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God’s Word for You

Song of Solomon 1:8 You’re pretty, but…

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Sunday, September 17, 2023

A Reply to the Wife
8 If you do not know, most beautiful of women,
  go the way of the tracks of the flock
  and graze your young goats by the tents of the shepherds.

This verse is a reply to the wife about her question in verse 7, “Where do you graze your flock?” Naturally we assume that her husband will answer, but it’s possible that someone else—a passerby, or part of the Song’s chorus (her friends, her brothers) gives this answer. “Follow the tracks of the sheep.” We wonder if the implication of the first line is: “You’re very pretty, but not very observant.” The footprints will show you the way.

When we apply this verse to marriage, we focus especially on the words, “graze your flock by the tents of the shepherds.” That is to say, keep near to your spouse. It’s all right to have outside interests that one does not share with your spouse. I have a love for opera that I don’t share with anybody in my family, nor anyone in my city, for that matter, apart from one person I’ve met. But that’s okay. My wife loved soccer and even coached soccer—an interest we did not share. The important point is not to wander geographically or emotionally very far from home. Here we will want to apply especially the Tenth Commandment to keep our hearts in line with the vows of our marriage.

In a spiritual application, God often talks about the leaders of the church as shepherds (Jeremiah 3:15, 23:4, 33:12; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2). Of course, false shepherds are even more frequently condemned, but let us confine ourselves to the meaning of faithful shepherds and spiritual leaders. We need their leadership, and so we want to remain close to the teachings we have learned from them.

  • We bring our children to them to help us with their religious instruction.
  • We examine our personal interests through the lens of God’s moral law: Are the things I love to read, to be entertained by, to do, in line with God’s holy will, or do I walk in danger of disobedience with some of them? If so, how can I ask God to send help to me?
  • We examine our lives to see whether what we do is done to God’s glory and in his service.
  • Each encourages his spouse, children, or friends to do the same.
  • We should each consider the meaning of the Eighth Commandment. Luther teaches us: “We should fear and love God that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, or give him a bad name, but defend him, speak well of him, and take his words and actions in the kindest possible way.” How to take things in the kindest possible way is best learned when we sit at the feet of our spiritual leaders—our pastors and teachers—and study the Scriptures with their guidance. Then our thoughts and words will fall more in line with God’s holy will.

Finally, each of us should humbly examine our lives and notice that each of us—most especially me, myself—may fall somewhere into the gentle teasing of, “You’re good looking, but you’re not always the sharpest tack in the box.” The bride could just look down and notice the tracks of her man’s flocks, but she opens her mouth before she opens her eyes. We should listen to our Savior and ponder the lessons he teaches us. And if I personally am neither very good looking nor very bright, then, well, I accept my place in God’s kingdom along with the sparrows and starlings outside my window, but I know that my Savior loves me anyway. And that is enough.

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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