Poetry – Song of Songs 7:9 – 8:14

[He]
and your mouth like the best wine.
She
May the wine go straight to my beloved,
    flowing gently over lips and teeth.
I belong to my beloved,
    and his desire is for me.
Come, my beloved, let us go to the countryside,
    let us spend the night in the villages.
Let us go early to the vineyards
    to see if the vines have budded,
if their blossoms have opened,
    and if the pomegranates are in bloom—
    there I will give you my love.
The mandrakes send out their fragrance,
    and at our door is every delicacy,
both new and old,
    that I have stored up for you, my beloved.

  • Song of Songs 7:9-13

If only you were to me like a brother,
    who was nursed at my mother’s breasts!
Then, if I found you outside,
    I would kiss you,
    and no one would despise me.
I would lead you
    and bring you to my mother’s house—
    she who has taught me.
I would give you spiced wine to drink,
    the nectar of my pomegranates.
His left arm is under my head
    and his right arm embraces me.
Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you:
    Do not arouse or awaken love
    until it so desires.
Friends
Who is this coming up from the wilderness
    leaning on her beloved?
She
Under the apple tree I roused you;
    there your mother conceived you,
    there she who was in labor gave you birth.
Place me like a seal over your heart,
    like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
    its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
    like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love;
    rivers cannot sweep it away.
If one were to give
    all the wealth of one’s house for love,
    it would be utterly scorned.
Friends
We have a little sister,
    and her breasts are not yet grown.
What shall we do for our sister
    on the day she is spoken for?
If she is a wall,
    we will build towers of silver on her.
If she is a door,
    we will enclose her with panels of cedar.
She
I am a wall,
    and my breasts are like towers.
Thus I have become in his eyes
    like one bringing contentment.
Solomon had a vineyard in Baal Hamon;
    he let out his vineyard to tenants.
Each was to bring for its fruit
    a thousand shekels of silver.
But my own vineyard is mine to give;
    the thousand shekels are for you, Solomon,
    and two hundred are for those who tend its fruit.
He
You who dwell in the gardens
    with friends in attendance,
    let me hear your voice!
She
Come away, my beloved,
    and be like a gazelle
or like a young stag
    on the spice-laden mountains.

  • Song of Songs 8:1-14

Noted Biblical Scholars, Teachers, and Preachers Comments

NOTE from the author:  I am using as one resource a book by Sharon Jaynes, Lovestruck.  She is a writer and for many years a radio cohost of Proverbs 31 Ministries.  She writes from a literal perspective of the love between Solomon and the Shulammite woman.  (She adds an extra “m” in Shulammite and I did not correct that spelling, quoting it as her book states it.)  She writes from a female perspective, so that males could learn by reversing the gender in what she says.  It may be jarring to contrast her approach to that of Rev. Spurgeon who speaks of the male lover being Jesus, and the female lover being each of us as we love Jesus with every fiber of our body, mind, and soul.  Taking the text literally as Ms. Jaynes has done can make the interpretation rather steamy at times, but it is a good lesson for us in keeping the romance going with our spouse.

And remember, this book of the Bible is for mature audiences.

Song of Songs 7:9b-8:4 ‘The Bride Responds to Her Lover’: “The maiden replies to her lover with an invitation to run free in the fields and vineyards, to enjoy the fruit of nature, and to accept her love unashamedly. With modesty and purity she invokes the daughters of Jerusalem not to interfere with the love that the pair now has come to enjoy. They are well able to carry on their own lovemaking.”

  • Eugene E. Carpenter, Asbury Bible Commentary

Song of Songs 7:9-10 ‘To be desirable, desire’: “ ‘Bring it,’ she teased. ‘I’m all yours!’
“Want to make your husband really happy? Nothing turns your man on more than knowing that he has turned you on. Let him know that he still excites you—that his touch still sends shivers down your spine. Then watch him smile. I bet Solomon grinned from ear to ear.
“In verse 10 the Shulammite used the Hebrew word
teshuqah, which is translated ‘desire.’ It occurs only two other times in the Bible, both in Genesis. It can mean ‘sexual desire’ or ‘a desire to control,’ as when God spoke to Eve in Genesis [Gen. 3:16].”

