Category Archives: Marriage

The Shame and Sorrow of Compromise (2 Chronicles 19; 2 Chronicles 20)

Scripture reading – 2 Chronicles 19; 2 Chronicles 20

Our Scripture reading for this final day of the year is 2 Chronicles 19 and 20.

The setting of 2 Chronicles 19 follows the bloody battle at Ramoth-Gilead (2 Chronicles 18), and the death of Israel’s king, Ahab. Jehoshaphat had returned home from the battle in peace (19:1), in spite of his foolish compromise with Ahab and the displeasure of the LORD (19:1).

As the king approached Jerusalem, he was met in the way by the prophet Jehu (he had been a prophet in Israel, but had moved to Judah 1 Kings 16:1-7). Jehu rebuked the king, saying, “Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord” (19:2).

Though He had despised Jehoshaphat’s compromise with the wicked, idolater Ahab, the LORD, nevertheless spared, and blessed the king of Judah whose son had married Ahab’s daughter. Yet, as we will soon see, the effects of Jehoshaphat’s unequal yoke with Ahab will have dire consequences for the throne of David and God’s people (21:3-7). In spite of His displeasure, the LORD spared and blessed the king of Judah, because he had “taken away the groves out of the land, and [had] prepared [his] heart to seek God” (19:3).

Jehoshaphat was a gifted administrator, and one of his great accomplishments was the foresight to put in place judges who were charged with applying the law and commandments judiciously (19:5-11). We read, the king “set judges in the land [in the walled cities]6And said to the judges, Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment” (19:5-6).

Imagine how different our world would be if judges in our day were committed to judging matters according to the will and the Word of the LORD. Jehoshaphat charged the judges to fear and revere the LORD for He is righteous, and to have no “respect of persons, nor taking of gifts [accept no bribes]” (19:7).

The king also assigned judges (Levites, priests, and the high priest) who were charged with judging matters in Jerusalem, and settling controversies and conflicts that would arise in the capital city (19:8). Jehoshaphat admonished the judges to rule according to “law and commandment, statutes and judgments,” and “warn [the people] that they trespass not against the Lord” lest they suffer His wrath (19:10). The matter of the law and judges concluded with a distinction being drawn between rulings in spiritual matters, which were the responsibility of the high priest, and civic matters, which fell upon “Zebadiah, the son of Ishmael” (19:11).

2 Chronicles 20

Time and space prevent a thorough study of 2 Chronicles 20; however, it is a chapter that begins with Jehoshaphat and Judah enjoying the blessings and protection of the LORD. In this chapter, God blessed His people for their faith, and rewarded them with a great victory over their enemies, without the soldiers of Judah lifting a sword or spear (20:1-21).

The LORD caused Judah’s enemies, the Ammonites, and Moabites, to turn, and destroy each other’s army (20:22-23). When the army of Judah came upon the battlefield, they saw a landscape littered with the bodies of their enemies, and a spoil so great it took three days to strip the bodies of the precious jewels that were on them (20:24-28). Sadly, the godly legacy of Jehoshaphat ended with yet another compromise with a heathen king (20:31-37).

Closing thoughts – Jehoshaphat will die (21:1-7), and tragically, Jehoram his son will not follow in his father’s godly legacy. Influenced by his wife’s family, the son of Jehoshaphat, will walk “in the way of the kings of Israel…for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife” (21:6).

In the words of the apostle Paul, Be not deceived: evil communications [companions] corrupt good manners [morals] (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“The Hand that Rocks the Cradle” (Proverbs 31, 1 Kings 12)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 31, 1 Kings 12

The “virtuous woman” is the subject of Proverbs 31, perhaps the most beloved of all the Proverbs because it addresses the most central figure in life apart from our Creator—one’s mother. Like chapter 30, the authorship of Proverbs 31 has been debated down through the centuries; however, I feel there is much about this chapter that commends itself to having been authored by King Solomon. [Author’s note – A separate devotional for 1 Kings 12 is available at www.HeartofAShepherd.com]

Proverbs 31:1 – “The words [discourse; law] of king Lemuel, the prophecy [burden; tribute] that his mother taught him [instructed; discipline; chasten].”

There is no record of a king named Lemuel in ancient Israel or Judah, and many scholars believe Lemuel might have been a nickname Bathsheba gave to her son Solomon. Having lost her firstborn son in infancy, the one conceived in an act of adultery with David; one can understand why Bathsheba would dedicate Solomon to God, and in her heart, name him Lemuel (the literal meaning of Lemuel is “unto God” –lit. dedicated to God). For the sake of our devotional studies in Proverbs, I propose we view this chapter as Solomon’s memorial to his mother.

