, but as I wrap up, just having done this week after week and seen it for the last 10 years, there's this underlying lie that I think a lot of people believe as it relates to marriage. Here's the lie: "Marriage can fix and fill something empty inside of me."
"As soon as I get married, then life really begins, and then I can really experience satisfaction. That's where life is. Until that, I'm just in the waiting room or I'm just waiting for life to begin." It's a lie. As long as you look for some person on this planet who can fill and fix some emptiness or some void you find inside of yourself, you are looking for a solution that will never work.
Let me explain it like this. My favorite Apple product ever is the AirPods. I think this is the greatest invention Apple has ever made. Anybody have AirPods in here? You guys have to get AirPods. For real. The application from this message… Go materialism. Here's one of the things I love about them. You can throw one in. I can take calls. It sounds like the phone is up at my ear. I can double click it and it pauses the thing.
I can have just one in. I can have both in. I can have the right in. I can have either. If my wife is going to bed, I can be like, "Hey, I'm going to throw this in, watch some Netflix, or do whatever," and I can have that in my ear. Sometimes, if I do that, I'll wake up the next morning, and if you've ever slept with an AirPod in your ear, it's on your forehead or you're looking for it somewhere in the bed and you can't find it. Inevitably, it has run out of battery.
Here's what's interesting about these AirPods. There are two of them. They're a pair, a match, if you will. You have one and you have its mate. When this thing is low on battery and this thing has full battery, I can't get this to fill this thing up, despite the fact that they're really complementary. They were made to work together. When they do work together, it's incredible, but when one is lacking something or one is empty, despite the fact that this may have plenty inside of it, it cannot fill what is lacking and what is empty in the other one.
Marriage can fix your singleness and address your singleness. It cannot fill your emptiness. There is something inside of every single human heart, that from the moment you were born, there has been a vacuum or a hole inside of your heart, and the temptation for most people on the planet is to think, "Hey, you know what? I bet this person could fill what is lacking and what is empty inside of me. I bet they could come alongside and they could fill."
You have bought a lie, because that hole was placed there by God so that you would know and reach out and find him, that it would lead you and point you to him. Marriage and love will not satisfy you. If you are empty today, you will not experience a fullness or a satisfaction tomorrow. You'll have it for about a week, and then it'll be gone.
Solomon, tragically, never… Or I guess he did learn it. He learned it the hard way. What do I mean? The lesson that marriage cannot satisfy you. Love and marriage will not satisfy you. Getting married today… You don't have to wait to get over your singleness. You don't have to wait until you're married someday. It's not going to fill some hole in your heart.
Solomon's story from here is kind of tragic. I don't know if you know much of the story of Solomon. It's kind of the irony of the book. He starts off… He's this young king, and they have this amazing marriage. They write a love song together. It's a manual on sex and romance, and you would think if anybody in the world… "They've got it. They're the couple to look to. Of course they're growing old, sitting on that park bench together somewhere." It was not the case.
Solomon didn't find the love he was looking for in this relationship, and eventually it grew cold, and one decision after the next after the next… Solomon was king, and we're told in 1 Kings 11 that he decided to look for a filling a void and a hole in his heart, and one of the ways he did it was marriage after marriage after marriage.
Here's what it says. First Kings 11:2-4: "They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, 'You must not intermarry with them…'" God had said, "Hey, there are some people I don't want you to intermarry with." "…because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.""If you marry foreign women or foreign men, you're going to worship foreign gods. So don't do that."
"Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. He had seven hundred wives…and three hundred concubines…" Which is a live-in girlfriend, not officially married to. "…and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been."
Think about that. We read past that verse, and it's like, "Seven hundred. Oh yeah. That's kind of cool. It's in the Bible. I don't get most of the stuff in here." Think about that. Seven hundred times, he stood before a woman and said, "She's it. She's the one." You have to be thinking at some point he's going, "This is going to be the love that finally fills me. This is the girl."
We don't know what happened exactly. Maybe Shulamith died. Maybe she died and their love story was over and out of his heartbreak he spent one day after the next after the next looking for some sort of love that could fill that hole he felt was left behind from her. We're not told any of that. We don't know, but 700 times he stood in front of another woman and said, "She's it. She's going to be the one." And it didn't satisfy. He kept chasing, and he kept chasing, and he kept looking, and he kept looking.
