Category Archives: Marriage and Family Counsel

Wedding Joys: The Soloist Who’s No Longer Solo!

Susan and Cindi have been two of my closest friends and prayer partners for the past 20 years, and through the years, we’ve watched with joy as our kids have grown up. Sarah (pictured above) was also in our Wednesday night Bible study group from the time she was a child and participated faithfully in our “Second Sunday” music ministry.
One by one many of our kids (now in their 20’s and 30’s) have married and started families of their own, but for some totally mysterious reason, Sarah never found her special someone, even though she was bright, lovely, and extremely gifted. I have a dear friend who was a bridesmaid multiple times before she became a bride (at age 42), so Susan, Cindi, and I continued to pray and hope for the right spouse! However, until recently, Sarah had been the pianist and soloist at ??? nearly a hundred weddings . . . but still living solo. 😦All that changed recently, and I was the happy videographer for the event! Because my two youngest are also still single, as well as many young adults who read this blog, I asked Sarah and Kyle if I could share a little bit of their journey for the encouragement of those of us who are still hoping, looking, waiting, and praying (for ourselves or our loved ones).

Here is what Sarah shared:   “Before Kyle and I met…

I had prayed and hoped for years that I would find a godly man to marry, but it wasn’t happening. I tried online dating many times and went on a few dates, but it always ended as a closed door, including some dangerous situations. It became somewhat of an addiction. I battled major insecurity, especially being in my 30’s and not yet pursued. Every time I was feeling that insecurity or loneliness, I would pop on a dating site, even if it was just to talk with a man. But it was only leaving me empty. There was a man from Chicago I dated for a couple months but I did not have peace. I said good bye to him on my 32nd birthday and it was the best thing I could’ve done even though I truly thought I would be single the rest of my life. There was a strange feeling of contentment and acceptance though. Surrender. If God wasn’t opening the door for me with all these men online, then I didn’t want to make it happen on my own and wind up in an awful situation. In all this I was in a BSF [Bible Study Fellowship] group that really was healing and challenging and drawing me closer to Jesus. BSF was not at Impact though [where Sarah leads the music ministry], and after a year’s study, I went back to a life group with Impact so that I didn’t get disconnected there. That’s where Kyle came two months later.”

Meanwhile, this is what was happening in Kyle’s life: “Before Sarah and I met…

I was in a previous relationship with another woman. We were engaged to be married, but that soon would end due to the toxic/unhealthy relationship it was turning out to be. It was evident that God was not FIRST in my life let alone in my relationship with this woman. I believe He was attempting to grab my attention and save me from the hurt and pain I was spiraling toward. Through God’s grace, reckless love, and fierce pursuit for my life and soul, through my parents and other loved ones – I finally obtained the courage to do what I knew would be extremely hard and painful, yet the BEST thing I could. I had to part ways with her and choose God. So I did. 

I parted ways with her, and re-surrendered my life and future to God, placing Him first in my life, and seeking out His BEST for my life, regardless of what that looked like. I knew that no matter what, it would be much better than the struggles and hurt I was experiencing in that present moment. Following the break up, I had parted ways and even left Impact Church where I had been attending for a solid 3 years just to avoid seeing her. I continued going to church elsewhere but soon realized that my home was there at Impact, and something was missing in my life. I knew that is where I had formed roots, connections, friendships, and could access community at its core. I had to come back, WANTED to come back. So I did. 

I went back to Impact and Lifegroups, hungry for God and what He had in store for me there. Even though I was considered a familiar face to most of the Lifegroup members I was a new face to some. This included Sarah Main. We ended up going around the room introducing ourselves one particular day of Lifegroup to allow for everyone to become acquainted. We were told to state our name and what we did for an occupation. When it was my turn, I stated my name, “Kyle Stoltzfus…” followed by, “I am an automotive technician at M-43 Auto.” Sarah (a bit sarcastic, yet sincerely wondering…) then asked, “Can you fix a coolant leak?” I replied, “Yes, I can.”

