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July 7th, 2019

Sermon Song of Solomon 2:4 . . .“Bible songs:  His banner over me is love”

“Bible songs:  His banner over me is love”

Song of Solomon 2:4

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus.

If we were to ask a hundred different people, “What is the most beautiful song ever written?” we’d likely get a hundred different answers.

For those of you who like country music, for example, Billboard magazine says the number one song is, “I Will Always Love You,” written and performed by Dolly Parton, closely followed by one of Johnny Cash’s favorites, “Ring of Fire.”

For all of you rock and roll fans, the number one rock song, according to Rolling Stone magazine, is, Bob Dylan’s, “Like a Rolling Stone.”  Spotify also suggests, “Whole Lotta Love,” by Led Zeppelin and “Smoke on the Water,” by Deep Purple.  To each his own.

Then there’s classical music.  A website called, “Classical music only,” says the greatest piece ever written is Bach’s “Mass in B Minor.”  Richard Wagner takes second place with “The Ring of the Nibelung,” and Beethoven takes both third and fourth places with Symphonies No. 9 and 5.

And if that’s not enough for you, there’s “Clair de Lune,” by Claude Debussy, certainly one of the most recognizable works in music history.  And think of “Requiem” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  It’s the last song he wrote before he died.

Our world is filled, it seems, with literally hundreds of beautiful, beautiful songs.

Over the past number of months, we’ve spent time looking at quite a lot of Bible songs.  Think of the song Moses sang in Exodus chapter 15:  “I will sing unto the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider He has thrown into the sea.”  Asaph sang in II Chronicles 5:  “For He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.”  And David sang in Psalm 23:  “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

But of all the songs God chose to record for us in His Word, certainly one of the most beautiful of all is the one called, “The Song of Solomon.”  In fact, not only is it called, “The Song of Solomon,” in Hebrew, it’s called, “Shir Ha-Shirim,” words that mean, “The Song of Songs,” the greatest of all songs, the most beautiful song of all.

Please turn in your Bible to page 713.

I’ll start at chapter 1, just above where it says, “The Bride Confesses Her Love.”  “The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.  She.  Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!  For your love is better than wine; your anointing oils are fragrant; your name is oil poured out; therefore virgins love you.  Draw me after you; let us run.  The king has brought me into his chambers.  Others.  We will exult and rejoice in you; we will extol your love more than wine; rightly do they love you.”

Now at first glance, most of you might be wondering why this is even in the Bible!  Now we can understand the words of Genesis chapter 1:  “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” and John chapter 3:  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son.”  Those words make sense.  They belong.  But, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!  For your love is better than wine”?  We’re just not quite so sure.

And don’t worry, you’re not the only one.  For centuries, the Jews said no one should even read this book until they were at least thirty years old!

But it was for very good reason that God chose to include it in His Word, for it speaks, in very clear and certain terms, to a world where pretty much anything goes, of the love between a man and a woman, a husband and wife.  

In fact, The Song of Solomon is so important that, back in the third century, Origen of Alexandria wrote a ten-volume commentary on it!  Nineteenth century preacher Charles Spurgeon wrote thirty-one sermons on it.  A Puritan preacher named John Gill wrote a hundred and twenty-two sermons on it.  And back in the twelfth century, Bernard of Clairvaux wrote eighty-six sermons on it, and he never even made it to chapter 2!

It was of this book that a first century rabbi named Akiba once wrote:  “The whole world is not worth the day on which the Song of Songs was given to Israel, for all the writings are holy, but the Song of Songs is the holiest of the holy!”

So what’s it all about?  Let me explain.  If you didn’t know any better, you’d think The Song of Solomon is nothing more than just a story about a man who went into his garden to pick flowers.  He climbed a palm tree.  He plowed his field.  He drank water from a fountain.  And he enjoyed eating grapes from his vineyard.

And his female friend liked to sit under his apple tree and eat apples.  She served him pomegranate juice.  Then, together, they went for a hike in the hills where spices grow, and enjoyed their fragrance.

Now that’s what seems to be going on.  But let me tell you, there’s a whole lot more!

If truth be known, The Song of Solomon, the “Song of Songs,” the greatest and best song of all, is a collection of love songs, between a man, (most likely Solomon), and his wife, (very possibly a woman named Naamah the Ammonite).  And it’s a drama, in eight acts, with four essential players--a king, his bride, friends of the bride, and brothers of the bride.

So while the book might seem to be about a man and a woman and the time they spent together in a garden, take a closer look, and you’ll see that it’s not Solomon the Wise.  It’s Solomon the Don Juan.  It’s some pretty steamy stuff!

