In this study, we will conclude the seventh lesson on the subject of the family, and the blessing of children in the home. (to review and read part 1, click here)
Turn to the Song of Solomon 8:6-7. I hope we are all becoming better acquainted with this wonderful song, this inspired love song, the Song of Solomon. We have what is, just from a literary standpoint, one of the most beautiful passages in all writings, but I want us to see in it something more than just literary beauty:
Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned. – Song of Solomon 8:6-7
For a little while, I want to study with you, the question of love and jealousy. And what I wish to study with you in this text is not contrast. We miss something that Solomon is telling us here by the translation “cruel” applied to jealousy in the 6th verse.
Now, jealousy may be cruel. History is full of examples of how cruel jealousy can be. But that isn’t the jealousy that I want to study with you. The jealousy that Solomon is speaking of here, is the same thing as the love that he’s talking about. In Hebrew poetry we do not have the rhyming of words as we do in the poetry that most of us are acquainted with today. Much Hebrew poetry has in it a parallelism in which something is said and then the same thought is repeated in different words.
That’s what Solomon is doing here. If you’ll notice the margin in your Bible where it says “jealousy is cruel as the grave”, what does your margin say for cruel? Hard. That’s the word I want you to get. Jealousy is hard. How hard? As hard as the grave. Do you see the parallel there? Love is strong as death; jealousy is hard as the grave. Love and jealousy are synonyms. Strong and hard are synonyms. Death and the grave are synonyms. Do you see? Love is strong as death. Jealousy is hard as the grave. Hard, that is, unyielding. True love is jealous.
–True Love & Jealousy–
We were studying the seventh commandment in some of our classes. There is a commandment in the Decalogue that’s closely associated with the seventh commandment. That’s the second commandment:
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God… – Exodus 20:5
You mean God is jealous? That’s what He says. And He makes no apology for it. You remember the lesson we had on exclusive love? This is the love of the marriage relation. Husband and wife share a love into which no third party is supposed to enter. If a third party is allowed, that’s adultery.
In the second commandment, we have God dealing with the question of spiritual adultery. When a Christian turns from God and allows any of his love to go out to any other object or any person, that is spiritual adultery, and God is what? He’s jealous. God wants every husband and wife to have that kind of jealous love.
Turn over to 2 Corinthians 11:2, and I want you to notice what the apostle says. (Don’t lose your Song of Solomon; we’re coming back to it.) Paul says, writing to the Corinthians:
For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy… – 2 Corinthians 11:2
What does godly mean? God-like. Then is it possible for human beings to have a godly jealously? That’s right. Now, there’s a devilish jealousy too. Satan was jealous over Christ in heaven, you remember? Lucifer. But that’s wicked. We’re not studying that. We’re studying this jealous love.
Back now to the Song of Solomon:
Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is [hard] as the grave… – Song of Solomon 8:6
It won’t give up. It won’t give up. Now look: if you put something in the grave, can you get it? Will the grave give it up to you? My dear friends, I wish you’d get this picture. Dear husband, God wants you to love your wife so much that nothing can cause you to give her up. Dear wife, God wants you to love your husband so much that that love is strong as death.
This is the love of Jesus. In fact, when He died upon the cross, He showed a love that was stronger than death. Is that right? I’m sorry to say we’re living in a generation where it seems to be oh, so easy for people to give each other up. It’s terrible. I’m sure they’ve never been in the most holy place. They don’t know the mystery. Their hearts have not been blended in that love. If it were so, it would just about kill them, friends, to be separated; just about kill them. But all around us is a world like the antediluvian world and like the time of Sodom and Gomorrah. But God wants you, my dear brother and sister, to have a home that is a symbol of heaven. He wants you to have a love for each other that doesn’t even admit the possibility of any separation. That kind of love is a jealous love.
And dear husband, if you have that kind of love, and your wife, God bless her, is in the slightest danger of doing anything that would encourage some other man, your jealous love will be awakened, and you will seek to stop that. Some people are so broad minded (that is the way they put it) that they say, “Oh, my, everybody has some little flirtations. Everybody has some little affairs.” This is the philosophy of the devil, my friends. God wants you, dear husband, to watch over your wife with a jealous love. And God wants you, dear wife, to watch over your husband with a jealous love. Be a watchdog, somebody might say. Be a watchman, not in a critical, cold way, but in a deep, loving way.
I want you to go back to Genesis and see an example of what I am talking about and how important this is, as God views it. Genesis 16. Here is the story of Abraham and Sarah, and Hagar and Ishmael. You remember? Sarah was barren so finally she came to Abraham and said, “Now, God is not giving me a child and God promised us a child. Maybe you should take Hagar, my maid, and let her fulfill the promise.” Now we look at that and we think, “Oh, that is terrible.” It is terrible. We wonder what in the world was the matter with Sarah. Well, I will tell you, friends, she was just following the customs of her time. That is all. That was the accepted thing back then.