I looked at her vehicle briefly after our Lifegroup meeting that day and suggested that she get it taken care of soon as there were other issues to address in addition to the coolant leak. She called my shop, made an appointment and notified me. I knew right away that the scheduled time was too far out given her issues, so I offered my personal assistance. We made a time sooner than the shop appointment and that evening, what could have, and probably should have, taken me only 30 minutes ended up turning into a 2 and a half hour time. We just talked, and talked, and talked, walking away both thinking, I have an interest to know more, and I like talking with the other. So conversation continued, which led to dating, which led to engagement, which led to our marriage, and where we are now…and ALL BY GOD’S GRACE AND WONDROUS LOVE FOR US.” Isn’t that a beautiful love story? At the reception, Kyle’s best friend shared that when he asked Kyle what he loved best about Sarah, Kyle said,” Sarah is the most godly young woman I know, and she always challenges me by her example to be more like Christ.” One of the unusual “hurdles” to overcome was the fact that Sarah is eight years older than Kyle. In this process, she learned that one of her great-grandmothers was eight years older than her grandfather (which had never occurred to her before)! So . . . she had to wait a while for Kyle to grow up! 🙂However, I don’t think you could ever tell there’s an age difference if you didn’t know, and look how beautifully “matched” they are…right down to the reddish glow of their hair! (Those are natural curls and natural color in Sarah’s hair.) Sarah has had a little time to think about her wedding, and she wanted to share:“A couple additional thoughts…

*Both of us came to a place of surrender before we met.
*Neither of us came to life group to ‘Find someone.’

“I have found that just because now that I have a man and am now married, the insecurity doesn’t just go away. That truly only is healed in Jesus, the only Shepherd and Father of my heart. My ultimate husband who was the one taking care of me those years of waiting. No person can fulfill the deepest heart needs. Only Christ. His way is best even when it doesn’t seem like it!”

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.
(Psalm 27:14)

(All photos from Kyle and Sarah’s wedding, naturally, although the confetti, truck, and kiss-in-the-field shots are not mine, just used by permission.)

 

Rise Up, My Love (306): Of Spices, Mountains, and Endings

Song of Solomon 8:14 “Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.” The bride desires for her husband to be like a young stag and make haste…to what location? “The mountains of spices.” This is the last picture painted for us…the last “snapshot” in the bride’s album…the last poetic rose in the bride’s bouquet…the last lilting melody in this song of all songs.

What are the mountains of spices? We are! I blush to consider that we should be given such a beautiful name, but we must remember that the Song of Solomon was a love song written by Solomon (and our greater than Solomon) for his bride, and “mountains of spices” is the name God chose for his bride to use in describing herself at the end of this book, so let’s consider all that it means and aspire to fulfill this high calling.  The words “mountains” and “spices” are used multiple times earlier in the Song, and these references give the clues we need to understand what the bride is saying. First, let’s consider what the spices represent. From 4:12—16 we learn that the bride is like a protected garden, designed by the master gardener, watered by the Word, filled with the fruits of the Spirit, and whose aroma wafts out like heavenly spices. In 5:1 we find the husband enjoying his garden wife and taking pleasure in the spicy fruits found in her.

In Song of Solomon 5:13 we hear the wife likening her beloved’s beard to a soft bed of spices. Oh, to be able to look into the face of God and with the touch of faith feel the very presence of the fragrant Holy Spirit upon him. The lush physical and spiritual imagery intertwines beautifully to portray the exquisite delights of both physical and spiritual communion. The spices are physically the scents and textures of the wife’s body, but spiritually the spices are the tangible evidences of the Holy Spirit’s fruit developed in our lives, fruits which the Son relishes and which also feeds the souls of others (see 5:1). So, the “spices” are the fruits of the Spirit.

What are the “mountains”? Twice earlier, the word “mountain” has appeared in reference to something other than the bride, and twice earlier the term appears in reference to the bride. In 2:8 the husband comes leaping over the mountains to join his wife and calls her out to enjoy, explore, and reign over his kingdom with him. In 4:8 the king invites his wife to climb to the top of the mountains with him and gain a heavenly perspective. In the first instance, the mountains are huge obstacles which the husband overcomes with ease in order to reach out to his beloved; in the second instance, the husband invites his wife to conquer great things with him so that she will share his passionate vision.  What is a mountain? It is something massive, grand, impressive. Mt. Everest is so big it can reach through the clouds and kiss heaven’s feet. Mountains are spectacular: they fill people with awe and a sense of wonder. Mountains are a force to reckon with…to be conquered by or to conquer. Mountains are immovable apart from the work of God in response to faith. Mountains are majestic. Mountains should humble us and cause us to praise this one whose massive hand is so large that the whole world could fit inside, and Mt. Everest wouldn’t even look as big as a hangnail. What a mighty God we serve!!