Verse 2 of Proverbs 31 records the Queen mother’s appeal to her son in a three-fold question:

Proverbs 31:2 – “What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows [dedication to God; binding covenant between mother and God]?”

Allow me to probe the meaning of the three questions proposed by the king’s mother.

1) “What my son?” (31:2a) – i.e. – What more can I say to you my son and king?

2) “What, the son of my womb?” (31:2a) – She reminds the king that she knew him in her womb; before he drew his first breath. She gave him life, and loves him as no one else could love him.

3) “What, the son of my vows?” (31:2a) – Like Hannah dedicated her son Samuel (1 Samuel 1:11), Bathsheba dedicated her son while he was in her womb. She remembers the first stirring of life and how she prayed for him. She had dedicated him to serve the Lord!

We are not told what moved Bathsheba to make an impassioned plea to her son. Perhaps her motherly instincts sensed the moral dangers Solomon would face. She knew all too well the temptations that beset a man of power, possessions, and popularity. The plea of the Queen mother resonated in her son’s heart, and he memorialized her virtuous qualities as an example for all women.

Someone has said: “The greatest moral power in the world is that exercised by a mother over her child.”

John Quincy Adams, the 6th president of the United States said concerning his mother, “All that I am, or ever have been, in this world, I owe, under God, to my mother.”

Closing thoughts – Read the entirety of Proverbs 31 today. It is my prayer the king’s praise of his mother will move husbands, sons and daughters to thank the LORD for loving mothers, and encourage them with words of affirmation and thanksgiving. Finally, in a day that is desperate for a moral compass, I pray there will be mothers who have been inspired from the king’s praise of his mother, to aspire to the qualities of a virtuous woman.

To the two mothers in my life, thank you for your loving sacrifices, and examples of Christ-like, unconditional love. (Proverbs 31:28-31)

[Author’s note – A separate devotional for 1 Kings 12 is available at www.HeartofAShepherd.com]

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Five Strangers That Consume Happiness and Three Things that Never Satisfy (Ecclesiastes 6)

Scripture reading – Ecclesiastes 6

Our study in the Book of Ecclesiastes continues with King Solomon echoing a sentiment I suggest can be summed up in three words: Life is not fair! Writing from his observations of men’s lives, we read:

Ecclesiastes 6:1–21There is an evil [depravity; distress] which I have seen under the sun, and it is common [great] among men: 2A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honour [abundance; glory], so that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power [control] to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it [feeds upon; consumes]: this is vanity [empty], and it is an evil [bad; displeasing] disease [grief].

What had Solomon concluded was an injustice, and therefore not fair? It was that men labor, store up riches, wealth, and possessions, only to leave it all to others. The king concluded; it is a grief that is common, an universal experience. Men spend their lives becoming rich, acquiring possessions, obtaining honors, only to leave all to those who come after them.

I suggest five “strangers” that enter uninvited into a family’s life, and steal their happiness, and wealth.  (Ecclesiastes 6:1–2)

Disease: Sickness consumes not only a man’s strength and vitality, but may leave him physically wasted and financially ruined. Divorce is another stranger; it not only destroys a family, but legal proceedings plunder a family of its home, possessions, and savings. Disobedience: rebellious children rob parents not only of their joy, but can bring financial woes upon the parent that enable a child’s rebellion. A fourth stranger is represented in  Disasters, such as natural calamities (hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, earthquakes, drought), and human calamities (war, and the danger of living in a violent society) can destroy a family’s wealth. Of course, the greatest “stranger” that will inevitably come knocking is Death: The death of a spouse, child, or the reality of one’s own mortality.

Three Things That Do Not Satisfy (6:3-8)

Solomon proposed three things men pursue, but do not bring happiness and fulfillment. The first is found in multiples: The man who begets many children, and lives many years (6:3-6). Solomon had observed children more concerned with their rights of inheritance, than they were in honoring their parents. He concluded, it would be better to be stillborn, than live to a ripe old age, and your children neither love or honor you (6:3-6).

Secondly, some men believe if they work harder, and longer hours, they will achieve success and happiness (6:7). Yet, a man might climb the ladder of success, earn titles, and gain fame, but die a miserable soul.

Lastly, some men pursue knowledge, believing academic achievement is the path to happiness (6:8). Still, having one’s name engraved on a “Who’s Who” plaque, or earning the applause and admiration of men, will not satisfy the hunger of an eternal soul.

