Song of Solomon 1-3
I am not a dancer by any stretch of the imagination. The times I come close to actually dancing are when I dance with my beautiful little girl and slow dance in the kitchen with my darling bride. Despite my lack of dancing ability, I do know that dance is more measured than natural. What I mean by that is in dance; there are specific steps and certain ways in which the leader leads in order to make the dance appear flawless. To dance well, there must be an intentional following of the steps and certain rules. Dating is the same. Dating can be terrible, or it can be wonderful. Dating can lead to a beautiful dance, or an awful one. I believe that Scripture gives us a picture of a couple in great detail to show us what the beautiful dance would look like.
Too often, when it comes to dating, we succumb to a lousy dance. We fumble around trying to get it right time and time again. By this time in our lives we are ready to start seeing the beautiful dance unfold, rather than the dance that brings pain, agony and frustration to our lives. Together, this morning, we will seek to answer the question: How do we experience the beautiful dance? God has designed many of our hearts in such a way as to crave this dance. We are all hard-wired to seek intimacy and when our hearts desire the intimacy that leads to a great marriage, we sadly have few places to look. So, let’s delve into the lives of a now famous couple in the book of Song of Solomon
Here, we see a budding romance. This young lady and King Solomon have begun their relationship. They saw each other and were interested in beginning a relationship. This acquaintanceship developed into a friendship and then an exclusive relationship. Once they decided they had an attraction towards one another, they began a series of dances that led to the Beautiful Dance of their marriage. Let’s learn from their love and the dances they took in order to get to the Beautiful Dance. Matt Chandler, author of Mingling Souls of which much of this content stems from states: “As you pursue a relationship into the world of dating, don’t simply look for someone who reciprocates your attraction but one who reciprocates your desire to honor Jesus in your relationship above all else.” This I believe is the first thing we must seek to find directly after we find ourselves attracted or allured to someone. Without that, these dances we will go into will not work, or may be taken out of order, both of which are dangerous for the heart.
The Dance of Delight (1:4 & 7-8)
Here, we see the woman’s desire to know where Solomon is going to be. She’s no longer just physically attracted to him. She’s not asking this question just so she can watch him, but so she can spend time with him. She’s beginning to delight in his presence and she had a desire to develop the delight of knowing, or to deepen the Phileo love they’ve been coming to experience. She saw that Solomon was a man of good character and of good reputation. She ran it by her friends and in 1:4, they let her know her pursuit of Solomon is a good thing. Let’s pause here for a moment and rest in this idea. She entrusted her feelings for Solomon to friends she knew she could trust. She knew they would tell her the truth- whether she wanted to hear it or not. She may declare her desire to delight in knowing Solomon more and her friends could have said: “Stay away!”. If you’ve surrounded yourself with good, strong, godly friends, trust their judgment! If as one, they all say: “This person is bad”, you’d probably need to heed their warning. Too often, at this important stage we ignore all of the wise counsel among us and seek out unwise counsel from “friends” who will tickle our ears with what we want to hear. We come looking for an echo instead of insight.
Her friends approved of Solomon, so she had no fear moving to the next level of delight. She now wants to be where he is, not in the stalker way, but in a sense of delighting in what he does and where he goes. She longs to know him better and she longs for him to know her better as well. In essence, she is saying: “I trust you, my friends trust you. Where will you be, so I can follow you there?” She wants to be with his friends, know his life, and experience his work so she can know him more and delight deeper in him. This is the moment where a couple goes from “talking” and adds the dating label. The couple has gotten to know each other, it seems there is mutual emotional feelings and attraction. Will they switch our Facebook status or not? Here, she’s declaring she wants to be where he is, so his friends and those around him know she’s his girl and he’s her guy. Solomon’s response may seem weird, but is actually flirtatious and highly romantic. He’s encouraging her to find him. He did not blow off her question with an “Oh, I’ll text you later about that” and avoiding the topic. He doesn’t do the awkward: “Slow down babe, I thought what we had was good” line, but he encourages her desire and gives her a trail to follow, a trail that will lead directly to himself. He too desires to grow in his delight of her. He too desires to spend more time with her. The dance of delight is a great place to begin to get to the beautiful dance, because both dancers are assured it is not about their body that this dance is begin, but it is about being delighted in for simply being themselves.