Yet, this infinitely great Creator calls us his “mountain of myrrh” in Song 4:6, and the bride invites her beloved to enjoy her as “a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether” in Song 2:17. In this last poetic picture, we see the wife calling her husband to come unto her and enjoy her…no longer upon the mountains of “Bether” (separation), but upon the mountains of spices. She has grown from a garden into a mountain…a mountain of spiritual delights.  Oh, beloved, are we mountains of spiritual delights? Massive. Immovable. Majestic. Abounding. Able to feed the soul of our mate? Notice that the bride, after a timeless length of time, still refers to her husband as a “young stag.” Dear wife, is your passion for your husband as fresh and fervent as it was at the marriage altar? In your heart, is your love still young? Does our longing for our Savior still burn as hotly as it did at first? Though we may have found our true loves (if we have indeed found both a spouse here on earth and our bridegroom in heaven), we must ever seek them still! “Let her be as the loving hind and the pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love” (Proverbs 5:19). As we close the study of this greatest of all love songs, may this picture linger like a sunset in our hearts. May we be like mountains of spices where our beloved spouse can graze with abandon and be always ravished with our love! Amen!

Source List:

Berry, George Ricker, Ph.D. The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1977.

Brown, Francis, D.D., D. Litt. The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. 1997.

Carr, G. Lloyd. The Song of Solomon: An Introduction and Commentary. Downer’s Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1984.

Chapman, Gary D. The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 1995.

Cowman, L.B. Streams in the Desert. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997.

Criswell, W.A., ed. Criswell Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1979.

Davidson, Francis. The New Bible Commentary. Great Britain: Billing and Sons Ltd., Guildford and Esher, 1953.

Delitzsch, Franz. Commentary of the Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1950.

Gaebelein, Frank E. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. V. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Corporation, 1991.

Glickman, Craig S. A Song for Lovers. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1976.

Gordis, R. The Song of Songs and Lamentations. KTAV, 1974.

Green, Jay P., ed. The Interlinear Hebrew-Aramaic Old Testament. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1985.

Grolier Inc. The Encyclopedia Americana. . Danbury: Grolier Inc., 1995.

Guyon, Jeanne. The Song of the Bride. Auburn: The Seed Sowers, 1990

Harley, Willard F., Jr. His Needs Her Needs: Building an Affair-proof Marriage. Grand Rapids: Baker Bookhouse/Revell Audio, 1995.

Henry. Matthew. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible. McLean: MacDonald Publishing Co., 1706. (Can’t find current date)

Hirshberg, Arabic Etymologies. VT 11, 1961.

Hocking, David and Carole. Romantic Lovers: The Intimate Marriage. Harvest House Publishers: Eugene, OR. 1986.

Ironside, Harry A. Addresses on The Song of Solomon. Neptune: Loizeaux Brothers, Inc., 1973.

Lockyer, Dr. Herbert. Love Is Better Than Wine. Harrison: New Leaf Press, 1981.

MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Study Bible. Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997.

MacDonald, William. Believer’s Bible Commentary. Nashville, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992.

McPhee, L.M. The Romance of the Ages. Grand Rapids: Gospel Folio Press, 1939.

Murphy, Roland. Toward a Commentary on the Song of Songs. Catholic Biblical Quarterly 39, 1977, pp. 441.

Nee, Watchman. Song of Songs. Fort Washington: Christian Literature Crusade, 1965.

Origen. The Song of Songs Commentary and Homilies. Translated and annotated by R.P. Lawson. Vol. 26 of Ancient Christian Writers, edited by Johannes Quasten, S.T.D. and Joseph C. Plumpe, Ph.D. Westminister, Maryland: The Newman Press, 1957.

Patterson, Paige. Song of Solomon. Chicago: Moody, 1986. Phillips, John. Exploring The Song of Solomon. Neptune: Loizeaux Brothers, 1987.

Richmond, Gary. A View from the Zoo. Waco, Texas: Word Book Publisher, 1987.

Smalley, Gary. Hidden Keys to Loving Relationships, Seminar, 1993

Spence, H.D.M., and Joseph S. Exell. The Pulpit Commentary. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1950.

Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. Morning and Evening. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1994

Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. The Most Holy Place. Pasadena: Pilgrim Pub., 1974.

Taylor, J. Hudson. Union and Communion. Edinburgh: R. and R. Clark, Limited, 1929.

Tenney, Merrill C., ed. The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Corp., 1977.

The American Heritage Dictionary. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992.

The Encyclopedia Americana. Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Inc., 1995.

