Christian living- dealing with one 'oops' at a time…

Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

David and Michal: What Not to Do in a Marriage

The beginning of this relationship is good. Both David and Michal prove their love for one another- Michal by requesting David as her husband and then saving his life, at risk to her own, by lying to her father to save David’s life. Michal puts an idol in their bed and claims David is ill. Since Saul almost kills Jonathan, his heir, over his loyalty to David, there is a very good chance he will not spare his daughter’s life if she angers him. David too risks his life to be with Michal. As he is a poor shepherd boy, with no means to pay a royal bride price, Saul asks him for 100 enemy foreskins. (Since Jewish men are circumsized, only those outside the Jewish faith would have these intact.) This is a suicide mission. Not only does David have to slay an inordinate amount of men, he must desecrate their corpses- not something the enemy who remains will take kindly to… But David manages to bring 200 foreskins to Saul and is allowed to marry Michal.

After fleeing for his life, David does not come back for Michal. He is able to slay and desecrate 200 warriors, but cannot sneak back for the love of his life?!?!? This likely makes no sense to Michal.

Rule 1: No matter how busy you are- make time for your wife. Women do not do well waiting for you to eventually get around to paying attention to them, and they will assume they are unloved no matter what you have done for them in the past.

Wives: In Song of Solomon the woman goes out and seeks her husband, despite the danger, when he is absent/ inattentive. Use common sense to stay safe, but you have a responsibility to address him and seek to resolve the issues when you feel lonely as well.

David then takes additional wives when he is on the run, proving he believes he can keep his women safe under these conditions.

Rule 2: Do not pay more attention to another woman than you do to your wife. No matter what your relationship with the other woman, she will likely not understand.

Wives: Don’t be stirred to jealousy easily. In today’s work situations men and women must spend time together and will enjoy each other’s company. Address situations that make you uncomfortable with your husband and resolve issues in a way that makes you feel loved without making it difficult for him in the workplace. Remember, Paul has female friends which he addressed as his adoptive sisters and/or mothers. Deborah sang a duet with Barak. Prophets stayed and formed relationships with married women and widows, and helped them achieve the desires of their hearts, etc. Plutonic relationships between men and women exist in the Bible, keep this in perspective.

Michal is then married to another by her father. Whether she has had it with David and was willing to remarry, or whether she was forced by her father, we do not know.

Rule 3: If you leave your wife feeling alone for too long you may lose her. Whether she gets sick of it, or others convince her you are never going to change, you are taking a chance by taking her for granted.

Michal and her new husband, Phaltiel, develop feelings for each other and Phaltiel follows Michal crying, asking for her back as she is taken to David. When David sends for Michal, it is after Saul is dead and Abner defects (Ishbosheth’s head of the military-the new kings, Saul’s heir as Jonathan is dead). It is also a sign of ‘proof’ the Abner is now loyal to David as he goes to bring Michal back. This does not look like the act of a loving husband, but an act of convenience. David, as king, cannot have his wife married to another- proving he cannot protect what is his. He also need proof that Abner is serious when he says he will now be loyal to David, and bringing Ishbosheth’s sister to David will definitely upset the new king.

Rule 4: If you leave your wife lonely, another man may pay more attention to her and gain her affections.

Rule 5: If you only pay attention to your wife when it is convenient, or suits your needs, she will not believe you truly love her, even if you do.

Michal is not back living with David. David dances before the ark, joyous. Michal is upset and berates him when he comes home. David banishes her. (Since she is the wife of a king he likely continues to support her and protect her, but has no contact with her. She cannot have children with another or it will make David look bad, but since David will not acknowledge her, she will be left childless, an embarrassing and potentially difficult situation for women at this time.)

Rule 6: Being happy when your wife is not happy with you will only enrage her. Don’t see her lashing out at you as her fault entirely. Try to discover what is pushing her to nag and/or lash out and work together to fix it.

Rule 7: If you nag and/or lash out at your husband, you will place distance between him and you. If you don’t resolve your issues, the distance may become permanent.

