Song of Solomon 4:9 “Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse.” Notice the purity of the King’s passion and the tenderness of his thoughts! This is the very first time the king addresses his bride as “sister.”
In the Hebrew, the word is ahot, which means “female sibling.” To address his bride as “sister” is to express the tenderness, permanence, and intimate unity of their relationship. This is not simply a physical union between two people who are drawn to each other sexually and might run a transient course, it is a union of body, soul, and spirit…a permanent and intrinsic union of two people who have an organic oneness of being and purpose.
Biological kinship is wonderful, and there is a special closeness and understanding that develops between a brother and sister who have grown up together which is rarely ever surpassed in age-mates except in the full blossom of a blessed marriage. Sarah was Abraham’s “sister” as well as his wife, because they had the same father. Later, Isaac called Rebekah his “sister,” although she was really his cousin, and Laban called Jacob his “brother,” “my bone and my flesh” (Genesis 29:14-15), not only because of the closeness of their blood lines, but because of the commonality of their faith in God. This recognized spiritual kinship has been passed down throughout the ages, as it says in Galatians 3:6-7, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.” Although known biological kinship to Abraham has largely disappeared (except among the Jewish and Muslims), the spiritual kinship has remained constant!
Who is the “sister” (brethren) of Christ? Jesus said himself, “Whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother” (Mark 3:35). Who is it that our Lord addresses so tenderly as “my sister, my spouse”? Those who share the purposes and heartbeat of God…who share the same essential life of God the Father… who have not only become “blood brothers” by exchanging a drop of blood (as some soberly do in this life), but those who have been spiritually washed in his blood (Revelation 1:5) and taken in the blood of Christ (John 6:53-55). We are blood-bought and transfused so that we have the eternally living blood of Christ flowing through our veins. This is the nature of spiritual kinship. Hebrews 2:11 amplifies this sacred thought: “For both he that sanctifieth [Jesus] and they who are sanctified [the believing church—bride] are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.”
There are two particularly instructive thoughts that arise from this meditation. First is the happy thought that our Savior claims us not only as his bride but names us first as his “sister!” Dear men who are children of God, have you learned to love all believing women as “sisters” in Christ, with all the tender sense of protection and love that attends such a title? What a secure and happy realm the household of faith would be if men could so love their spiritual siblings! What secure and happy marriages would come from the community of believers if we could only grasp this concept and live it out in our lives!
The second idea is so obvious that it could be bypassed without conscious thought unless we pull it out and consider it. It is the fact that Christ calls us “sister” before he calls us “spouse.” As believers, we should only choose for our mate someone who is a spiritual kinsman…someone who shares with us the same essential life blood and purposes of God…someone who is our “sister” (or “brother”) in the Lord through saving faith in Christ. As we are instructed in 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” Marriage is a lifelong commitment to one person, and to be committed to someone whose heart is not fully surrendered to the Lord will inevitably bring about a life of struggle and heartache, for there will be the continuous tension between differing loyalties, dissimilar views on right and wrong, and the constant heartbreak of no true fellowship and understanding. “The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord” (I Corinthians 7:39). We are always and only to be united to someone with whom we can share complete unity and intimacy: body, soul, and spirit, not only because we are to picture Christ and the Church, but also because it is the only path of joy and peace. Anything less dishonors God, will lead to a life of pain, and should be resolutely refused at all costs!