The World Book Encyclopedia. Chicago: World Book—Childcraft International, Inc., 1980.

Torrey, R.A. The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit. New Kensington: Witaker House, 1996.

Trent, John. Love for All Seasons. Chicago: Moody Press, 1996.

Truth and Praise, Inc. Hymns of Worship and Remembrance. Belle Chasse, LA: Truth and Praise Inc., 1950.

Webster, Noah. Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language: College Edition. Cleveland: The World Publishing Co., 1966.

Wilson, William. Old Testament Word Studies. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1978.

Young, Robert, LL.D. Analytical Concordance to the Bible. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972.

Zlotowitz, Meir, and Scherman, Nosson. Shir HaShirim. New York: Mesorah, 1977.  

“This dwarfish age is not likely to esteem this book [The Song of Solomon] as it ought to be esteemed; only those who have lived near to Jesus, have drunk out of his cup, have eaten his flesh and drunk his blood, only those who know the fullness of the word ‘communion,’ can sit down to this book with delight and pleasure; and to such men these words are as wafers made with honey, manna, angels’ food: every sentence is like gold, and every word is like much fine gold.” —Joseph Iron, quoted by Spurgeon in, The Most Holy Place, p. 295.

Afterword: I would be happy to hear your response and welcome any insights or comments! Thank you, and God bless you as you continue to pursue our heavenly bridegroom!

Rise Up, My Love (305): Pictures of Jesus as a Deer

Song of Solomon 8:14 “Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe, or to a young hart…” What are the roe and the young hart like? The NIV translates these animals as “deer and gazelle.” Earlier in this book we discussed the Middle Eastern cousins to the North American members of the deer family with which we are so familiar. What are their outstanding characteristics?

These two animals are only mentioned a half a dozen times outside of The Song of Solomon, but in each instance the context offers valuable insight. In Deuteronomy 12 we learn that the Israelites loved the delicious meat of the hart and roe, and two chapters later we learn that these prized creatures were among the clean animals that could be eaten. In 2 Samuel 2:18 we learn that the wild roe was “light of foot”—a fast and graceful runner, and in Proverbs 6:5 we learn that the roe was quick to deliver itself “from the hand of the hunter.” Psalm 42:1 reveals that one whose heart is like God’s own heart will pant after God “as the hart panteth after the water brooks.” Isaiah 35:6 describes the lame man who is healed as leaping for joy “as an hart.”

What can we learn from these word pictures that will help us understand the bride’s request? She longs for Christ to be quick and fleet-footed like the roe in escaping the hunter and coming to her. Although this book was written a thousand years before Christ came to earth, we can now see that he did indeed escape from the hand of the evil one who hunted his soul. Jesus rose victoriously over the grave and is now sitting at the Father’s right hand in heaven, awaiting the Father’s bidding to make haste and come again to gather us unto himself!

Jesus proved that his soul exceeded the hart’s passion for water when he suffered the agonies of death and hell for love of us, his bride. Near the beginning of the Song of Solomon the bride says that her husband is indeed “like a roe or a young hart” (2:9). “Behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills” (2:8). What beautiful pictures the Scripture paints of the husband returning brilliantly, passionately, and joyfully to join his wife again!  All this, and yet there is more to be learned about Christ in the bride’s simile about the deer. It is hunting season in Michigan today (or at least it was when I wrote this years ago!). There is no more prized game in this state than the wonderful taste of flash-fried, fresh venison. (No, you don’t have to simmer it for hours to make it tender; overcooking is what makes it tough in the first place.)  One of the men in our “care group” (a group of families from our assembly who met weekly for Bible study, prayer, support, and accountability when I was writing this) shot an eleven-point buck while bow hunting. This friend is in the ministry overseeing a Christian “growth center” for young people who have finished a rehabilitation program and are now trying to find jobs and reintegrate into society, so you can bet that deer will be a great blessing to the folks struggling to make ends meet there. (By the way, I was later treated to some venison stew for my birthday…so I was one of the beneficiaries as well!)  “Be thou like to a roe…” Picture Christ as that great eleven-point stag…whose life was forfeited so that others could be sustained. Surely the bride did not have in mind that her husband would give his life for her, but he did. Jesus fulfilled her request in a most unexpected way. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). Like the desirable “clean,” innocent deer, our Lord Jesus Christ gave up his life so that spiritually we could “take, eat; this is my body..this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:26-28). Jesus sacrificed himself so that he could impart to us his own eternal life and through a great divine mystery make us “bone of his bones and flesh of His flesh.”