What, then, satisfies the soul of man? (6:9-12)

Having a right perspective, and outlook on life is the path to happiness (6:9). It is better to be satisfied with what you see, than it is to be driven about by lusts for temporal possessions and vain pleasures (6:10). You see, God is eternal, and His purposes are “named already” (6:11). Did you know that nothing surprises God? He is sovereign, and we dare not “contend with Him,” for He is not only mightier, but also wiser than we (6:10).

Closing thoughts – “Many things” might attract our affections for a season. We might also increase in goods and honors, but in the end all is vain (6:11). God is loving and benevolent (6:12), and only those who trust Him will be satisfied.

Isaiah 45:9 – “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!”

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

A Stingy Soul, and A Virtuous Woman (Proverbs 11-12)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 11; Proverbs 12

We are continuing to mine for golden nuggets of spiritual truth in the Book of Proverbs. I encourage you to study and meditate on today’s Scripture reading, but time and space allow only a summary of three verses in Proverbs 11, and one verse in Proverbs 12.

Proverbs 11

“You Poor, Stingy Old Soul” (Proverbs 11:24-26)

Proverbs 11:24-26 challenges us with a familiar spiritual principle, “Sowing and Reaping” (Galatians 6:7).  To state that principle in a common analogy: We not only reap what we sow, we also reap in proportion to how much we sow!

Proverbs 11:24  “There is that scattereth [disperses], and yet increaseth [adds to; surpasses]; and there is that withholdeth [keeps back; refrain; reserves for oneself] more than is meet [right; upright; due], but it tendeth to poverty [want; need].”

Consider an illustration of that proverb. In springtime, a farmer has some very important decisions to make. He must decide the crops he will plant in light of the harvest he plans to reap. He also must consider how much he hopes to gather and store up for winter. In other words, he must determine the amount of seed to plant in order to reach his harvest goal.

By contrast, a foolish farmer might hoard seed, and fail to value the potential of life and multiplication represented in one seed (insects and mold are always a threat to seeds stored in bins). For a farmer to withhold, and reserve seed which has the potential of life does indeed tend to poverty!

What is the application for believers? A believer who hoards his talents and gifts, and fails to be a steward of God’s grace and blessings, is like a farmer who hoards seed.

Two arenas come to mind: Financial stewardship, and the stewardship of ministry, talents and opportunities. There are believers who hoard wealth, and are blind to their responsibility to invest in God’s work and ministry. Some leave a great inheritance to their children, but enter heaven as little more than spiritual paupers. What a tragedy: To have the means to be a blessing, but elect to withhold from the Lord, His church and servants “more than is meet” (11:24)!

Solomon continued his lesson on stewardship by stating a proverb that is full of promise (11:25).

Proverbs 11:25 – “The liberal [blessed; prosperous] soul [life; person; heart] shall be made fat [satisfied; prosperous]: and he that watereth [satisfy; fill; quench the thirst of another] shall be watered [rain; flow as water; moisten] also himself.”

Joy and satisfaction come to the man who is generous with what God has entrusted to him. Remember: God’s people are merely conduits of His blessings, and when we give the overflow of our lives to the LORD (our time, talents, and gifts), He promises we will never want.

Proverbs 11:26  He that withholdeth [keep back; deny] corn [grain; i.e., wheat], the people [nation; community] shall curse [blaspheme; pierce] him: but blessing [prosperity] shall be upon the head [chief; top; ruler] of him that selleth [buy and sell grain] it.”

I have often wondered why men and women of wealth wait until their deaths to be a blessing to others. Why withhold a blessing when it is in your ability to give? Why hoard more than you need, when you have it in your power to be a blessing? Why watch your church and other ministries struggle, when you have been blessed with the means to be a source of joy and satisfaction?

Warning: A stingy soul will be cursed!
Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Proverbs 12

Womanhood Extols the Best, and the Worst of Human Character (Proverbs 12:4)

Proverbs 12:4 – “A virtuous woman [morally pure; good] is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones [like a cancer to the bones].”

The Scriptures address various kinds of women throughout its pages.  From Eve, the mother of humanity who entertained the beauty of forbidden fruit (Genesis 3), to the Virgin Mary who, though of humble means, was chosen as the mother of Jesus, God’s Only begotten Son (Luke 1:26-38).

Womanhood extols the best and the worst of human kind.

Our culture tends to idolize women who personify infamous qualities that a half-century ago would have been scandalous. Sadly, women who epitomize the best character qualities are seldom noted or praised, by family or peers.

A virtuous woman is one of godly character. She is morally upright, faithful to her husband, and worthy of the praise of her family and friends (Proverbs 31).  She brings out the best in her husband (Proverbs 31:11, 23), and is a joy and delight to her children (Proverbs 31:28).

