There are three phases of a conflict that we learn of from Song of Solomon 5-7. In this post we’ll look at phase three.
Phase #3: From Regret to Reconciliation (5:9-6:10)
So far (in my two previous posts) we’ve covered THE 4 SOURCES OF CONFLICT and THE 3 SINS OF CONFLICT. Now let’s look at THE 2 STEPS TO RESOLVING CONFLICT.
1. I will focus on the good and not the bad (Song of Solomon 5:10-16).
In the midst of this marital spat, the Shulamite’s friends ask her a great question. This happens to be the very question we ought to ask a married friend that’s in a spat with their spouse. Listen close here. This question is SO helpful! The Shulamite’s friends ask her in Song of Solomon 5:9, “Why is your lover better than all others, O woman of rare beauty? What makes your lover so special that we must promise this?” In other words: You chose to marry him. He can’t be the monster you’re making him out to be. What did you initially like about him that made you fall in love with him? This got the Shulamite to shift her focus from the 20% she didn’t like about her husband to the 80% she did like about him. And it’s here we see the first of two steps in resolving conflict.
Look how the Shulamite responds to her friend’s question. Song of Solomon 5:10-16, “My lover is dark and dazzling, better than ten thousand others! His head is finest gold, his wavy hair is black as a raven. His eyes sparkle like doves beside springs of water; they are set like jewels washed in milk. His cheeks are like gardens of spices giving off fragrance. His lips are like lilies, perfumed with myrrh. His arms are like rounded bars of gold, set with beryl. His body is like bright ivory, glowing with lapis lazuli. His legs are like marble pillars set in sockets of finest gold. His posture is stately, like the noble cedars of Lebanon. His mouth is sweetness itself; he is desirable in every way [she’s saying that Solomon is physically attractive, spiritually attractive and emotionally attractive – every way she says] Such, O women of Jerusalem, is my lover, my friend.” Did you see what happened here? As soon as she stopped focusing on his weaknesses and started to focus on his strengths – she became eager to make up and resume their friendship and marriage.
News flash: No one will ever live up to 100% of your expectations. No one! Your spouse may meet 80% of your expectations. Well, that’s good but that still leaves 20% they don’t meet. Here’s what so many people do…They trade the 80% they have for someone else that has the 20% their spouse doesn’t have. And that’s so incredibly foolish! People who do this haven’t upgraded! They’ve downgraded! They’ve traded 80% for 20%! That’s so foolish! Don’t be that person! Focus on the good. The Shulamite lists 11 things she likes about her spouse. If you find yourself fighting a lot with your spouse, I would encourage you to create a list, like the Shulamite did, of all the qualities you admire and love about your spouse. When you’re in a fight and are tempted to think your spouse is the anti-Christ, pull out the list and read it. Hopefully, this will have the same effect on you, as it did on the Shulamite. Hopefully, it will soften your heart and prepare you for reconciliation. So #1: I will focus on the good, not the bad.
2. I will apologize (Song of Solomon 6:3).
In Song of Solomon 6:3 she finds her husband in one of his gardens (Solomon had many) and she says to him “I am my lover’s, and my lover is mine.” This was her admission that she was wrong to use sex as a weapon (as something with which to hurt him with). Here she comes back to a biblical view saying “I am my lover’s and my lover is mine.” Paul echoes this same sentiment when he penned 1 Corinthians 7:4, “The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.” Solomon accepts her apology and issues one of his own. Song of Solomon 6:8-9, “Even among sixty queens and eighty concubines and countless young women, I would still choose my dove, my perfect one…” Solomon says: Compared to my behavior, you’re practically perfect. This was Solomon’s apology.
Now some of you might find this hard to believe, but all of chapter 7 is the record of their make up sex – we’re not going to read it because last week was sex week – but that’s what chapter 7 is all about. Some of you didn’t know that make up sex was biblical but it is! And it’s much more fun than fighting! So once you resolve a conflict – chapter 7 is your next step.
You cannot sweep conflict under the rug – not with your boss, not with a friend, not with a co-worker and not with your spouse. There will always be something between you and them if you don’t resolve the conflict with an apology. You’ve heard the saying at a sporting event “It’s not over till the fat lady sings.” Well, when it comes to conflict, “It’s not over until an apology has been issued.” And I don’t care what the band One Republic says on the matter – it’s never too late to apologize. It’s never to late to say to your spouse (or whoever)…
- My expectations were unrealistic. I’m sorry.
- I was selfish. I’m sorry.
- I assumed the worst of you, not the best. I’m sorry.
- I retaliated. I’m sorry.
You don’t have to go from regret to ruin. God wants you to go from regret to reconciliation. Some people aren’t interested in doing the hard work of reconciliation. They just quit on the relationship believing the lie that the grass is greener on the other side. But the truth is the grass is greener wherever it’s watered. A great relationship isn’t something you stumble upon. It’s something you work towards. And when you focus on the good instead of the bad and are willing to apologize for your part in the conflict, you’re one step closer to the healthy relationship God wants you to have.