Rule 8: Passionate arguments often mean that the other person still cares. Sound contradictory? If someone I don’t know lashes out at me, I ignore or avoid them. They do not consume my time or energy. The people who get under my skin the most are the people who matter to me. Why? Because I want to matter to them too. You can’t get hurt easily by someone whose opinion or actions mean nothing to you. (Though some of us are such people pleasers that everyone’s opinion matters at an unhealthy level, but that is for another post…)

Real life example: (and I hesitate to put this in because of the emotional nature of our current situation- which I feel is also junior high idiocy- but again, that is another post…) Donald Trump was once interviewed as to what went wrong with his first marriage and rightly said that it was his fault- he spent more time on his business than he did on his marriage. This is true of too many people. Given how well he seems to know his three children from that marriage, it seems he learned from his mistake. Don’t make so many mistakes that you lose what is truly important in life- the people you love.

Song of Songs (Introduction)


Song Of Songs

This commentary is based on my notes after reading The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: Song of Songs, by Tremper Longman III, 2001

This translation of Song of Songs was picked because it is more literal, and takes fewer liberties than most. I did not focus on the prophetic nature as much as the relational teachings.

The standard type is Longman’s translation. The italics is my gleanings from his notes. Some points are entirely mine, while others are my interpretation of his comments in the book. For the sake of brevity I did not differentiate.

One of my pet peeves is that we clean up scripture to the point that it is not understood. This translation of the Song of Songs allows us to learn what the Bible teaches about marital relationships.

If married, or planning on marriage, it would be good to discuss the Song of Songs and its teachings. It would also be good to examine Proverbs 31, how Boaz treats Ruth in the book of Ruth and how Esther behaves as a wife.

Contained in the Song of Songs are many wasfs- descriptive poems that the lovers recite to each other. Writing a wasf to your spouse may be a creative way to understand how the other sees you.

Song of Songs (Poem 23, Ch 8)


Photo by Matija Barrett

This commentary is based on my notes after reading The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: Song of Songs, by Tremper Longman III, 2001

Poem 23 (Ch 8)

(Let Others Know There is Love)

The Man

v 13 You who dwell in the gardens,

companions are listening,

let me hear your voice!

The Woman

v 14 Sneak away, my lover, and be like the gazelle,

or a young stag on the mountains of spices.

The man addresses the woman and acknowledges that her companions are listening, He wants her to express her wishes publically, to let others know that she loves him. She responds by again asking him to sneak away with her- quickly. Their love has not dulled and it is not to be hidden.

Song of Songs (Poem 22, Ch 8)


This commentary is based on my notes after reading The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: Song of Songs, by Tremper Longman III, 2001

Poem 22 (Ch 8)

(The Rest of the Wives…)

The Woman

v 11 Solomon had a vineyard in Baal-hamon;

he entrusted the vineyard to guards,

each one brings a thousand pieces of silver for his fruit.

v 12 My vineyard is mine alone;

the thousand is for you, Solomon,

and the two hundred for the ones who guard its fruit.

Here is a reference to Solomon’s harem. Obviously the woman is not happy that it exists and makes reference to the fact that she does not wish to share her vineyard. The two hundred are likely ‘wives’ he has not yet slept with. This woman lives apart from the rest of his woman. We know that his Egyptian wife, who was also his first wife, had her own palace so many guess that this is the identity of the woman of the poem. Remember, in this culture, polygamy is the norm. Here it is not portrayed in glowing terms. The woman does not like it. She implies that the someone has paid so that these women would bear Solomon’s offspring.

Song of Songs (Poem 21, Ch 8)


This commentary is based on my notes after reading The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: Song of Songs, by Tremper Longman III, 2001

Poem 21 (Ch 8)

(Caring for Each Other’s Family)

The Man

v 8 Our sister is small,

and she has no breasts,

What should we do for our sister

on the day she is spoken for?

v 9 If she is a wall, we will build a silver battlement for her.

But if she is a door, we will enclose her with a cedar board.

There is a sister. Since the woman was not properly cared for, it can be assumed that her sister is not either. The man is taking responsibility for her. If she is shy, lacking confidence, he will adorn her with strength. If she is permiscuous, naive, undiscerning- trusting and letting everyone in, he will keep guard her closely.

The Woman

v 10 I am a wall, and my breasts are like towers,

Thus I will be in his eyes like one who brings peace.

The woman’s presence in his life is one of strength, protection and peace. That she is a ‘wall’ indicates that she will not open herself to anyone but him.

Song of Songs (Poem 20, Ch 8)

This commentary is based on my notes after reading The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: Song of Songs, by Tremper Longman III, 2001IMG_2933

Poem 20 (Ch 8)

(The Character of Love)

The Women of Jerusalem

v 5 Who is this that comes up from the wilderness,

leaning on her lover?

