The Song of Solomon vividly describes a love story between King Solomon and his dark-skinned (Song1:6) bride. For eight chapters they describe body parts, express their love, and anticipate marital bliss. Some verses read like an R-rated Old Testament pre-marriage seminar focusing on the honeymoon.

One of my favorite lines is Solomon boasting that his bride has a full set of teeth, that are brushed and flossed regularly: Your teeth are like a flock of sheep coming up from the washing. Each has its twin, not one of them is alone. (Song6:6) Even if the standards for drop-dead-beauty were a bit low in those days, Solomon’s honeymoon song still paints a beautiful picture of love as it grows and matures.

The Song of Solomon describes three distinct phases of human love:

1. POSSESSIVE LOVE. My beloved is mine and I am his. Song 2:16. The main idea: he is mine. Afterthought: I am his. This kind of love is all about what I get. Possessive love is an incubator for jealousy and insecurity.

2. MATURE LOVE. I am his and he is mine. Song 6:3. As love matures, self is no longer front and center. At some point we realize that love is about giving. What we possess or gain is an afterthought.

3. SACRIFICIAL LOVE. I belong to my beloved and his desire is for me. Song 7:10. Sacrificial love progresses from self-first to self-second to selfless. Real love appreciates the fact that another person desires a relationship with us. What we desire is no longer the central point.

While the Song of Solomon was written about love between a man and his bride, these universal principles of love also have spiritual application in our relationship with God.

When I first confessed Jesus as Lord, my primary focus was what I got in the deal. Eventually I realized that Jesus is Lord means He is first and I am second.

After all these years I am to the point where I am amazed that I am His and that He desires a relationship with me (whether or not I have a full set of brushed and flossed teeth.)