What’s your carriage made from?

The practice of the bride and groom being transported by stretch limousine from the church to the reception has become a fairly common sight these days.  That is if the father of the bride has any money left after paying for everything else. In chapter three of Song of Songs, Solomon describes the vehicle he planned to use when he returned to Shunam to pick up his bride to be. “King Solomon made for himself the carriage; he made it of wood from Lebanon.  Its posts he made of silver, its base of gold.  Its seat was upholstered with purple, its interior lovingly inlaid by the daughters of Jerusalem (3:9-10).”

Now I’m sure that the king had at his disposal a number of suitable and equally luxurious carriages in the royal garage, but instead he chose to build one with his own hands and constructed it of the same materials used in building the temple of God in Jerusalem which he had ordered built and dedicated to the one true God (1Kings 6).  This was not to be an ordinary carriage but one built for one purpose only, to bring his Shulamite bride to Jerusalem and would be a testimony to his love for her and the esteem he held for her. Can you imagine the look on her face when she saw her lover approach and when he lifted her into the carriage to take her place at the king’s side for the overnight ride to his royal palace?  She could not have been dressed like a queen, but it was the behavior of the king toward her that identified her as his queen, for all to see.

As they rode off the crowd exclaimed, “Look, its Solomon’s carriage, escorted by sixty warriors, the noblest of Israel, all of them wearing the sword, all experienced in battle, each with his sword by his side, prepared for the terrors of the night (3:7-8).”  What a sight, what a contrast to the life she was familiar with, having been forced by her brothers to tend the flock and the vineyards, without regard for the terrors of the night that must have surrounded her every day and night.  Now she would be under the care and protection of her husband, the King of Israel, God’s anointed.

This is quite a picture and would rival any of the happy endings found in the stories and legends of boy meets girl or prince meets princess we are familiar with. More importantly, it emphasizes the mutual responsibility and esteem that both husbands and wives should hold for each other and then be continued for a lifetime.  To love one another means you bring your best to the relationship and share with your lover what is most precious to you. It means you are to protect each other both in a physical sense but even more importantly, each others reputation, both individually and as a couple.  What others see should be a demonstration of that love, the love that come from and through God.  Just as Solomon sought to honor God by following His instructions when building the temple, using only the most precious and valuable materials available, we too honor God by bringing the best of ourselves to our marital relationship and following his design.  Just as the builder’s of the temple, we are to build our relationship out of selfless love for each other and not through coercion in any form.

This great love story, with all its passion and timeless imagery, concludes with an invitation, followed by a wedding, sound familiar?  “Come out, you daughters of Zion, and look at King Solomon wearing the crown, the crown with which his Mother crowned him on the day of his wedding, the day his heart rejoiced.”  What more do we know from Scripture about the royal couples life together?  Very little and only by inference and how Solomon, the wisest of all men would, in the end, fail God and most likely His most beautiful queen.  We know from 1Kings, chapter eleven, that during his reign, Solomon would marry dozens of foreign women, against God’s specific command; “Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God.  So the Lord said to Solomon, ‘Since this is your attitude, I will certainly tear your kingdom away from you.’”  From that day forward, the Lord “raised up” adversaries and Solomon would die with his kingdom in turmoil and distress.

The take away here is that if we don’t continue in obedience, under the influence of the Spirit of God, any past blessings and favor from God can be withheld.  It would be fair to say that Solomon, a man endowed with great wisdom and discernment, knew better than to test God. But he was a passionate man and allowed his ungodly appetites and self-delusions to move his heart in the wrong direction. Notice that God criticizes Solomon, not just for his poor decisions, but for his arrogant attitude.  Arrogant in that he believed that in the end he could get away with it!  Just as Christ persevered to the end, going to the cross to be tortured, mocked and murdered for our guilt, because it was the will of His Father, we too are called to persevere in our walk with God and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to lift us up and give us all we need to imitate and follow the way of Christ.  Our salvation is sure and can never be taken from us, regardless of our failings, but when we fail, we are to turn back to our Lord and once again enjoy His blessings and favor, which by definition is the grace of God.  God’s continued grace has been secured for us by the resurrection of Christ and is why we can always have hope and will never be abandoned to our own weaknesses and the temptations of this world.

Tool #343  What materials have you selected to build the carriage that both you and your lover will travel in throughout your life together?  Are they what are most precious to you and sourced from God?

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