Dictionary.com defines intimacy as a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group. Words and phrases like connection, closeness, vulnerability, trust, authenticity, and in-to-me-see are also used to characterize intimacy. However, I believe one of the most profound expressions of intimacy is written and demonstrated poetically in the eight chapters of Song of Songs, also referred to as the Song of Solomon.
If you’ve never read Song of Songs, you might find yourself blushing and somewhat surprised that such sensual language, descriptions, and scenes are in the Bible!
The Passion Translation (TPT) paints a beautiful picture of Solomon and the Shulamite’s intimate journey prior to marriage, on their wedding day and night, and life after their honeymoon.
Solomon paints a picture for us that gives us a glimpse into many intimate moments in their relationship as they share their love, passion, insecurities, disappointments, unmet expectations, forgiveness, reconciliation, sacrifice, and endurance.
Several years ago, after studying Song of Songs, Roosevelt and I hosted a virtual challenge for couples. We identified 3 ingredients that we refer to as Solomon’s “secret sauce” for marital intimacy. The main ingredients of the secret sauce are 3 very distinct forms of intimacy that all married couples should experience. The ingredients to this secret sauce will be our topic for this week along with some questions for you to ponder.
Solomon’s Secret Sauce
Physical Intimacy is the appreciation of my spouse's touch and presence as expressed in Song of Songs 1: 2-3a (TPT) which reads, “Let him smother me with kisses—his Spirit-kiss divine. So kind is your caresses, I drink them in like the sweetest wine! Your presence releases a fragrance so pleasing—over and over poured out.”
One of the keys to physical touch is understanding physical doesn’t necessarily mean sexual. Physical is holding hands, snuggling on the couch, or giving a gentle back or foot massage. These forms of tender touch may lead to something else, but don’t be disappointed if they don’t. Focus on making your touch gentle and tender.
Questions to ponder:
What examples of physical touch do you personally desire?
Can you think of anything that would hinder your ability to either experience or express physical intimacy?
Emotional Intimacy is a willingness to be vulnerable by opening one's heart to share personal thoughts and feelings. In chapters 1 and 5 of Song of Songs, the Shulamite and the Shepherd-King (Solomon) demonstrate emotional intimacy when they openly express their insecurities and feelings of being overwhelmed.
The Shulamite: Jerusalem maidens, in this twilight darkness. I know I am so unworthy—so in need.
The Shepherd-King: Yet you are so lovely!
The Shulamite: I feel as dark and dry as the desert tents of the wandering nomads.
The Shepherd-King: Yet you are so lovely—like the fine linen tapestry hanging in the Holy Place. (Song of Songs 1:5)
In Song of Songs 5:2b, the Shepherd-King describes the Shulamite as his friend, his equal, and the perfect partner for him. He goes on to state how much he needs her because “my heaviness and tears are more than I can bear”. Transparency and vulnerability are the keys to emotional intimacy.
Questions to Ponder:
Are you comfortable being your authentic self with your spouse?
Are there areas where you are hesitant to show vulnerability with your spouse?
Sexual Intimacy includes the activities of foreplay, intercourse, and pillow talk. Sexual intimacy was God’s idea when He designed our bodies to experience the pleasure of arousal. Genesis 2:23 – 25 (NLT) states:
“At last!” the man exclaimed. “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man.’” This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.
God also intended that husbands and wives would experience sexual fulfillment as Solomon and his bride described in Song of Songs 4:12-13, 16 (NLT)
The Shepherd-King: You are my private garden, my treasure, my bride, a secluded spring, a hidden fountain. Your thighs shelter a paradise of pomegranates with rare spices. You are a garden fountain, a well of fresh water streaming down from Lebanon’s mountains.
The Shulamite: Awake, north wind! Rise up, south wind! Blow on my garden and spread its fragrance all around. Come into your garden, my love; taste its finest fruits.
Questions to Ponder:
What do you find most arousing during times of sexual intimacy with your spouse?
Can you identify any differences between you and your spouse’s need for sexual intimacy?
In preparation for next week’s blog, think about the questions to ponder. Early in their relationship Solomon and the Shulamite discovered there would always be “sly little foxes” threatening to hinder their marital intimacy. The warning and admonition in Song of Songs 2:15 were to “catch them” and “remove them together”. Next week we will uncover potential obstacles to marital intimacy and offer practical advice for experiencing intimacy as God originally intended.
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