Song of Songs- Chapter 2
By: Robert G. Goll
Song 2:1-2 (Praising the Girl)
“I am the rose of Sharon, The lily of the valleys.”
“Like a lily among the thorns, So is my darling among the maidens.”
(Song of Solomon 2:1-2, NASB95).
As we begin looking at Song 2, the lovers continue right where they left off, praising one another. This time the girl begins by talking about herself and they groom agrees with her and adds to her praise.
This is one of my wife's oft quoted verses so I don't like to dispute the translation. My wife's sentiments also happen to agree with almost every translation other than “The Message” which is a paraphrase rather than a true translation. However, there is some discussion over the translation which is worth mentioning. It is argued by some scholars that “lily” would be better translated as “lotus”. There are reasons for this translation, however as noted in the Word Biblical Commentary, “one should bear in mind that the lotus is in fact a variety of lily and that the Israelites may not have carefully distinguished the two.”1 Both flowers are beautiful and don't seem to have a big impact on the meaning of the verse.
Song 2:1 has been interpreted in very diverse ways. One interpretation is that that by saying she is the “rose of Sharon” she is saying that she is just one of many girls. In this case, “lily of the valley” is also taken to be a common flower. The second interpretation is that the girl is that the girl is “claiming herself to be the center of love and life.2” This is usually based on the interpretation of “lotus” instead of “lily” since “Egyptian and Phoenician art regularly portrays the lotus as the flower of the gods and the symbol of life.3” It seems that the second interpretation may be better since it doesn't seem likely that the girl would demean herself in the midst of their praising one another. On the other hand “It appears that there is truth in both interpretations. On the one hand, she is saying, “I am one among many girls.” But she does not mean by this that “I am nobody special.” She is a flower, a thing of beauty and life. She emphasizes this when she declares that she is the “lotus of the valleys” and invokes traditional notions of the power of the lotus. She does not claim that she is unique in all the world, but she does claim that her role as woman is beautiful and powerful.4”
Solomon then continues to praise her, saying that though there are many girls, this girl is the best of them all. He expresses his singular love for her. This is an important declaration from a who had as many wives as Solomon.
As I read Song 2:1 I can picture my wife simultaneously saying that she is just a normal girl, but also praising herself that she is the most wonderful girl for me and delighting in the fact that to me she is special, she is loved, she is cherished.
As this girl may be expressing the joy that though she is a normal girl, she is special to the king, we can have a much greater joy in knowing that though Christ has created all the universe we are individually special to him. While Christ has created us to invest ourselves in a love relationship with only one spouse, he is the source of love and can love each of us personally and completely.
Men – Praise your wife. Let her know that she is special to you. Is your wife able to say “I am the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valleys”? Can she rejoice that even though she is not perfect, she is still loved and desired by her husband? Lately I have found myself thinking, “I keep saying the same things to my wife. I tell her I love her. I tell her she is beautiful. I tell her.... (And all of these things are true.) However, does she tire of hearing them again and again. I then realized that my wife keeps saying the same things to me and I never tire of hearing them of having confirmation that she loves and respects me. Men, keep reminding your wife how valuable she is to you. It is nice to be creative at times and not to simply have a routine that you don't mean, but our wives also enjoy having the daily reminders that we love and cherish her.
Song 2:3-4 (Praising the man)
Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, So is my beloved among the young men. In his shade I took great delight and sat down, And his fruit was sweet to my taste. “He has brought me to his banquet hall, And his banner over me is love. (Song of Solomon 2:3-4, NASB95).
The girl now takes the focus off of herself and back to praising her husband. This enters into the first time in the Song where we will watch them make love.
There are two translation issues in these verses. The first in in Song 2:3 and involves what type of tree she is comparing to her lover. The most common translation is that he is like an apple tree. However, there is some discussion over whether or not that part of the world knew of the apple tree at that point in history and argue that it could equally correctly be translates as an apricot tree. Both translations have their merits do not seem to affect the meaning of the text.
The second translation issue, in 2:4, is over the phrase commonly translated “banquet hall” or “banquet house”. The word “banquet” come from the Hebrew word “יַיִן “ (yah-yin) which occurs 138 times and is commonly translated as “wine” 136 of those times and “grape” once. This is the only time it is translated “banquet.” It may be better to translated it “wine hall”, though “banquet hall” may express the meaning of this phrase. Again, this does not seem to make a major change to the meaning of the passage.
