Lesson 03: Song of Solomon 03/04: The Causes of Conflict
Real relationships are more than walks on the beach, tagged Instagram posts, cute texts, and holding hands. Conflict is inevitable. Disagreements will happen. Tension can take time to resolve. That’s where real love gets put to the test. We are about to watch some conflict unfold in Solomon’s love letters. The honeymooning couple is about to get into their first fight. While this story is thousands of years old, it still reveals two timeless causes of conflict: Assumptions and Reactions.
Large Group Instructions
ILLUSTRATION: Tell a story about a silly fight you've had with your partner, parent, or peer.
So far, our journey through Solomon's love letters has been so sweet you need a glass of milk.
The pages have been packed with pet names, loving encouragements, and the kind of romance that puts butterflies in your stomach.
It's been like a Hallmark movie — adorable, predictable, and overwhelmingly happy.
All of that is about to change.
Real relationships are more than walks on the beach, tagged Instagram posts, cute texts, and holding hands.
Conflict is inevitable.
Disagreements will happen.
Tension can take time to resolve.
That's where real love gets put to the test.
We are about to watch some conflict unfold in Solomon's love letters.
The honeymooning couple is about to get into their first fight. Let's take a look.
Contextualizing This Passage
These verses drip with the drama of a soap opera. The daylight drifted away, and darkness had taken over their city.
It was the middle of the night, but the couple was not together in their room like usual. Solomon's bride watches the minutes turn into hours and the hours turn into an entire evening.
Still, Solomon had not come home.
Uncomfortably laying in her bed, she stares at their door like a guard watching the gate.
She thinks, "Where is he? What is he doing? Why didn't he tell me he was going to be out so late?"
Suddenly, Solomon shows up a half dozen hours too late.
He was expecting to be met with open arms and a kiss, but that's not what happened.
He knocked, and the door remained locked.
He could hear her.
He could smell her perfume.
However, she refused to come to the door.
His actions hurt his beloved bride. He discouraged her, and she locked him out.
While this story is thousands of years old, it still reveals two timeless causes of conflict.
She assumed that he would be home at a decent hour, or at least communicate his plans, but he stayed out all night assuming things would be fine.
Instead of owning up to his mistake, Solomon condescendingly turns on the charm by calling her pet names through a crack in the door.
He says, "my sister, my darling, my dove, my flawless one."
Notice how the names progressively grow more intimate and personal.
My guess is that he had practiced this speech on his way home.
Regardless, his flirtation was met with agitation.
Solomon didn't apologize or seem remorseful.
He just assumed his charm would erase the harm he had done.
The vast majority of disappointment in relationships comes from unmet expectations.
This is when you think things are going to go one way, but they don’t.
This is when you anxiously await a good morning text, but your phone stays silent.
This is when you expect captivating conversation at dinner, but your partner just stares at their phone.
If you're in a relationship, you know what it's like when your expectations go unmet.
This entire fight could have been avoided with a text message or letter on the counter. It's amazing what clear communication can accomplish.
When you think about it, most of our unmet expectations are actually un-communicated expectations.
Pastor Ty Bennet hit the nail on the head when he taught, "you cannot expect what you do not express."
You cannot expect your boyfriend to be a mind reader.
You cannot expect your girlfriend to know exactly what you want.
Strive to communicate your expectations, desires, needs, and heart.
It's unfair to expect what you do not explain.
Clear communication will protect you from the vast majority of conflict.
We all have breakdowns in communication, which is why we need to also guard ourselves from what comes next. What do we do when we feel hurt, unheard, or ignored?
That brings us to our second cause of conflict, reactions.
Can’t you just feel for the bride in this story? She was hurt, so she locked him out of the house and refused to open the door.
She ignores every knock, request, and plea. She basically responds, "I am not coming to the door. You're on your own, pal!"
Can't you hear the pain in her response?
Her reaction to hurt was likely designed to hurt him back.
It’s a perfectly natural reaction, but payback has no place in a healthy relationship.
This story could have gone a completely different direction if they chose to take a deep breath, sit down together, and talk it over.
Solomon could have owned up to his mistake and she could have been slower with her reaction.
However, their reactions led to escalation. He reacted to her reaction by raising the stakes — he disappeared into the night again.