Closing thoughts – Have you set your heart to love the Lord, and aspire to the highest virtues?  What is your reputation at school, work, in your neighborhood, and church?

Proverbs 12:4 is a lesson every man should note, and every woman should heed.

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“Hatred Reveals What Love Forgives” (Proverbs 10)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 10

We are considering Proverbs 10 for today’s Scripture reading. Our devotional will consider Proverbs 10:12, and Proverbs 10:31-32.

“Hatred Exploits What Love Conceals” (Proverbs 10:12)

Proverbs 10:12 – “Hatred [an attitude that detests, despises] stirreth up [awakens] strifes [discords; contentions]: but love [genuine, sincere love of a friend] covereth [conceals; hides; passes over] all sins [transgression; rebellion; guilt].”

Have you ever wondered why there is so much strife and discord in the world? Solomon diagnosed the root cause of a pervasive, contentious spirit, and stated simply: “Hatred stirreth up strifes” (10:12a). To state the same judgment in a different way: Hatred, not love, disrupts, denigrates, damages, and devastates all whose life it touches. Hatred provokes strife in marriages, families, friendships, and congregations.

Paul identified pride as the root cause of envy and strife in his letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 6:4).  John wrote concerning Diotrephes, who was a cause of grief and a source of discord in the early church: Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence [ambitious, and striving to be first] among them, receiveth us not (3 John 1:9). Some will dress up strife in a garb of religious piety; however, the presence of unresolved conflict is indicative of an unforgiving spirit. Such a spirit, if unchecked, will become antagonistic, and destroy friendships, families and fellowships.

A second principle from Proverbs 10:12 is, “love covereth all sins” (10:12b).

Biblical love does not overlook sin, for that would contradict the ways of the LORD, (Proverbs 3:11-12), and the Scriptures. After all, believers are commanded to lovingly, and meekly address sin in each other’s life (Matthew 18:15-17; Galatians 6:1). What does it mean, “love covereth all sins?”

Sincere, genuine love longs to forgive, and will not unnecessarily expose the sins, failures, and shortcomings of one who is loved. Biblical, Christ-like love is longsuffering, kind, gracious, and forgiving (1 Corinthians 13:4-6).

Closing thought – In his letter to believers in the 1st century, Peter wrote: And above all things have fervent charity [self-sacrificing love] among yourselves: for charity shall cover [forgives; overlooks] the multitude of sins [personal offenses]” (1 Peter 4:8).

You and I should not be surprised that hatred stirs up strife; however, we should be concerned that some who profess to love others, readily entertain and expose their failures.

Hatred reveals, what love conceals; hatred exploits, what love forgives (Ephesians 4:31-32).

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Careful: Your Lips Will Reveal Your Heart (Proverbs 10:31-32)

Proverbs 10:31 The mouth [speech; utterance] of the just [righteous; lawful] bringeth forth [utters; bears the fruit of] wisdom [shrewdness; skillful use of knowledge]: but the froward [perverse; swearing] tongue [speech; evil speaker] shall be cut out [cut down; destroyed; punished]. 

The tongue was a frequent subject of Solomon’s proverbs, and the Scriptures abound with examples of its use, and misuse. James wrote, “the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things…6  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity…8 the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:5-6, 8).

Controlling one’s tongue is a challenge; however, it is not the small member in our mouth that is the trouble. The problem is the heart.

The words and conversations of the God-fearing righteous will evidence grace, godly wisdom and discernment. By contrast, the tongue of the wicked is perverse, and will be known for lies, and speaking evil of others. Jesus taught His disciples, “those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart…For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:18-19).

Proverbs 10:3232The lips [language; speech] of the righteous [just; lawful] know [perceive; understand; acknowledge; observe] what is acceptable [desired; delightful; pleasing]: but the mouth [speech; utterance] of the wicked [ungodly; lawless] speaketh forwardness [perverse; is obstinate].”

Listen to a man’s conversation long enough, and you can discern his character. We would do well to understand that words matter, and they are a window into the soul. The substance and character of a man will be revealed in his words. A good, just man will encourage the soul with words that edify, and are pleasing. A righteous man understands the power of a well-spoken word (Psalm 37:30). The wicked, however, are proud and their words cut, and conversations are perverse.

Closing thoughts – What do your words and conversations reveal about your character?

Be careful how you answer that question. The true measure of your inner man is revealed in your words and conversations. Understanding the power of a spoken word, we would do well to embrace Paul’s challenge to believers of the church in Colosse:

Colossians 4:66 Let your speech [word; conversation] be alway [ever] with grace [acceptable; favor; kindness], seasoned [i.e. spiced; prepared] with salt [purifying; a natural preservative], that ye may know how ye ought [should] to answer [respond] every man.