These have been exciting verses for me to study, I can picture a true love, the way God planned it, and the delight that love can bring. We see how this girl feels when she is with her man and we see how he treats her. She first compares him to “an apple tree among the trees of the forest” and then goes on to explain. She was able to sit down in his shade. He protects her, he cares for her. In Song 1:3 we saw that he took care of his body and had a good reputation. These made all the girls desire him, now in Song 2:3 we are able to see that he specifically cares for her. She is safe and able to rest and relax with him. She also expresses that his fruit was sweet. This is in contrast to the other trees of the forest which did not have sweet fruit. This man was sweet to be with. It is also important to note that the apple had pleasurable and sexual connotations throughout the ancient world which emphasizes that he brings her the sweetness of pleasure and sexual delight.
As we move into Song 2:4 we literally read that the man has brought her into his “house of wine.” This has been interpreted many ways, most frequently “banquet hall” and they may all be fine translations. Throughout the Song “wine” is compared to “love”, a few examples being Song 5:1, Song 7:3, Song 7:10, Song 1:2, etc. This “house of wine” or “banquet hall” may be the wedding feast or the private feast of the two lovers on each other, but whatever the case the groom, the lover, has brought the girl to this place through love and she delights to be there, to be with her man.
She is with him at his “house of wine” and his banner over her is love. The banner was a sign of ownership. A castle would fly the banner of the king. If the castle was attacked and taken a new banner would be put up to show ownership and control. When the girl says “his banner over me is love” she is saying “I am his. He is my king, my ruler”, but she continues to say that this banner was not forced upon her. She willingly gives herself to him and his banner over, his sign that she is his and the reason she gives herself freely to him is his love.
In Mark 10:15 we are told “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” and in Matthew 15:30 we read that “large crowds came to Him, bringing with them those who were lame, crippled, blind, mute, and many others, and they laid them down at His feet; and He healed them. So the crowd marveled as they saw the mute speaking, the crippled restored, and the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel. (Matthew 15:30-31, NASB95). When the kingdom of God came into our presence it did not come to destroy us (though Jesus death and resurrection destroyed death), but to save us and to love us. Jesus came with healing and said that we cannot enter the kingdom by force, but like little children. Jesus' banner, the banner of the Kingdom of God, is not one of force but of love. His banner over us is love!
Men – These verses give us a clear vision of how our wives should feel towards us and with us and how we are to treat them. She delights in the feeling of being protected and safe because she is with her man. Being with him is sweet and enjoyable. She feels that she is his and that she delights in being his because he loves her. This is an example and a challenge for us as men. Does my wife feel safe with me? This does not just mean that I will not hurt her, though that is included, but also includes my protecting her physically, emotionally and spiritually from outside forces. When I am in public or with my friends do I exalt my wife or belittle her? Do I praise her or put her down. If others are negative towards my wife, do I shelter her and defend her or do I stand by, or even agree. Is my wife safe when she is with me? Is your wife safe when she is with you? Does she know that you love her completely? Do you tell her? Do your actions support what you say?
Song 2:5-6 (Longing for a husband's affection)
“Sustain me with raisin cakes, Refresh me with apples, Because I am lovesick. “Let his left hand be under my head And his right hand embrace me.” (Song of Solomon 2:5-6, NASB95).
The girl has been stating how wonderful her husband is and now she is expressing the longing she has for him. She desires his tender and intimate embrace.
The girl is “lovesick”. The exact nature of her “lovesickness” is not clear, but it is more than we think of in our culture. It is more than a simple desire or teenage crush. She feels sick with love and longing and needs to be nourished. She requests raisin cakes and apples to restore her strength. Both of these fruits may have been thought to arouse sexual desire. She also has just compared her lover to an apple tree, so it would not be stretching the text to say that she is calling for her lover to come to her and strengthen her. This is supported by the next verse in which she calls for her lover to come and hold her, to support her, to embrace her. She desires to be supported by him and loved by him. She desires the intimate affection of her husband.
I know my wife and I can identify with these verses, and I hope that ever married couple from the newlyweds to the “growing old together” can identify with them as well. This is the longing that comes within a committed marriage for one another. It is not the longing of uncertainty, or of a lost or distant lover. It is the longing of a man for his wife or a woman for her husband. The longing to be close, to be intimate, to support and love one another. It is a beautiful longing within marriage.
