STUDY | Spend the week studying Song of Solomon 1:1–7. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
DETERMINE | Which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.
PRAY | Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | If I do love right, I look a lot like Jesus.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
OUR GREATEST DESIRE
Let’s be honest. Men and women are different. Those differences go deeper than biology. The truth is, there’s something at soul level that distinguishes men from woman. Think of the last time you and your significant other had a conflict. Maybe you had one of the following thoughts: “How can she not see what’s right in front of her? This is the problem.” “Why doesn’t he understand that what I want right now are not solutions, but someone to listen to me?” “What’s their problem? I thought I did the right thing.”
We are different, but both men and women have a God-given desire to love and be loved. When we find love, it’s sweet to our soul (Proverbs 13:19); when it’s denied, it makes our heart sick (Proverbs 13:12). God designed us to be different, and that is a good thing. But He also gave us a core desire for love that finds fulfillment in relationships.
Q: Where do you see the differences between men and women? Where do you see similarities?
THE BOOK OF LOVE
Love is powerful. Love done right can be life-giving. But love done wrong can be explosive, even destructive. How do you navigate the power of love well? God shows us.
Song of Solomon is a book on love. We get a front row seat to the relationship of a young couple in love. It is a story of romance, passion, and desire that extols romantic love, beauty, and desire quite unashamedly. It also points us to our relationship with God. He gave us love and relationships to bring Him glory. When you do love right, you look a lot like Jesus.
Describe a couple you think does love right.
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
BETTER THAN WINE
Song of Solomon begins with the praises of a lover. She celebrates his love. She desires his kisses. His love is “better than wine” (1:2). She regards how esteemed her lover is; he’s like a king; he’s desired by others. She desires him and wants him to pursue her. A chorus of others watch these lovers and share in the celebration. They give their approval. This love comes from God, and He isn’t embarrassed to celebrate the intimate way they talk to one another.
Read: Read Song of Solomon 1:1–7. What does this passage tell us about love? What does love do?
Q: How do you celebrate those you love?
A DEEPER BEAUTY
We see how the woman views herself. She tells her lover not to look at her because she’s dark. Today, being tan is a good thing. However, back then, it revealed a lot about your background. This woman wasn’t high society. She was a shepherd girl. She worked in the fields. Her brothers made her work the vineyards. Working out in the hot sun made her skin dark, and she’s insecure and concerned about her appearance.
Then she inquires of the whereabouts of her lover. She wants to meet him, not stay hidden away, but she’s shy and a little embarrassed about her emotions. She doesn’t want to be seen as a fool for feeling the way she does. Love often makes us feel uncomfortable, doesn’t it?
Q: What insecurities or fears keep you from opening yourself to others?
Q: Why does love make us feel uncomfortable sometimes?
Select 2-3 question from this section to answer.
WHAT WOMEN WANT
A godly woman like this girl desires certain traits in a man. Guys, take notes, because you want to have character like this guy, character that counts. You want a name like this guy in the story. First, a godly woman wants someone who loves Jesus more than he’ll ever love her. Second, she wants someone who’s kind. Women want to be cared for. Yes, they want a man to be strong, but they also want a man who knows how to be gentle. Third, a godly woman desires a man who is humble and honest. Nothing turns a woman off more than an arrogant, self-focused guy who thinks he can do no wrong. Contrary to what a lot of guys think, a man who can admit his flaws and weakness is attractive. Fourth, women want a man to be responsible and self-controlled.
Q: Explain the following statement in your own words: “A godly woman wants someone who loves Jesus more than he’ll ever love her.”
Women: Why do you desire these character traits?
Men: Which of these traits do you need to grow in more?
WHAT MEN WANT
We’ve talked about what women want. But what do men want? Godly men also seek character in a woman. First, this shepherd girl was hard-working. She worked out in those vineyards day in and day out. Whether it’s in the office or at home, a man wants a woman who knows what needs to get done and does it (see Proverbs 31). Second, she submitted to authority. God calls men to lead in a relationship, and a loving, godly woman allows him to be the leader God called him to be. Third, she was pure. She didn’t keep herself out of the sun, but she kept herself for this man. This woman has dignity. She won’t settle for less than a man who will honor and value her exclusively.
Men: What does it look like for your significant other to let you lead?
Women: How can you encourage your significant other as a leader?
LOVE ON DISPLAY
This couple affirmed one another. Affirming your love and expressing your commitment (in words and actions) are essential to any healthy relationship. Look for the praiseworthy things in the other person and let them know how you feel. Be sincere when you affirm. Mean what you say. Say or do things regularly to affirm. To know someone is to know their needs. Learn how the other gives and receives love. Love with no strings attached. Don’t affirm to get something out of it. Do it because it brings you joy and delight.
Q: What’s one thing you can do this week to affirm your significant other?
LOVER OF YOUR SOUL
As much as we try to do love right, we often fail. We hurt those we love. We have to come back and ask for forgiveness. In our brokenness, we often look to another person to save us. Or give us identity. This happens all the time in relationships. But there’s only one Person who can truly give us what we desire, and that is Jesus Christ. He is the true Lover of Your Soul. He knows you more than any person ever could, and He loves and accepts you. His love is kind, gentle, strong, honest, and pure. He humbly submitted to the Father and took responsibility for your sin when He went to the cross. He displayed His love for you there. He promises never to leave you. In His love you are safe and secure.
Q: What does it feel like to be safe and secure in God’s love? How does that change the way you live?
Praise God that He made you as a man (or woman) to express something glorious about Him. Thank Him for relationships and the privilege to experience and magnify His love through them. Ask Him to reveal ways you can love others more like Jesus.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
- Read 1 Corinthians 13 and reflect on how Paul defines love.
- Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their lives.
More Than an Instruction Manual
Song of Solomon is much more than a how-to guide for relationships. It celebrates God’s covenant relationship with His people, which is reflected in marriage. Later in the New Testament, Christ’s relationship to His church is viewed in terms of a marriage (Ephesians 5:25–27). Marriage is a gift from God, and it’s based on loyalty, commitment, and purity. When this is lived out, it fills couples with joy and delight for God and one another. Few things glorify God more than a God-honoring marriage.1
Images in Song of Solomon
Motifs in the Song of Solomon include lovesickness, the door, the gazelle or stag, the kiss, the breasts, the authority figure, the garden or vineyard, the theft or trapping of the heart, horses and chariots, and limbs seen as precious metals.2
Literal or Allegorical?
Song of Solomon is difficult to interpret and it’s filled with erotic language. Because of this, many have viewed the book as an allegory of Christ’s relationship to His church. However, many modern scholars have returned to a more literal reading.3
Hell is a place of eternal fire where the devil and his allies are destined to go (Matthew 25:41). It’s also reserved for those who refuse to put their trust in Christ as Lord and Savior (Matthew 25:31–46). “The suffering of the lost in hell is eternal (Isa. 66:24; Matt. 25:46; Mark 9:44, 46, 48; Rev. 14:11). The assertion that God would be unfair to punish eternally a temporal sin underestimates the seriousness of sin, the spiritual nature of sin, and the supreme holiness of God.”4
1. Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 1213.
2. Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 371–374.
3. Raymond C. Van Leeuwen, “Song of Songs, Song of Solomon,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 1518–1519.
4. Gary D. Chapman, Five Love Languages (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 18.