Now available: Companion book by Jiri Moskala and Ellen White Notes for the 4th Quarter lessons on our quarterly index page
Lesson 6 May 4-10
Read for This Week’s Study: ; Song of Solomon; Gen. 2:7; 1 Cor. 7:3-5; John 17:3; 1 John 1:9; Rom. 1:24-27; Gal. 5:24.
Memory Text: “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave; Its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame” (Song of Solomon 8:6, NKJV).
Among the seasons of life, one of the big ones is marriage. Again, not everyone marries, but for those who do, marriage brings special challenges, and special blessings, as well. Among those blessings is the wonderful gift of sexuality. What a powerful expression of love this gift, in the right time and the right place, can be. Contrary to popular opinion, the Bible is not against sex. It’s against the misuse of this wonderful gift from the Creator to human beings.
In fact, the Song of Solomon, one of the smallest and perhaps one of the least-read books of the Bible, describes the relationship between a young bride, Shulamite, and her beloved, who is believed to be King Solomon himself. The book unfolds the mysteries of human intimacy and the delights of conjugal love in marriage. Although the Song of Solomon has frequently been treated allegorically as a symbol of the relationship of God and God’s people or of Christ and the church, it is first of all a poem on the love found in the very real human relationship of a man and woman.
This week we will look at marriage as portrayed in this Old Testament book.
Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, May 11.
Sunday ↥ May 5
Based on the following passages, how would you characterize the Bible’s view of the human body? Gen. 2:7; Ps. 63:1; 84:2; 1 Cor. 6:19, 20; 1 Thess. 5:23.
Some religions believe in dualism, a philosophy that views the human body as a problem for the life of the spirit. That is, the body is deemed bad while the “spirit” is deemed good. In Scripture, however, the human body, including its sexual characteristics, is integral to the whole being. Life is “body” and “spirit” (seeGen. 2:7). The psalmist gives the whole of himself in worship to God (Ps. 63:1, 84:2). The total person is to be sanctified, set apart for the holy purpose God intended.
A positive view of the human body, in the context of sexual relations, is reflected in the Song of Solomon. How do these texts reveal this attitude? Song of Sol. 1:2, 13; 2:6; 5:10-16; 7:1-9.
Throughout this sacred text the human body is admired. The physical aspects of married love are not an embarrassment. A full range of emotions is openly presented.
Powerful sexual taboos typically exist in many cultures. Married couples thus often find it difficult to communicate in healthy ways regarding their intimate life. Similarly, children are often deprived of the opportunity to learn about sexuality in the setting of a Christian home where godly values can be integrated with accurate information. The Bible’s openness with sexuality calls His people to a greater level of comfort with this topic so that this vital aspect of life is treated with the respect and dignity due so great a gift from the Creator.
How can we protect ourselves against cultural and moral forces that either make sexuality into nothing but degrading animal passion or turn it into something shameful that must never be talked about? How does the Bible show us that both extremes are wrong?
Monday ↥ May 6
Describe various aspects of love presented in the Song of Solomon. Song of Sol. 1:2, 13; 2:10-13, 16; 3:11; 4:1-7; 5:16; 6:6; 7:1-9; 8:6, 7.
The Song of Solomon shows how friends spend time together, communicate openly, and care about each other. In the Song of Solomon, two good friends become married partners. The wife declares, “This is my friend” (Song of Sol. 5:16, NKJV). The word friend expresses companionship and friendship without the overtones of sexual partnership. Happy is the husband or wife whose spouse is a dear friend.
Throughout the poem, intimate compliments and loving gestures convey the strong attraction, the physical and emotional delight that the male and female find in each other. The natural intimacies of romantic love are a gift of the Creator, to help partners bond closely to each other in marriage. As partners are open to the work of divine love in their hearts, their human love is “refined and purified, elevated and ennobled”. – Ellen G. White, The Adventist Home, p. 99.
