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Monday, July 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Song of Solomon 4

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-8

Son 4:1-8

Song of Solomon 4:1-8

Solomon’s Love Song to the Shulamite

Song of Solomon 4:1-8

"Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair;

Thine eyes are doves behind thy veil.

Thy hair is as a flock of goats,

That lie along the slope of mount Gilead.

Thy teeth are like a flock of ewes that are newly shorn,

Which are come up from the washing,

Whereof every one hath twins,

And none is bereaved among them.

Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet,

And thy mouth is comely.

Thy temples are like a piece of pomegranate

Behind thy veil.

Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armory,

Whereon they hang a thousand bucklers,

All the shields of the mighty men.

Thy two breasts are like two fawns

That are twins of the roe,

Which feed among the lilies.

Until the day be cool, and the shadows flee away,

I will get me to the mountains of myrrh,

And to the hill of frankincense.

Thou art all fair, my love;

And there is no spot in thee

Come with me from Lebanon, my bride,

With me from Lebanon,

Look from the top of Amana,

From the top of Senir and Hermon,

From the lion’s dens,

From the mountains of the leopards."

"Cook regarded this whole chapter as Solomon’s love song to the maiden.” Balchin agreed with this in the first seven verses, but wrote that, "The song of the shepherd lover may appear in Song of Solomon 4:8 ff.” Bunn ascribed Song of Solomon 4:9-15, "To the shepherd who pleads his case to the maiden with renewed zeal.” Redford saw the whole chapter as, "The conversation of the bridegroom and the bride as they travel together in the procession.” We cannot accept the view that the maiden accepted Solomon. Also Sierd Woodstra made these first fifteen verses of the chapter, "The bridegroom’s praise of the bride’s beauty.” Several scholars agree that there is a division in this chapter between two love songs; but, "It is not certain where the division should be made.” This writer accepts Song of Solomon 4:8 as part of Solomon’s plea, and Song of Solomon 4:9-15 as the shepherd’s love-song. Bunn also allotted Song of Solomon 4:9-15 to the shepherd.

Here again we are confronted with inexplicable mysteries and contradictions. What is Solomon doing in Lebanon? Lebanon is in Syria; it pertains to the ruler of Tyre, and is completely out of Solomon’s jurisdiction.” Are we to suppose that Solomon is here chasing this woman into a foreign country? Admittedly, Solomon was capable of a folly like that; but still this does not explain it. Several scholars speak of "Solomon’s court in northern Israel," here; but Lebanon is not "northern Israel"; it is Syria. Solomon had to buy "cedars of Lebanon" from Hiram the king of Tyre. (1 Kings 5).

Two separate and dramatically different pictures appear in these two love songs: (1) that of Solomon (Song of Solomon 4:1-8), and (2) that of the maiden’s true lover, the shepherd, in Song of Solomon 4:9-15.

In the one ascribed to Solomon, the maiden is compared to animals, namely, goats, ewes and fawns. It must be remembered also that Solomon also mentioned Pharaoh’s chariot horse in another comparison. The true lover’s song mentions no animals, but sweet smelling spices, fountains, gardens, honey, orchards and `all the chief spices.’ Solomon’s love song suffers greatly in this comparison. How can we account for this on any other thesis than that which assumes that Solomon looked upon every woman as merely an animal?

As for the Jewish and Christian interpretations of these first eight verses, we have this from Pope.

"The veil" (Song of Solomon 4:1). (a) The Jews related this to the sacrifices of Solomon at the dedication of the Temple. (b) Tertullian said it represented the modesty of Christian maidens and the bride’s submission to her husband (Christ to the Church). It was also interpreted as a token of virginity and chastity.

"The teeth" (Song of Solomon 4:2). (a) The Targumists made these to be the Priests and Levites who ate the sacrifices. (b) A Christian interpreter made these to be the Doctors of the Church who chew up the hard doctrines so the laity can understand them.

