“Awake Not My Love”

Three times in the Song of Solomon, the Shulammite warns to “stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please” (2:7, 3:5, 8:4). This thrice-repeated phrase emphasizes that there is a need for patience when feelings of romantic love are kindled. Our world pushes our children to engage in the physical aspects of love at earlier and earlier ages. Instead of being concerned about the purity of thought and motive in life (Job 31:1; Matthew 5:27-28; 15:18-20; Philippians 4:8-9; 1 Timothy 5:2), and with no training to understand the difference between lust and love, our world encourages such acts and says the most important thing is to be mentally “ready” and have “protection”. 

As I reflect on this passage, I am impressed with this woman. Though speaking of her love in such beautiful ways in this book (and he responds in kind), her attitude is not to look for the nearest bedroom or hotel room (Song of Solomon 4:12). Instead, she asks folks not to try to arouse something that is not ready to be awakened. In a society obsessed with sex, we need to be a people who respect God’s will on the subject and not arouse feelings until the proper time in life, and then express them in marriage to our spouses (Hebrews 13:4).

When reading these three passages, let those who respect God’s law on marriage beware as well! What I mean is that there are some who would not do anything to commit fornication, yet they will marry someone when they are not really in love. Some marry out of convenience, perhaps to better their finances, or perhaps to leave an abusive home, or boredom, or simply out of the sense of “duty” (“This is what comes next in life.”). Is this you, dear reader?

Many are miserable because they married, not out of love, but convenience. Not love, but “duty.” Some were desperate and thought the person who showed them any attention or admiration must be the “one”. If you respect God’s law for marriage (Matthew 5:31-32; 19:9; Romans 7:2-3), then you recognize that this is the person you must live with for the rest of your days. Marrying for reasons other than love is not a scriptural reason for divorce. Instead, you must figure out how to live with this person and hopefully learn to love him or her. Yet, this was not the best decision that could have been made! Single people, listen to the words of this smart lady! Don’t arouse feelings when they are not mature yet! Don’t leave one problem for another! These feelings will blossom at the right time, and at that right time, there will be someone blossoming for you.

Brethren, let’s make sure we do not mistake lust for love! This is yet another reason not to arouse certain feelings until they are ready. There is a great difference between lust and love, but sadly, some do not recognize the difference until it is too late. Whether they have sinned against God and their bodies by committing fornication (1 Corinthians 6:18-20) or have committed to a loveless marriage, nothing good will come from this. God is love (1 John 4:8), and the best definition of love is found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Single people, look for someone who will share this with you as a spouse. Married people, live these verses!

In this text, I believe this is one of those verses where an application to Christ and the church can be made. The text in Solomon’s Song said she didn’t want her passions stirred until the time was right and proper. It is not that the passion itself was wrong, but it could be expressed in the wrong way if the time (before marriage) was not right. This statement caused me to think more about “timing” and how God has His timetable for things. Is it not fascinating to consider that an eternal being is concerned with time and has a “timetable” of His own?

I know God doesn’t count time as we do (2 Peter 3:8), but I also know things have happened at the “right time” with God! Think about the birth of Christ. Jesus Christ came to this world “in the fulness of time” (Galatians 4:4). He did not get here too early or too late. It is the same with the church. The church came into existence in the “last days” (Isaiah 2:2-4). In other words, at the right time, when the right king was in power (Daniel 2:44-45), and when things had come to fruition as God wanted (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-21)! In the case of God and His plan for Christ and the church, no one was going to “stir up” anything to change God’s plan. When the time was right, it happened perfectly!

We could include the fact that when God works providentially, then He is working things out at the right time. This was true with people like Joseph, Ruth, Daniel, Hannah, Abraham, Esther, and a host of others. It is also true today. God has ways in which His will is going to come about. When this happens, it happens at the right time, regardless of whether or not it was our time!

When we think about the end of the world, remember Christ will return for His bride (the church). When He does, it will be at the right time. No man knows when this will be, but again, God has said Jesus will come “as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10), and when He does, He will return for His bride, and this world will end (Revelation 19:6-21). No one will “stir up” God’s passions and make Him send Christ too early or too late!

Some try to guess as to when the Lord will return. It seems some have made predictions about His return almost since the time He left (Matthew 24:4-5; Acts 1:9-11; 5:36-37; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11; etc.)! Does anyone remember the bulletin boards and bumper stickers that were out several years ago that said, “If the Lord doesn’t come soon, He will owe an apology to Sodom and Gomorrah”?

Is there any doubt that this wonderful song belongs in the Old Testament “wisdom literature”? Let’s realize that God won’t be “stirred up” but will make sure things are done right on time. Let’s spend time on earth growing and maturing in the Lord (2 Peter 3:18). Let’s hear and obey and be blessed (Romans 15:4). Let’s prepare to hear those words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”!

Adapted from Jarrod M. Jacobs

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