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“A Cancer Called Adultery” (Proverbs 7)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 7

Proverbs 7 continues Solomon’s warnings concerning the devastating consequences of immorality (a theme you find throughout the book of Proverbs). I encourage you to read all of today’s assignment, but for the sake of brevity, my focus will be Proverbs 7:1-7. [Words and phrases in brackets are the amplifications and applications of the author.]

A Preamble (7:1-3)

Proverbs 7:1-3 – “My son, keep [preserve; observe] my words [sayings; speeches], and lay up [treasure] my commandments [i.e., do’s and don’ts] with thee.
Keep my commandments, and live; and my law [instructions; teaching] as the apple [pupil] of thine eye.
3 Bind [tie] them upon thy fingers [note – Deuteronomy 6], write [record; engrave] them upon the table of thine heart.”

Solomon was concerned that his son not be led astray by sexual lusts. He had witnessed the sorrow and tragedy caused by his mother and father’s adultery. Unfortunately, he walked the same kind of path, and it was one that neither his parents, nor his God would condone! The king fell into a practice often shared by 21st century fathers; he modeled the parenting philosophy: “Do as I say, Not as I do.” We read, “For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father” (1 Kings 11:4).

Embracing the wisdom embodied in Proverbs 7:1-3, consider the following two-pronged application: 1) Parents must call their sons and daughters to moral purity, and address the moral character of their children by their words and example. 2) Wise sons and daughters are under obligation to cherish their parent’s instructions, and recall them to heart when temptations arise.

The Subtlety of Flattering Lips (7:4-5)

Proverbs 7:4-5 – “Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman [friend]:
5 That they [wisdom and understanding] may keep [preserve; be a hedge] thee from the strange [immoral] woman, from the stranger which flattereth [smooth; i.e., she leads him away] with her words.”

Concerned with the enticements of a “strange woman” [an immoral woman], Solomon urged his son to love wisdom as a sister, and understanding [discernment; insight] as an intimate friend (7:4). Tragically, it was not what Solomon taught, but what he practiced that became his son’s moral guide.

A Father’s Haunting Failure (Genesis 13:10-1319:1)

No parent can afford the luxury of failing to address the sexual perils of a deviant society. Yet, some fathers and mothers follow the reckless path of Lot (Genesis 13:10-1319:1), who moved his family from the company and influence of uncle Abraham (Genesis 13:11), into Sodom, an ancient city known for its perversity and unrestrained wickedness (Genesis 14:12; 19:1).

Lot failed to teach and admonish his children to fear the LORD, and when he learned God’s judgment was imminent, he made a futile attempt to cause them to flee the city. Tragically, his sons-in-law refused his warning, for he appeared to them as “one that mocked” (Genesis 19:14).

Closing thoughts – Solomon urged his son to hear, and remember his words, and to engrave his instructions upon his heart to serve as a moral compass (7:5). Instead, it was what he modeled, not what he taught that influenced his son’s life.

Are you vigilant regarding the dangers posed by an immoral culture? Are you modeling and guiding your children to take the high road in moral choices? Are you leading your family to seek the company and friendship of the godly?

Remember: Sexual immorality is a moral cancer to life, career, marriage, and family!

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“An Ever-After Love Story” (Song of Solomon 8; Proverbs 1)

Scripture reading – Song of Solomon 8; Proverbs 1

Today’s Scripture reading completes our study of The Song of Solomon, and introduces a new study series in the book titled, “Proverbs.” I penned a year-long series of devotionals in Proverbs several years ago (www.HeartofAShepherd.com), and I invite you to refer to those in your daily Scripture readings.

In today’s study, we find Solomon with his young bride arriving at her home in the villages of northern Israel. She had invited him to leave the stately walls of the palace in Jerusalem and “go forth into the field; [and]… lodge in the villages” (7:11). She longed for the vineyards of the countryside, laden with tender grapes, and buds of the pomegranates (7:12).

Song of Solomon 8

Like many a newlywed who made their journey home, it seemed our young bride did not find her household as receptive, or comfortable as she had hoped (8:1). In her mother’s house, she did not feel the liberty to express her affection for her husband as she would have in her own bedchamber. She judged, had Solomon been her brother, she might have kissed him and none would despise or condemn her (8:1). There, in her mother’s house, she introduced her husband, the king, and “[caused him] to drink of spiced wine of the juice of [her] pomegranate” (8:2). The wine was unfermented juice, and not the wine that would induce drunkenness, which Solomon often condemned in his writings (Proverbs 20:1; 23:20-21; 23:29-35; 31:4-5).