"The scarlet lips" (Song of Solomon 4:3). (a) These were the prayer of the High Priest on the Day of Atonement. (b) Some Christian scholars applied it to Rahab the harlot and the red string hanging out her window!

"The tower of David ... the shields ... etc." (Song of Solomon 4:4). (a) The Targum applied the tower to the Head of the Academy, and the weaponry they thought was the learning of the Law. (b) The shields were taken by Gregory of Nyssa to be the angelic guardians of the church.

"Thy two breasts are like two fawns" (Song of Solomon 4:5). (a) The Jews saw the maiden’s two breasts as representing the two Messiah’s (one the Suffering Servant, and the other as the Glorious Conqueror), and the two brethren who led Israel, Moses and Aaron. (b) Christian writers saw these as the Old Testament and the New Testament, the outer and the inner man, or the blood and water from the side of Jesus on the Cross!

"Until the day be cool and the shadows flee away" (Song of Solomon 4:6). In warm climates, the day becomes cool only at daybreak, when the sun rises and the shadows flee. The best translation of this line we have ever seen is inscribed upon a tombstone in Cache, Oklahoma:

Here Lies

QUANAH PARKER

Last Chief of the Comanches

"Until Day Breaks and Shadows Flee Away"

That this is actually the meaning appears in the RSV, the Today’s English Version, and the Moffatt translation.

(a) The Targum (Jewish) explained the fleeing shadows as demons expelled by the incense of the Temple. (b) Christian interpreters saw the passage as a reference to the resurrection (as on Parker’s tomb).

"I will get me to the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense ..." (Song of Solomon 4:6). Waddey applied this to the maiden’s breasts; which is undoubtedly correct. What Solomon is saying here is that he will come and lie between her breasts all night long, that being the only thing Solomon ever had in mind where women were concerned. "There is no hint here of any interest of

Solomon other than in corporeal beauty.” Another interpretation (probably Jewish) considered the hill of bitter myrrh as a reference to the Gentiles and the frankincense as a reference to the Jews. That was the traditional Jewish estimate of themselves and Gentiles.

"Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee" (Song of Solomon 4:7). (a) The Jews, of course applied this to Israel. (b) Christian interpreters applied it to the Church, not the Church Militant struggling with sins and sorrows, but to the Church Triumphant in heaven where she is presented, "having neither spot nor wrinkle" (Ephesians 5:27). One may only laugh at the idea that any such thoughts as these were in the mind of Solomon as he said this!

"Come with me from Lebanon, my bride" (Song of Solomon 4:8). This does not mean that any marriage had occurred. Such expressions as "my bride" and "my sister" were customary expressions found in all the ancient love songs of that period. "Such expressions indicate friendly relations without implication of consanguinity.” These words are a gentle invitation from Solomon for the Shulamite to leave the security and protection that she enjoyed in Lebanon and to go with him to Jerusalem. Why did Solomon not command her? She was not within his jurisdiction; she was a citizen of another country.

"From the top of Amana" (Song of Solomon 4:8). This was the same as Abana one of the rivers of Syria mentioned by Naaman (2 Kings 5:12).

"From the top of Senir and Herman" (Song of Solomon 4:8). Senir is the Amorite designation of Mount Hermon (Deuteronomy 4:48).

"From the lions’ dens ..." (Song of Solomon 4:8). The leopards are also mentioned here; and what Solomon was saying meant, "Come with me out of this wild and dangerous country to Jerusalem."

(a) The Jewish interpretation recognized the bride here as Israel. (b) "The Christian interpretation saw Christ in this passage in the person of Solomon (!) calling the Gentiles to the Church.?” This is precisely the interpretation that outrages and disgusts this writer. Solomon, a type of Christ! Judas Iscariot would serve just as well. The great error of many interpreters in this is their false understanding of Israel’s earthly kingdom as God’s Israel. It was no such thing. The prophets called it "The Sinful Kingdom"; and the true Israel was always a righteous remnant.