The couple is publically affectionate. They are defying the norms.

The fact that they are leaning on each other indicates mutual dependency. It also implies that they were more affectionate in the wilderness. This couple spends frequent amounts of time away together.

The Woman

Under the apple tree, I aroused you.

There your mother conceived you,

There the one who gave you birth conceived you.

Apparently this is a popular trysting place, likely on family property, showing that they are not unusual in their love, but the norm. There is also a hint that she is hoping to have conceived herself.

v 6 Set me like a seal on your heart,

like a seal on your arm.

For stronger than death is love,

tenacious like the grave is jealousy.

Its flame is an intense fire,

a god-like flame.

Love is a powerful force. A seal on the arm is a sign to all that he belongs to her. A seal on the heart is a sign that he loves her. The jealousy she desires is a right jealousy, not wanting to share the intimacy they have with any other. True love is also intense, like a flame.

v 7 Many waters are not able to extinguish love,

nor rivers flood it.

Even if a person gave all the wealth of his house for love,

he would be completely despised.

Love should withstand all trials, but you cannot buy it. If you try to buy true love the right person will despise you for it. True love cannot be bought.

Song of Songs (Poem 19, Ch 8)


This commentary is based on my notes after reading The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: Song of Songs, by Tremper Longman III, 2001

Poem 19 (Ch 8)

(Public Displays of Affection)

The Woman

v 1 Oh, that you were like my brother,

who sucked at the breast of my mother!

Then I would find you in public and kiss you,

and they would not shame me.

The woman is wishing that it was socially acceptable for the couple to show affection (a friendly kiss) in public as one would with a brother or sister. This shows the backwardness of societal rules, where a married couple, who should rightly be affectionate, are required to be more chaste than two people who are not as intimate. It is therefore acceptable, for married couples show a modicum of affection in public.

The reason for defining that they have the same mother is that polygamy is common during this time and siblings with different mothers would not be as close as they would not be raised in as close a proximity. Brothers and sisters with the same mother would also have the same father, and as full siblings they would not be able to marry as half siblings could.

v 2 I would lead you; I would bring you

to the house of my mother who taught me.

I would make you drink spiced wine,

from my own pomegranate wine.

Since pomegranates symbolize fertility, this is likely a euphemism for sexuality. Her mother’s house is likely a home in the city, where the two can get away instead of having to go all the way home.

This section also implies that it is her mother who taught her about intimacy. In a culture without sex education, the internet and where books are expensive there is no other place to learn. It also implies that parents should teach their children the facts of life.

v 3 His left hand is under my head,

and his right hand embraces me.

They are laying together.

v 4 I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem,

do not awaken and do not arouse love until it desires.

The woman is again warning the single women not to rush into love, but to wait until it is right. The implication is that if you do not wait, it will not be as wonderful as what she has.

Song of Songs (Poem 18, Ch 7)

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Photo by Matija Barrett

This commentary is based on my notes after reading The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: Song of Songs, by Tremper Longman III, 2001

Poem 18 (Ch 7)  (Renewed Love)

The Woman

v 12 Come, my love

Let’s go out to the field,

Let’s spend the night in the villages.

Notice that the woman does more of the inviting in these poems than the man, while the man does the majority of the complimenting.

Here the woman wishes to get away from their daily life and spend some time alone with him.

v 13 Let’s go early to the vineyards;

Let’s see if the vine has budded,

The bud has opened,

The pomegranates have blossomed

There I will give my love to you!

Vineyards are often a euphemism for female sexuality, and pomegranates represent fertility. This section seems to indicate that there was a time she was not feeling very sexual, perhaps after childbirth, but the sexual feeling are returning and some ‘alone time’ would be appreciated.

v 14 The mandrakes give off their scent,

Mandrakes are known at this time to increase fertility (remember Rachel and Leah who both suffered from infertility at times were fighting over mandrakes).

And our entrance is a very precious gift,

This is the entrance to their home. It may be a euphemism, but more likely it symbolizes their life together.

The new and well as the old I have treasured up for you my love.

This is a mature relationship. They still enjoy the things they did in the beginning, but they have expanded their repertoire and, in the context of getting away, she is promising him a wide variety of sensual enjoyment.