It is right and good to desire your spouse, to want close, intimate relationship with them. This desire is real and is good, but we must also heed the following warning to “not arouse or awaken love until she pleases.” It is also important that this longing is for and fulfilled by our spouse. This longing for affection may seem to be relieved by an affair or by pornography, but that will only leave a greater need and a growing emptiness. God has provided marriage to provide the need he has created in us, to try to fulfill it in other ways will always leave us empty.
Song 2:7 (Wait until marriage)
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, By the gazelles or by the hinds of the field, That you do not arouse or awaken my love Until she pleases. (Song of Solomon 2:7, NASB95).
This is a plea of wisdom from a married woman to other women who are not yet married. “WAIT!” “Wait until the proper time. Wait until marriage. Wait to allow your love to be aroused and to fulfill your intimate and sexual desires. There is a time, and it is good, but WAIT!”
“By the gazelles or by the hinds of the field”
Perhaps what first jumps out to us as we read this verse is not her overall meaning so much as “Why did she have them to swear by “the gazelles or by the hinds of the field.” So before we get into looking at her meaning and application, let us look at this strange sentence. Many have taken gazelles to be a way to refer to (Yahweh) Sabaoth and God Shaddai.
Gazelles = צָבָא (ṣā∙ḇā)
Sabaoth = צְבָאֹות (ṣeḇā∙˒ôṯ), צִבְאֹות (ṣiḇ∙˒ôṯ)
Hinds (doe deer) = אַיָּלָה (˒ǎy∙yā∙lā(h)
God Shaddai = אֱלֹהִים (˒ělō∙hîm)
The Hebrew does indeed look and sound much the same for these words and was likely a play on words. This would have allowed those receiving this charge to know the force with which it was given. It was not given lightly.
While this word play was most likely intentional, it is unlikely that this is the only reason these words were chosen. Gazelles and hinds (deer) appear elsewhere in the Song. In Song 2:9 & Song 2:17 we see that the lover is compared to a gazelle and a stag. We also see the woman's breasts being like the twins of a gazelle in Song 4:5 & Song 7:3. Gazelles and deer also show up in the area around Israel as symbols relating to sexuality and the goddesses.
has documented the place of gazelles or deer in the iconography of the Near East that relates to sexuality and the goddess. It is probable that in the wider culture of the ancient Near East as well as in the vocabulary of the Song itself, gazelles and deer represent the joys of love5. It seems that the girls is both referring to the names of God as well as having the girls swear by love itself. “By using words that sound like Sabaoth and El Shaddai, the woman forces the girls of Jerusalem to reckon with the importance of the oath she calls them to take. Nevertheless, she avoids naming God and has them swear by love instead6.”
“Do not arouse or awake love until she pleases”
Within our modern culture some may view this verse as saying “Do not become involved sexually until both people fully agree and feel they are emotionally and physically ready for it.” However, this is a view that comes from our modern reading and modern ethics. The moral code of ancient Israel was much stricter than ours of today. She was stating, do not awaken the desires of sexual activity until you have found and married the man whom you love7.
My wife and I were married six months and 3 days ago. As a newlywed, I can give my personal agreement to the girls plea that the girls do not give themselves to a man until they are married to the man they love and who gives himself for her. My personal agreement is not that important as we have God's direction on what is best, however, I can testify to the goodness of God's decree. There is an amazing depth of gratitude and thankfulness when you for the first time open to your bride and take your bride to yourself on your wedding day. I am sure there is excitement, and passion, and deep emotion and even joy, that is shared when sex is shared outside of the context of marriage, but there is a surpassing excitement that cannot be explained, something that goes deeper than pre-marital sex ever could, of knowing that you are giving yourself to and receiving the person that you have committed your life to before God in the covenant of marriage. I may not urge you by the gazelles or by the hinds of the field”, but I do urge you to wait until your are married, not dating, not engaged, not the day before the wedding. Wait until you are joined before God before your join yourselves in physical union.
Wait until your are joined in the covenant of marriage before God and men before you join yourselves in physical union. Heed God's admonition that “the marriage bed is to be undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4).