After warning the young maidens, the “daughters of Jerusalem,” to not stir or arouse desires before marriage (8:4), she appeared to go and visit an elder, perhaps a grandmother or aunt, who had taught and urged her to guard her purity when she was young (8:5). Of course, the reward of her virtue was she had become the prized bride of the king.

With a passion that seemed to betray her insecurity as the king’s bride, she pleaded, “6Set me as a seal upon thine heart, As a seal upon thine arm: For love is strong as death; Jealousy is cruel as the grave: The coals thereof are coals of fire, Which hath a most vehement flame” (8:6). Knowing the king might one day take unto him wives after the custom of kings (though contrary to God’s ordained order that man and woman would be “one flesh,”Genesis 2:18, 21-24), she longed for the assurance that his love for her would be sealed in his heart. With the words of a poet, Solomon assured her, though flood waters might quench a fire, his love for her would never be quenched (8:7).

The young bride’s brothers, received their sister and her husband, and seemed to have reminded her that they had been her protector when she was a young girl, and before she had been “spoken for” (8:8). They had protected her virtue, as though they had built a great wall around her (8:9). She responded to her brothers, and reminded them she had maintained the wall of her innocence, and she had found favor in the eyes of her beloved (8:10).

Verse 11 would seem to indicate the vineyard in which we first met this young Shulamite woman was one her family had leased from Solomon (8:11). We are also reminded that while she labored in a vineyard that belonged to another (1:6), she had her own vineyard (1:6; 8:12). Now married to the king, she settled upon a price to lease her vineyard, and joyfully returned to her husband and his palatial gardens (8:13).

This beautiful love story concludes with our young bride urging Solomon, “Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe [gazelle] or to a young hart [deer] upon the mountains of spices.”

Closing thoughts – Hollywood has painted a picture of love and marriage that is fed by lust, and is a far cry from what the Creator intended for man and woman. Our generation has sacrificed innocence and purity, and pursued instant gratification and pleasure. Sadly, it seems the 21st century church is hardly better.

The Scriptures exhort believers to reflect in their marriages, an earthly portrait of Christ’s love for His Church: Self-sacrificing, enduring, honorable, and passionate love.

Ephesians 5:25, 33 – “ 25  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it… 33  Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“What Beautiful Feet, My Love!” (Song of Solomon 6; Song of Solomon 7)

Scripture reading – Song of Solomon 6-7

Continuing our love story, Solomon’s bride dreamed she had searched for her husband throughout the city. Not knowing she was the bride of the king, the watchmen of the city mistreated her (in her dreams), and the “daughters of Jerusalem” scoffed when she asked, “find my beloved…tell him, that I am sick of love [love sick]” (5:8). Of course, this was a dream, and none would dare mistreat the wife of the king.

Song of Solomon 6 – Who is this Wonderful, Beautiful Bride?

Through eyes of pure love (5:10-16), she described Solomon’s physical appearance to the maidens of Jerusalem who asked (in the bride’s dream), “1Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? Whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee” (6:1). Our young bride finds her husband in his royal gardens (6:2), and rejoices in his love saying, 3I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine” (6:3a).

Solomon’s Loving Assurances (6:4-10)

The king extolled her beauty, comparing his bride to two beautiful walled cities of Israel (6:4), with beautiful banners unfurled. Looking into her eyes, he found himself captivated (6:5), and her hair thick and flowing, like the goats in Gilead (6:5b). He gushed over her, and assured her she was preferred more than a harem of “threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number” (6:8). Why? For she, unlike any other, was “undefiled.” She was the object of her mother’s praise, and that of the daughters of Jerusalem, queens, and concubines (6:9).

Song of Solomon 7 – Solomon’s Admiration of His Bride’s Beauty

As we continue today’s Scripture reading, remember there are three methods of interpretation for the Song of Solomon. There is the Allegorical interpretation, suggesting The Song of Solomon described God’s relationship with His people, and is a parable.  The Typical interpretation suggests the bride of Solomon was a type or picture of the Church, and Solomon, the groom, was a type or picture of Jesus Christ. The third interpretation is a Literal one; in other words, that this was a true love story describing Solomon’s love for a young Shulamite girl who became his queen.

A Bridal Description (7:1-9)

With the blush of her innocence and virtue entrusted to her husband, Solomon is described as looking upon the physical beauty of his wife with pride, and satisfaction (7:1-5). Extolling his delight in his bride, Solomon boasted, writing, “6How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights!” (7:6) In his eyes, she was stately like a palm tree (7:7), and he tenderly assured her of his love (7:8-9).