Exegesis Song of Solomon 4:1-7

The first line in verse one is a general evaluation of “my companion”; there follows seven particulars in which the beauty of the bride can be seen. We shall list these seven descriptive phrases and comment upon them. Before we proceed we must set the scene. We recognize that we are open to criticism—but since all opinions are of equal standing we yet believe this is the expression of the shepherd. We appreciate the words of Arthur G. Clarke just here. “The shepherd now appears upon the scene. Following the abduction of his loved one (Song of Solomon 6:11-12), he seems to have discovered her whereabouts. Concerned for her welfare amid the temptations of the Royal Court, he wends his way to Jerusalem to secure an interview with her if at all possible. This he manages to do, but how we are not told. He encourages the maiden at this critical juncture with a fresh declaration of his loving regard.”

There follows the seven-fold description of the maiden:

(1) Thine eyes are dove-like behind thy tresses. There is much discussion among commentators as to whether the maiden is looking out from behind a veil or the locks of her hair. We prefer the latter. We have commented earlier of the dove-like quality of her eyes. Such a poetic figure of speech is altogether appealing in its suggestion of the alert, shy, soft person behind the eyes and the lovely hair.

(2) Thy hair resembles a flock of goats that browse along the slopes of Gilead. This is a compliment and it was given to elicit a positive response. If we knew what a flock of goats on the slopes of Gilead looked like we would immediately appreciate the comparison. The long silk-like hair of the angora goats of Syria—especially as they reflected the sun on their long tresses could make a beautiful poetic image.

(3) Thy teeth are like a flock of shorn sheep just come up from the dipping pool. Each one has its twin, and none among them is bereaved. This is much easier to imagine. The sheep are white—but never whiter than when they have just been shorn and washed—there are two rows of teeth—the top has a twin on the bottom row, and there is not one out of order or missing. Her teeth are as white as wool and as uniform as perfect twins.

(4) Thy lips are like a scarlet cord, and thy speech well becomes them. The delicate form of the girl’s lips is here emphasized. The natural red color suggests good health. Not only does she have a lovely mouth in form—what comes out of it in thought and words is just as beautiful. “There is gold, and a multitude of rubies; but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.” Proverbs 20:15 (Cf. Ecclesiastes 10:12; Psalms 63:5; Psalms 119:13; Psalms 119:171)

(5) Thy cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate behind thy tresses. No cosmetics are involved in the appearance here described. The glow of good health is here apparent. The almost translucent look of a perfect complexion colored with the blush of excitement and coyly hidden behind raven black hair makes a most appealing picture.

(6) Thy neck is like David’s tower, which he built for an armory. On it there hang a thousand shieldsall shields of heros. This is more descriptive of the character of the maid than any of the other qualities, pride and strength—dignity and beauty are all here inferred. The shepherd wants his bride-to-be to remember who she is and whose she is. She did not hesitate to identify with the shepherd when her brothers opposed him. He can still see the tilt of her head and the beautiful total commitment of her demeanor when she answered her brothers concerning him. He is reminding her to be that same strong, beautiful person here in the Court of Solomon. A thousand shields of conquest decorated David’s tower—perhaps he is saying—“You are as strong as a thousand strong women.”

(7) Thy breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle feeding among anemones. We could ignore this description as some have done—or say that the breasts of women do not have erotic suggestion to the Oriental. We do believe the shepherd is saying his bride has reached maturity and is therefore capable of motherhood. But most of all he is simply open in his admiration of her physical beauty. We would say that this lover has gathered a string of beautiful pearls to present to his beloved. He concludes by promising to return at nightfall; when he comes it will be with a mountain of myrrh and a hill of frankincense. During his absence he has been to the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense—he now comes again with much more to offer than Solomon. His closing words should have indeed touched her deeply. He is saying—you are pure and whole and totally lovely—keep it that way till I come again.

