I love my single friends. They remind me to serve others and be involved with people outside the four walls of my home. I love my dating friends. They remind me of what that spark and excitement looks like in relationships. But I gotta tell you, there’s no friends like your fellow wife friends. There’s nothing that beats the prayers of a fellow wife who knows what’s at steak when you and your husband are in the trenches. There’s mutual understanding when you can’t hang out because you need to honor your husband and do what he wants. There’s sage advice and encouragement that comes from years of commitment and love towards this one man.
While the majority of the Song of Solomon is discourse between the two lovers, there are times the friends chime in. The mutual encouragement between the woman and her friends as well as the indication of the man and his groomsmen highlight the important role good friends play in marriage. This could simply be a song involving just the main characters, but God wants us to see the the need for godly friendships who are helping us fight for our marriage.
A better wife has friends that encourage her.
There’s a saying that we become the sum of the five people we’re closest to. That is either an exciting thought or a terrifying one. Either way, it is sobering. While we love the people around us, do we really want to be like them? Who we are affects everyone around us. It particularly has an impact on our closest relationship, our marriage, which is why, I believe, friends were mentioned in Song of Solomon.
“Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming!” Song of Solomon 2:15. The first time the young women of Jerusalem speak up there words are deep and impactful. Here they are encouraging the young couple to deal with their baggage before entering into marriage. The “foxes” they are referring to could daddy issues, dark secrets, rival suitors, past abuse, or simply the normal brokenness that comes with humanity.
These friends love this woman enough to not care if she doesn’t like them. They’re willing to say hard things if it means the best for their friend. They’re willing to tell her to get her crap together when she needs, just as much as they’re willing to encourage her later on (5:1). If she was dating the wrong shepard boy, I bet they’d tell her. When she does go into conflict in her marriage they don’t tell her that her husband is trash. Rather, they encourage her to go reconcile to him (6:1). These friends are the friends that build you up when you most need it. They don’t tell her whatever she wants to hear. They love her too much to do that.
In 3:7-8, the young women again speak about the wedding and highlight the bridal party: “look, its Solomon’s carriage, surrounded by sixty heroic men, the best of Israel’s soldiers. They are all skilled swordsmen, experienced warriors. Each wears a sword on his thigh ready to defend the king against an attack in the night.” While this is obviously the groomsmen here, the rest of the bridal party shouldn’t turn a deaf ear to this passage.
I would argue that as important as premarital counseling is, counseling for the bridal party should come in a fairly close second. If we are the sum of the five people we are closest to and our bridal party are some of our closest friends, shouldn’t they be prepared to fight? This passage says that Solomon’s men were experienced warriors ready to fight should an attack come. If you’re married, think about your bridal party. When you’re in a rough, dark place in your marriage, are they ready to fight for you and your husband? Do they spring to defend you against attacks? Do they shut down talks of divorce and encourage reconciliation? If you’re not married, ask these questions to yourself before you ask your friends to be in your bridal party. And if you’re in a friend’s wedding, remember that this is your biblical responsibility to your friend. You are to love them enough to fight for them.
A better wife’s friends love her and her husband. They are for them, not against them. They encourage and correct when needed. They drive her towards her husband and ultimately towards God. They aren’t afraid of momentarily hurting her feelings if it means speaking truth. They put aside their wants, desires, and drive to be liked in order to help their friend be the best wife possible. They’re ready to fight with the couple when their in a hard season so that they might conquer that season. These friends are people the better wife wants to grow to be more like.
A better wife advises her friends.
Three times in this short book the young woman says the same thing to her friends: “promise me, O women of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and wild deer, so not awaken love until the time is right.” (2:7, 3:5, 8:4) She is advising her friends to abstain from sex until marriage. In the midst of some of her most passionate moments, she encouraged virginity. It wasn’t a passing thought, it was a fervent plea that needed repeating.
The bible holds in high regard purity before marriage. This isn’t because God hates sex. The entirety of the Song of Solomon would state otherwise. Rather, it is because of the power of sex. One of the biggest blessing of sex in marriage and the biggest curses out of marriage is the blinding and binding effect it has. Sex will blind you to the issues in another as it binds you in relationship to them. This is great in marriage when your spouse is once again late for dinner, talking too much, or mouth breathing. It’s wonderful for overlooking the minor irritants because you know your spouse is a person of character. It’s terrible in dating or casual relationships because just as it has the ability to blind more than just annoying habits, it can lead us to ignore deeply rooted charcter flaws. While all the red flags might be flying high, we are bound to a person we shouldn’t be because of the blinding binding effect. Premarital sex will put us in relationships we shouldn’t be in and keep is there longer than we should be.
The better wife knows the detrimental effects of rushing love. While she was enthralled with her man, she still resisted her sex drive and heeded the advice of her friends to “catch the foxes.” In marriage when she did indulge in love, she even more clearly saw the need to wait until the time was right. She love her friends enough to warn them and encourage them to wait until the time was right.
Friendship plays a vital role in marriage. Whether we realize it or not, we pick up the characteristics of those closest to us and we wear off our characteron them. We to be people and be surrounded by people who will fight for marriage and speak truth to friends even when it may hurt. There’s nothing heroic about complaining to your girlfriends about all you have to put up with in your husband. And there’s nothing supportive about them agreeing with you that he is trash. We need fellow women who bolster our marriage and we need to be a friend who supports other marriages. We may not live with our friends, but we bring bits of them home with us. Choose wisely who you allow in your life and in your marriage.