These verses also convey the loftiest of thoughts about love. True love, though, is not natural to the human heart; it is a gift of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5). Such love bonds husband and wife in a lasting union. It is the committed love so desperately needed in the parent-child relationship to build a sense of trust in the young. It is the self-giving love that binds believers together in the body of Christ. The Song of Solomon calls us to make this love an active force in our relationships with our spouses.
How does this kind of intimacy reflect, in its own way, the kind of intimacy we can have with God? What are some parallels one can draw (for example, spending time, giving completely of ourselves, et cetera)? What other parallels are there?
Tuesday ↥ May 7
Many have seen a “return to Eden” theme in the Song of Solomon. Though the couple described is not the first man and woman, the poem calls to mind the earliest garden. God’s plan that they be “one flesh” (Gen. 2:24, 25) is portrayed throughout in delicate metaphors and symbols.
How does the Song of Solomon present a commitment to mutuality in the intimate life of the married couple? Song of Sol. 4:7-5:1. How is Paul’s instruction of 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 similar?
Solomon invites her, “Come with me” (Song of Sol. 4:8). His bride responds. Later she invites him, “Let my beloved come into his garden” (Song of Sol. 4:16). He responds (Song of Sol. 5:1). Scripture here teaches there is to be no force or manipulation in this intimate setting. Into this relationship both partners freely and lovingly enter. “My garden” is “his garden”.
“Solomon” and “Shulamith” share names that are derivatives of the Hebrew shalom, “peace”, or “wholeness”. Their admiration is mutual (Song of Sol. 4:1-5, 5:10-16). The balance in their relationship is evidenced even in the poetic style of paired lines and verses. The covenant expression “My beloved is mine, and I am his” (Song of Sol. 2:16) echoes the language of Eden, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” (Gen. 2:23).
How does the description of the marital union as “knowing” enrich our understanding of our relationship with God?Gen. 4:1, 25; 1 Sam. 1:19; Luke 1:34; John 17:3; 1 Cor. 8:3.
The Bible uses know for the intimate union of husband and wife. In this loving “knowledge”, the most hidden inner depths of their beings are offered to the other. Not only two bodies but also two hearts are joined in “one flesh”. Know also describes the relationship between individuals and God. For the discerning Christian the unique and tender knowledge of marriage, with its companionship, commitment, and unbounded delight, provides a profound insight into the most sublime and holy mystery ever, the union of Christ and the church.
Wednesday ↥ May 8
Read Song of Solomon 4:8-5:1.
Song of Solomon 4:16 and 5:1 form the very center of this book and describe, as it were, its climax as the marriage between Solomon and the Shulamite is consummated.
To what is Solomon referring in the following passages? Song of Sol. 4:12, 16; 5:1; 8:8-10.
In the Song of Solomon, we find some of Scripture’s most compelling evidence for God’s plan that people remain sexually chaste until marriage. One of the most powerful is a reference to the Shulamite’s childhood, when her brothers wondered whether she would be a “wall” or a “door” (Song of Sol. 8:8, 9). In other words, will she remain chaste until marriage (a wall), or be promiscuous (a door). As an adult woman, she affirms that she has maintained her chastity and comes pure to her husband: “I am a wall” (Song of Sol. 8:10). In fact, he confirms that she is still a virgin up to their wedding night by saying that she is “a garden inclosed … a spring shut up, a fountain sealed” (Song of Sol. 4:12). From her own experience, she can counsel her friends to take the steps of love and marriage very carefully. Three times in the Song of Solomon the Shulamite addresses a group of women referred to as the “daughters of Jerusalem” to counsel them not to arouse the intense passion of love until the appropriate time (Song of Sol. 2:7, 3:5, 8:4), that is, until they find themselves safely within the intimate covenant of marriage, as is she.