The Dance of Security (1:5-6; 9-17; 2:2; 4:7)
In a moment of deep honesty in verses 5-6, the woman in the story reveals one of her deepest insecurities. She is insecure about her looks and her background. She is a Shulammite woman who grew up on a vineyard and the sun has made her skin too dark. She grew up outside, working while most women pursuing a king have not. Due to her working, her skin is darker than most women. These two issues in her hear act as deep insecurities. She is essentially asking: “How could you love a dark woman from such a background as I?” She is beginning the process of exposing her inner-self to Solomon. She is seeking to be known, even if it’s scary. Even if her exposing her fears backfires, she loves him enough to be honest. Will her honesty be reciprocated? Will her openness backfire? She has to try. You see, even before anything physical happens here, this couple is showing us the proper way to dance. If I can’t trust you with my heart, there is no way I can trust you with my body. Too often, we switch that around and try to test the waters with our bodies. Yet as we saw last week, sex is not just a physical act, it is spiritual and emotional as well. This part of the dance solidifies the ability to be as Genesis 2:25 states as naked and unashamed. Solomon responds with a beautiful composition. He answers her question of “am I good enough” with a comparison to a horse. Now, today this may be an insult, but here, he is stating that she is one of a kind, beautiful and he loves her. He dispels her fears. A mate who is worth your love will be a one who seeks to dispel your fears, not exploit them. He doesn’t use her openness against her. He doesn’t ignore her fears, rather he speaks right to them and let’s her know there should be no fear for he loves her as she is. There was authenticity there and care shown for what was shared.
Once the Dance of security is in place, especially for the woman, the dance of commitment begins to come about as well. As we discussed our souls crave to be known as well as to know. Here we see this couple growing deeply into this place of knowing. Once there is a secure understanding of being known, the heart naturally desires for this to last indefinitely, so it seeks to start the dance of commitment.
The Dance of Commitment (2:4-5; 15 & 16)
Solomon and the woman have already established they are together. They’ve already begun to open up the depths of their hearts and expose the nakedness of their souls to each other. Now they begin to move into the Agape zone of love. She states in 2:5b: “…his banner over me is AGAPE”. He has proven his love to her, he has delighted in her and despite knowing her darkest fears, he loved her anyways. There is a deep commitment here. A banner is a display of ownership in a way and she’s saying: “He owns my heart!” She goes on to say in 2:16a “My beloved is mine and I am his…” She declares that he is the one. She knows his love for her. She knows she delights in him and he in her. She knows that she can be open and honest with him and he is safe. She declares: “I’m all in”. The first two dances can take a lot of time before you come to this third dance of commitment. For Hilary and I it took 2-3 years…more because of my stupidity as many of you know. These dances needn’t be rushed, after all getting to really know someone takes time. Here in this dance of the relationship, “foxes” will creep in and test the resolve of the relationship. Things will test your commitment. As the dance unfolds, other portions of your hearts that were previously locked up are now being exposed, a deeper sense of Phileo comes forth and it will be challenging. This is why there is a call to “catch the little foxes”. You will find that even after 10 years of marriage, there are still little foxes that come out. Be sure to deal with them as they pop up and not ignore them.
Here we see that the two loves of Agape and Phileo are present. There’s also now a longing to connect physically as well (SOS 2:4-5). When you discover a partner who is not committed to these two loves and the above dances, run. There will be mistakes of course along the way, because we humans are not perfect. Yet, I implore you as the woman in SOS does: do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.
The Beautiful Dance (SOS 5)
The beautiful dance includes God in the midst of it; it a dance where we are together intoxicated with God and with one another. The friends encourage the couple to be drunk on love! When we combine the three aspects of love as we’ve ben discussing, the dance that will be danced will be matchless. Seeking the good of the other, while they seek your good is a beautiful thing.
Many people date to get to know other people. I (and I believe the Bible) encourage this seeking to be known and knowing…but we must be careful with whom we do this with. Are those we are seeking to know loving God? Is there reputation good? Do our friends and family approve? Are they interested more in my eros than my phileo and agape? I implore you not to arouse or awaken love until it so desires. Seek the Lord and your dance will be beautiful.