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The Song of Songs: Chapter 4

Up until chapter four, the woman has done most of the talking in Solomon’s literary discourse. Noticeably, the speaker now switches to him; this is his longest passage of dialogue.

This chapter immediately follows the joyful wedding celebration. The veil he describes at the beginning of chapter four is very likely the woman’s bridal veil. She is behind her veil while he is looking at her. The progression of imagery in the passage is, first, behind the veil, followed by a locked garden, then, a sealed fountain and, finally, he enters her garden to enjoy its many “choice fruits.”(16) In that context, the passage seems to be describing sex on their wedding night.

The man begins by poetically painting a portrait of his wife from behind her veil. It is possible that the woman was shy (2:14). He gently describes her, begins from the top of her head and moves downward. The language in these verses moves slowly and gracefully. He lingers on the description of her mouth, her teeth and lips, suggesting a kiss. He sees her teeth; so perhaps she is smiling. As the passage moves forward, that kiss seems to become more passionate as he describes her mouth and tongue as tasting sweetly delicious. (11)

The Amplified Bible translates “your temples” as “your cheeks” (3); perhaps, the woman is feeling the arousal of the moment, and her cheeks turn red. Or maybe she is blushing; he is still describing her behind her veil. He is acting very tenderly toward her. He is most definitely complimenting her beauty; all the descriptions portray her as lovely. Compare this beautiful passage to the one in chapter one when she is self-conscious about her appearance.

He moves on slowly to describe her. His tenderness and gentleness toward her continue when he describes her body. The veil is now gone, and they seem to have disrobed. The man’s comparison to fawns continues to convey gentleness. Note that a gazelle is a sleek, beautiful animal, rare in the Middle East and, therefore, highly valued. It is lean, youthful in its appearance, and easily startled or frightened. How much more is the fawn of the gazelle?

According to verse 6, they appear to be intimate all night. This is the point in the passage where the language seems to speed up. Solomon evokes every sense in the body, touching, tasting, smelling, hearing and seeing. They all come together in a burst of sensation. Then, the woman’s fountain is no longer sealed.

The couple expresses their mutual pleasure in verse 16 and at the beginning of the next chapter, 5:1. Here, we clearly see that they have had intercourse. They waited and, after the wedding, experienced the full passion of their love. And this is just the beginning.

Key Verse:
“How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume than any spice!” ~ Song of Songs 4:10

Questions to ponder:

  • How many references to the five senses does Solomon make in this chapter? How does that compare to all three previous chapters combined?
  • What issues about sex do you find difficult to talk about with your loved one?
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