The love you are looking for is not in some other person. Solomon discovered that after hundreds of times. He was getting married every day for two years straight, and he came up empty. It cost him. Because of his decision and his heart getting turned, God said, "I'm ripping the kingdom from your son's hand." We're told that Solomon in his old age writes this book called Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes was what he wrote at the end of his life.
He basically goes, "I've chased everything. I chased women. I chased the party. I chased building. I chased success. I've got more money than you. I've got more ladies than you. I've got more cribs than you. I have more than you will ever have, and I'm just telling you…" This is the point of the book: "All of it is meaningless unless you get beyond the sun." That's how he puts it in the book.
"Underneath the sun, all of this stuff is meaningless." He gives the inference that unless you can get beyond the sun or outside of this world, you will never find the love you're looking for, the satisfaction you are looking for. Friends, some of you came in here tonight, and you are so discouraged and so beaten down by the fact that you're not married, and you have bought this lie that "One day, if I just got married, I'd be satisfied."
The story of Solomon is that you are looking for a love you're not going to find in the arms of another man or the arms of another woman. He did it 700 times, and he came up empty, because it is a hole God placed there. Solomon wrote that. In his old age, he wrote this in Ecclesiastes 3:11: " [God] has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart…"
What does that mean? It means there's a hole in your heart that nothing, unless it is eternal, can fill, because God put it there. He put it there so you would have this ache every single day and every time you go to a relationship and it never satisfies, where you would go, "Man, there has to be something else beyond the sun. There has to be something in this life or something out there that could fill this ache and this hole." God said, "I put that there so you'll constantly look to me."
The love you have been looking for, the love you were born for… Man, I hope so badly you get this, beyond anything else. Some of you are getting this. Your singleness right now is not the defining characteristic of your life. You came in here tonight, and you're like, "Yeah, I'm single. I don't know if I'm ever going to get married, but, Jesus, you're enough. You're all I want. You're all I've ever wanted. You're all that I need and everything I want in this life. Will you give me more of yourself? Help me to trust you and know you and walk with you."
It's like the more you begin to know and walk with God, the more you experience that. I know you're going, "That's easy for you to say, because you're married." I can tell you, as someone who is married, it doesn't satisfy. If you're sitting in the audience and you're going, "Yeah, God would be great and heaven would be awesome, but I still just want to get married. God, please don't come back until I get married," think about that.
That's saying, "Heaven is great, but I think marriage would probably be better than heaven." As someone who has been married for seven years, it is not. It's amazing. It's not the love you were looking for. It won't fill the hole in your heart, because it wasn't designed to. As long as you think it will, you're going to put expectations on your mate in that relationship. "Fill me up. Fill me up." It can't unless it is connected to a source of life.
In this circumstance, with us, the source of life is not some charger; it is God, your Creator, who loves you, who proved that love by dying in your place. That is the love you've been looking for your entire life, and it is the love that your entire life you'll either walk with, accept, and experience or you will continue to look for.
Here's what I promise: you're not going to find it in marriage, but that love is looking for you if you'll accept it. It's a love that perfectly displayed itself to you 2,000 years ago where the lover of your soul and the one you were made for became a man and died for you and for me and for anyone who trusts in him. Let me pray.
Father, I pray for every dating couple in this room and listening right now online and listening at 17 different locations, that you would protect them from making a decision and marrying someone who is not your will, who doesn't love you and doesn't know you, who will not be a wife or a husband or a mom or a father someday who will honor you and walk with you. Would you break them up, God, tonight as they listen and hear my voice? At a later time would you break them up?
I pray for any engaged couple. Would you protect them and would they pursue purity? I pray, God, would you raise up a generation of people who know you and walk with you and marry together for the purpose not of fulfilling each other but fulfilling the mission you put us on the planet for: knowing you and making you known.
Would you raise up inside of this room hundreds and hundreds of marriages, and to those listening in other places, hundreds of marriages who know the ultimate meaning in life is not from marriage; it comes from you, and would you destroy and end relationships and your Spirit be heavy on anyone who doesn't need to be in one.
I pray for healing, God, from sexual abuse that has taken place, baggage we carry, that you would work and heal in our hearts. I pray for pornography addictions that need to end, that you would kill them, you would expose them. I pray that you would make us incredible lovers because we love and know you. Make us servants, God. Would we decrease and you increase? In Jesus' name, amen.