Song of Solomon 2
1"I am the rose of Sharon,
The lily of the valleys."
Solomon has treated her so wonderfully and made her feel that she is so special that she thinks that she is the most precious of all that is precious. She is in ecstasy thinking about this relationship. He has made her feel so confident and beautiful in herself, not worrying any longer about her darkened skin.
2"Like a lily among the thorns,
So is my darling among the maidens."
Solomon believes that, compared to the beauty of this woman, all other woman are like thorns when compared to a lily. She far surpasses them all to the extent that he hardly notices any other women. He is so enraptured with this one woman, believing that he has the best and most beautiful among maidens. This incredible physical attraction is healthy and normal in a romantic relationship.
3"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.
As an apple tree stands out among trees of the forest, so too does Solomon stand out to the Shulammite. There are many men out there, but she believes that her beloved is the best. She metaphorically sat down in the shade of his tree and tasted of his fruit. The fruit (nonsexual romantic touching and affection such as kissing and stroking) was sweet and delightful. She is giving over her heart to him, feeling safe, cared for, and protected in his love (the shade of the tree).
4"He has brought me to his banquet hall,
And his banner over me is love.
Like a banner on a wall or a public proclamation, the king makes it clear to all that he delights in this woman. He publicly flatters her, making it clear that she is his. He is beginning to introduce her as his beloved, making the likely prospects of marriage clear to others.
5"Sustain me with raisin cakes,
Refresh me with apples,
Because I am lovesick.
6"Let his left hand be under my head
And his right hand embrace me."
Now the woman begins to let her mind and heart run away on her. She has given her heart to this man, and she begins to wish for being in his presence more often and more fully. There is romantic love and an enrapturing with the closeness that they do have. Yet she is getting ahead of herself, wishing for sexual intimacy or at the very least, an extreme intimacy which would certainly arouse and awaken sexual desire. She wants to be as close as humanly possible, embraced from top to bottom, left hand under her head and right hand embracing her, an obviously very intimate and enticing position, if not outright sexual. Yet this is not right until after marriage. Clearly she is taken with this man, and she needs to reign in her desires until they marry.
7"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."
A major theme of the book begins here by saying that sexual love must not be awakened at all costs until it pleases, which is only after marriage. Sexual love completes the romantic bond; it is the climax. If it happens before the marriage commitment, it will lead to a loss of true romance, confusion, mistrust, and a general awkwardness and loss of joy. It can really mess things up and confuse the situation, and it only finds it proper place and fulfillment in marriage. Prior to marriage, nothing should be done that stirs up or rouses the sexual desire. Awakening love could mean simply having sex for the first time, at which point one is said to be sexually awakened, or it could mean that nothing should be done physically to get the sexual desire flowing. I believe the command to not awaken love until is pleases encompasses both. Certainly, sex before marriage is forbidden in the Scripture (Matthew 15:19), but why would God want us to even stimulate sexual desire when sex isn’t Biblically permitted? Isn’t such foolishness, leading only to sin, temptation, and disappointment? General affection (stroking an arm, playing with hair, holding hands, a quick kiss goodnight, etc.) is typically not going to be a problem as far as prematurely stoking the sexual fire whereas passionate kissing or “heavy petting,” as it is referred to, probably will be problematic. Yet God must show us each by His Spirit where we should draw the line. In addition to touching, other things could arouse the sexual desire, such as the words we say or write to one another. Solomon has been very careful to tell this young girl that she is beautiful, but he does not speak of liking her sexual features until after they are married. The looks we give could be a nonverbal kind of sexual “talking.” We need to exercise self-control in how we use our body, eyes, gestures, and facial expressions so that we don’t intentionally or unintentionally cause sexual excitement to others outside of marriage. Certainly, any kind of pornography or vicarious living through a romance novel would also be inappropriate. Much dancing that is done today is highly sexual and intentionally so. The message for the Christian seeking to be married is to avoid any activity that gets the mind focused and preoccupied with sex. Any activity, thought, word, or experience which gets one excited toward the sexual experience must not be indulged in until the marriage night. Too many lose their purity because of a compromise in this area. Some justify certain sexual activities before marriage. Scripture is clear that anything that arouses or awakens sexual desire is wrong. General affection and romantic speech is good and healthy, but anything sexual or stimulating is not acceptable until after marriage. Done God’s way, the Christian who heeds God’s principles can have the best romance, honeymoon, and marriage imaginable.