Song 2:8-9 (The coming of the lover)
“Listen! My beloved! Behold, he is coming, Climbing on the mountains, Leaping on the hills! “My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, he is standing behind our wall, He is looking through the windows, He is peering through the lattice. (Song of Solomon 2:8-9, NASB95).
We here have a picture of how this girl views her lover. She sees him as excitedly coming to her. He is graceful and free like a dear running through the forest and over the hills. He is strong, but not violent. He is coming to her. When he arrives at her home he remains outside and beckons her to come out with him, to leave the security of her family and to come away with him.
The Hebrew word “wall” mentioned in this verse is a different from the “wall” in Song 8:9. The word here is used as a wall of a house, while the wall in Song 8:9 is more of a wall of a city or other wall for protection. So, in this verse he is standing outside of the wall of her house. He is an outsider, come to take her away. In Song 8:9 her brothers are building a strong wall of protection around her.
This man is coming in strength, but also in grace and gentleness. He is climbing the mountains and leaping on the hills. He is energetic and strong. But he is compared not to a lion or leopard, but to a gazelle or a young stag. He is gentle. He is graceful.
When he arrives at her house he waits outside, and looks for the windows for his beloved. He is not pictured here as a type of “peeping Tom”, but rather as one who longs for his love and is beckoning her to come out to be with him. We can picture that same playful stag, gazing through the windows with excitement and a beckinging call to come out, leave the safety of home and to play, to run free. There is a beckoning for the girl to leave home and to run, to go on an adventure with the man in the wilderness.
In these verses we can see a glimpse of Christ's love for us. He is excited for us. He desires us. He wants us to leave the safety of the home or other walls that we have to protect us and to run into the wilds with him. He wants us to leave the safe places and to join the adventure with him, to trust him to keep us safe and to show us real life, life lived to the fullest. However, Christ remains the beckoning lover. He does not drag us away or come by force, he comes with love and beckons us to hear his voice and join with him.
There are many applications in these verses. There are spiritual applications as well as human relational applications.
The most important application is to head our Savior's calling. He is calling us to a life, and adventure, lived with him. He is calling us to leave our safe places behind and to run with him. The Psalm writer writes “Some boast in chariots and some in horses, But we boast in the name of the Lord, our God.” (Psalm 20:7, NASB95). We are called not to trust in the securities of this world, but to trust in the Lord and live the adventure of life with him. He will not come by force, but with a beckoning love. As Napoleon I stated, “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded empires; but upon what foundation did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force! But Jesus Christ founded His upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.8”
As well as the call to follow God on the greatest adventure, we also see a picture of how to live the adventure of dating and married life. The man needs to lead, to come with energy and to take his beloved together with him on his great adventure. The man is called to be energetic, to be strong, to be energetic and yet to be gentle and loving. Win the girl not through brutish acts, but through tender love.
In Genesis 2:24 the man is called to “leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” Here we see the man calling to the girl standing outside the girl's home beckoning her to leave her father and mother and run together with him into the great adventure. I have worked with couples and had married friends. I have seen problems with the men being attached to their parents' family rather than leaving their father and mother. I have also seen many women who are attached to their parents, who run home when any problem arises, or were unwilling to leave in the first place. I have seen this destroy marriages and leave everyone less than satisfied. We can see the Biblical precedent for both the husband and the wife to leave their parents and join with their spouse.
Song 2:10-13 (Going on a date)
“My beloved responded and said to me, ‘Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, And come along. ‘For behold, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone. ‘The flowers have already appeared in the land; The time has arrived for pruning the vines, And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land. ‘The fig tree has ripened its figs, And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance. Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, And come along!’ ” (Song of Solomon 2:10-13, NASB95).
Spring is here! It is time to enjoy God's creation and to enjoy one another. The man grasps the situation and invites his beloved on a date. “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along!” (Song 2:13, NASB95).
These verses paint a beautiful picture of spring. While much of the translation is straight forward, there is one section of dispute. Here is Song 12 in several translations which illustrate the difficulty.
‘The flowers have already appeared in the land;
The time has arrived for pruning the vines,
And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land. (Song of Solomon 2:12, NASB95).
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves is heard in our land. (Song of Solomon 2:12, NIV).
The pomegranates have appeared in the land,
the time for pruning and singing has come;
the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. (Song of Solomon 2:12, NET).
