5. God's Gift of Intimacy: Song of Songs
God wants his people to treasure sexual intimacy within the bounds of marriage, both to enjoy it in the best way and to honor its design.
Put me like a seal over your heart,
Like a seal on your arm.
For love is as strong as death,
Jealousy is as severe as Sheol;
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
The very flame of the Lord.
-Song of Songs 8:6
Song of Songs is a book about romantic love, its poetry expressing correspondence between a newly married husband and wife. Its most direct aim is to convince the reader to treasure sexual intimacy within the bounds of marriage.
But rather than focusing on what not to do, the wife in Song of Songs paints a picture of her relationship with her husband to show how desirable and worth-waiting-for committed, marital intimacy is. Throughout the book, we’re given beautiful descriptions of marriage and intimacy, such as, “Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, So is my beloved among the young men.” Or, “He has brought me to his banquet hall, And his banner over me is love.”
With her desirable portrayal of her husband and sex within marriage, the newlywed bride is imploring the unmarried, “Don’t be with the person who isn’t completely committed to their love for you. Don’t settle for the person you don’t fully respect! See what I have: a man who loves me; a beautiful and secure relationship. If you desire intimacy, wait for marriage and for this type of spouse!”
Modern statistics on relationships actually support this view of sex: stable marriage correlates with mental and physical health benefits for both men and women. For women in particular, studies show that women in highly religious marriages are twice as likely as their secular peers to say they are satisfied with their sexual relationship! God wants us to reserve sex for marriage not to withhold something from us, but so that we might enjoy it in the best way!
So, for the unmarried, Song of Songs encourages steadfast commitment to God, accepting his design for intimacy within the bounds of marriage. But Song of Songs also aims to inspire married couples to cultivate deeper intimacy! The book shows us that God values a marriage full of pursuit, adoration, and faithfulness.
God values marital intimacy because he designed marriage to reflect the relationship Jesus has with his people, the church! Throughout scripture, Christ’s second coming to Earth is compared to a wedding feast. Jesus is the bridegroom, and the church is his bride. At Christ’s return, Christians will experience complete intimacy with Him, fulfilling their deepest desires for connection.
But this isn’t just a future reality. Just as engaged couples enjoy the closeness of the relationship in anticipation of their wedding day, so we can experience intimacy with Jesus before his return! God knows you and loves you more than you can imagine, and you get to experience this when you draw near to him through reading his Word, talking to him, worshiping him, or connecting with other Christians.
Whether you’re single or married, valuing the unity, love, and commitment of marital intimacy portrayed in song of Songs serves to enhance your understanding of the relational unity, love, and commitment that you share with Jesus! And this applies in both good and bad experiences of romantic love.
If you feeling shame over not honoring God’s design for sex; if you feel lonely in your singleness; if you feel disappointed at the lack of intimacy in your marriage, Jesus is calling you to draw near to him. He offers forgiveness and love greater than any found in another relationship. Romantic pain can serve to lead us to the one who will never let us down!
Remember that Jesus left heaven to make God known to you, to give you belonging in his family, and to draw you into a relationship with him so close that his love and presence are within you.
RESPOND: Take a moment to draw near to God, asking him to give you a deeper experience of closeness in your relationship with him.