Sometimes the smallest things in marriage can become the most dangerous.
King Solomon recorded an excellent depiction of passionate, expectant love in the Song of Solomon. Known as the wisest man on all the earth (1 Kings 4:30; 10:23), he anticipated his wedding day by lavishing praise upon his ravishing bride. Taken aback by his unashamed love, she, too, publicly proclaimed her endearing affection for him. This type of love should have been able to handle any challenge that opposed them.
As they go back and forth, heaping complimentary praises towards one another, Solomon abruptly changes the vibe by instructing her with an unexpected exhortation:
Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes, that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.Song of Solomon 2:15
In the middle of this epic love poem, why does he bring up tiny foxes? Talk about killing the mood! In my experience, I can’t imagine successfully wooing my woman by convincing her to hunt a varmint for me.
An understanding of the context will help unpack the biblical meaning. In Solomon’s context, foxes would often come into a vineyard under the guise of darkness or stealthiness to spoil the harvest. Looking for an easy meal, they wouldn’t consider why they should abstain from tampering with the produce. In a short amount of time, these animals could do significant damage before someone discovered them.
Foxes weren’t dangerous predators as much as they were annoying nuisances. If this couple failed to catch these pesky intruders, they wouldn’t enjoy all the fruit that their vineyard should produce for them.
Every person needs to be aware of the little foxes scampering around his or her marriage. All marriages have specific minor issues that will turn into major issues if the couple refuses to address them. While there are definite marital predators out there, sometimes relationships struggle from the tiniest of annoyances that turn into the greatest of challenges.
Sometimes the most dangerous nuisances in your marriage are not the ones that are glaringly obvious.
They may be the simple, seemingly insignificant things that, if they remain unchecked, will ruin your marriage. In reality, these foxes might not even be sinful in themselves, but they are nonetheless dangerous. Just as Solomon urged his bride to search, identify, and capture any fox loose in their marriage, we must do the same. Are you aware of the most dangerous nuisances present in your marriage now?
These foxes run loose in every home. Have you ever had that marital disagreement that got heated, but you couldn’t remember what started it? You can probably recall that you disagreed with your spouse recently but are unsure about the actual reason for the disagreement. I’ve helped couples who were so frustrated yet felt embarrassed to verbalize the point of their contention with one another. As a counselor, I have had to say sometimes, “No, refusing to wash the dishes is not a divorce-able offense.” That issue wasn’t that big of a problem until it remained unaddressed over time.
Something that was small felt big because they never addressed it.
Any attempt to remove hindrances from your life is a stand for your marriage. The simple quest to identify them and the basic efforts to remove them show that you want your marriage to endure. Even while these foxes may seem small, they intend to ruin the vineyard.
In those times, the vineyard represented a source of blessing. It was a source of nourishment and income for a family unit and beneficial to their community. As these pestering foxes sought to benefit themselves, they were ruining the produce for those to whom it was intended and for those who could have benefited by mere association.
As your marriage endures challenges towards fruitfulness, realize that your marriage has an enemy, and it isn’t your spouse. A battle does exist for your marriage, but you need to remember whose side you are on. It is so easy to fight through challenges and somehow see your spouse as the antagonist.
You must resist any perspective that causes you to go to battle against your spouse when you should be going to battle with your spouse.
You should unite to combat the shared enemy. The foxes aren’t trying to pick off the farmers; they are trying to take away that which is mutually beneficial to the farmers. They were attacking that which united and furthered them.
Why did Solomon want to catch the foxes? Their vineyards were in blossom, and they didn’t want them ruined. They were producing. Their marriage was supposed to be vibrantly beneficial. Marriage was promised to be fruitful. All signs were positive, and he desperately wanted to keep it that way.
Realize that your marriage should progress towards greater intimacy and not drift towards relational complacency. No matter how long you have been married, you should be experiencing blossoming growth. You should experience steady progress. If you aren’t experiencing improvement in your marriage, it might be because you allow little foxes to run free through your home.
Where do you start? Look for the pesky intruders that seem to rob your marriage of what it should be. Commit to search, identify, and capture any small fox loose in your marriage. Look for the tiny nuisances that could cause great calamity if allowed to run free.
What God has joined together, let no fox separate.
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Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.
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