Listen to the opening words of the Song of Solomon in the Old Testament – and entire book devoted to courtship and dating. If you’re asking yourself the question, “Is it really love, or was it just the pizza?” then here’s clear picture of genuine, biblical love.

Solomon’s bride speaks first and she says,

“May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!For your love is better than wine. Your oils have a pleasing fragrance, Your name is like purified oil.”

Why is she so desirous of kissing him? What sparks passion like that? The answer lies in her answer that is as true today in clinical studies as it was back in biblical times. Namely, what’s a crucial key to sparking and maintaining intimacy in marriage? If you’re interesting in having a lasting loving home, then the key won’t be found in your finance’s biceps, boat or bank account. A surprising key to intimacy is… your finance’s character.

Let’s look back at the words spoken by Solomon’s bride. Dr. Howard Hendricks, my friend and former seminary professor, always pounded into our heads in class, “When you see the word “for,” or “therefore,” ask what they’re there for!”

Here, the word “for” is to show how Solomon’s bride clearly links her passion level with what she sees on the inside, not the outside. Being around him is pleasant, like a pleasing fragrance (not Musk!). And then she shares why,

“Your name is like purified oil.”

What she’s sharing here would have been crystal clear to Solomon or any reader of his day. In Old Testament thought, a person’s “name” stood for far more than just something to put on a business card. It was representative of all that person was, and who they could become. That’s why God would often change a person’s name in the Scriptures (like Abram to Abraham, and later Simon to Peter).

And what did Solomon’s “name” picture for her? The finest of “purified oil.”

In case you haven’t had the privilege yet to travel to the Holy Land, you may not have seen an example of how they purified oil in Solomon’s day. Let me explain to you one process that was commonly used.

After mashing the olives, they would pour the unrefined oil and pulp through a series of trays, one stacked on top of the other, and each filled with decreasing sized rocks. Thus larger rocks would be at the top, and filter out the biggest sediments, while each progressive layer of smaller stones and finally sand would allow for the pure, refined olive oil to collect in a scooped out cistern (hold in a rock) beneath the trays.

In other words, as Solomon’s bride pictures him, she sees him as someone who’s life has been filtered from impurities. In the way he carries himself, he’s a man or manners and dignity. Not the kind of guy who would belch or break wind at the table for a laugh (even though belching in Solomon’s day didn’t carry the same crudeness!). And even more, he’s a man whose character reflects an inner integrity that promotes her passion — Something that James totally missed as a reason behind his wife’s low sexual interest.

When James and Diane came in for counseling, they were as strained out as any couple I’d seen. And like may conflicted couples, their sexual relationship was nearly non-existent. As we talked, guess what showed up as a pivotal, core reason for her disinterest in her husband physically? It didn’t have anything to do with his physique. It had everything to do with a character issue that he blew off as minor — and she looked at as major.

James ran a small business out of their home, and while he was out making calls, Diane would often be the one who answered the phone. Yet with cash-flow a real problem, some of the callers became quite angry demanding late payments.

When James was home, she’d often hear him lie to a vendor, going far beyond the simple, “The check’s in the mail.” And soon, James would demand that she lie for him too when she answered the phone, all in an effort to buy more time to work out his business finances.

What James didn’t realize was that buying time was also purchasing major problems in his marriage. The huge withdrawals he was making from his wife’s emotional bank account by forcing her to lie for him — and watching him fabricate stories himself — resulted in a zero balance when he tried to draw any warmth or affection from his wife.

The average man doesn’t realize how powerfully a woman’s desire is sparked by a godly character. Cheat on our taxes… and watch her security level drop. Scream at the children… and forget intimacy that night. Solomon certainly had a godly character during this during this time of his life, and his bride responded with unforced physical attention — and with something else.

For more information on biblical love and marriage we suggest the video series The Making of a Marriage, premarital counseling for couples who care.

Copyright © John Trent, Ph.D., , used with permission.

Dr. John Trent is President of Encouraging Words and, a ministry committed to strengthening marriage and family relationships worldwide. John teaches and is invited to speak at conferences on across the country. Over the past five years alone, John has spoken to over 100,000 people in over 65 major cities at his seminars, as well as speaking to over 500,000 men at Promise Keepers conferences!

In addition to speaking, he has authored and co-authored more than a dozen award winning and best-selling books. There are more than 2,100,000 copies of these adult and children’s books in print, in eleven different languages!

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