Over the past few days we’ve been looking at Song of Songs. In the introduction I explained there were six scenes in the song, and we have started to go through the first scene. I described this first scene as wooing, waiting and winning which describes the Shulammite woman and her quest to win Solomon’s heart. Last time around we left them on their first date, lying in the verdant grass, staring up at the fir trees above them.
2:1-2: And what does this do for the woman? It fills her with confidence: She was “darkened by the sun”, but now she is “a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys”. Men, we have a real responsibility for our girls. Because Solomon has accepted her for who she is, she has confidence in herself. And it gets better, because Solomon disagrees with her. You’re not a lily, he says to her. You’re the lily, “a lily among thorns”. Not very fair on the groupies, but he wants her to be confident that it’s only her. Even on this first date, and this very early stage, he wants her to know that she’s the only one for him. Remember: if your girl or boy is only a lily among lilies – then don’t go out together. Wait. A lily among thorns – that’s the right time.
2:3-5: Now the Shulammite speaks at length. We could call this section “What women want”, and the biblical version is much better than the Hollywood one. “I delight to sit in his shade”. Girls, do you like to do that? Perhaps you’ve got a real battle here, because you don’t really like being in the shade sometimes, you want to be in charge – and this is all part of the problem going back to the fall. But God has designed women to sit in the shade – not in the sense that men dominate, but in the sense that her man is to protect her from the harsh desert sun. He provides for her (“He has taken me to the banquet hall”), loves her (v4), he strengthens her (v5), he gives her support and care (v6). That’s what women want! At least, that’s what godly women want, isn’t it? Protection, provision, love, support, care. So if you’re looking for a girlfriend, that’s what you should be looking to offer. If you’re looking for a boyfriend, you should be looking for someone to give you that.
2:6-7: Perhaps for the first time, Solomon embraces her (“His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me.”) Her knees go weak, her heart starts beating, and she’s got to pull herself back down to earth! Be careful, she says to herself, “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” Be careful of touch. Don’t go too far. Take your time, she says.
2:8-13: Still the Shulammite speaks, but the scene has changed. The first date is over, now she is at home. Her lover comes there for here, letting nothing get in his way (“leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills”), and invites her out of the house to join him (“here he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattice. My lover spoke and said to me, ‘Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me.'”). You know in those cheesy romantic films, whenever the lovers are together the flowers are blooming, the birds are singing and the sun is up. It’s like that in Song of Songs, too: “the winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come.” Love is in bloom!
2:14-15: Solomon explains what he wants from this next date. He wants to see her face, he wants to hear her voice. Men, take note! We’re to be trees so that our girl can sit in our shade (2:3), but we’re not to dominate. We must delight to hear her, not the sound of our own voice. We’re not to oppress. If when you’re together, it’s only you speaking all the time, and you’re not interested in what she’s got to say, there’s something wrong with your relationship. But he wants more: “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” What on earth does that mean? He’s asking her to deal with the little problems that could come and spoil their relationship and their love. It is the little things often, isn’t it? It’s the toilet seat not being closed, the bath not being cleaned. I know a very well-known evangelical preacher who has a separate tube of toothpaste than his wife, because they just couldn’t tolerate the way each other used to squeeze the tube! But deal with the little things, Solomon says. Why does Solomon ask his lover to do this? Two reasons. First, because (speaking generally, of course!) women are often not very good at dealing with the little things. Something happens and you get upset, but you don’t say anything! We know there’s something wrong, but we don’t know what. So we ask what the matter is, and then we’re in trouble for not knowing what we’re supposed to have done, so then we try and guess what the problem is, and we guess wrong, and then you get upset about those things as well! So girls, “catch for us the little foxes”. Deal with the little problems, because very often we don’t see the little things.
2:16-17: Now the Shulammite speaks again: “My lover is mine and I am his”. Do you see the total acceptance? They’re still courting, they’re not married, but they belong to one another. Is that how you view your boyfriend or girlfriend – that you belong to him or her? “He browses among the lilies”, but look at the next verse, “Until the day breaks and the shadows flee. Turn, my lover, and be like a gazelle or like a young stag on the rugged hills.” Do you see what she’s saying? Turn! Go back! He cannot be with her at the moment – he must be away, on the rugged hills until the day breaks. It’s got late. She’d long to be with him, but she can’t. Until the morning comes, he must be absent, back where he came from (2:8).
3:1-5: So, Solomon has gone away because it’s night, and they shouldn’t be together then. The woman is therefore left “All night long on my bed”, and on her bed “I looked for him but did not find him”. She’s longing for her man. He’s not in her bed, and she’s really missing him. All lovers who wait will find this. So what does this desire drive her to do? It doesn’t drive her to go and grab him and put him in her bed, does it? It doesn’t encourage her to go and get into his bed. It does encourage her to go and find him: “I will search for the one my heart loves”. Eventually, “I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go.” What does she do with him? She doesn’t take him to her bed, she doesn’t go to his bed, but she takes him to her mother. Why would you take your girl home to see her parents? Well, the very next verse is their wedding day – that’s why he’s taken her home, to ask for her hand in marriage! That’s what she wants! And why does she know she wants it? Because she’s been without him, because she’s missed him, because she’s waited and as she’s lying alone on her bed her heart cries out ‘I must have him’, but in doing so she reminds herself again, “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” Wait for the wedding day!