A Bride Secure in Her Husband’s Love (7:10-13)

With loving trust, she abandoned herself to her husband (7:10). She invited Solomon to take her away, saying, “Let us lodge in the villages…get up early to the vineyards…There will I give thee my loves” (7:12).

Closing thoughts – The phrase, “Love is blind,” is often credited to William Shakespeare who employed it on several occasions in his plays. However, the phrase first appeared in Milton Chaucer’s Merchant Tale (1405) – “Love is blind all day, and may not see.” With a different, humorous perspective, author Pauline Thomason, writes:“Love is blind, marriage is the eye-opener.”

Permit me to close with an observation of my own. Solomon was certainly not blind, for not one detail of his young wife’s beauty escaped his eye (7:1-5); from her sandaled feet (7:1) to her long locks of hair, he prized her beauty (7:5). She had the tanned dark skin of a peasant, the callous hands of a laborer, but the beauty and virtuous character of a princess. Solomon was in love, and love does not count the blemishes of one’s beloved.

How about the love of your life?  Is your romance vibrant?  Is your courtship still alive?

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Here Comes the Bride: The Joys of Love and Marriage (Song of Solomon 5)

Scripture reading – Song of Solomon 5

We continue King Solomon’s story of romance in today’s Scripture reading, Song of Solomon 5. While my approach to The Song of Solomon has been a literal interpretation; we also have here a portrait of God’s love for His people (Ephesians 5:25-27). King Solomon and his wedding entourage had arrived for him to claim his bride in Song of Solomon 3, and she had accepted his proposal of love (Song of Solomon 4).

The King’s Wedding Night (5:1)

Solomon had taken his bride, and expressed his joy and pleasure in his new wife and her love saying, “I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk” (5:1b). Bidding his wedding guests good night, the king retired into his palace with his beautiful Shulamite bride (5:1c).

The Young Bride’s Nightmare (5:2-9)

The young bride dreamed that her husband had departed, but then returned in the night. She dreamed he had knocked at her bedchamber door, but she had fallen asleep, and at first did not want to be disturbed (5:2b-3). Hearing her husband’s attempts to unlock the door, her heart yearned for him (5:4); however, when she opened the door he had departed into the night (5:5-6).

She then dreamed she had veiled her face, and went out into the night to seek her husband, but to no avail. When she questioned the watchmen, in the absence of the king, she dreamed they had treated her roughly (5:7). Longing for her husband, she dreamed that she had inquired of the “daughter of Jerusalem” (5:8), but they did not know her, and treated her harshly asking, “9What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? What is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us?” (5:9). * Remember, this is a dream, for none would dare speak to the king’s wife in this manner.

The Young Bride’s Description of Her Husband, the King (5:10-16)

Still dreaming, and longing for her husband, the bride detailed to the young maidens the physical traits and qualities of her husband. It is my opinion that Song of Solomon 5:10-16 was not only a physical description of King Solomon, but more so that of Christ at His Second Coming. The following words and phrases in brackets is my suggestion for the application of this passage to the appearance of Christ at His Second Coming.

Song of Solomon 5:10–1610My beloved [the bride speaking] is white [speaking not of Christ’s skin color, but His holiness] and ruddy [red, His sacrificial blood], the chiefest among ten thousand [the greatest of all men; He is the sinless Son of God].

11His head is as the most fine gold [i.e. a crown of royalty Christ will wear], His locks are bushy, and black as a raven [the prime of manhood; for our LORD was put to death in His early 30’s].

12His eyes are as the eyes of doves [tender; compassionate] by the rivers of waters [tears], Washed with milk, and fitly set.

13His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers [His heavenly countenance]: His lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh [in His mouth are the words of Truth].

14His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl [that were pierced for our sins]: His belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires [His physical body that did bear the penalty of our sins].

15His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold [He is strong, Almighty God]: His countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars [indicating His might and strength].

16His mouth is most sweet [Christ’s Words toward His people are grace and mercy]: yea, he is altogether lovely [He is the King of kings, and Lord of lords]. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.

Closing thought – The young bride’s description of her husband was moving, and beautiful. The last phrase summed up a wonderful description of love and marriage between a husband and wife. The young bride said: “This is my beloved [lover], and this is my friend [darling; companion; favorite]” (5:16b).

Lesson – Lover and friend: a happy marriage demands both. A lasting marriage consists of two souls, dedicated to a lifetime of patience and romance.

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Looking Through the Eyes of Love (Song of Solomon 3; Song of Solomon 4)

Scripture reading – Song of Solomon 3; Song of Solomon 4

Our love story continues with Song of Solomon 3 and 4. The implication of our study is both literal and prophetic. I believe Solomon penned this love story as a young king, but I also consider it a beautiful portrayal of God’s love for His people.

