Ask Steve: Marital Relations in Song of Solomon









Question: Steve, I am currently reading through Song of Solomon. Can you briefly tell me what exactly does the book teach about the marital relationship between a man and a woman? 

Answer: The book of Song of Solomon is, like the book of Proverbs, wisdom literature in that it gives wisdom regarding the matter of sexual purity and the marital relationship between a man and a woman. It is not made up of imperatives and exhortations like Proverbs. Rather, it is a constant dialogue between a bride and a groom who pour out their affections for one another. The progression of the dialogue between the man and the woman show the wise ways in which a bride and groom are to relate to one another before and during marriage. Purity is the issue here. The Song of Solomon is a celebration between a bride and a groom who faithfully abide by the wisdom found in Scripture. This relationship, and subsequent marriage, is beautiful because it is filled with wisdom, purity, love, sacrifice, joy, and satisfaction. The Song teaches multiple things about the marital relationship between a man and a woman.

The first theme that the book teaches is the importance of sexual purity before marriage. In other words, there must not be fornicating or even lust before the man and the woman are married. These principles are rooted in God’s Law, in which fornication is a sin that violates sexual purity (Deuteronomy 22:13-30, 1 Corinthians 6:9) and lust is adultery of the heart (Matthew 5:27). Therefore, a blessed union between a man and a woman must be anchored in faithfulness to God’s Law. That is why the Shulammite bride explicitly expresses her commitment to a chaste life before and during marriage. In verses such as 2:7 and 3:5, the bride invites accountability to the daughters of Jerusalem, exhorting them never to incite her passions for sex before marriage.

Another prominent theme that the book teaches is purity in the marriage bed. This theme is rooted in the 7th commandment that forbids adultery (Exodus 20:14). Solomon even speaks about the important of keeping sex within the marriage covenant when he instructs men to drink “water from your own cistern…” (Proverbs 5:15). This theme of a bride and groom’s exclusivity to each other is demonstrated in passages such as 2:16, which states, “My beloved is mine, and I am his.” This idea is also repeated in 6:3 and 7:10, which clearly shows the important principle, and God’s Law, of purity of heart, which must be honored during the courtship process and during the marriage.

The Song of Solomon is a romantic piece of literature that gives an inspiring account of purity before and during marriage. Sexual sins have always been prevalent throughout history, and even so today, which is why such wisdom literature particularly devoted to purity and the dangers of sexual sin is needed to shed light on the importance of the meaning of marriage, which ultimately points to the future wedding of Christ and His pure bride, the church (Rev 19:9). 


Recommended Resource: What the Bible Says about Love, Marriage & Sex by David Jeremiah