Marriage Song of Solomon 4:1-7

If we were married to a girl whom we could describe in the same way the Shulammite is here described, we would have no problems in marriage. Is this true? It is both true and false. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If we look at our wife with grace, we will find grace. Let’s check the list and see: (1) How easy it is for a mother to see alertness and intelligence in the eyes of her son or daughter when no one else can see anything unusual at all. Why? The mother wants to and besides that she is a part of that son or daughter and they a part of her. Is this the kind of love we have for this one who has now become “bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh”—that one we call “woman”—or wife? Look into her eyes again—there is a dove of softness and love behind those eyes isn’t there? (2) Why does your wife fix her hair or have it fixed? Isn’t it for you? She does hope you will see it and mention it—How does it look? It is her adornment from God—but if her beloved never notices—what’s the use? (3) She does have a sweet mouth, doesn’t she? She does if you believe she does. We cannot always agree with all she says—but then God can’t always agree with you—but His love is yet and always warm and tender and real. (4) What a dear face, it represents the one you chose among ten thousand. Can you close your eyes and see her face? You can if you have made her a part of your inner consciousness. She loves you much more deeply than you could ever know. (5) What is the general demeanor of your wife? i.e., how would you describe her bearing? You have seen her often under so many circumstances—how does she hold her head?—literally and figuratively. Do you respect her for her abilities in many areas where you really could not do nearly as well? If we will just think and add grace and love our wife will compare very well. (6) Only you can say if your wife is physically attractive to you. She must have been for this was one of the reasons you married her. Once again a large part or percent of this attraction is in the imagination. Not all of it—but much of it. (7) How would you grade your choice of women? What a change takes place when we put on the glasses of love and grace and look at everything about our wife in the same way our heavenly groom looks at us.

Communion Song of Solomon 4:1-7

If we were describing the groom (our Lord) instead of the bride (his church) these verses would be much easier to apply—at least we would feel nothing would be overstated or misrepresented—but as we look at ourselves in the mirror of His word we grow less and less willing to think of ourselves as at all like the one here described. But wait!—He sees us through love and grace—This does not minimize our responsibility, but it does make possible a growth in grace unto the likeness of the bride of our Lord. How often it is true that we become what others believe we can. How does our Lord see us?

Notice:

(1) He believes we can see all of life through the eyes of the Holy Dove. At the same time He has given us a covering to conceal our perception that it be not offensive—our veil or covering is humility.

(2) Hair has always represented a special consecration and obedience to God—In the care of the Nazarites (Numbers 6) it is illustrated by Samson. This consecration and obedience can and should become our strength and beauty. But only as we are completely given to Him is it true. Hair with a woman was identical in meaning as with the Nazarite. It was a covering as a symbol of subjection and commitment. (1 Corinthians 11:1 ff)

(3) Teeth are the equipment of God given us for eating. He has given us the means by which we can eat His word and be filled and strong.

(4) Lips are for expression—as teeth masticate the food so lips express the strength received from it.

(5) Our facial expression can present our Lord in a pleasant, beautiful manner.

(6) The neck could well represent the will of man. May our total bearing be one of submission to His will in our lives.

(7) The bosom is often represented as the seat of the affections. When the foregoing is true of us our emotions will be under His control. The above person is that new creation in Christ Jesus. Cf. Colossians 3:1-17; 2 Corinthians 5:17; It is only possible because of Him and through Him.

Verses 9-15

Son 4:9-15

Song of Solomon 4:9-15

THE APPEAL OF THE SHEPHERD LOVER

"Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my bride;

Thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes (one look from thine eyes ASV margin),

With one chain of thy neck.

How fair is thy love, my sister, my bride!

How much better is thy love than wine!

And the fragrance of thine oils than all manner of spices!

Thy lips, O my bride, drop as the honeycomb:

Honey and milk are under thy tongue:

And the smell of thy garments is as the smell of Lebanon.

