We’re slowly working our way through Song of Songs, a poem describing six scenes in the lives of two lovers (Solomon and the Shulammite woman). Scene one (1:1-3:5) was their courtship (part a, part b). Scene two was Wedding day glory (3:6-11). We’re now reading for Wedding Night Bliss (4:1-5:1).
Remember that Song of Songs is a story, and you can see it unfolding in front of you. “How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes behind your veil are doves.” (4:1). Now he’s said that before – do you remember (1:15)? But now he goes further. Now he’s married, he enjoys more of her than he enjoyed before. So he doesn’t just describe her eyes, he describes her hair. As you go through the verses, you can see Solomon in your mind’s eye, studying her face, being intimate in a way he’s not been before. “Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn, coming up from the washing. Each has its twin; not one of them is alone.” Try saying, “Hey girl, you’ve got all your teeth left – great!”
“Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon; your mouth is lovely.” Do you see his eyes moving around? “Your temples behind your veil are like the halves of a pomegranate.” He’s on his way down from her face now: “Your neck is like the tower of David”. She doesn’t look like a giraffe, but she is elegant. “Your two breasts are like two fawns,” he’s moving to parts of the body that he wouldn’t look at before. And that’s as far as he gets. The excitement of that is too much for him, I think – he doesn’t go any further.
But notice he’s not enraptured by verse 5 (her breasts) first. Although he stops there, he doesn’t start there. He enjoys her. We’ve already seen that he wants her to speak, he wants to see her face.
Then we come to verse six, which again should sound familiar. “Until the day breaks
and the shadows flee,” but this time he’s not going to the rugged mountains (2:17), to the place where men are and ladies can’t get to. He’s going to the mountain of myrrh, the hill of incense. Not the rugged mountain, but the love mountain.
He thinks she is beautiful (4:7), and he wants to be alone with her (4:8). She’s stolen his heart (4:9). More than anything else he wants to be with her (4:10).
Only with consent
Now look at verse 12. “You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain.” She’s his, and his alone. A garden locked up, for him. A spring enclosed, for him. She shows faithfulness before marriage, and faithfulness within marriage.
So in verses 13 through to 15, Solomon imagines all that is there. He pictures this wonderful garden, all the exotic fruit. The finest spices – that’s what he’s going to find in his garden. That’s what she is to him.
But look at verse 16. Now the woman speaks. “Awake, north wind, and come, south wind! Blow on my garden, that its fragrance may spread abroad. Let my lover come into his garden and taste its choice fruits.” Now they’re not two different gardens, are they? It’s not that she’s over there in one garden, and he’s over here in another garden. Not at all! Her garden has become his garden. And he doesn’t go in, until she invites him. This is consensual.
So Solomon takes up the invitation (5:1). “I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice. I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey; I have drunk my wine and my milk.” He takes what she offers. And in the physical side of any relationship, you need to be invited in. Don’t force yourself into the garden, that will never, never do. Don’t try and push and persuade, it’s so much better to be invited. See how happy Solomon is!
To know real, consensual love within the marriage bonds is a glorious blessing from God, as each partners gives himself to the other, and is satisfied in the other. How tacky and fake is the love that is sung of in popular music and portrayed on the big screen. How inferior. How shallow.
How gracious of God to give so many this amazing love. And, even more incredibly, how gracious that he not only gives many of us partners, but that He Himself loves us and gave Himself for us. The love of Solomon and the Shulammite woman was special – but it pales into comparison when viewed in the light of the cross.