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The Song of Songs: Chapter 2

The spark is lit. The man and the woman are mutually attracted to each other both outwardly and inwardly. As the love song moves along, we find that they are spending time together and getting to know each other. In our common parlance, we might say that they begin to “date.” Solomon takes her out to dinner at a large, public place. They aren’t embarrassed to be seen together. No secrets. They are pleased and energized to be together. She feels loved and valued: “… his banner over me is love.” (4)

The more time they spend together and the more they get to know each other, the more their passion for each other grows. According to author Tommy Nelson, the fruits in verse five have sexual references. A cake of raisins was considered an aphrodisiac. Nelson also wrote that the other fruit, translated as “apples,” was probably closer to a pomegranate which is red, very juicy, full of seeds and was considered to be very sexual. This makes sense when we read the lines that follow. The woman is “faint with love.” She is feeling the effects of her time spent with him. She goes weak in the knees when he embraces her. (6) Have you noticed that from the outset of the song through chapter three, the woman does most of the talking?

If you had the chance to read the entire love song, then you know that verse seven is important because of its repetition in the book: “Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” Immediately after admitting how sexually attracted she is to the man, she puts the brakes on. She is not saying that sex is wrong, just that they need healthy restraint at this point in their relationship. The entire Song of Solomon celebrates the physical bodies that God has given us with their senses, passions and sexual inclinations. At the same time, it clearly lays out that this is not a free-for-all. There is a time for sex, but it is not now. If I may borrow from the very same author who penned Ecclesiastes: there is a time to give in to passion and a time to restrain, “a time to embrace and a time to refrain.” (Ecclesiastes 3:5) We will see that they do fully give in to their passions after they are married.

They then begin to move from casual “dating” to a serious relationship. Verses eight through ten illustrate how Solomon is still outside the woman’s world. There are barriers between them: he stands outside her wall, he is outside her window and he looks through a lattice. All of these images evoke a strong separation; the couple is getting closer, but they are not yet together. Indeed, we find a seriousness to their growing relationship when we see how much he longs to know her better, to get closer to her, how he is “gazing” and “peering” through the obstacles so that he may better see her world. He wants to be with her. “… show me your face, let me hear your voice.” (14)

They also realize that as they grow closer, problems will arise. You probably have already observed that, in the song, “vineyard” often refers to people, particularly the woman. In verse 15, Solomon used it to represent their relationship. He understood that there were challenges that could ruin their burgeoning love for each other: “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyard, our vineyards that are in bloom.”(*) Notice how he repeats “vineyard” but switches to the plural as if to show her that he wants to include both of them. They are becoming “us.” He doesn’t pretend that problems don’t exist; by doing so, their relationship will be ruined. On the contrary, he wants them to be active in dealing with their problems, “catching them,” working through them together and resolving them fairly. That takes honesty, courage and strength.

Time together, growing passion, working out problems. They become committed to one another: “My lover is mine and I am his…” (16)

Key Verses:
“Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. … My lover is mine and I am his…” ~ Song of Songs 2:7, 16

Questions to ponder:

  • What is the difference between healthy restraint and unhealthy restraint?
  • Solomon depicted a relationship that worked and grew. What would cause you to stop dating someone once you had started going out with him or her? What would be a respectful way to end it?
  • What is the difference between casual dating and a serious relationship?
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