In the middle line, the translation of זָמִיר [zamiyr /zaw·meer/] is unclear. It can be translated either pruning or singing. If it is in reference to the flowers in the first line then “pruning” make more sense. If in reference to the doves in the third line than “singing” makes more sense. Or it may be that the song writer intentionally used this word with two meanings and it refers to both, thus “pruning and singing” is the more proper translation though it still loses the Hebrew word play. There are reasons for each direction and scholars are uncertain as to the best translation.
Both the NASB95 and NET Bibles referenced above include translation notes expressing this difficulty in translation. Translation questions such as this help us to better appreciate those who translate the Bible and the steps they take to translate accurately and make any difficulties known.
As well as celebrating the coming of spring, the man is also celebrating the developing of their relationship. She is his “darling”, his “beautiful one”. Their relationship has been developing and he delights to spend more time with her enjoying God's creation together.
As the man is calling his beloved to come with him and enjoy the spring together, Christ is calling us to come with him and to enjoy his creation. He has blessed us with all good things and he wants us to come and be with him.
In these verses we simply see the couple spending time together. As we are building a relationship through dating and as we strengthen and grow that relationship in marriage, it is important to simply spend time together.
My wife and I are both doers. We are always looking for who can we have over this week, who are we getting together with on Monday? on Tuesday? How can we be ministering to others? When we were dating, we included ministering to each other through time alone together. However, after we got married we thought of us more as one unit and thought of ways to reach out to others. The time to simply enjoy one another was somewhat, though not completely, forgotten. I am grateful that God showed us the error in our ways. It is important to be reaching out to others, but we need to never forget to have time with our spouses, time to simply enjoy one another.
The same is true of our relationship with God. As Christians we are often so busy looking for ways to serve God that we forget to simply be with him. Whether in community or alone, it is important have time to simply come before God and enjoy him.
As a couple is is important to spend time enjoying one another. As a Christian it is important to spend time enjoying your Creator, Savior and God.
Song 2:14 (Desire for openness and full mutual understanding)
“O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, In the secret place of the steep pathway, Let me see your form, Let me hear your voice; For your voice is sweet, And your form is lovely.” (Song of Solomon 2:14, NASB95).
The lover continues calling to his beloved. He calls her to come out to him, that he may enjoy being with her.
The man first compares his beloved to a dove in the clefts of the rocks. He desires to be with her, but he cannot get to her. She, like the dove, is hiding in a secret place and she will need to come out to him. He wants to see her, to be with her, to talk with her. He desires her to be completely open with him; “he seeks for a complete openness on the part of the Shulammite...His request is that there be an absolute exposure of her whole person and character to him.9”
Again, Christ can be seen as the lover, calling to his beloved. He desires for us to be completely open with him, to walk intimately with our Creator. The Psalmist reminds us “Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all” (Psalm 139:4, NASB95). Christ does not need us to be open with him in order to know and understand us, however he does desire for us to experience the delight and freedom of being open before our Creator.
My wife and I have experienced this desire for deeper openness with one another. There are times when I desire Elyse to open up more fully with me, when I want to more fully understand her, and yet I don't seem to be able to draw her out of the “secret place”. On the other hand, I know there are many times when she desires deeper openness from me and I am unable to open my soul. We desire to fully know one another and to be fully known. We come from different families and have learned different ways to open up and respond to different ways when others want to help us open our lives. It has been an adventure as we work together to learn more about each other. We are learning much about ourselves in the process. We are grateful that God is assisting us as we learn to move more deeply into each other's heart and life and to come out of the “clefts of the rock”.
We all desire to be understood by others, to have those who we relate to at the deepest level of our being. Some may have been hurt by such deep relations or have just given up trying, but deep within us we all desire to relate intimately with others.
In these verses we see a beautiful picture of the man inviting his beloved to open her life to him. He does not come by force. He simply expresses his desire and invites her to come to him. In the same way we need to be willing to express our desire, invite our beloved to be open with us and be patient. If we try to force openness or get frustrated when the one we love is not open we will only scare them back into hiding. Through love, tenderness and patience we can help our beloved come into the safe place of opening their life to us and receiving our life as well. The time spent in building this closeness and trust is an adventure and can be enjoyed as well as the openness it brings.
Song 2:15 (Catch the little foxes)
“Catch the foxes for us, The little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, While our vineyards are in blossom.” (Song of Solomon 2:15, NASB95).