As the Deer
(—Martin J. Nystrom, 1984)

As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longs after You
You alone are my hearts desire
And I long to worship You.

You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my hearts desire
And I long to worship You.

I want you more than gold or silver
Only You can satisfy
You alone are the real joy giver
And the apple of my eye.

You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my hearts desire
And I long to worship You.

You’re my friend and You’re my brother
Even though you are a King
I love You more than any other
So much more than anything.

You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my hearts desire
And I long to worship You.

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God” (Psalm 42:1).

(The first and last photos of deer are from my home, but the middle three are used by permission by my friends Dennis and Frances and their son Amos. Thank you, dear friends, for being willing to share!!)

Rise Up, My Love (289): Sharing Finances…Takes Trust as Well as Love

Song of Solomon 8:12 “My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred.” After explaining how the profit structure worked in the vineyards, the bride reveals her marvelous heart of devotion and love for her husband. First, she makes a point of the fact that she owns her own vineyard: “My vineyard, which is mine, is before me.” (In other words, she owns her own vineyard and can do whatever she wants with it.) But then—instead of keeping the profits—she insists on giving Solomon the entire profit that she would normally receive for herself, as well as generously paying those farmers who tended her vineyard.   Wow! Talk about amazing love and active faith! Pause to reflect for a few minutes on what this might mean for a husband and wife, and what this might model for us as the bride of Christ. As wives, do we show such devotion to our husbands that we freely entrust to them the benefits from our material possessions? (Before you get too excited husbands…two questions for you to consider: Are you so financially responsible that your wife does not feel compelled to try to provide for her own future? Do you exercise such unselfish love and wisdom in your financial decisions that your wife would want to entrust the management of her money to you?) If you can’t trust your prospective spouse with your money, then please don’t marry that person, because there are many areas that will mean even more to you than money! The ability to trust each other is absolutely critical to the stability of marriage.

To give what is ours to another always requires a great commitment of faith, love, and devotion. God calls us to give ourselves up to him completely. We respond to him out of love, but by faith we are also assured that he loves us even better than we love ourselves and will care for us even better than we can care for ourselves. It’s a win-win situation, and so it is also for the wife whose husband is truly loving her as Christ loves his bride (us).   As wives are to model the bride in her relationship to Christ, so we should ideally cast all our cares upon our husband (even our financial cares). Does that sound scary? I have a dear friend who married when she was almost forty, only finding “Mr. Right” some years after her father had died and left her a very large inheritance. When she married, she wondered whether or not to make a prenuptial agreement with her husband that would keep her inheritance strictly in her control (which had been her father’s desire, in order to protect his daughter from the possibility of marrying an unscrupulous man).

However, as an act of faith in her fiancé, and in the spirit of two becoming one, she chose to share everything with him. Do you think she made a noble choice? I do. We inherit “all spiritual blessings” in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). He gave everything and shares everything. In fact, the goal of Christ’s earthly life was to redeem a people who would become one with him and share his glory (John 17).

Christ gave all and desires all. In the spirit of displaying our love for Christ, we should give all and share all with our spouse as well. Two are to become one, as a picture on earth of what heaven will be like. Somehow…although we still struggle…it seems like it should be easy to have a perfect relationship with Christ, because he is the perfect “husband,” and everything we have came from him anyway. To whatever extent we and our mates are selfish instead of Christlike, to that extent it becomes more difficult to lay down our lives for one another, but this is exactly what God calls us to do.

On this earth, the husband and wife come together bringing completely independent and often very different gifts. However, the calling to love, give, and serve remains unchanged, so be very sure the person you marry is Mr. or Miss Right (not that they are perfect, but that they are truly the right person God wants for you). If you’re not sure, pray about it until you feel peace from the Lord one way or the other: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).

Next to getting saved, marrying in the will and peace of God is the most important, life defining decision you’ll ever make! Of course, even the best marriages have some tough times. (Have you heard the joke that Mr.-Miss Right’s first name is “Always”?) Despite the difficulties, however, marriage provides an opportunity for the longest, most intimate, most satisfying relationship available on earth, so I hope if you’ve never been married, you may yet find your spouse of a lifetime!

