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God’s Word for You

Song of Solomon 1:3 A sweet aroma

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, September 2, 2023

  3 The fragrance of your perfume is pleasant.
  Your name is like perfume poured out.
  No wonder the virgins love you!

“Fragrance” or odor is the way a thing smells. Smell has a dramatic effect on us, often based on memory. One of the most profound smells in my own memory is the terrible, acrid stench of my dad’s store after it was destroyed by a fire in 1983. It wasn’t a campfire or fireplace smell. It was the reek of destruction, burned plastic and twisted metal. It was ashes and ruin. But at the same time, roses, snapdragons, peonies and other flowers remind me of my mom’s garden and of our kitchen table, where she often had something she had grown herself in a vase.

The bride in the song describes her husband’s “perfume” as pleasant. We don’t usually talk about men and perfume; if he wears scent, it is usually called Cologne. But a wife may learn to like her husband’s natural scent. He will be wise to wash with soap and water often, but if he is fortunate, she will tell him that “she likes his manly musk” (as one bride put it on her honeymoon). The bride even thinks other girls will naturally feel the same way: “No wonder the virgins love you!”

She turns her thoughts to his name; his reputation. I tell my Catechism students that a reputation is very easy to lose, and very, very hard to get back again. For some people who lose their good name, a move to another town is the only way to start over again. Solomon warns: “Do not betray another man’s confidence, or he who hears it may shame you and you will never lose your bad reputation” (Proverbs 25:9).

For a married couple, the name of the spouse should produce the best effect. Oh! That’s my husband! Oh! That’s my wife! We like to hear people say positive things about our spouse. We like to hear their name. Where a couple is faithful to each other, there is protectiveness but no jealousy; joy but no cynicism; playful flirting but never any cruelty.

This is an echo, a faint echo, of how the believer reacts to the name of God. “I will praise your name, O LORD, for it is good” (Psalm 54:6). “O LORD, our Lord, how glorious is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:1,9). The name of God is everything that is used to describe him, whether it is a name like Lord or Jesus, or an attribute like holy, all-powerful, compassionate, or gracious. And as we teach when we tell our children about the Second Commandment, God’s name is also everything that God has revealed about himself in his word.

So we want to call upon God’s name in every trouble. We pray using his name. We praise him and worship him using his name. We give him thanks using his name. And we will want to keep his name set apart for sacred use, and we will not misuse his name to curse, swear, lie, deceive, do superstitious things, or commit witchcraft or other obscene acts.

The devil hates to hear God’s name. It is a good idea, a useful idea, to commend ourselves to God every day, morning, noon, and night, and invoke his name correctly and obediently, and call for his help. It used to be a custom that when children would hear something bad or fearful, they would say, “Lord, save us!” or “Help, us, dear Lord Jesus!” And at the same time, whenever someone would have any good fortune, however small or trivial, they would say, “God be praised!” We see this today sometimes when Christian athletes have some silly success in their games, such as when they score or win a game. I have heard Christians and even pastors dismiss this and even criticize it, but it’s a far better thing to do than others do. Luther says in the Large Catechism, “With childish and playful methods like these we may bring up our youth in the fear and honor of God so that the First and Second Commandments may become familiar to them and be constantly practised. Then some good may take root, spring up, and bear fruit, and men and women may grow up of whom a whole country can be proud.”

When we rise in church to hear the Gospel lesson, we are standing for the very name of Christ our Lord, to smell, so to speak, the fragrance of the perfume of his holy name, and always with the desire that we will never become a stench in his nostrils, but that we would be covered by the righteousness of Jesus our Lord, forever.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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