You can read it in the commentary. She was just keeping up with the fashions. That is what a lot of people are doing in many other ways today. The point is: Abraham, without seeking counsel of God, went ahead and did what Sarah told him to. And pretty soon, sure enough, they had a son. What was his name? Ishmael. Years went by; the boy was just coming into adolescence. And the Lord came to Abraham, you remember, and said, “Now, I mean just what I said long ago: you and Sarah are to have a son.” And you remember it happened.
Now, let’s go and we’ll see in Genesis 21 how it worked out. You remember that when Isaac was weaned, Abraham had a feast for him. And they had quite a celebration. But let’s see something that marred it:
And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. – Genesis 21:9-10
Now, what did Sarah want Abraham to do? Cast out the bondwoman, Hagar, and who else? Ishmael, her son. But whose son was Ishmael, besides Hagar’s? Abraham’s. Now Abraham was in a bind, wasn’t he? Notice the next verse:
And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son. – Genesis 21:11
Do you get the picture? There’s that poor man. And who told him to take Hagar? Sarah. And now she says what? Get rid of her. Now we might sit here for an hour and think about all the possible things, but we don’t have to. The next verse tells
us what God said:
And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice… – Genesis 21:12
Now, this is a tremendous piece of instruction, dear friends. I hope it’ll come home to every husband. Remember, dear friends, you’re the head of the house, but you’re not the one that decides what woman stays in that house. Your wife decides that. This is so important. And the thing works the other way around, too. If a wife is showing an interest, and it may be she’s just innocent, but if her husband sees that there’s danger, the husband should recognize that he’s a watchman appointed for this purpose. He should say to his wife, “Darling, this man will have to fade out of our lives.” “Oh but,” she may say, “I think I can help him.” “No, it isn’t your business to help him.”
Read the comment on this story in the book Patriarchs and Prophets. See how the modern prophet agrees with the first of the prophets who wrote, Moses, on the fact that this question of preserving the unity of the home is so important that it must be maintained even though it brings sorrow and grief. Can you picture Abraham having to say to Hagar, “Hagar you’re going to have to go and Ishmael is going to have to go with you.”
Who told him to do it? Sarah. And who backed Sarah up? God. I want to tell you something, dear husband: the time you need your wife’s counsel on this the most is when you don’t see any sense in it. If your dear wife comes to you and says, “Husband, you will pardon me, but I think this woman, married or unmarried, that there seems to be some little attraction between you and her; I’m afraid that this is not going to do our home any good.” Don’t, oh my dear husband, I appeal to you, don’t begin to bow up and say, “Why, there’s nothing to it. You know, darling, that I wouldn’t look at any other woman but you. You don’t need to worry.” No, don’t do that. Right then is the time for you to say, “Darling, if you have a caution for me, I want it. If you see a danger that my poor head hasn’t seen, thank God for it.” Do you see what I mean, friends? Now back to our text in Song of Solomon:
…Love is strong as death; jealousy is [hard] as the grave… – Song of Solomon 8:6
It won’t yield. Why, you see friends, this is the love of God, and it’s this exclusive love, this possessive love. And that kind of love is concerned if there’s the slightest rival, the slightest thing. And if we’ll follow the instructions that we’ve studied in these classes about the importance of the veils – the attitude, the dress, the demeanor – it will help to preserve that sacred circle that nobody else is to come in to. But one of the things that will preserve this sacred circle is the jealous love of the husband toward his wife, the jealous love of the wife toward her husband.
Now, I know there are people that are utterly unreasonable. And I hope nothing we’ve studied will give license or excuse for any such thing. But I’ll tell you this, friends, better a hundred times over to have an unreasonable jealousy, than to have a devilish lack of jealousy which tears down the barriers and invites the devil in. Oh, yes, you’d better be over careful on this matter than under careful. Do you see what I mean? Because we’re dealing with the sanctity of the home. The time to prevent an accident is before it happens.
…I the LORD thy God am a jealous God… – Exodus 20:5
Now, don’t think of it only from the negative standpoint. Look at that Song of Solomon again:
Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it… – Song of Solomon 8:7
You know, ordinarily, water puts out fire, doesn’t it? But here is a fire – it says the coals have a vehement flame. It’s this jealous love. And dear wives, if your husband begins to stray in even the smallest thing, be careful how you say what you say, but say it. Plead with God to give you a love so strong that no waters can quench it, and that you can hold your husband in the path of rectitude.
And the same with the husband, for we’re in a time when wives go astray as well as husbands. Husband, if your wife begins to do the slightest thing, that’s the time to deal with it, not after the seventh commandment has been broken. Oh, ask God to help you, at the slightest approach, to be so loving and tactful and frank in talking these things over. Yes, husband and wife, on these matters, and on every other matter, there should be open communication with each other. This is the place to talk it over, not with somebody else. Husband and wife talk it over. You can help each other. You can win the battle, and God will help you to do it…
* This study has been adapted from classes taken by Elder W.D. Frazee.