Next thing you know, their whole situation snowballs out of control.
When relationships trigger conflict, your gut reaction is always to protect yourself, put up your defenses, and shut down.
It’s completely natural, but it’s not always beneficial.
When you find yourself in a mature, God-honoring relationship, then you can trust your partner’s intentions to love you like Jesus intends them to and forgive you like Jesus commands them to.
Within the confines of a healthy relationship like that, always reassess your reactions. Be quick to forgive.
Try to empathize with your partner.
Ask difficult questions and embrace difficult conversations.
As you slow down your impulses, you will see your connection flourish like a flower in the spring.
Why is a slow reaction so powerful? Because that's how Jesus loves us.
He is quick to forgive and slow to anger.
He meets our stubbornness with selflessness.
He waits for us when we wander.
Jesus is the perfect picture of love. Thus, we should strive to love like Jesus.
When you build your relationships on the radical love of God, you are building your relationships on the one thing that will last forever (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Notice how often we have given little disclaimers in this talk? We have said thighs like “within the confines of a God-honoring relationship like three times. Why is that? Well, since none of you are married, we should give a big word of warning.
In a student ministry setting, this needs to be said.
If you are dating someone and conflict seems to be your default setting, then you may need to evaluate the health of your relationship.
Maybe your relationship feels like a constant fight.
Maybe communication is as clear as mud.
Maybe the silent treatment is a weekly thing.
If this cycle has been addressed and doesn't improve, then your relationship may be unhealthy and not what’s best for you.
I know, it's harsh, but it's worth pondering while dating.
I've done premarital counseling with people who assume that marriage is going to fix their constant fighting.
That's so silly and couldn't be further from the truth.
If you fight nonstop while dating, you will fight far more when married.
Marriage is like a microscope; it magnifies your biggest struggles, shortcomings, and sins.
Please don't misunderstand me.
Conflict is natural and normal, but it should not be constant.
If it is, then maybe some distance will do you well.
Letting go is hard, but holding on is harder. A breakup does not mean you're broken.
A temporary break does not mean a permanent removal.
Breaking off from something that's bad for you is what’s best for you.
Fortunately for our couple in Song of Solomon, their bickering didn't lead to a divorce.
Solomon decided to get a little space to clear his head, so he went away.
When she finally rushed to the door, she saw that he was gone.
Some distance helped them evaluate their intentions.
She asked her friends, "I charge you — if you find my beloved, Tell him I am faint with love" (5:8).
Their conflict led to clarity. They discovered that they shouldn't fight with each other; rather, they should fight for each other.
Real love is worth fighting for.
Your partner is going to make mistakes—fight to make things right.
Your significant other may go through a difficult season—walk the journey with them.
Your relationship is far more important than being right.
If you've discovered an honoring, healthy, and life-giving bond, then fight to protect it.
Small Group Instructions
TALK IT OUT Go through these questions with your circle. Be honest. Be open. Talk through the tough stuff.
Ice Breaker: Go around your circle and share this week’s highs and lows. What was the best part of your week and what was the lowest part of your week?
Q1: How should conflict be resolved in a healthy relationship?
Q2: How is conflict handled in unhealthy or unhelpful ways in a relationship?
Q3: What does good communication look like in a healthy relationship?
Q4: What does poor communication look like in a relationship?
Application: How do you know when it’s time to end an unhealthy relationship?
This reading plan includes:
Romans 12:21 Luke 6:27-36 1 John 4:7-16 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 Acts 16:6-10 Luke 6:27-36 Psalm 139:1-18
Do the following with each passage:
ASK– God to connect with you here. In prayer, start by slowing down and inviting God to be present. Begin with focus and openness to see what God has for you today.
READ– the selected section of Scripture slowly. Take note of the words and phrases that intrigue you, reading them a second time if necessary.
REFLECT– on what grabs you. How does this passage personally relate to your own life and experiences?
RESPOND– to the Scripture. Speak directly to God about what’s on your mind and heart. Look for ways to live out what you’ve uncovered.
About For Ministry Resources Youth Series
FMR develops a monthly youth ministry curriculum that is free to all local churches. Each monthly release includes a sermon series, small group series, Bible devotional, and supporting graphics packs that are original, practical, and ready to use.