This verse gives a call to “catch the foxes”, but it is unclear who is speaking. While it is often credited that the man is speaking, this is uncertain as it may be the woman or even the “daughters of Jerusalem”, though the later is very doubtful.
This verse brings to mind a picture of both playfulness and seriousness. One can picture the foxes running playfully in the vineyard, at the same time they are destroying the vineyards. Just as this verse can bring various pictures to mind, it has been interpreted in many ways. The main way that this verse is often interpreted is that “anything that would spoil their relationship (the little foxes) must be caught and dealt with, however small they may appear to be.10” It has also been interpreted that catching the foxes is like a game and that “The couple, like the foxes they chase, are young, excited, and full of life. It is springtime, and young people are out playing.11” The support for the latter view is that the foxes, while a nuisance to the owners of the vineyards, were not a major threat to the crop and that catching the foxes was more of a game for the young boys than something to be taken seriously. However, this same evidence may be used to support the first interpretation. The couple is urged to “catch the foxes” in their relationship, even though they are small and do not seem like much of a problem. The couple needs to identify and remove areas which will destroy their relationship even if they seem small. If left in the vineyard, these foxes may slowly destroy the lovers love.
We are called into relationship with Christ. Just as the little foxes can destroy human relationships, these little foxes may hinder our relationship with Christ. If we are not communicating openly with him, if we are keeping areas of our life to ourself instead of being shaped by Christ. Some of these little foxes may seem small, but sin is sin and will destroy our relationship with our Creator.
This world is full of foxes that would seek to destroy our relationship with our spouse and with our Creator. These foxes may seem cute and harmless at first, failing to mention something here, a small white lie there, etc. However, these foxes can work their way into our relationships in such a way that trust, closeness and unity are destroyed. Most problems in marriage do not start big, they start as little habits, rare occurrences, that slowly grow into major problems that destroy the marriage. It is important to heed the words of the Song writer and to “Catch the foxes” before they have a chance to ruin the vineyard.
Song 2:16-17 (Delighting in mutual ownership and sexual desire)
“My beloved is mine, and I am his; He pastures his flock among the lilies. “Until the cool of the day when the shadows flee away, Turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle Or a young stag on the mountains of Bether.” (Song of Solomon 2:16-17, NASB95).
The woman now delights that her beloved is hers, and that she is his. She continues to delight in their sexuality and invites him to come to her and to be with her all through the night.
As seen in the following translations, Song 2:16 has been translated in two different ways.
He pastures his flock among the lilies. (Song of Solomon 2:16, NASB95).
he browses among the lilies. (Song of Solomon 2:16, NIV).
While the Hebrew allows for both, the wording for “his flock” is absent in Hebrew and it is likely best translated “he browses among the lilies” as it is in the NIV. However, this does not have a major impact on the meaning.
This passage begins with a beautiful recognition of the mutuality of the relationship. “My beloved is mine, and I am his.” They are able to rejoice in belonging to one another. This looks back to Genesis, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, NASB95) and looks forward to 1 Corinthians 7:4, “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does” (1 Corinthians 7:4, NASB95).
When I was younger, this idea of possession used to really both me. I would heard a guy say “She is MY girlfriend.” It sounded rude to me, to think that you could own someone like a dog or a favorite toy. I think that that rejection had an element of truth to it. Many times this was said by someone who was immature in their relationship and was looking at ownership, and a mark of manhood rather than the loving ownership and care of an adoring husband. This man may have been thinking of his girlfriend as more of an object to be conquered and owned than as his beloved to be cherished. Now that I am older and married and can see the beauty of this realization, “My beloved is mine! I am his!” This is a unity of love as God intended it. This woman is not to share her husband with any other woman and this woman is not to share herself with any other man. There is exclusivity in the relationship and they belong to each other. I am joyful as I continue to be amazed that my beloved, my Elyse, is mine. She is mine and no other's. I also delight that I am hers and no other's.
After delighting in their mutual bond, the girl delights in their sexual union. As we already mentioned the lilies (or lotuses) were commonly pictured in relation to sexuality. The man is pasturing among the lilies. He is enjoying her sexuality. She then calls to him to enjoy their love, their sexuality together until the morning, “the cool of the day when the shadows flee away.” Their mutual love and even ownership increases her passion and desire. She continues to urge him to be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of Bether. The mountains of Bether were a mountain range near Jerusalem. However, rather than referring to these mountains specifically she seems to be using them more as a reference to mountains in general.. In Song 4:5-6 we see the man reply to the woman's request in similar language.