8"Listen! My beloved!
Behold, he is coming,
Climbing on the mountains,
Leaping on the hills!
9"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.
She is now constantly thinking about her beloved and being with him. If the sexual experience had been done before marriage, then thoughts would be of sex, and romance would be lost. The climax would not be built as it should. Now, she has great ecstasy every day as she longs for her beloved. One day he comes to her dwelling place to find her and take her on a romantic date.
10"My beloved responded and said to me,
'Arise, my darling, my beautiful one,
And come along.
Again Solomon emphasizes, almost without even thinking, the beauty of this woman and the fact that she is his darling. He wants her to come with him for a special outing.
11'For behold, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
12'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.
13'The fig tree has ripened its figs,
And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance.
Winter is over, the fig trees are ripening, the rainy season is over, the flowers are out, and the growing season is in full swing. Spring is afoot, and the sights and smells are wonderful to be outside and enjoying.
Arise, my darling, my beautiful one,
And come along!'"
He wants her to come with him and enjoy the beauty. He wants to enjoy the beauty of creation with his darling, his beautiful one. “Darling” is an important word because it shows that his mind is of a singular focus. He is consumed and enraptured with her and no one else. Her beauty, when it comes to women, is the only beauty that he cares to notice. He loves and adores her so much that he continues to draw her after him, which is what she wished for back in chapter one. Notice that he doesn’t stop the drawing just because she is now caught up with him. He keeps romancing her, building the climax even more and more, not that it was a strain to do so. Yet they must be careful that they don’t break down and sin, given the extremely strong desires they have for one another.
14"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."
Up to this point, their interaction had been predominantly if not totally in the presence of others. Now they are alone with one another. They find a beautiful scene, and they linger there. He calls her his dove, a term of beauty and endearment. They have found their own little special place amongst the clefts of the rocks that no one else knows about. It is their secret place where they can be alone. This is healthy for romance, and it is wonderful to be alone like this, enjoying one another. Solomon wants to sit back and enjoy her beauty. He is now taking in her entire form, calling it lovely. This gazing upon her beauty can be perfectly healthy and natural. For Solomon, it was love, not lust. We should remember, also, that their clothing was loose and flowing, not revealing and enticing like much western dress today. He is just appreciating his beloved, and he even wants to hear her voice. Perhaps he asked her to sing, or perhaps they just spoke to one another. The point is that he is enraptured by everything about her: form, voice, eyes, cheeks, etc.
15"Catch the foxes for us,
The little foxes that are ruining the vineyards,
While our vineyards are in blossom."
Being in a place all by themselves with no accountability, “little foxes” could come and tempt these lovers to do wrong. Their vineyards are in blossom, meaning that their feelings toward one another are strong and intense. Yet, just as a fox ruins a vineyard, so too can sin ruin what they have. They must guard their hearts, so when temptation comes, they resist it. If they find that they are in a compromising situation or finding it hard to control their passions, they must make some decisions to keep from putting themselves in a place of danger. But to say that a couple can never be alone is not backed by Scripture. These were two young people who fell in love of their own accord and who decided to pursue one another in love. It was not arranged or dictated by some authority figure. This was their choice, and they were going to have to live with the consequences of their decisions, good or bad.
16"My beloved is mine, and I am his;
He pastures his flock among the lilies.
17"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."
As the relationship progresses, we learn that the woman is thinking about being with Solomon all day long. Being apart from him is downright difficult. The woman knows that she is his, and he is hers. This is going to end in marriage, probably sooner rather than later. The feelings that they have for one another cannot be bottled up for long. She wants him to run to her so that they can be together. When love is this intense and deep, it is awful to be apart from one another, and the feeling lingers from first light to the “cool of the day when the shadows flee away.”