Where does the time go? I’ll get this book study finished sometime soon!
Chapters 6 and 7 are simply a continuing set of memories or “scenes” in which our two married lovers are exchanging compliments and just generally engaging in “verbal foreplay”, if you will. Listen to the way they speak to each other.
4 You are beautiful as Tirzah, my love,
lovely as Jerusalem,
awesome as an army with banners.
5 Turn away your eyes from me,
for they overwhelm me—
Solomon begins by comparing Kallah to those things that he finds exciting and fulfilling to him – the elements of his kingdom. Tirzah was a town in Israel, but the word in Hebrew means “she is my delight”, so the choice of this town was deliberate to convey his delight in his beloved wife. He also focuses on how much her beauty and presence excite him – “turn away your eyes from me, for they overwhelm me” – this is not a request for her to leave, but rather an indication of how much seductive power she holds over him.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
leaping down the slopes of Gilead.
6 Your teeth are like a flock of ewes
that have come up from the washing;
all of them bear twins;
not one among them has lost its young.
7 Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate
behind your veil.
In these verses, Solomon chooses some of the same descriptors that he used in Chapter 4, and that I discussed in this blog post. Kallah is gazing at him and he’s focused right now on her face, telling her how beautiful she is to him. Even though he’s using some of the same compliments that he used earlier, Kallah likely doesn’t mind hearing them repeated, as they assure her of his adoration of her. He continues…
8 There are sixty queens and eighty concubines,
and virgins without number.
9 My dove, my perfect one, is the only one,
the only one of her mother,
pure to her who bore her.
The young women saw her and called her blessed;
the queens and concubines also, and they praised her.
10 “Who is this who looks down like the dawn,
beautiful as the moon, bright as the sun,
awesome as an army with banners?”
This is a somewhat difficult passage. As discussed at the beginning of this study, Solomon was not a man of just one wife. In fact, he had 1000, at least later in life! Some of these were no doubt marriages for political purposes, and we don’t know for certain about his sexual exploits with them, but it kind of goes without saying that his marriage(s) were not according to God’s original intent for marriage (one man, one woman – for life). Solomon’s father (David) had at least eight wives and an unknown number of concubines. Polygamy was common, especially among rulers and heads of clans. I say all of this is to reiterate that proper interpretation of Scripture must be in the context of ALL of scripture. The Song of Solomon is a beautiful set of images on how a husband and wife can express their intimacy with each other, but the broader context of scripture reminds us (as Jesus did in Matthew 19:4-6), “‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.'” It is God’s intention that we not mess with marriage in the way that he originally established it.
Nevertheless, in verses 8-10 above, Solomon describes Kallah as the one who, in his eyes, is above all other women (wives/concubines) and is recognized by these others as the truly special one in the kingdom.
Now Kallah chooses to speak.
11 I went down to the nut orchard
to look at the blossoms of the valley,
to see whether the vines had budded,
whether the pomegranates were in bloom.
12 Before I was aware, my desire set me
among the chariots of my kinsman, a prince.
Kallah, here, is using lots of imagery typically associated with sexual fertility. Nuts, blossoms, budding vines, pomegranates – these all represent sexual thoughts and desires. Kallah is recalling a fantasy in which she begins to think of and desire her husband and thinks of finding Solomon among his chariots to express her love to him.
13 Return, return, O Shulammite,
return, return, that we may look upon you.
The comments here by the “others” is bringing Kallah back to the present presence of her husband. It’s almost as if she was drifting off into her fantasy and she hears someone (perhaps even Solomon) calling her back, asking to gaze at her.
Why should you look upon the Shulammite,
as upon a dance before two armies?
The ESV interpretive team chose to identify the above statement at the end of verse 13 with “HE”, but I’ve chosen to identify it as spoken by “SHE”. Remember, these identifications of the speakers in the Song are not part of the original text and are placed simply as interpretive and reading helps based on the pronouns and genders implied in the original language (Hebrew). The word “you” has a masculine connotation. I think that Kallah is about to tease her husband with a dance wearing very little or nothing. She is effectively saying, with a smirk on her face, “Hey, what are you looking at?” Notice also that she alludes to two armies, which is simply a reference to one of the things that Solomon normally finds very exciting – his power and rulership. She’s saying, “You think your armies are exciting – just wait till you see this!”
1 How beautiful are your feet in sandals,
O noble daughter!
Your rounded thighs are like jewels,
the work of a master hand.
2 Your navel is a rounded bowl
that never lacks mixed wine.
Your belly is a heap of wheat,
encircled with lilies.
3 Your two breasts are like two fawns,
twins of a gazelle.
4 Your neck is like an ivory tower.
Your eyes are pools in Heshbon,
by the gate of Bath-rabbim.
Your nose is like a tower of Lebanon,
which looks toward Damascus.
5 Your head crowns you like Carmel,
and your flowing locks are like purple;
a king is held captive in the tresses.
As Kallah dances, Solomon describes her beauty, again using descriptors similar to the ones he used in Chapter 4. He culminates his admiration with these words.
6 How beautiful and pleasant you are,
O loved one, with all your delights!
7 Your stature is like a palm tree,
and your breasts are like its clusters.
8 I say I will climb the palm tree
and lay hold of its fruit.
Oh may your breasts be like clusters of the vine,
and the scent of your breath like apples,
9 and your mouth like the best wine.
Their flirtation in this scene is done and they have moved into their time of sexual climax with each other. Kallah signifies the afterglow that she feels.
It goes down smoothly for my beloved,
gliding over lips and teeth.
10 I am my beloved’s,
and his desire is for me.
“I am my beloved’s and his desire is for me.” Kallah expresses the mutual feeling of fulfillment and love that is shared between her and her husband!
This set of passages simply illustrates the way that a husband and wife should continue to court and admire each other in their marriage. Sometimes we can get so comfortable with one another that we forget the fun and power of compliments, playfulness and teasing, and visual admiration of each other. Take some time to get creative and have some fun!
As in our marriages, sometimes we can get stuck in a rut in our relationship with our Creator. We may tend to look at the Bible as a bunch of rules or as being boring. We may get tired of church or feel a lack of connection with other Christians. Yes, all these things might happen, but sometimes we need to just step back and remember what Kallah said at the end of today’s passage – “I am my beloved’s and his desire is for me.” God loves us and wants to be in relationship with us. Take time to set aside whatever other thoughts and feelings you have and simply reflect on that statement – “I am my beloved’s and his desire is for me.” Thank God for His love for you. Think about his glorious attributes. He’s the Creator of everything, and yet He knows who you are. He loves you and He came to Earth and DIED for you to meet the death requirement for your sin. AND, He rose from the dead to prove to you that you can trust Him and rely on Him to bring you into eternal dwelling with Him if you’ll only let Him. That is something worth celebrating. That is something worth dancing for. That is something worth telling Him how much you love Him!