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Marital Principles from the Song of Solomon: Compliment One Another

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Text: Song of Solomon

Thesis: To stress the importance of positive affirmation in a healthy marriage.


(1)   Information about the book:

(a)    The book is traditionally believed to have been written by Solomon in about the middle of the 10th century B.C.

(b)   People tend to interpret the book 2 ways:

1)      Symbolically –

a)      God’s Love for Israel

b)      Christ’s Love for the Church

2)      Historically/Literally (i.e., Solomon and his wife)

(c)    The wife in the story is not named, but some believe that she is Abishag, Solomon’s first wife (cf. 1 Kings 1:1-4; 2:13-25)

(2)   I believe that this is a historical account from which we can learn many principles that we can apply to our relationships in order to enhance them.

(3)   Today, we will look at the most obvious lesson from the book: The art of complimenting one another.


I.                   Fact: Solomon and his wife continually complimented one another.

A.     Examples of their compliments:

1.      In 1:8-11, Solomon calls Abishag the “most beautiful of women.”

2.      In 4:1-7, Solomon describes Abishag’s beauty in 3 ways: 1) Physically (vv. 1-5); 2) Emotionally (v. 6); and 3) Spiritually (v. 7).

3.      In 5:10-16, Abishag describes Solomon as “altogether lovely.”

B.     Their compliments must be understood within their culture of their day, but the fact remains that they thought highly of one another and told each how they felt on a continual basis.

II.                Fact: Husbands and wives must continually compliment one another.

A.     Illustration – A wife would often complain because her husband did not say “I Love You” to her that often.  He replied, “I told you that ‘I love you’ when I married you and if I change my mind, then I’ll let you know.”

B.     “Communication is the lifeblood of a marriage relationship” (F. Lowery, Covenant Marriage, p. 178).

1.      According to Gary Chapman, in a survey concerning why various marriages failed, 86 % listed deficient communication as the reason.

2.      Businesses fail when there is a lack of communication and marriages are destroyed when couples fail to communicate with each other.

C.     One aspect of communication that we will focus in on is what Gary Chapman calls “words of affirmation” (i.e., verbally affirming your spouse for the good things he or she does).

1.      William James, a psychologist, stated: “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”

2.      Mark Twain said: “I can live for 2 months on a good compliment.”

3.      The Bible says:

a.       Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Prov. 16:24)

b.      A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver (Prov. 25:11)

c.       A good word makes it glad (Prov. 12:25)

d.      Encourage one another and build each other up (1 Thess. 5:11)

e.       Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Eph. 4:29)

4.      However, we sometimes criticize instead of compliment.

a.       This is oftentimes because of our focus.  For example, once you buy a new car, you then notice that several people are driving cars just like your new one.  In marriages, we tend to shift our focus from what the person is doing right to what the person is doing wrong.

b.      The Bible discusses this problem:

(1)    Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Prov. 18:21)

(2)    Out of the same mouth comes praise and cursing … this should not be (James 3:10)

(3)    Evil words destroy (Prov. 11:9)

(4)    A harsh word stirs up anger (Prov. 15:1)

(5)    Reckless words pierce like a sword (Prov. 12:18)

c.       In a survey by David Olson, he observed that 4/5 of happy couples reported that they didn’t put each other down, but 4/5 of unhappy couples did.

d.      “The ratio of praise to criticism in a conversation ought to be a healthy 90 percent praise and 10 percent criticism” (J. McDowell, The Secret of Loving, p. 82).

D.     How can we improve at complimenting one another?

1.      Pray to God for help.

2.      Look for your spouse’s strengths and give them credit where credit is due.

3.      Learn the difference between criticism and constructive criticism.

4.      Learn how to control your anger.

a.       The Bible tells us to be angry and sin not (Eph. 4:26).

b.      We must practice self-control.

5.      Set a goal to compliment your spouse with a different compliment each day for a month.

a.       3 ways to praise:

(1)    Specifically (e.g., I appreciate you because __________)

(2)    Wisely and truthfully

(3)    Generously (“Praise can be excessive only if your words are insincere. Genuine, heartfelt praise cannot be overdone [D. Rainey, Building Your Spouse’s Self-Esteem, p. 116])

b.      Also, be sure to compliment in the presence of others.


(1)   Jesus would always give praise to people when He could.  Paul always started out his epistles by praising the various congregations for the good that they were doing.  We must praise each other as well.

(2)   God wants us to succeed at our marriages and He has given us principles to help us succeed.  Will we follow this first principle and use our words for good?

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