For the second time in the poem the beloved invites his bride to come away with him (Song of Sol. 2:10, 4:8). Before the wedding she could not accept his invitation, but now it is she who invites him to her garden (Song of Sol. 4:16), and he gladly accepts (Song of Sol. 5:1). He is not just attracted to her beauty; she has stolen his heart (Song of Sol. 4:9), he is intoxicated with her love (Song of Sol. 4:10), and he is exuberant that she is his and nobody else’s now, and forever: “My bride, my very own, you are a garden, a fountain closed off to all others” (Song of Sol. 4:12, CEV). In his union to this perfect woman he finds himself as reaching the Promised Land: “Your lips are a honeycomb; milk and honey flow from your tongue” (Song of Sol. 4:11, CEV).
What good news is there for individuals who regret their wrong choices in the expression of their sexuality? 1 John 1:9; compare Ps. 103:12, Isa. 55:7, John 8:11.
Thursday ↥ May 9
God had a special purpose in creating humankind as male and female (Gen. 1:26-28). While each bears His image, the joining of gender opposites in the “one flesh” of marriage reflects the unity within the Godhead in a special way. The union of male and female also provides for procreation of a new life, an original human expression of the divine image.
What attitude does Scripture take toward sexual practices not in keeping with the Creator’s plan?Lev. 20:7-21, Rom. 1:24-27, 1 Cor. 6:9-20.
Scripture disapproves of all that alters or destroys God’s image in humankind. By placing certain sexual practices off limits, God guides His people toward the right purposes of sexuality. When human experience is confronted by God’s precepts, the soul is convicted of sin.
What guidance is given Christian believers for relating to their sexuality and that of others in a fallen world?Rom. 8:1-14; 1 Cor. 6:15-20; 2 Cor. 10:5; Gal. 5:24; Col. 3:3-10; 1 Thess. 5:23, 24.
Believers wait for release from the corruption of sin at Christ’s return. They wait in faith, considering themselves dead to sin through Christ’s death on the cross and alive in Him through His resurrection. Through unceasing prayer, watchfulness, and the power of the Spirit, they treat their sinful nature as crucified and seek to obey Christ in their thoughts. They acknowledge God’s ownership of their bodies and sexuality and use them according to His divine plan.
God forgives those who repent of sin (1 John 1:9). The gospel enables individuals who formerly engaged in promiscuity and sinful sexual activity to be part of the fellowship of believers. Because of the extent to which sin has altered sexuality in humanity, some may not be able to know full restoration in this aspect of human experience. Some, for example, might choose a life of celibacy rather than get involved in any sexual relationships that are forbidden by God’s Word.
How should we as a church relate to, for instance, homosexuals? How should their own attitude about their sexual orientation influence our response?
Friday ↥ May 10Further Thought: “Marriage has received Christ’s blessing, and it is to be regarded as a sacred institution. True religion is not to counterwork the Lord’s plans. God ordained that man and woman should be united in holy wedlock, to raise up families that, crowned with honor, would be symbols of the family in heaven. And at the beginning of His public ministry Christ gave His decided sanction to the institution that had been sanctioned in Eden. Thus He declared to all that He will not refuse His presence on marriage occasions, and that marriage, when joined with purity and holiness, truth and righteousness, is one of the greatest blessings ever given to the human family”. – Ellen G. White, Daughters of God, pp. 180, 181.
As the Song of Solomon showed, sexual love can be a wonderful thing in marriage. But a lasting relationship cannot be based simply on the outward beauty and physical delights. Our bodies age and decay, and no amount of diet, exercise, or plastic surgery will keep us looking forever young. Solomon and the Shulamite’s marriage is a lifelong, committed relationship. Three times they affirm that they belong to each other (Song of Sol. 2:16, 6:3, 7:10). The first time it’s a recognition of mutual ownership (compare with Eph. 5:21, 33). The second time she reverses the order in affirmation of her submission (also Eph. 5:22, 23). The third time it expresses his desire for her (Eph. 5:24-32). Love like this cannot be drowned (Song of Sol. 8:7), it’s like a seal that cannot be broken (Song of Sol. 8:6).