 

Don’t Forget (to) Breathe

If you want to be inspired by an incredible story of love overcoming all, be sure to watch the 2017 account of Robin and Diana Cavendish, an amazing love story recounted by their son as a tribute to their unfailing love for one another through devastating illness.  The acting is excellent.  (The heroine, Claire Foy, totally charmed us in her role as Elizabeth in The Crown, a fascinating look into the reign of England’s longest [and still] reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth.) I don’t want to tell you too much of the story lest I ruin it,  but it is a beautiful example of love and faithfulness  despite overwhelming challenges. As a result of their unbounded devotion to one another —and to making life worth living—their work has resulted in helping thousands of severely disabled persons! Ready to be inspired? Then it might be time to watch Breathe!For in him [the Lord] we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

Rise Up, My Love (284): “Beautiful in His Eyes”

Song of Solomon 8:10 “. . .then was I in his eyes as one that found favour.” Well, so much for personal struggles (as a prototypical female). What’s the bottom line on this verse? Was Solomon’s bride being realistic? Did she have a pride problem? Or, was the bride simply expressing how beautiful her husband made her feel? I’d like to believe the last option, although for those of us mortals who live in this physical, fallen world, I suspect the Shulamite was truly a stunningly beautiful woman, Solomon had been attracted to her for that reason, and she knew it.

This is the most reasonable, literal interpretation of the verse, and the fact that Solomon gathered a harem of 700 wives and 300 concubines who became idols in his life and led him astray from God strongly supports this view. (1 Kings 11:3: “And he [Solomon] had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.”) This is one place in the book where—on the physical level—Solomon departs from our precious Savior, who looks on the heart, not on the outward appearance. “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7. Thank you, Jesus!).We’ll discuss spiritual beauty next, but on the physical level, what lessons can we learn today? First, a word to all of us, but especially guys (who are often extremely visual in their orientation). Of course you’re attracted to a woman’s beauty, so be sure you marry someone who is physically appealing to you. Never try to be “super spiritual” and refuse to acknowledge your basic feelings about how physically attractive a potential girlfriend seems. However, your physical attraction should only be the first step in identifying the right girl.

If you want to be content in this life…if you want a happy marriage…then learn to be like Christ. Look for an attractive mate who is intently developing spiritual beauty…and make sure you’re intently developing godly character yourself! It is our flesh that draws us to physical beauty, and if we don’t train our hearts to focus on and love that which is spiritual, we will forever suffer lustful attractions to members of the opposite sex based strictly on physical appearance. Why do you think the draw to pornography is so incredibly powerful? Modern men may not have Solomon’s wealth and power to acquire a physical harem, but for the price of his soul a man can develop a Satanic harem through visual images that will lead to his destruction just as surely as Solomon’s lust turned him away from his God.

The Proverbs remind us: “Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:31). If you want to be still singing your spouse’s praises when you’re seventy, look for someone who loves the Lord with all her heart, mind, soul, and strength. The spirits of such people grow more attractive year by year.Second, another word to all of us, but especially to us as women (who due to child birth and hormone shifts have an extremely difficult time retaining our youthful figures). Let’s try to be as beautiful as possible for our spouses! A fact of human nature that we would be wise to understand and accommodate is that human beings are attracted to physical beauty. (No offense on the lizard; I was thinking of myself!)

Let’s assess ourselves realistically. Are we firm and straight like a wall, or are we sagging and bulging under the weight of indulgence? Are we being self- disciplined enough to eat and exercise properly? Do we have good posture? Standing up straight will go a long way toward looking as attractive as possible. Our breasts may not exactly seem like “towers” to us, but if we’re not overweight, we’re standing up straight, and we’re wearing undergarments that are appropriately supportive, most women will have a pleasant frame that can be totally satisfying to her husband. (If he keeps his eyes off strange women; a man with wandering eyes will never be satisfied, no matter how beautiful his wife is.)Believe it or not, being as shapely as possible is something that God desires for us as part of living “heartily, as to the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). It is part of good stewardship. He gave us our body as a gift to maintain, and he wants us to be beautiful for him. We are his abiding place, and just as he is preparing a place for us, so we can express love to him by keeping our earthly tabernacle as beautiful as possible for him. Although our motive in everything should be first and foremost God’s pleasure, a beautiful body will also be a pleasure and attraction to our husbands.

We probably do not think we could compete in a Miss Universe contest, but let’s work on being able to go at least this far towards feeling like the bride. Let’s work on being able to say: “God gave me just the body he wanted me to have, and I am beautiful to Him. I want to be a good steward of the body that God has given me, and my husband appreciates me for that.”(Hopefully!! 🙂  )

Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.  If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work (2 Timothy 2:19-21).