WARNING: The following material is intended for mature audiences. While this is a Bible study, the Song of Songs is written with references to sexual themes, intimate textual innuendos, and suggestive figurative language that may not be suitable for some audiences. Viewer discretion is advised. It is recommended that you approach this book from God with pure motives and pray that His will in preserving these song lyrics can be a blessing to you. It is advisable that if you have been enjoying this podcast with young ears present that you refrain from doing so at this time. Wait until you are in a private setting to continue. Thank you for taking this word of caution into consideration as we begin today’s episode.
CYCLE ONE - Song #1 There are many ingredients in the recipe for making love. Lovers will entice one another with all five senses engaged. Seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching are all ways to tantalize a lover while being invigorated yourself. We could call this spicing up love. Many have tried to capture the perfect ingredients for making love. Like the old song, "Recipe for Making Love" resounds, "It doesn’t need sugar coz it’s already sweet It doesn’t need an oven coz it’s got a lot of heat Just add a dash of kisses to make it all complete And that’s the recipe for making love." We talked about the kiss ingredient in our last session, but now we are going to add another spice. The girl now talks about the fragrance of her lover. Beyond pheromones that are created naturally by both men and women, we can add some scent to attract our lover's attention. It is a known fact that all men and women of this time period wore perfumes. This practice started due to the low levels of proper hygiene. Oils and perfumes were a cover for the smell of the natural, although there could be arguments made that the raw natural smells of the human body can be more attractive than a scented cover-up. They didn't have hygiene products or other means to protect them from body odors. The smell of flowers, herbs, and other natural scents were great disguises for what would physically be unpleasant. But don't miss the poetic inversion between the wine from our last session and this fragrance. Notice the words for how it makes her feel in the last part of verse 2 and also at the beginning of verse 3. She is admiring him for his fragrance (character, not just smell) and the ability to stir her heart with his kisses and love. The aroma of any fragrance worn on the body can be enjoyed by many. It fills the environment around you, but only one can get close enough to breathe you in full. This is shared by lovers only. His name and the fragrance that he lets off are emblematic of how well he is known. To get the Hebrew poetic wordplay, the word for name is shem, and the word for oil is shemen. He has a great reputation, a pleasant aroma to all. Ecclesiastes 7:1 says, "A good name is better than precious ointment", and uses the same two Hebrew words as in our Song. Oddly enough, the name Solomon (Shelomo) also rolls off of the tongue poetically in rhyme with these other lyrics. Nobody wants to have a partner that has a bad name. You hear these kinds of rumors going around saying, "He is flirtatious and unfaithful" or "She is a dirty liar and a cheater". Take note of how verse three concludes, “therefore the maidens love you”. When others think of him, they do not have a negative impression of who he is as a man. The young girl here is so secure in her relationship that she can let others admire him while she is settled on having him for her own. The comments from others can be taken in two different ways. If a woman is confident in the love of her man, and another woman told her that her husband was a good man and highly desirable, it should not make her feel insecure, but rather, she should have gratitude that she has an attractive spouse, doing whatever she can to keep him. In the olden days, they would say, "He is a good catch" or even better, "He is a keeper". This is also a poetic wordplay between the oil and his name. It has been said that our reputation is all that we have and our reputation is a reflection of our character. A good name is invaluable (Proverbs 22:1). When we have someone that we love and that we think highly of, we treasure them. We should not be jealous if others find our spouse to be special or even attractive, but allow their good name to bring us even more pleasure, by increasing our appreciation for them and the value that they hold in our life. In other words, if you didn't have them, somebody else would see them as a precious treasure. Since you do have their devotion and love, learn to cherish this reputable lover like sweet wine or rare fragrance that excites your senses. While it is common knowledge that we should spend time caring for our own flesh and making ourselves presentable before others, this should be especially true before those that we love intimately. If a man never wears deodorant or brushes his teeth at home but always showers, practices good hygiene, and even puts on extra cologne before leaving the house for work, imagine what message that sends to his wife. If a woman never fixes her hair around her husband but is dolled up in her finest apparel every time she goes out with her friends for dinner, this could be questionable. The fact is, we need to be enticing to our spouses and we should never lose the desire to put on our very best to draw and attract them, even after we have "tied the knot" and vowed to love them unconditionally in marriage through good and bad. We cannot be two different people; one in public and another in private. The reality is that outside of the home there are others that may present themselves in an attractive manner that could stir up desires in us, and we could be tempted to pursue another lover. While this should not be the motivator for keeping good hygiene and doing the little extras to give our best look to our spouses, we ought to take this to heart and seriously make an effort to woo them constantly with our own creative allurement. Our attractiveness is based on consistency. If you are putting on a show in public but you cannot maintain your good name in close quarters with your spouse, you will eventually be exposed. Creating regularity in behavior or a routine display of character, not for just make-up (mask), but rather becoming a man or woman of God, is critical to maintaining the highest level of attractiveness. If you are sloppy and lazy at home with your spouse, this will be evident, not only to them but to others, when we go about our business each day. We need to let our spouses experience our best in private. We need to let them have us in our fullness. If we fill up the home with this fragrance, it stays with us everywhere we go. On a deeper level, we need to maintain a good name. I know many men and women who are always presentable and seem to have it all together, but the appearance is