A garden shut up is my sister, my bride;

A spring shut up, a fountain sealed.

Thy shoots are an orchard of pomegranates, with precious fruits;

Henna with spikenard plants,

Spikenard and saffron,

Calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense;

Myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices.

Thou art a fountain of gardens,

A well of living waters, and flowing streams from Lebanon."

We have entitled this "The Song of the Shepherd Lover"; it contrasts vividly with the sensuous love-song of Solomon, as noted above. Balchin mentioned another possibility. "Based upon the idea that the shepherd would not have been allowed in the maiden’s presence when Solomon was also there, the scene may be imaginary, or the reminiscence of the dreamy girl.” This objection, if we may call it that, is cleared up completely by the consideration that this love song had been delivered to the maiden in the lover’s absence.

This writer is supremely grateful for this chapter; because it reveals what is undoubtedly the true interpretation of the Song of Solomon. What is it? The intuition of countless thousands of students and scholars for thousands of years is absolutely valid in finding an allegory here. Otherwise, the Song makes no sense at all.

THE TRUE ALLEGORY

SOLOMON IS SATAN.

This truth is so big and overwhelming that the scholars of many ages have simply overlooked it. How could any mortal, much less a Christian, see in Solomon a type of God, or of Christ?

Solomon: that old slave-driver was the leading debauchee of a thousand years, a builder of pagan temples, a strutting old peacock who probably thought of himself as the greatest stud in human history, who saw every beautiful woman on earth as merely an animal. He desecrated the very Temple that he erected with twelve images of the pagan bulls of the god Baal in the twelve "oxen" (as he called them) that supported the laver, and the images of lions that decorated the steps of his throne, every one of them a violation of the Decalogue, Commandment II. He even erected two pagan phallic symbols, Jachin and Boaz, in front of the Temple itself - could such a man as this have been a valid representative of Christ? A million times NO!

What fruit did he have of all those women, how many sons? The Bible mentions only one, Rehoboam the fool. He lost most of Solomon’s empire in a week’s time, and later surrendered Jerusalem to Shishak king of Egypt who plundered it, and looted the Temple.

The very Temple he erected was contrary to God’s will as was also the Jewish monarchy, of whom Solomon was the most conspicuous specimen. His oppressive taxation ruined Israel and eventually destroyed the kingdom. He was even an adulterer (with the Queen of Sheba); can anyone imagine a thing like that on the part of a man who already had a thousand women at his disposal? This man a symbol? He certainly was. HE WAS A SYMBOL OF THE DEVIL! Once this fact is understood, this whole Song of Solomon is clear.

Solomon represents worldly power, fame, and glory. He represents pride, ostentation, wealth, physical splendor, the pomp and glitter of the world and all of its allurements. He represents the persuasion and allurement of sensual indulgence, lasciviousness and fleshly gratification - in short, he represents in this allegory all of the temptations that assail the child of God.

THE SHULAMITE MAIDEN

She is the bride, not of Solomon, but of the Shepherd. She is the true Israel of both the Old and the New Covenants. Note, that her lover is never present with his bride, except in the Incarnation, when he rescued her from Satan (Solomon) and conferred upon her a marvelous citizenship in another kingdom (Philippians 3:20). That is the reason that the bride in this chapter is represented as living beyond the domain of Solomon.

Both the dreams in this Song stress the absence of the Shepherd. And in Song of Solomon 4:9-15, the Shepherd’s love song is not delivered by the Shepherd in person. She receives it in his absence; just as the Church today has her message from The Good Shepherd as it has been delivered to us by his holy apostles. That is why the Shepherd does not appear in person in these verses. Nevertheless, the validity of the message is just as genuine as the sacred words of the New Testament.

