Song of Solomon 4
1"How beautiful you are, my darling,
How beautiful you are!
Your eyes are like doves behind your veil;
Your hair is like a flock of goats
That have descended from MountGilead.
Only now after the marriage vow has been publicly declared before God does Solomon begin to compliment the sexual features of his beloved, soon to be lover. Starting at the top of her body, he expresses how much he adores each part as he moves downward. He compliments her beauty, her eyes (even though she still has a veil), and her hair in imagery that she would have appreciated.
2"Your teeth are like a flock of newly shorn ewes
Which have come up from their washing,
All of which bear twins,
And not one among them has lost her young.
3"Your lips are like a scarlet thread,
And your mouth is lovely
Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate
Behind your veil.
4"Your neck is like the tower of David,
Built with rows of stones
On which are hung a thousand shields,
All the round shields of the mighty men.
Continuing downward, he compliments her teeth as being perfect and complete. He compliments her lips, her mouth, and her temples. He compliments her neck which is adorned with flattering jewelry.
I think it is important that the veil at least symbolizes their purity up to this point. Even at this point, their time of consummation, he still works to romance her, thereby building the climax to its peak.
5"Your two breasts are like two fawns,
Twins of a gazelle
Which feed among the lilies.
6"Until the cool of the day
When the shadows flee away,
I will go my way to the mountain of myrrh
And to the hill of frankincense.
Up to this point, he had appreciated her form, but he had not indulged his mind about her sexual features. Now he directly compliments her about her breasts. He says that he will appreciate her beautiful breasts until the nighttime when the shadows flee away. She doesn’t think that his speech about and adoration for her breasts is silly or weird. She appreciates the compliment, delights in his delight, and is even turned on by this further romantic speech.
7"You are altogether beautiful, my darling,
And there is no blemish in you.
From Solomon’s vantage point, he sees his lover as altogether beautiful. He explains to her that she has no blemish. Women tend to get very much caught up with “physical defects” and “blemishes.” He gives her the ultimate romantic words by saying that she is physically perfect from top to bottom. Interestingly, she did have at least one “blemish,” given that her skin was dark and burned. Yet Solomon either wasn’t bothered by it because he liked it, or more likely, he saw beyond it. (It is true that sometimes what women see as blemishes a particular man might see as perfect.) Regardless, he really believed to the depth of his heart that she was the most beautiful woman on earth.
8"Come with me from Lebanon, my bride,
May you come with me from Lebanon
Journey down from the summit of Amana,
From the summit of Senir and Hermon,
From the dens of lions,
From the mountains of leopards.
Having gone the way of the hill of frankincense and the mountain of myrrh (i.e. her breasts in v. 6), Solomon continues by journeying back down from her breasts. He asks her to continue to draw her attention to other aspects of her beauty.
9"You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride;
You have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes,
With a single strand of your necklace.
Solomon is getting more and more excited as I am sure she is also. His heart rate is increasing just by looking at his bride. Just a single glance from her eyes is enough to get him excited. It is now time for the nonverbal communication to arouse and awaken love, as will naturally happen in this context. Even just looking at a part of her necklace is enough to suffice in getting his heart rate up. The necklace itself isn’t, of course, what is exciting him, but it is that it is highlighting her beauty because it is her necklace on her body.
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 all kinds of spices!
Here they start making love to one another as Solomon compliments not her beauty, but the beauty of her love. Her love is better than the taste of wine, and the fragrance of the oils that she has put on are better than the best flavorings and spices. This was his way of telling her that nothing compared with her love and her smell. The issue was that both her love and her smell were hers, and this was what he wanted. Pleasant smells can enhance and supplement intimacy whereas negative odors definitely can detract. It is a loving thing to take care to how we present ourselves when engaging in sexual intimacy.
11"Your lips, my bride, drip honey;
Honey and milk are under your tongue,
And the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
He really seems to like how she smells. Even her garments bring a pleasant fragrance to him. He really enjoys kissing her and enjoying the sweet “taste” of her mouth. It is a good thing to affirm to one’s lover that the physical experience is enjoyable, though too many words can disrupt closeness and connectedness.
12"A garden locked is my sister, my bride,
A rock garden locked, a spring sealed up.
13"Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates
With choice fruits, henna with nard plants,
14Nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon,
With all the trees of frankincense,
Myrrh and aloes, along with all the finest spices.
15"You are a garden spring,
A well of fresh water,
And streams flowing from Lebanon."
His bride is a virgin, symbolized by a locked garden and a well of fresh water. There was great wonder, pleasure, and beauty to be had in entering her “garden.” Spices were rare, luxurious, and of immense value in this time, and Solomon compared the intimacy he desired with his bride to the best of the best things that he could reference.
16"Awake, O north wind,
And come, wind of the south;
Make my garden breathe out fragrance,
Let its spices be wafted abroad
May my beloved come into his garden
And eat its choice fruits!"
It is clear that Solomon is excited about becoming one with his wife, and this passage indicates that she is just as excited. She wants the experience to be pleasurable to him, she wants the closeness to him, and she wants to consummate the marriage. This is when love pleases. Solomon did all that he could to awaken the sexual passions with his words, affection, and passionate kisses of his mouth (v. 11). She did all that she could to awaken his desire by taking care of her appearance and presentation (pleasant odors, beautiful garments and jewelry, availing herself, etc.). She did give him a look of desire, and we can assume that her nonverbal communication back to him as he was romancing her indicated delight, love, and pleasure. But she didn’t have to play the seductress (her beauty, smell, glances, and appearance was sufficient) or do some degrading dance. He loved her as she was, and he wanted to come and enjoy her. Now it was time to become one. We should note that there is no mention of a lot of the sexual perversions and lusts that are spoken of in our time (anal sex, oral sex, the need for sex toys, etc.). I believe that the Holy Spirit is telling us what is best, right, noble, and good, and He is leaving no mistake about it by being very clear. Sex is meant for pleasure, for reproduction, for intimacy, and to establish and maintain oneness in marriage. If desire is based in some act or tool, then true intimacy and oneness is compromised. That the other is our object of desire, attraction, and arousal is essential and foundational to proper Biblical sexual expression and enjoyment.