nothing more than a facade. A man who is always dressed nice and smells good for other women when he goes out, but puts no effort into attracting his wife at home, he is a womanizer and not a good man at all. If a woman, that is full of herself, flaunts her sexuality just to see how many guys that she can cause to fall for her, she is ugly at her core and is nothing more than scandalous, especially if she treats her own husband as second class. The fact is, these are people that are putting on a front and they are fake. These are people that are enticing, physically attractive on the outside, but they are truly undesirable people at the heart level. The real message of this text is to be beautiful as a woman and handsome as a man, not only in appearance but in reputation as well. A man should be able to trust in his wife and know that all efforts to dress up and parade herself as a jewel is solely for the purpose of making him feel like he has won a prize, not to be concerned that she would then throw herself at other men. A woman should be able to have confidence that when her husband is freshly shaved, dressed up and ready for his day at work that he is not flirting with other women in the office, or trying to attract attention to himself, but that even if others come to respect him in the community, that she will be honored that he belongs to her (See Proverbs 31). We have a great influence on how others perceive us by the way that we carry and present ourselves. When we are married, we need to remember, that our partner wants us to remain attractive and this requires efforts to look, sound, smell, taste, feel, and act presentable for them. Above all, let us create a desire in our lover for us, by creating a good name for ourselves in our daily faithfulness to love and live as God would have us to, before all mankind. While multiple studies have been conducted to figure out which scents or aromas will allure each of the sexes, the fact is, you can put on all of the cologne, perfume, oils, creams, etc. that you want, but if your spirit reeks of impurity, it will be obvious and repulsive. Be a respectable man. Be a woman of inner beauty. Your most desirable fragrance will be your reputation and your ability to entice your lover will be as strong as the daily efforts that are made to live a whole, pure and fulfilling life for the Lord. SPIRITUAL APPLICATION: Ointments are expensive and the fragrance is long-lasting. So are the names that we have to wear. When the sinful woman of Luke 7:36-50, came into a Pharisee's home where Jesus was dining, she fell before him, to clean and anoint His feet with a costly perfume. The Pharisees grumbled because she was a woman of poor reputation. It was customary for a host to provide water as you entered their so that you were able to wash your feet. The Pharisees never extended this kind gesture, but the sinful woman used the water of her tears to wet His feet, and then dried them with her hair while kissing His feet all over. She then took a perfume that could have been sold for a large sum of money and poured it out on His feet in the presence of everyone. This anointing of His feet created anger for the Pharisees, and for those that did not understand her sacrifice. All that they knew of her is that she was a sinful woman and they were upset that she was wasting the fragrance. For Jesus, this was a fulfilling of His holy purpose, to seek and save those who were lost and to receive the praise of those that fell in love with Him. Jesus replied to her loving gesture, "Your sins have been forgiven". When the Pharisees questioned the Lord's ability to forgive sins, He continued, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace". The love of this woman was greater than the love of the Pharisees because she was forgiven of a multitude of sins. We who are servants of God, as we recall how much sin we have committed in our life, should love with greater intensity, the One who is the Lover of our souls. At the feet of Jesus, we bring our tears, our most valued possessions and we come to serve Him, giving it all away in His honor. He gave His life as a sacrifice, pours out His precious blood over us, and cleanses us from all unrighteousness (Ephesians 5:2), a fragrant aroma to God. While we intend to be found in Christ, He also has every intention of being found in us. He lives through us. That is why, in every place, we can be His fragrance and carry on His good name, the name above all names. We proclaim Jesus wherever we go. When we offer our lives in service to God we are making a spiritual sacrifice to proclaim His name to others (Romans 12:1). God always prefers to have a sacrifice and its aroma rise up to His presence where it is a sweet-smelling savor. This is known as worship, where we offer a gift to praise His name out of love from a pure heart. There was an altar in the temple where incense was to be burned continually (Exodus 30:1) and we learn that this incense was a symbol of the prayers of the saints (Revelation 8:3-4) that God welcomed as a pleasant aroma. When our spiritual life is dedicated to God and we love, serve, and pray according to the Lord's will, we are a constant fragrance and a well-pleasing aroma to God, while filling the environment around us with His fragrance. We are keeping our name pure in the sight of God and we are pleasant in the presence of others when we live as Christ commissioned. If we are to apply this to our walk of faith, I cannot help but think about how the Apostle Paul told the Christians that they were the aroma of Christ (II Corinthians 2:14-17). Everywhere we go, we spread His fragrance (name) abroad. We are not jealous when others admire our first love, but rather we find greater joy in knowing Him and fall deeper in love with Him as a result. When we are loving others, we are in turn demonstrating the love of Christ. As we give of ourselves to bless others, every offering is a sweet-smelling sacrifice that pleases God (See Philippians 4:18). QUESTIONS: 1. What is the value of a good name? Why is it important to keep our name pure and our reputation above reproach? 2. When thinking about our reputation, what can happen if you develop a bad character and everyone speaks of you in a negative light? 3. Do you think it is important to take extra time to make ourselves presentable and pleasant for our spouse? What can happen if we let ourselves go? 4. From a spiritual perspective, in what ways can we create a double life if we are one person in public and another in private? 5. While our primary concern is how well we please God, do you think it is important to be attractive to all while devoting ourselves in love to our spouse? 6. As the fragrance of Christ, in what ways can we protect our name, in order to be more equipped to proclaim the name of Jesus? 7. In marriage, what ways can we serve our spouse to offer up spiritual sacrifices that not only please God but fill our home with an alluring fragrance?