Song of Songs (Poem 17, Chs 6-7)

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This commentary is based on my notes after reading The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: Song of Songs, by Tremper Longman III, 2001

Poem 17 (Ch 6-7)

(The man compliments the woman- likely after childbirth)

The Women of Jerusalem

v 13 Return, return, O Shulammite!

Return, return and let us look at you!

The Woman has been absent from society and the other women wish to see her again.

The Woman

Why should you gaze at the Shulammite as the dance of two war camps?

In war, the opponents pay very close attention to each move the other makes. The woman is questioning the motives of the other women in paying close attention to her. It is likely they are looking for flaws. It may be due to her now noble status, her beauty, jealousy over how much she is loved, or due to the fact that she may have recently given birth, which would explain her absence from them. The imagery of her hips and belly in the man’s description could indicate that her figure has changed and is now more rounded- but obviously still very pleasing to him.

The name ‘Shulammite’ may be a place name, but it is also the feminine of Solomon and may indicate that she is his equal, his mirror, his other half- she completes/ compliments him.

The Man

How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O noble daughter!

Unlike the other descriptive poems he now begins with her feet and not her head. This may be because she is literally dancing and the earlier phrase ‘the dance of two war camps’ is not entirely metaphoric.

Rounded are your hips, like rings, the work of the hands of a craftsman

The rounding of her hips may indicate she has given birth and has a new, more rounded, shape.

v 3 Your navel is a rounded bowl which does not lack wine

This may be her actual navel, though some argue it is a euphemism for female genitalia as navels are not typically moist like wine.

Your belly is a heap of wheat, bordered by lilies.

The wheat and lilies are descriptions of her female anatomy, including hair.

Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle.

Remember, this is an age before supportive female undergarments. They move when she moves and he has noticed. If she has just given birth they are likely larger and he is complimenting the difference.

v 5 Your neck is like an ivory tower,

Your eyes are like pools in Hesbon, by the gate of Bat-rabbim.

Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon keeping watch toward Damascus.

She has a long, slim neck, nice eyes and a ‘stately’ nose. He likes her features.

v 6 Your head is like Carmel

Carmel is a mountain range. Likely he is indicating that she stands tall and dignified.

And the hair on your head is purple

There is debate over why the word, literally translated as purple, is here. It could be that he is saying her hair is like expensive royal cloth, which is commonly purple. Purple is also a range of colors at this time, which includes red, so she could have red hair, or have reddish hues. It could also be that she has dark black hair with almost purplish hues, or that the purple hues are the result of her hair products, which are typically made with flowers for scent.

The king is ensnared by your tresses.

v 7 How beautiful you are, how pleasant,

O love with (your) delights.

v 8 This- your stature- is like a palm tree,

and your breasts are like fruit clusters.

She is tall and this, like a palm tree, and the fruit is likely the coconut.

By the way, the name Tamar (used three times in scripture) means palm tree.

v 9 I said, ‘I will climb up the palm tree, I will grasp its date blossoms!’

I think you can figure this one out on your own!

May your breasts be like clusters of the vine,

and the smell of your breath be like apples

v 10 May your palette be like fine wine

running straight to me

flowing over my lips and teeth.

This is a very deep kiss.

The Woman

v 11 I belong to my lover and his desire is for me.

This poem ends with an indication that their affection for each other is mutual and this is a close relationship.

If this poem is after childbirth, it is a reminder that women need to be reassured that they are still beautiful to/ desired by their man even after the shape of their body, which he was previously attracted to, has changed. The fact that this is a poem of descriptive words, and not merely a description of actions, shows the importance of verbalizing one’s appreciation.

Song of Songs: Poem 16 (Ch 6)


photo by Matija Barrett

This commentary is based on my notes after reading The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: Song of Songs, by Tremper Longman III, 2001

Poem 16 (A Good Wife/ A Noble Husband)

The Woman

v 11 I went down to the nut grove to see the new growth in the valley,

to see the budding of the grapevine, in the bloom of the pomegranates.

It is spring, and many believe this is the setting of a tryst.

These verses are highly debated. The NLT has them spoken by the woman, while the NLT has them spoken by the man.

v 12 I did not realize that my desire had placed me in a chariot of a noble man.

The woman, like many wives, does not see her husband as a ‘noble man’ but as a fallible human. This may also be an indication that, with a good wife, a man is helped to greatness, a theme that is common in the Bible. By seeing him as he is, and helping, the woman makes her husband more likely to achieve greatness.

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