Song of Songs 1:1-17

Intimacy includes open communication and disclosure.  In Song of Songs the couple are quite open about what they desire and how their bodies feel.  Our bodies comprise a part of our identity.  When our body feels good and looks good, we feel good and would say that we look good.  Communication is not just through words, although words help.  We can communicate through music and through dance.  We can also communicate through looks and body language.  How then should we communicate sexual intimacy?  One thing that the passage teaches us is that overt sexual reference is less seductive than implied or inferred sexual reference.  A hint of sexuality well placed will lead to the mind being more involved than overt and direct sexual communication.  I believe this is because the mind is engaged more in the sexual foreplay.  How then do we communicate a hint of sexuality?

First of all, we must avoid certain things.  The Bible steers us away from vulgarity and rudeness.  We are to refrain from coarse joking.  Why is this?  It is because rather than luring a person into our most intimate places it cheapens and parades what is precious and private.  If we embarrass and offend by our references to sex we have lost our ability to communicate in a truly seductive way.  The meaning of ‘vulgar’ is related to making something common.  This means that when we take the language of intimacy and throw it out to all people equally it makes it ‘normal’ in a way that should never be.  ‘Rude’ is slightly different.  We are rude when we use language in an offensive way or in a context that is improper.  So, some erotic language that is appropriate between a married couple when broadcast publicly or used inappropriately can be vulgar and rude.  What communication can be cultivated, then?

In Song of Songs oblique sexual reference is used in a way that is astounding.  For example henna is mentioned for its aromatic and cosmetic qualities, but the henna looks like a man’s private parts and this would be understood in the context of the poetry.  There are images of fertility and sexual intercourse that are scattered throughout the book disguised in references to nature.  Some words become triggers between couples for sexual thoughts and intimacy.  When we were in a small group once sex somehow became associated with receiving a ‘portion’.  It only took the mention of the word ‘portion’ within the group for us to smile knowingly as to what we were talking about.  Couples can develop this language of intimacy.  There can be language that refers to nakedness and sexual intimacy that only the couple will know.  That increases the intimacy and the strength of connection between the couple rather than cheapening the experience.  We know our lover’s signals and they know ours.

What other signals can be developed?  This is where you may have to be creative and I will have to be careful.  Can you let your lover know what undergarments you are wearing without saying anything?  Can you let your lover see you look in their direction in a way that is overtly sexual but no-one else sees?  Can you touch your lover secretly and suggestively?  Can you use smell, music, or certain foods to communicate your desire?

With all this said, I know I have experienced a difficulty.  It is negotiating the thin line between desire and expectation.  It is communicating a need for intimacy and a demand for a performance.  We can communicate our longings and our desires, but what if one burns hot and the other does not?  What if one has had a clear day and is ready for intimacy and the other has had a full day and is exhausted?  Although it is painful, love constantly woos and communicates the language of intimacy but also tries to understand and accept the position of the other.  Intimacy is not two individuals playing out their self-focused erotic fantasies.  It is two lovers composing communication of intimacy together. When the communication is demanding or aggressive it does not encourage intimacy.  However, sometimes fear and self-perception need to be laid aside for the sake of intimacy.  Where there has been abuse or past pain, the process to true sexual intimacy can be arduous and confusing.  However, working through the resistance and the miscommunication can lead to more intimacy as there is deeper trust and respect.

Song of Songs 1:1-17

 1Solomon’s Song of Songs.

   She[a]

 2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
   for your love is more delightful than wine.
3 Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
   your name is like perfume poured out.
   No wonder the young women love you!
4 Take me away with you—let us hurry!
   Let the king bring me into his chambers.

   Friends

   We rejoice and delight in you[b];
   we will praise your love more than wine.

   She

   How right they are to adore you!

 5 Dark am I, yet lovely,
   daughters of Jerusalem,
dark like the tents of Kedar,
   like the tent curtains of Solomon.[c]
6 Do not stare at me because I am dark,
   because I am darkened by the sun.
My mother’s sons were angry with me
   and made me take care of the vineyards;
   my own vineyard I had to neglect.
7 Tell me, you whom I love,
   where you graze your flock
   and where you rest your sheep at midday.
Why should I be like a veiled woman
   beside the flocks of your friends?

   Friends

 8 If you do not know, most beautiful of women,
   follow the tracks of the sheep
and graze your young goats
   by the tents of the shepherds.

   He

 9 I liken you, my darling, to a mare
   among Pharaoh’s chariot horses.
10 Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings,
   your neck with strings of jewels.
11 We will make you earrings of gold,
   studded with silver.

   She

 12 While the king was at his table,
   my perfume spread its fragrance.
13 My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh
   resting between my breasts.
14 My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms
   from the vineyards of En Gedi.

   He

 15 How beautiful you are, my darling!
   Oh, how beautiful!
   Your eyes are doves.

   She

 16 How handsome you are, my beloved!
   Oh, how charming!
   And our bed is verdant.

   He

 17 The beams of our house are cedars;
   our rafters are firs.

Questions

  1. In what ways do the lovers communicate their desire for sexual intimacy?
  2. In what ways can a lover use poetry, inference, song, art, dance, body-language, clothing and food to communicate their sexual desire to their spouse?
  3. How is one to respond to the desires of a spouse for intimacy when they are overworked, stressed, busy, tired, or distracted?
  4. I once received a note from a young man who said, “My wife wants to have sex far more frequently than I do.”  How would you have responded?
  5. How do people, like those on T.V. programs like Jersey Shore, take sex and make the language of sex unsexy and vulgar?  How would mere suggestion and inference change the ‘sexiness’ of such people’s communication with those they are in relationship with?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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