“Your two breasts are like two fawns, Twins of a gazelle Which feed among the lilies. “Until the cool of the day When the shadows flee away, I will go my way to the mountain of myrrh And to the hill of frankincense. (Song of Solomon 4:5-6, NASB95).
Here we see the woman's breasts being compared to two fawns which feed among the lilies (parallel to Song 2:16) and he will go to the mountains until “the cool of the day, when the shadows flee away. The woman is inviting the man to energetically enjoy her sexuality and to enjoy her fruit, namely her breasts, all night long until the morning comes.
If we look ahead to the very last verse of the Song we will see the same request, “Hurry, my beloved, And be like a gazelle or a young stag On the mountains of spices” (Song of Solomon 8:14, NASB95). The Song delights in our human sexuality and presents it again and again as good, pleasing, exciting and delightful to the couple within the freeing commitment of marriage.
Just as the beloved delighted that her man was hers and she was his, we can delight that our Savior is ours and we are his. In 1 Corinthians 6:20 and 1 Corinthians 7:23 we are reminded that Christ has bought us with a price, in that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NASB95). Our heavenly Lover, died for us to buy us from death and to unite us with himself. We are his. At the same time, we are reminded in Galatians 2:20 that Christ is in us and in a way is ours. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20, NASB95). Christ is ours because he gave himself for us and to us. He is our ultimate Lover.
Here, as throughout the Song, we are reminded to delight in our sexuality. In Song 2:7 we were urged to wait until the proper time, within marriage and here we see the delight in knowing that you belong to one another. This unity, this oneness, can lead to a joyful giving of yourselves to one another physically as well as emotionally. Sex is not something simply for having children and it is certainly not something dirty. It is a gift of God to be delighted in and enjoyed with our spouse in a monogamous marriage.
As we have read so far we have had the delight to see the couple's relationship grow. We have repeatedly heard them express their desire for one another, a desire for openness, oneness, and physical intimacy. We have gone with them on a date and praise each other with loving words. However, through all their desire, which is shown again as good, we have not yet been told that they have fulfilled this desire. They have not yet consummated their love and their marriage through sexual love. They are waiting to enjoy this “banquet” at the proper time.
1Garrett, D. (2004). Vol. 23B: Word Biblical Commentary : Song of Songs/ Lamentations. Word Biblical Commentary (148). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
2Garrett, D. (2004). Vol. 23B: Word Biblical Commentary : Song of Songs/ Lamentations. Word Biblical Commentary (148). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
3Garrett, D. (2004). Vol. 23B: Word Biblical Commentary : Song of Songs/ Lamentations. Word Biblical Commentary (148). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
4Garrett, D. (2004). Vol. 23B: Word Biblical Commentary : Song of Songs/ Lamentations. Word Biblical Commentary (149). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
5Garrett, D. (2004). Vol. 23B: Word Biblical Commentary : Song of Songs/ Lamentations. Word Biblical Commentary (152). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
6Garrett, D. (2004). Vol. 23B: Word Biblical Commentary : Song of Songs/ Lamentations. Word Biblical Commentary (154). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
7See: Garrett, D. (2004). Vol. 23B: Word Biblical Commentary : Song of Songs/ Lamentations. Word Biblical Commentary (154). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
8Federer, W. J. (2001). Great Quotations : A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Quotations Influencing Early and Modern World History Referenced according to their Sources in Literature, Memoirs, Letters, Governmental Documents, Speeches, Charters, Court Decisions and Constitutions. St. Louis, MO: AmeriSearch.
9Carson, D. A. (1994). New Bible commentary : 21st century edition. Rev. ed. of: The new Bible commentary. 3rd ed. / edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer. 1970. (4th ed.) (So 2:8). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.
10Carson, D. A. (1994). New Bible commentary : 21st century edition. Rev. ed. of: The new Bible commentary. 3rd ed. / edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer. 1970. (4th ed.) (So 2:8). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.
11Garrett, D. (2004). Vol. 23B: Word Biblical Commentary : Song of Songs/ Lamentations. Word Biblical Commentary (161). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.