The word "beloved" is often used in Solomon's Song. The lady couples it with "my" and so she says, "my beloved." She is thinking in an exclusive way towards her husband. He is the one that she loves. He has her particular devotion. "Beloved" could be loosely translated as "darling." He is her darling. The word overflows with the tone of intimacy. She has already said of him:
As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow and his fruit was sweet to my taste (2:3).
Sure, the forest is filled with nice, strong, necessary, and helpful trees. However they are mere trees in comparison to her man who is an apple tree. He is her darling, the one that she loves, her beloved.
The second descriptor of her husband is "friend" (5:16). Do you think of your spouse as your friend? The Bible has much to say about friendship.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him--a threefold cord is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12).
This passage is not specifically about marriage, though marriage certainly applies. It does cue us in to several important truths about friendship.
It is not good for man to be alone.
Though the first usage of those words concern marriage (Genesis 2:18), they obviously have a wider application. Notice, "But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!"
The context is not marriage and yet, woe to him who is alone . . ." That is just another way of saying, "It is not good for man to be alone."
Today in Georgia we are in the midst of a major Winter Storm. Thousands of people have already lost electricity. Many of them are all alone without anyone to help them. They need a friend.
Not all people are called to marriage but all people are called to friendship. All married couples are to be friends, intimate companions. The passage in Ecclesiastes is instructive to all friendships, including marriage.
What are some of the advantages that true heart-to-heart and face-to-face friends enjoy?
1. Working together, they are more likely to find success (9).
2. If one takes a fall, the other will lift him up (10). The lifting up could be physical or emotional. It includes encouragement.
3. Two are able to keep warm. This is literally true, when the husband snuggles up close to his wife. It also if emotionally true. It is the husbands job to keep his wife warm (see Ephesians 5).
4. There is protection. If you disconnect the cords from a threefold cord, then it is significantly weakened. However, a threefold cord is strong and is not easily broken.
When the lady of Song of Solomon calls her "beloved" her "friend" she is saying that they help one another to succeed, they encourage one another, they keep one another warm, and they protect one another.
Why? Because he is her beloved and she is his beloved.
Apply these thoughts to your marriage. Do you view your spouse as your darling? Do you use terms of endearment in your communication to and about them? Do you view your beloved as your friend?
Are you working for the success of your spouse? Does your beloved think of you as an encouraging partner? Do you work to keep your friend warm? Do you protect your darling, their reputation, their physical needs, and their spiritual struggles?
It is easy forget that the person that we are joined to in the covenant relationship of marriage, is our beloved and our friend. Remember!