STUDY | Spend the week studying Song of Solomon 2:8–17. 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 | God designed sex for His glory and our enjoyment.
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.
Try to talk about sex in church, and you’re sure to see a few raised eyebrows. Sex is still a taboo subject for a lot of Christians. However, God has a lot to say about the physical side of intimacy. He created it, and it’s something meant to be enjoyed in marriage. Song of Solomon educates and encourages us to see God’s plan for the physical side of our relationships. Sex is more than a physical act. It’s a way to glorify God and honor your spouse. It’s greater than what our culture has made it. And it’s something we need to talk about.
Q: How would you describe culture’s view of sex? How is it different than God’s view?
Q: Why is sex often an “off-limits” topic in the church?
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
THE BRIDEGROOM ENTERS WITH A SONG
Our story picks up at the couple's wedding feast, with the bridegroom’s entrance. This young shepherd enters like Solomon in all his glory. There’s great pomp and circumstance. The kingly metaphors used suggest that he comes with strength, protection, and courage for his bride.
Then the young man sings to his wife. She is beautiful, and he uses metaphor upon metaphor to express his admiration for her. Her eyes are like doves. She is gentle and tender. Her teeth are like a flock of freshly washed ewes. She is clean and pure. Her lips are like scarlet, her cheeks like halves of a pomegranate. She is desirable; he wants the sweet enjoyment of kissing her. Her neck is like the tower of David. She has dignity. Her love is not taken by force, but freely given. Her breasts are like two fawns. She is delicate and slender.1
Read: Read Song of Solomon 3:6–5:1. What do you admire most about the young man’s character and approach toward his bride?
Q: What’s one thing you could do this week to point out something you admire about your spouse (or someone in general)?
TREADING THE HEIGHTS OF TOTAL LOVE
The young man breaks from his song and echoes the invitation the young girl had made earlier (Song of Solomon 2:17). He wants to love her until the break of day! He is simply ravished by her. Then these two lovers fully consummate their love. The language here is sensual. Love is compared to wine, eating fruit, smelling and tasting spices, milk, and honey. She is a garden that was once locked, but now is open to him. Love has opened the door of her heart into paradise for them to enjoy the sexual pleasure of their union.
Q: From Song of Solomon, what descriptions are used to describe sexual pleasure once a couple is married?
Q: Why does a women appreciate a man who encourages sexual boundaries before marriage?
Select 2-3 question from this section to answer.
SEX IN BOUNDS
Marriage was God’s plan (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4–6). He created sex for our pleasure and enjoyment. But He created it with healthy boundaries meant for our good. Marriage is the boundary line God has drawn for sex. Going outside those boundaries keeps us from knowing all the blessings sex can bring to a marriage. However, when two people come together to become one in marriage, God gets glory.
Q: What blessings can sex bring to a marriage?
THE KEY TO A GREAT LOVE LIFE
Marriage is the key to a great love life. When you enjoy sex in the right context (marriage), you discover how God:
- Spares you. God wants you to enjoy love and sex without guilt and shame. God wants couples to be “naked and unashamed” with each other like Adam and Eve were before the fall (Genesis 2:25).
- Protects you. Sexual sins (e.g., lust, pornography, adultery, sex before marriage) can destroy a relationship. Sex is like fire. If it’s contained in its rightful place, you can enjoy its benefits. But take fire out of its rightful place, and it will spread and rage and cause incredible damage. This is true of sexual sin that happens outside the context of marriage.
- Gives you perspective. God helps you see marriage and sex as He does. You see it as something more, something beautiful that brings Him glory and represents Christ’s unity and intimacy with us, His Bride.
- Blesses you. There’s greater freedom and enjoyment when you do marriage and sex God’s way. He longs to bless your marriage and give you a great and God-honoring love life with your spouse.
Q: How does God free you from the guilt and shame about past sexual sin?
MUTUAL AND POWERFUL
Men and women see sex differently. It’s important that you and your spouse understand how the other views sex. How does sex make you feel? How do you feel when your need for sexual intimacy isn’t met?
Remember that sex is mutual. Both of you have needs and desires. Work together to understand what those are. You are the only person who can truly satisfy the needs and desires of your spouse.
Sex is also powerful. Used appropriately, it reinforces unity and brings mutual delight. Used inappropriately or not at all, it can negatively affect your relationship as well as the spiritual walks of both you and your spouse. Your relationship with your spouse is closely connected to your relationship with God.
If you want to enjoy a great love life, you have to work together.
- Talk about it.
- Communicate your needs clearly and honestly.
- Serve your spouse by putting his/her needs first.
Q: What does it mean that “your relationship with your spouse is closely connected to your relationship with God”?
Q: Write down any needs you have yet to communicate with your spouse and share them later when you’re alone.
A LOVE LIKE JESUS
When Christ came, He didn’t come to be served. He came to serve and give His life for His bride, the church (Ephesians 5:25). In the same way, you can model Jesus’s love in the way you love your spouse. Wives, God calls you to submit to your husband as Jesus submitted Himself to the Father. Husbands, God calls you to love your wife, honor her, and sacrifice for her as Jesus did for us on the cross. He loved us so much He was willing to sacrifice His life to bring us back to God and into a place of honor as sons and daughters of the Father.
Q: What does submitting to and honoring your spouse look like?
Q: What’s one way you can serve your spouse (or someone in general) better this week?
Thank God for the gift of sex. Ask Him to reveal any ways you’ve misunderstood this gift or any sin that’s keeping you from experiencing God’s best in relationships, marriage, or singleness. Pray for a heart to serve the needs of your partner above your own.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
- Read Ephesians 5:21–33 and reflect on how you can live out Jesus’s example of submission in your marriage or relationships.
- Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their lives.
The Glory of a King
The vignette of the wedding feast in Song of Solomon 3:6–11 resembles Psalm 45, which describes the glory of a king and his bride. The author of Hebrews attributes this psalm to Christ (Hebrews 1:8–9). Christ, the King of kings, chose the church as His bride. His passionate love and desire is for her.2
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
Lebanon, Amana, Senir, and Hermon (see Song of Solomon 4:8) are the highest mountains in Israel.
“The boy sees no imperfection in the girl. This vignette does not really describe what the girl looks like; rather, how the boy sees her. Neither physical nor inner beauty is at issue; rather, it is the beauty the boy imputes to her.”3
The term “my bride” occurs six times in Song of Solomon 4:8–5:1 and nowhere else in the book.
1. Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 402.
2. George M. Schwab, “Song of Songs,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Proverbs–Isaiah (Revised Edition), ed. Tremper Longman III, Garland David E., vol. 6 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), 396.
3. George M. Schwab, “Song of Songs,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Proverbs–Isaiah (Revised Edition), ed. Tremper Longman III, Garland David E., vol. 6 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), 398.