So with every intent of preaching a “G-rated” sermon today, let me focus simply on three things.  The first is found in chapter 5.  Please turn to page 717.  I’ll start where it says, “The Bride Praises Her Beloved,” chapter 5, verse 10:  “My beloved is radiant and ruddy, distinguished among ten thousand.  His head is the finest gold; his locks are wavy, black as a raven.  His eyes are like doves beside streams of water, bathed in milk, sitting beside a full pool.  His cheeks are like beds of spices, mounds of sweet-smelling herbs.  His lips are lilies, dripping liquid myrrh.”

Now I don’t know about you, but it’s easy to see that this woman is crazy about this guy!  She is absolutely, totally in love with him!  Verse 14:  “His arms are rods of gold, set with jewels.  His body is polished ivory, bedecked with sapphires.  His legs are alabaster columns, set on bases of gold.”  Verse 16:  “His mouth is most sweet, and he is altogether desirable.”

Wow!  Now husbands, let me ask--when was the last time your wife said that about you?

But for all the incredible, wonderful things she has to say about him, I think the best of all is found at the end of verse 16:  “This is my beloved and this is my friend.”

It’s been said that the linchpin, the most important and even vital part of any marriage, what helps to hold it all together, is friendship, when a husband and wife love, admire, and respect each other.  

You like her personality--the fun things, the quirky things, as well as all her hopes and dreams.  And you like him.  You like being with him.  You think about him when he’s with you.  You miss him when he’s gone.  And though neither of you may be the greatest romantic in the world, the best thing that can be said about you is that you’re friends.

Friends laugh together.  Friends cry together.  Friends trust each other.  Together, they take sides against the world.

As the woman said in verse 16:  “This is my beloved and this is my friend.”

A second thing I want to look at is found in chapter 2.  Please turn to page 714.  Look where it says, “The Bride Adores Her Beloved,” chapter 2, verse 8:  “The voice of my beloved!  Behold, he comes, leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills.  My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.  Behold, there he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, looking through the lattice.”

Now look with me at verse 15:  “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.”

What are the foxes?  It’s the little things, the annoying things, the irritations that come between a husband and wife.  He says something, and it bothers you.  She does something, and it irritates you.  It’s those little reminders that every husband is a son of Adam, and every wife is a daughter of Eve.  No matter how kind and good we might seem on the outside, every one of us is a member of the fallen human race.

And that’s the challenge that every husband and wife, every day, must face--catch the foxes.  Never let them “spoil the vineyards.”  Never let them ruin your marriage.

And one more word to look at, also found here on page 714.  I’ll start at chapter 2, verse 1:  “I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.  He.  As a lily among brambles, so is my love among the young women.  She.  As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men.  With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.  He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.”

Now I’ve never served in the military, but if you have, you know just how important a flag can be.  It’s not simply a sheet of colored fabric that flaps in the breeze.  It’s a symbol of a people, a country, and a nation.  And not only do we fly that flag across our country, we’ve raised it across history to mark a hill we’ve taken or a battle we’ve won.  And when that flag flies, it’s as if we say, “Now this land is ours.  It belongs to us!”

And in the words of chapter 2, that’s exactly what the woman says.  Verse 4:  “He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.”  All of me, she says, is his, and all of him is mine.  I belong to him and he belongs to me.  “His banner over me is love.”

What a beautiful picture of the love between a husband and wife!

So what does all this have to do with us?  Good question!

Really, the only way a wife can truly love her husband and a husband can truly love his wife, is to better understand Jesus’ love for us.  As one author put it:  “The Song of Songs can only be sung by those who know the Love of loves.”

And who is the Love of loves?  He’s the King of kings and Lord of lords who left His Holy of holies to become the Servant of servants here on earth, not because we were good or kind or beautiful, or even worth anything at all, but because He loved us.  He fought for us, He won us, and He staked His claim on our hearts.  His banner over us is love.

One more thing.  Some twenty-three years ago, back in 1996, a twenty-eight year old man walked into the Broad Arrow Cafe, in Port Arthur, Australia, pulled out a semi-automatic rifle, and took the lives of thirty-five people, and wounded twenty-five more.  It was one of the largest losses of life in Australia’s history.

But when he burst into that cafe, man after man after man, put his body between a bullet and his wife.  Almost every award given was to men dying for their wives and families.

And if you think that’s something, think of the love our Savior Jesus has for us!

In the words of a hymn:  “Chief of sinners though I be, Jesus shed His blood for me; died that I might live on high, lives that I might never die.  As the branch is to the vine, I am His, and He is mine.”

 

Dear Father, in the deep wonder and mystery of the cross, You showed Your great love for us.  Help us to love one another as You have loved us, for Jesus’ sake.  Amen

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