THE SHEPHERD WHO LOVED THE MAIDEN

The Shepherd can be none other than Almighty God in his own person or in that of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. "The Lord is my Shepherd" (Psalms 23:1; John 10:11. etc.). The notion that the Wolf Solomon was the shepherd of Israel is repugnant. But neither God nor his Son Jesus Christ is personally present on earth with their servants and followers. That is why the maiden’s lover in this Song is always absent (except in the rescue scene standing for the Incarnation). Where is the Shepherd? He is in "the far country" (Matthew 21:33; Matthew 25:14; Mark 12:1 and Luke 20:9).

In this understanding, the item by item discussion of the spices, the orchards, the fountains, the gardens, the honeycomb, the sweetness, beauty, purity and holiness of the Shepherd’s love song (Song of Solomon 4:9-15) becomes totally unnecessary, in fact, irrelevant. All of them stand for the precious revelation of the Good Shepherd’s matchless love and concern for his holy bride the Church of Jesus Christ, as found in the sacred New Testament.

The item by item interpretations of Song of Solomon 4:9-15 are, for the most part, too fanciful to have any value. The locked garden and the sealed fountain appear in the eyes of Jewish interpreters as, "The modesty of Jewish women, whether married or unmarried; and the Christian scholars related them to the Bride of Christ, or to the Virgin Mary.”

Song of Solomon 4:16

THE MAIDEN’S RESPONSE

"Awake, O north wind, and come, thou south;

Blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out.

Let my beloved come into his garden,

And eat his precious fruits."

This cannot possibly be the maiden’s response to Solomon who is standing right there in front of her. She prays for the winds of heaven to carry the message of her love to her "absent lover.” In our understanding of the allegory, the Bride of Christ prays for and longs for the Second Advent.

Exegesis Song of Solomon 4:8-16a

If we consider carefully the content of these verses we will immediately recognize they are not in chronological order or time sequence. We must conclude this paragraph relates to the end of the story—i.e., between Song of Solomon 7:11 and Song of Solomon 8:14. There are examples of this literary devise in several books of the Bible—particularly with Revelation and Ezekiel—but even in the gospels. If this interpretation is correct, this passage contains the response of the shepherd to the maiden’s request that he take her back to her country home. The writer of the Song is anticipating the closing scenes. The purpose would seem to be to build suspense. Because of the length of this section we will indicate the verses related to our comments:

Song of Solomon 4:8. We believe “Lebanon” is used in a figurative sense. The shepherd is asking his beloved to leave the giddy heights of the court of Solomon and share true love with him. It is an invitation to escape—but also it becomes an insistent claim of the shepherd for the person of Shulammite. Perhaps it would be better to translate the phrase look from to “depart from.” The whole passage we believe is symbolic—but the mountains used in the symbolism are real mountains—i.e., they are peaks in the Lebanon chain which carry these names. He is saying in effect—“come with me from the dangerous position you are in—leave the high dignitaries and the ravenous wild beasts of Solomon’s court.”

Song of Solomon 4:9. Here begins a description of the attractive qualities of his beloved. He is wounded to the heart with one look and he is enchained by one turn of her head. “A physical feature, not an ornament, is intended. All figures used in verses nine thru eleven refer to graces of gesture and speech as indicative of inward character rather than to mere outward physical attractions.” (Clarke)

Song of Solomon 4:10. Berkley has translated this verse as: “How sweet is your love, my sister, my bride; How much more delicious is your love than wine; and the fragrance of your ointments than all the spices.” We like very much the expression of Walter F. Adeney in the Exposition of the Bible (p. 532):

“His language is entirely different from that of the magnificent monarch. He does not waste his breath in formal compliments, high-flown imagery, wearisome lists of the charms of the girl he loves. That was the clumsy method of the king; clumsy, though reflecting the finished manners of the court, in comparison with the genuine outpourings of the heart of a country lad. The shepherd is eloquent with the inspiration of true love; his words throb and glow with genuine emotion; love of his bride has ravished his heart. How beautiful is her love! He is intoxicated with it more than with wine. How sweet are her words of tender affection, like milk and honey! She is so pure, there is something sisterly in her love that she is almost like a part of himself, as his own sister. This holy and close relationship is in startling contrast to the only thing known as love in the royal harem. It is as much more lofty and noble as it is more strong and deep than the jaded emotions of the court. The sweet, pure maiden is to the shepherd like a garden the gate of which is barred against trespassers, like a spring shut off from casual access, like a sealed fountain—sealed to all but one, and, happy man, he is that one. To him she belongs, to him alone. She is a graden, yes, a most fragrant garden, an orchard of pomegranates full of rich fruit, crowded with sweet-scented plants—henna and spikenard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon and all kinds of frankincense, myrrh and aloes and the best of spices. She is a fountain in the garden, sealed to all others, but not stinted towards the one she loves. To him she is as a well of living waters, like the full fed streams that flow from Lebanon.

The maiden is supposed to hear the song of love. She replies in fearless words of welcome, bidding the north wind awake, and the south wind too, that the fragrance of which her lover has spoken so enthusiastically may flow out more richly than ever. For his sake she would be more sweet and loving. All she possesses is for him. Let him come and take possession of his own.”

Verses Song of Solomon 4:11-16a are very well discussed in the above quotation.

Marriage Song of Solomon 4:8-16a

Surely this passage can be appreciated most by those who are married or who are engaged to be married. Adeney makes an interesting suggestion. He says:

“What lover could turn aside from such a rapturous invitation? The shepherd takes his bride; he enters his garden, gathers his myrrh and spice, eats his honey and drinks his wine and milk, and calls on his friends to feast and drink with him. This seems to point to the marriage of the couple and their wedding feast; a view of the passage which interpreters who regard Solomon as the lover throughout for the most part take, but one which has this fatal objection, that it leaves the second half of the poem without a motive. On the hypothesis of the shepherd lover it is still more difficult to suppose the wedding to have occurred at the point we have now reached, for the distraction of the royal courtship still proceeds in subsequent passages of the poem. It would seem then, that we must regard this as quite an ideal scene. It may, however, be taken as a reminiscence of an earlier passage in the lives of the two lovers. It is not impossible that it refers to their wedding, and that they had been married before the action of the whole story began. In that case we should suppose that Solomon’s officers had carried off a young bride to the royal harem. The intensity of the love and the bitterness of the separation apparent throughout the poem would be the more intelligible if this were the situation. It is to be remembered that Shakespeare ascribes the climax of the love and grief of Romeo and Juliet to a time after their marriage.”

As interesting and instructive as is the above information we yet need application of the principles in the text to our marriages. We see two or three obvious lessons in the text; (1) The safety and comfort of our wife should be of very great concern to every husband. Surely this is how our Lord loved the church. It is not at all enough to issue verbal warnings as edicts from “the head of the house.” Please note that the text suggests the groom is to accompany the wife and lead by example and companionship. It would suggest, of course, that he knows where he is going. The lover is very much aware of the dangers and also of the nature of the one in danger. This kind of solicitious attention is most welcome when the bride is in love with her spouse. (2) Communicated admiration and respect is such an important part of marriage. We might carry a deep love—admiration—respect for our wife—but if it is not communicated to her she will not know it. If she does not know it—or is but vaguely aware of it, we are hurting her deeply. Self-image is so important—if she does not know and that real often—that we admire her greatly what difference will it make what others say about her? It could make a great deal of difference to us if we bottle-up our admiration and never verbalize it in appreciation. (3) Our wives are our gardens. These gardens or fountains are indeed closed to others—but what we want to say is that we can and should find our enjoyment in this our garden—We can and should find our refreshment from this our fountain. Gardens do respond to cultivation. Consider what a variety of good things can be continually grown here. Pomegranates and precious fruit—all manner of spice and fragrance; but only if we find ourselves often in the garden. Only if we give the careful thought and effort to develop this lovely harvest.

Communion Song of Solomon 4:8-16a

The call of our Lord to His bride to leave the heights of this world is very real—but it comes from One who not only loves us but admires us. He sees in us all the beauty described and ascribed in verses nine through sixteen. It is the mercies of God that become the motive for presenting our bodies to the bridegroom. Of course, we are transformed by the renewing of our mind, but we must be moved to set our mind upon the things that are above by a knowledge that He believes we can and loves us in our attempts as much as in our accomplishments. We could delineate these verses one by one and point out each of the qualities our Lord sees in us—potential and actual; we will not develop these thoughts because of the lack of space—just a list of what He sees in me: (1) One look upward—one move of my heart toward Him is immediately met with an eager interest (verse nine). (2) My companionship and communion in prayer with Him is a high joy to Him—indeed He created me to walk and talk with Him (verse ten). (3) How pleasing are my words to Him when I praise Him or speak of Him (Song of Solomon 4:11). (4) I am His alone and He is mine—I want to be a garden in which He can walk with me in the cool of the day. I am a spring of living water not only because of Him but for Him (Song of Solomon 4:12). (5) My prayers are a sweet smelling incense to Him—supplications—intercessions—thanksgivings—petitions—are all the varying fragrances of my praying (Song of Solomon 4:13-15). (6) He bids me to spread His praises to the ends of the earth—may the wind of heaven blow to all His lovely fragrance through me (Song of Solomon 4:16 a).

Memories of Engagement - Song of Solomon 3:6 to Song of Solomon 5:1

Open It

1. What do you consider to be the essential elements of a wedding ceremony?

2. In what situations would you normally expect someone to feel jealous?

3. Who was your first crush, and what did you think of him or her?

Explore It

4. What events take place in these verses? (Song of Solomon 3:6 to Song of Solomon 5:1)

5. What question did the Beloved ask? (Song of Solomon 3:6)

6. Who came up from the desert with Solomon? (Song of Solomon 3:7-8)

7. How did the Beloved describe Solomon’s carriage? (Song of Solomon 3:9-10)

8. What did the Beloved tell the Daughters of Zion to do? (Song of Solomon 3:11)

9. When did Solomon’s mother crown him? (Song of Solomon 3:11)

10. How did Solomon describe his Beloved? (Song of Solomon 4:1-7)

11. How did Solomon and his bride treat each other? (Song of Solomon 4:1 to Song of Solomon 5:1)

12. Where did Solomon ask his bride to go? (Song of Solomon 4:8)

13. What did Solomon say his bride had stolen? (Song of Solomon 4:9)

14. How did Solomon describe his bride’s love and lips? (Song of Solomon 4:10-11)

15. To what did Solomon compare his bride? (Song of Solomon 4:12-15)

16. What did the Beloved invite her Lover to do? (Song of Solomon 4:16)

17. What did the Lover say he had done? (Song of Solomon 5:1)

Get It

18. How does this ancient near eastern wedding compare to weddings that you have attended?

19. What type of terms did Solomon use to tell his bride that she was beautiful?

20. If Solomon had been describing his bride today, what metaphors do you think he would have chosen?

21. What is significant about the bridegroom’s focus on his bride’s beauty?

22. How can a person build up his or her spouse’s self-esteem?

23. What does it mean to have one’s heart stolen by another person?

24. For what is Solomon praising his bride in Song of Solomon 4:12-15, and why is this important?

25. What is the significance of the bride’s invitation to Solomon to come into his garden?

26. Why should sex be enjoyed only in the context of marriage?

27. What do these verses suggest about the need for premarital sexual purity?

28. What do these verses suggest about the purpose and place of sexual love?

Apply It

29. What is one thing you can do to honor God’s design for sexual union in marriage?

30. What can you do to build up your spouse’s self-esteem this week?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Song of Solomon 4". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/song-of-solomon-4.html.
 
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