Inside Story~ Zambia
Ruth Jereh sang heartily as she walked home from the bar in her hometown, Mazabuka, in southern Zambia.
It was Friday evening, and she had spent the entire day drinking beer.
Suddenly a blinding light appeared in front of her. The light hung in space, and Ruth stared at it in frightened amazement, not knowing where it had come from and where it would go. Her song stuck in her throat, and she instantly became sober. Then the light vanished.
Trembling, Ruth made her way home.
She didn’t say anything to her husband or 14 children that night, but she broke her silence in the morning.
“Honey”, she told her husband. “Yesterday, on my way back home, I saw a big light that scared me”.
“Stop drinking beer”, her husband replied. “This could be God talking to you”.
Later that day, a Dorcas worker visited Ruth’s home and invited her to an Adventist church meeting. With the previous night’s experience fresh in her mind, Ruth went with her husband.
Ruth had been raised in an Adventist home but left the church after marrying her husband, who belonged to another denomination. He played the saxophone in bars, and for years she sold homemade food as he played. Afterward, they would drink for hours.
It got to the point that Ruth would drink from morning until evening and forget her young children at the bar.
Drinking was part of Ruth’s life, and she struggled to quit after seeing the bright light. For two weeks, she woke up at night, frightened and weeping. “God, the life that I am living has caused me to neglect my children”, she said. “Help me to stop drinking beer”.
Then one day she lost all desire for alcohol.
Townspeople were stunned to see her sober. They knew how she had been before, and they asked which roots she had taken under the witchdoctor’s direction to give up drinking.
“How did you stop drinking beer?” said one. “Give us the root that helped you to stop”, said another.
Ruth replied to everyone, “The medicine that I used was prayer”.
Ruth also has used the power of prayer to win over her family for Christ. She was baptized and, through her influence, 10 family members also have been baptized, including her husband.
“I always thank God in my prayers for allowing my family and me to start worshipping”, said Ruth, 62. “Worshipping God is very important in life”.
All Rights Reserved. No part of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide may be edited, altered, modified, adapted, translated, reproduced, or published by any person or entity without prior written authorization from the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
Sabbath School Lesson Ends
For questions and concerns about the Study Guide,
please contact the editor of the Bible Study Guide, Clifford Goldstein
The web version of the Sabbath School lesson is published on
this site by permission of the Office of the Adult Bible Study Guide, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
Website contents copyright 1996-2018 by Sabbath School Net, an independent supporting ministry.
For permission to copy contents of the web version of the Sabbath School lesson, please contact both the Office of the Adult Bible Study Guide and the publisher of this site.
All art in these lessons and on the cover is published on this site by permission of GoodSalt.com.
We invite you to join a discussion of this lesson each day on the Sabbath School Net Daily Lessons blog. And on Sabbath mornings, you are warmly invited to join a group discussion of the week's lesson in your local Seventh-day Adventist congregation.
Sabbath School Net is an independently funded supporting website not affiliated with nor funded by the Sabbath School Department of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists)It is run by volunteers and costs are covered solely by donations from the users of this site as well as the small commissions generated by sales through our links to online stores.
If you are using this site regularly, please pray for God's blessing on our visitors and ask Him to impress you how you can help with the costs of putting this site up every month. We appreciate any gift to support the ongoing publication of SSNET, and only you and God know how much you can give. Even a small donation every month helps. And larger gifts are much appreciated. (No, you don't need a PayPal account. Just choose the "Continue" link to the left of the PayPal registration. And, yes, it's safe - as safe as your online bank account.)
Sabbath School Net
Sabbath School Netis a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
You can find a sampling of materials available to aid you in your studies at our SSNET Store. (We will get a small commission not only from any books you purchase but also from whatever else you purchase at the same time. These commissions help to underwrite a small portion of the cost of publishing this site.)
You can also go directly to the home pages of stores which will pay us a small commission for whatever you choose to buy, without costing you a penny extra: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk |Amazon.ca | ChristianBooks.com | AbeBooks Store