The last time I wrote a Bible Study post, we heard mainly from Kallah (Solomon’s bride) as she dealt with various emotions, insecurities, and memories. Today we’ll witness a very intimate scene in which this husband and wife engage in open appreciation of their love for each other. Solomon takes the lead in this dialogue.
1 Behold, you are beautiful, my love,
behold, you are beautiful!
Right off the bat, Solomon assures Kallah that she is beautiful to him. Now he doesn’t just stop there. He proceeds to articulate all the things he appreciates about her body.
Your eyes are doves
behind your veil.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
leaping down the slopes of Gilead.
2 Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes
that have come up from the washing,
all of which bear twins,
and not one among them has lost its young.
Solomon begins with her head and works his way down. The imagery that he has chosen may seem odd to us, but it is perfectly sound and reasonable for the time and culture in which this was written. Kallah’s eyes, like doves, bring a sense of peace to Solomon. Her hair and teeth remind him of ordered, well-tended flocks, representing wealth and prosperity.
3 Your lips are like a scarlet thread,
and your mouth is lovely.
Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate
behind your veil.
4 Your neck is like the tower of David,
built in rows of stone;
on it hang a thousand shields,
all of them shields of warriors.
Solomon admires Kallah’s sensuality. He reflects on the softness, color, and beauty of her face and neck.
5 Your two breasts are like two fawns,
twins of a gazelle,
that graze among the lilies.
6 Until the day breathes
and the shadows flee,
I will go away to the mountain of myrrh
and the hill of frankincense.
He continues admiring his way down, admiring her breasts and then acknowledging his intended “retreat” into the spicy mountain and hill of her “parts” below the waist. If it wasn’t obvious before, Solomon is engaging in foreplay with his wife!
7 You are altogether beautiful, my love;
there is no flaw in you.
8 Come with me from Lebanon, my bride;
come with me from Lebanon.
Depart from the peak of Amana,
from the peak of Senir and Hermon,
from the dens of lions,
from the mountains of leopards.
Solomon is here encouraging his wife to set aside distractions and focus on their intimacy together.
9 You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride;
you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes,
with one jewel of your necklace.
10 How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride!
How much better is your love than wine,
and the fragrance of your oils than any spice!
11 Your lips drip nectar, my bride;
honey and milk are under your tongue;
the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
I’m keeping my explanations pretty brief here because it’s pretty plain speech, albeit tastefully veiled and lacking any coarse or crass language and imagery. Solomon is in love with Kallah and she brings tremendous erotic excitement to him.
12 A garden locked is my sister, my bride,
a spring locked, a fountain sealed.
13 Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates
with all choicest fruits,
henna with nard,
14 nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon,
with all trees of frankincense,
myrrh and aloes,
with all choice spices—
15 a garden fountain, a well of living water,
and flowing streams from Lebanon.
Solomon concludes his serenade with two interesting metaphors. First, Kallay is a locked garden. This means that her physical attributes are delicacies reserved for her husband. She is a private garden, locked away from others. Secondly, her garden contains a variety of treats. There are numerous pleasures to be found in this private sanctuary that they share with each other. Yes, it is mutual. Notice Kallah’s response.
16 Awake, O north wind,
and come, O south wind!
Blow upon my garden,
let its spices flow.
Together in the Garden of Love
Let my beloved come to his garden,
and eat its choicest fruits.
The wind that is blowing represents the awakening of her sexual desire for her husband, blowing across her “garden” and bringing its scents to him. She invites Solomon to enter and enjoy.
5 I came to my garden, my sister, my bride,
I gathered my myrrh with my spice,
I ate my honeycomb with my honey,
I drank my wine with my milk.
Their intimacy is consummated here. They have shared the delicacies of the garden’s sexual experience. The scene concludes with this remarkable statement.
Eat, friends, drink,
and be drunk with love!
The “others” are not voyeuristic onlookers, but the audience invoked several times in the Song to add further opportunity for explanation. These “others” are a way of adding a comment that the sexual nature of this very erotic passage is a good thing! This couple is married and is enjoying the intimate pleasures, even to the point of emotional intoxication, that they should!
A couple of things stand out to me in the way that Solomon and Kallah approach this sexual encounter. First, there is time involved. While the passage can be read quickly, it really paints a picture of an intimate encounter in which these lovers relish the moments and take time to engage with one another.
Second, the focus is on the wife. Even Solomon is the primary speaker here, his speech is focused on Kallah, spending time in admiration and likely resulting in her response and desires building as time and his attentions progress. Indeed, she opens the garden and invites Solomon in!
Third, as mentioned above, there is a sense of exclusivity between these two. This garden that they are reveling in is a locked garden – a private space just for them to enjoy with each other.
Finally, the delicacies that are involved are many. This garden does not have just one kind of fruit growing in it. In other words, the couple takes time to enjoy each other in a variety of ways, encouraging each other to fully enjoy the pleasures to be found there.
How does this sexual encounter reflect our relationship with Jesus Christ? Really, the same four principals discussed above apply here. First, our relationship with Christ is enhanced by the time we spend engaging with him in prayer and Bible study. If you approach God in a quick, flippant manner, you’ll find that you don’t feel nearly as connected with him as if you took more time to do so. And, the more time you spend, the more time you’ll want to spend!
Second, the focus is on the bride. Now bear with me on this. Sexually speaking (as a generalization), it often takes the wife a bit more time to “get on board” with sexual intimacy. That’s just the way women (as a rule) tend to be wired. Now, we, as the church, are the bride of Christ. I’m not saying that our focus should be on ourselves. What I’m trying to say here is that God has already invested so much time and energy in us, through the creation that He gave us, through the revealing of Himself to us and fostering a relationship with His chosen people, through the incarnation of Himself as one of us (Jesus) in order to live the life we could never live and die the required death in our place, and to defeat death and rise from the dead and take his rightful place back on the throne of heaven. God has invested everything in us and we need to reflect on that and appreciate it. The more we think about those things, the more our love and desire for Him is awakened within us!
Third, there is exclusivity in our relationship with God. He is very clear. We are to have no other gods. He has provided the way of salvation from our sins, but there is only ONE way to be in right relationship with God and that’s through the covenant relationship with His son Jesus – our bridegroom. Marriage, and yes, even sex, are intended to be pictures of our exclusive relationship with our God.
Finally, the more time we spend with God, the more we discover more about Him and what it means to follow Him. Christianity, like sex, was never intended to be boring!