The Dreams of Young Love (3:1-3). 

We find the young maiden dreaming of receiving Solomon as her husband. She had dreamed of marrying him (3:1-2), but with her wedding night approaching, she could not find the man she loved. She dreamed that she had wandered the streets of the city, looking for Solomon. She had approached the “watchmen” (the guards) of the city, and asked, “Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?” (3:3) When she found her groom, she held him tightly in her embrace, and dared not let him depart until she had led him to her “mother’s house (3:4).

The Patience of Young Love (3:5).

Rejoicing she had found her beloved, she challenged other young maidens (“ye daughters of Jerusalem”) to be patient in the matter of love and marriage: “Stir not up, nor awake my love” (3:5b) and wait “till he please” (3:5c). She challenged young maidens to not stir up desires that cannot be righteously satisfied outside the bounds of marriage.

The Joy and Happiness of Young Love (3:6-11).

Our young maiden had dreamed about her mysterious shepherd, and he (Solomon) had courted her lovingly and patiently. She had dreamed of her wedding day, and waited for him to come with his wedding party, and claim her as his bride.

One day she lifted up her eyes, and saw on the horizon what appeared as a cloud of dust, (“pillars of smoke,” 3:6a).  The entourage brought with it a fragrance of burning incense, “perfumed with myrrh and frankincense” (3:6b). In the midst of the caravan, she spied a royal litter, a “bed, which [was] Solomon’s” (3:7). The bed was borne along by sixty “valiant men,” bearing swords on their thighs (3:8).

No longer disguised as a shepherd, the king of Israel, had come to claim her as his bride! (3:9) Imagine the pageantry and wonder of that moment. Her skinned tanned dark by the rays of the sun, and her hands calloused by her labors, yet, she had been borne away on a bed of the finest “wood of Lebanon” (3:9-10).

The young bride, overwhelmed by joy, urged her attendants (“ye daughters of Zion), to behold their king wearing the crown given to him by his mother (3:11b), and perhaps adorned by her for his wedding day.

Song of Solomon 4 – King Solomon Boasts in the Beauty of His Bride (4:1-7)

Our love story continued with the groom having come to sweep away his bride on her wedding night. Though she was beautiful, she was a of lowly means, and Solomon lovingly assured her, boasting of her beauty.

Looking through the Eyes of Love (4:1-7)

Solomon’s poetic portrayal of his bride is foreign to our concept of beauty; however, we must remember he is looking at her through the eyes of love. The focus was not so much on how she looked (though she was physically beautiful to Solomon), but how he felt when he looked at her.

He regarded her beauty, and gentle eyes, saying, “thou hast doves’ eyes within thy locks” (4:1). Her hair flowed over her shoulders, and reminded him of a “flock of goats” skipping down the slopes of “mount Gilead” (4:1). Her teeth were white, like sheep “shorn, which came up from the washing” (4:2). Her lips red, “like a threat of scarlet” (4:3). Her mouth was beautiful to behold, and her “temples” (i.e., cheeks) red “like a piece of a pomegranate,” and framed by the locks of her hair (4:3b).

Solomon described her neck “like the tower of David,” and her chastity like a great tower, and not easily taken (4:4). Solomon claimed her as his wife, and said, “7Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot [i.e., no blemish] in thee” (4:5-7).

The Groom’s Invitation to His Bride (4:8-11)

Solomon invited her to come away with him, and mentioned four mountain peaks in northern Palestine (4:8). He professed she had stolen his heart (4:9). He declared his physical attraction to his bride (4:10-11), whose lips were as sweet as “the honeycomb,” and whose garments bore the freshness of the outdoors (4:11).

Two Metaphors Described Solomon’s Bride: “12A garden inclosed [and]… a fountain sealed” (4:12-16).

“Closed” and sealed,” portrayed that she had guarded her virtue and moral innocence. She had been a chaste woman, and given no man her favor. It was their wedding night, and Solomon tenderly took his young virgin to himself. With seven costly spices, the king described the precious nature of her love (4:13-14), and the young bride accepted her husband, saying, Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits” (4:16).

Closing thoughts – Cinderella stories abound with the narrative of a peasant girl who falls in love with a handsome prince. Sadly, our society is robbing little girls of their innocence, and many parents are failing to instill in their sons the qualities of a genteel, caring spirit.

The beautiful love story found in The Song of Solomon is more than an ancient tale of a king and his maiden. It is the portrayal of God’s love for people of faith, and Christ’s love for His bride, the Church.

Ephesians 5:25, 2725Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith