SONG OF SONGS
LOVE, ROMANTIC AND SEXUAL LOVE BETWEEN A HUSBAND AND A WIFE
A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE
(v 1:11-4a) Beloved Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth - for your love is more delightful than wine. Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the maidens love you! Take me away with you let us hurry! Let the king bring me into his chambers.
[Comments are from the Bible Knowledge Commentary, pp.1010-1025]
As indicated..the male speaker [is] the "Lover" and the female speaker [is] ...the "Beloved".
Other speakers are identified as "Friends".
The Song begins with a soliloquy by the beloved in which she first expresed her strong desire for her lovers (Solomon's) physical affection ("kisses", 1:2)..............
The statement "your love is more delightful than wine" means that his physical affections were exhilirating, refreshing, and a great source of joy.
The pleasing aroma of his perfumes made him even more attractive to her. A person's name represented his character or reputation.....So comparing Solomon's name to perfume meant that his character was pleasing and attractive to the beloved. For this reason she said many were attracted to him.
The statement "the king has brought me into his chambers" may be rendered [in translation from the Hebrew] as a request:
"May the king bring me into his chambers." In this sense she was expressing her desire for intimacy and marriage with the lover.........................
In summary, this opening soliloquy suggests that physical desire is a characteristic of romantic love and that properly channeled the desire is good not evil. One ought to be "intoxicated" with love for one's own mate....rather than with wine, drugs or other people. However the choice of a marriage partner should be based on far more than purely physical considerations. The beloved's speech indicates that the character ("name") of a person is vitally important in the selection of one's spouse.
(v4b) Friends We rejoice and delight in you; we will praise your love more than wine.
Beloved How right they are to adore you!
The chorus [text appearing after""friends"] is a literary device in the Song whereby the beloved and her lover express their emotions and thoughts more fully.
(v5-6) Dark am I, yet lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, dark like the tents of Kedar, like the tent curtains of Solomon. Do not stare at me because I am dark, because I am darkened by the sun. My mother's sons were angry with me and made me take care of the vineyards; my own vineyard I have neglected.
The beloved's suntanned appearance ("dark am I") revealed that she worked in the fields. This made her feel insecure ("do not stare at me") among the city dwelers and in particular the women of Jerusalem. She compared her dark skin to "the tents of Kedar"
which were made of black goats hair.....apparently "the tent curtains of Solomon" were also black.
Her explanation for her dark appearance was almost an apology. Because of hard outdoor work in the vineyards, required of her by her brothers, she was forced to neglect the cultivation of her own vineyard, that is herself and her appearance.....
(v7) Tell me, you whom I love, where you graze your flock and where you rest your sheep at midday. Why should I be like a veiled woman beside the flocks of your friends?
The beloved's feelings of in security helped arouse in her a desire for her lover's presence. She addressed him as though he were a shepherd..........The verse is either a soliloquy (assuming the lover is absent) or, if he is present, a request for a meeting later in that day. If she could not be with him she said she would be "like a veiled woman". This enigmatic expression... [means] more likely, that without Solomon she would be as sad as a person in mourning....
(v8) Friends If you do not know, most beautiful of women, follow the tracks of the sheep and graze your young goats by the tents of the shepherds.
[This verse] may be a disdainful reply by the friends: "If you, of all people, do not know where he is go to the other shepherds where you belong anyway" ("graze your young goats").
(v9-11) Lover I liken you, my darling, to a mare harnessed to one of the chariots of Pharaoh. Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings, your neck with strings of jewels. We will make you earrings of gold studded with silver.
The answer to the beloved's feelings of insecurity (vv5-6) was the praise of her lover....................
Stallions, not mares, were used to pull chariots....A mare, therefore, among the chariots might well start a chaotic experience. The point of the comparison is that in Solomon's opinion she was as beautiful and sought after as if she were the only woman in a world full of men. When he further stated that she was "beautiful" with jewelry ("earrings" and necklaces, v.10), the daughters of Jerusalem ("we", v.11) were forced to change their attitude of disdain (v.6) and to agree with royal opinion.
(v12-14) Beloved While the king was at his table, my perfume spread its fragrance. My lover is to me a sachet of myrrh resting between my breasts. My lover is to me a cluster of henna blossoms from the vineyards of En Gedi.
The beloved praised "the king" for his pleasing and attractive characteristics which were like "perfume"...whose function was to attract rather than repel. He was constantly in her thoughts just as the smell of the "myrrh" (in her "sachet" around her neck) was constantly in her nostrils. Myrrh was a pleasant-smelling gum that exudes from small trees in Arabia.................
All other men, compared with him, were like the desert. Among them he stood out like a beautiful "cluster" of flowers in a desert oasis. "Henna..blossoms" were white, and "En Gedi" was an oasis on the west coast of the Dead Sea.
(v15) Lover How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves.
The lover returned her praise by commending not only her beauty....but also her tranquil character....."doves" were noted for their cleanliness and their tranquility. 'According to Rabbinic teaching, a bride who has beautiful "eyes" possesses a beautiful character; they are an index to her character.'
(v16-17) Beloved How handsome you are, my lover! Oh, how charming!
And our bed is verdant.The beams of our house are cedars; our rafters are firs.
......Though she recognized his physical good looks ("handsome") she was more taken by the charm of his personality ("Oh how charming!"). The word "charming" means "pleasant" or "lovely" and the combination, handsome and pleasant, was as rare then as it is now. This is the first of about two dozen times she referred to him as "my lover." "The beams" of "cedars" and the "rafter" made of "firs" probably do not refer to a literal building but figuratively to the pastoral setting in which they first met. This is also suggested by the "verdent" (green) "bed" (couch). The field where they fell in love and sat talking was green.
(v2:1) Beloved I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.
Here the beloved spoke of herself as a "rose of Sharon", the fertile coastal region of Israel from Caesarea to Joppa. The Hebrew word for rose is h aba s selet.
In Isaiah 35:1, its only other occurrence in the Old Testament, it is translated "crocus," which may be the meaning here. It was a common meadow flower. The "lily" too was a common meadow flower mentioned often in the Song of Songs........Though in her humility she likened herself to common flowers of the field, her statement (2:1) reflects a significant contrast with her earlier self-consciousness (1:5-6). HER IMPROVEMENT PROBABLY WAS BECAUSE OF HER LOVER'S PRAISING HER (1:9-10, 15). [emphasis mine]
(v2:2) Lover Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens.
The lover echoed his beloved's newfound sense of worth by comparing her to a lily and all other women to thorns. He agreed that she was a lily (v.1) but not just any lily! She was as unique among all others as a single lily would be among many thorns.
(vv 2:3-6) Beloved Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest is my lover among the young men. I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste. He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love. Strengthen me with
raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am faint with love. His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me.
The beloved's reciprocal praise of her lover was also expressed metaphorically. As an apple tree would be a delightful surprise in a forest so Solomon was a delightful and rare "find" among all the other men. He was unique, sweet and fragrant.
The beloved's praise of her lover reveals three aspects of romantic love that are important to women. First, she felt protected by him. Sitting in his shade was a metaphor for protection, not only in the Bible but also in the literature of the ancient Near East. She had worked in the sun (1:6) but now she enjoyed resting under his protection. Second, they cultivated the kind of relationship that allowed them to know each other intimately.
[This does NOT indicate that they allowed themselves to know each other sexually]
The word taste expressed a knowledge of someone through intimate personal experience (cf. Ps. 34:8, 'Taste and see that the Lord is good'). Third, the beloved appreciated the fact that Solomon let others see his love for her. As a banner (a military standard) was easily seen by the troops as they marched, so Solomon's love for his beloved was easily seen by anyone who observed their relationship. He was not ashamed of her, instead he delighted in her and it was evident to others. One way he showed this was by taking her to his banquet hall....in the palace.
These three things-protection by her lover, intimacy with him, and obvious displays and expressions of love from him-are crucial factors that enable a woman to develop a sense of security and self-worth and thereby to enjoy a stable marriage.
The beloved had begun to experience these three things with Solomon during their courtship so it is no wonder that she became faint with love (2:5; cf 5:8).........So she expressed her desire for his strengthening and his embrace. Physically weakened, she needed stimulation from food such as raisins and apples........
(v2:7) Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and the does of the field:
Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires
This refrain, spoken by the beloved to the daughters (inhabitants...) of Jerusalem, appears again in 3:5 and part of it in 8:4......
The meaning of the refrain is that love cannot be forced but must be patiently waited for. In other words the beloved reminded all those desiring a relationship like the one she and Solomon enjoyed to wait patiently for God to bring it into their lives. Gazelles .......and does are graceful, agile animals. It was natural for a beloved one, thinking of the fields and forests (2:1,3), to make an oath by mountain animals..............
...the intensity of the couple's longing for each other increased and their sense of intimacy grew.
(v2:8-9) Listen! My lover!
Look! Here he comes, leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills. My lover is like a young gazelle or a young stag. Look! There he stands behind our wall,
gazing through the windows, peering through the lattice.
As Solomon approached his beloved's home, she excitedly described him coming as a gazelle or a young stag.....This emphasized his attractive appearance, strength, and agility........He approached the wall around her parents' home and then peered through the lattice. He was anxious to see her.
(v2:10-13) My lover spoke and said to me, "Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come. the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me."
Solomon, her lover, asked his darling to go for a walk in the countryside........
The elaborate description of spring was probably meant to do more than simply emphasize the beauty of the setting. It is likely that he is also describing their relationship. In a sense when one falls in love the feeling is like spring for everything seems fresh and new. The world is seen from a different perspective, which is how Solomon felt when he was with his beloved....................
(v2:14) Lover My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.
Another characteristic of genuine love is the desire to be alone with one's lover. This desire seems to be easily experienced during courtship, but unfortunately it often fades in marriage. Yet if love is to grow a couple must find time to be alone. Doves......hide in rock crevices, reluctant to leave. The lover likened his beloved to such a dove, hesitant to join him in the countryside. So again (cf 2:10, 13) he urged her to leave her home and join him so he could enjoy her seeet-sounding voice and lovely face.
(v2:15) Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.
The beloved rather than the lover may well be the speaker here. She was probably speaking poetically about their relationship rather than about literal foxes and vineyards. Foxes were noted for their destructive tendencies in crop fields, so her
reference to those animals probably suggested metaphorically some problems in their relationship. The beloved was asking her lover to take the initiative in solving the problems that were potentially harmful to their relationship. 'The foxes represent as many obstacles or temptations as have plagued lovers throughout the centuries. Perhaps it is the fox of uncontrolled desire which drives a wedge of guilt between a couple. Perhaps it is the fox of mistrust and jealousy which breaks the bond of love. Or it
may be the fox of selfishness and pride which refuses to let one acknowledge his fault to another. Or it may be an unforgiving spirit which will not accept the apology of the other........."
Even in ideal courtships and marriages most couples encounter some potentially destructive problems. Their willingness to solve them together is an evidence of their maturity.
(v216-17) Beloved My lover is mine and I am his; he browses among the lilies. Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, turn, my lover, and be like a gazelle or like a young stag on the rugged hills.
Though they had some problems in their relationship....the beloved knew that her lover belonged to her and she belonged to him. THEY WERE COMMITTED TO EACH OTHER. [Emphasis mine] She could rest in the shepherd-like quality of his love despite the struggles they shared. She said he browses (lit., "he pastures" his flock) among the lilies (cf. 6:3). Speaking to herself (using the personal pronouns mine, his and he) in 2:16, it is unlikely that verse 17 is also a soliloquy. Her thoughts of their mutual possession of each other naturally led to her desire for physical intimacy. So in her mind she invited him to turn (i.e., to her) with the strength and agility of a gazelle or...young stag........
Rugged hills.....is literally, "hills or mountains of separation or cleavage."..... a subtle reference to her breasts (cf. 4:6), thus an inner longing that they consummate their marriage......she wanted that intimacy to last during the night till the day breaks (lit., "breathes") at dawn and the night shadows vanish. When their marriage was consummated they did this (see 4:5-6). As already stated, in expressing their love in their courtship, the beloved and the lover used restraint. Yet because of their deep love and commitment to each other they longed for their wedding day to come.
If a woman develops in her mentality and consequently in her behavior that it is sex which is what it takes to attract and gain the love of a man then she will often discover that what she has attracted in a man is his lustful nature- i.e. the simple desire to have sex.
Men do not love women because of the sex that they receive. Men love women for other reasons - if they love them at all. Some of those reasons may be for certain personality characteristics that that woman has - especially those that enable a particular woman to understand that man in certain ways, maybe even become a close intimate friend like no other person.
What often happens in a marriage is that a woman discovers that sex is not what keeps her man in love with her - it simply serves to satisfy his lust. Sex for the husband should ALSO be an expression of his mental and emotional love for his wife BUT NOT
AN EXPRESSION WHICH RESULTS IN HIS LOVE FOR HER.
A man's sexual drive is so strong that it is too often used by the media and by woman to manipulate the man into situations which control the man, for example, etting him to spend his money on certain products. Because of the lustful nature of men + all the media hype about sex + the ill conceived temptation type behavior of most women, (sensual dress & behaviorisms), men often mistake their sexual drive for love - the kind of love upon which a marriage is built.
Scripture says this is clearly wrong. A man is commanded by God to express a mental commitment of "agape" type love for his wife regardless of his sexual drive.
The sad thing today is that even when a man properly expresses such "agape" love toward his mate, his mate, who also has a fully oiperational sinful nature and has also been so programmed by the media hype and how she was brought up - including all the peer pressure "stuff" that she becomes disillusioned when she begins to perceive the truth that a man does not enhance his true agape love toward his wife through sex. A man's sex drive is biological and does not originate out of his love for his mate! A man's sexual drive may very well be directed as an expression of true agape and/or emotional (phileo) but its origins are biological.
Often, then, a wife comes to the realization that she is not manipulating and thus enhancing the mental and emotional love she needs from her husband via sex and so she begins to downplay sex in her mentality which often reduces her own desire for sex the end result: much less sex with her mate creating a source of tension for the ever sex driven husband - for no good reason.
It is the wife's obligation according to God via His Word to respect her husband which includes to respect and honor his sexual drive so that he is not tempted to express his drive elsewhere. Her feelings and reception of pleasure are extremely important but are still not to override her duty to provide her husband with sexual release. If there is a problem with negative feelings or lack of pleasure, (for God did establish sex for pleasurable recreation as well as for procreation), the answer is not usually outright abstention - thus unnecessarily tempting the husband by depriving him of a biological need.
Often the wife must rethink her upbringing and avoid believing media hype about sex and realize that a man's sexual drive is not the way to his heart. She very well may have gotten his attention by sensual behavior but if the man loves her at all it is for other reasons than his ever present sex drive. When a wife realizes this truth it is often traumatic because she realizes that she cannot manipulate her husband's true "agape" and emotional love through sex, so she will often shut her husband off from
sex because she has not learned to perceive from where the true love of her husband comes. A wife cannot manipilate true love out of her husband - it comes, if at all, voluntarily from the husband for reasons other than sexual ones.