  • Sharon Jaynes, Lovestruck

Song of Songs 7:11-13 ‘needing alone time’: “In chapter 1 Solomon came bounding over the hills, coaxing the Shulammite to come away and enjoy the spring day with him. Now she was coaxing him to steal away to spend some alone time with her. No doubt Solomon had been busy running the kingdom, overseeing his land, and ruling his people. Just like all married couples, they needed to get away for some time by themselves. I can just picture her tugging on his robe and pulling him away from his work.”

  • Sharon Jaynes, Lovestruck

Song of Songs 7:11-12 ‘’: “Notice first that love is the great motive for action in the cause of Christ. All through these verses the spouse acts with reference to her beloved. It is for him that she goes into the field; for the sake of his company and the quiet enjoyment of his love she would lodge in the villages, and all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, which are stored within her gates, she declares to be laid up for her beloved. Love, then, is the fittest and most powerful motive to holy service. ‘The love of Christ compels us’ (2Co 5:14).
“Notice next that love leads us to go afield in the service of Jesus. A loving church spontaneously puts herself in widened service; she has a large heart toward her Lord and longs to see him reign over all mankind. She does not wait to hear, again and again, the Macedonians cry, ‘Cross over to Macedonia and help us!’ (Ac 16:9), but she is prompt in mission enterprise. She does not tarry until she is forced by persecution to go abroad everywhere preaching the Word of God (Ac 8:1) but she sends out her champions far and wide. As sure as she loves her Lord, she asks herself the question, ‘What more can I do for him?’ ”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Song of Songs 8:1-2 ‘be my brother?’: “Back in Solomon’s day husbands and wives weren’t allowed to show public displays of affection, especially kissing. They weren’t even permitted to hold hands or give a quick hug beyond the walls of their home. However, a girl could kiss her brother or father for all the world to see without a hint of judgment. I’m sure the Shulammite didn’t really wish Solomon were her brother, but she certainly did wish that she didn’t have to limit their kisses to the privacy of their own home.”

  • Sharon Jaynes, Lovestruck

Song of Songs 8:5-8:14 ‘The Covenant of Lovers in Marriage’: “This final section shows the lovers in conversation with the brides’s brothers or friends assuring her that they know of her integrity and purity. The bride’s words show the growth and maturity that has come during the courtship. The words of 8:10 are a declaration of her virtuous character and maturity. She and her lover want only the closest bond to keep them committed to each other forever.
The key verse of SS, 8:10, may express something of the same quality and endurance of love as that found in 1Co 13. In my view the original literal intent of SS was to show the splendor of physical love in marriage as Solomon and the Shulammite maiden experienced it. To find applications and analogies of the truth of this interpretation does not do SS an injustice. It should be used more frequently by young Christian lovers in the enhancement of their romance in courtship, all the while preserving themselves in purity for each other until after their marriage. And best of all it is analogous to a believer’s relationship to Christ and of Christ’s to the believer.
Seen in this light the words of Dennis Kinlaw have a great deal of meaning:
It is important to see that the biblical account does not see procreation as the originally primary purpose of sex. Before the forming of the first woman, according to Genesis 2:20, Adam found no ‘suitable helper.’ Thus the primary purpose of women is not procreation. … She is the one in whom her husband finds his completeness. That completeness may involve progeny, but it is far more than this. The ability of the woman to bear children is an intermittent and passing phase of her earthly existence. Her femaleness and her role as marriage partner are far more extensive than this. The complete giving of one partner in a divinely ordered relationship of love to the other results normally in children. This, however, is a bonus. Married love has its own justification in that it is God’s own way of making that higher person, that ‘one flesh,’ which is God’s normal order for His children (p. 644).”

  • Eugene E. Carpenter, Asbury Bible Commentary

Song of Songs 8:6-7 ‘a seal of the covenant’: “The Shulammite asked that he place her like a seal over his heart and on his arm. A seal was an official mark of identification placed on a letter or document. It was created by dripping soft wax on folded paper and imprinting the wax with a stamp. The seal indicated authorship, ownership, authenticity, and protection—and not ownership in a demeaning way but in endearing devotion. The Shulammite longed to be an imprint on Solomon’s heart, a permanent impression. Just as he was like the pouch of myrrh resting between her breasts in chapter 1, she was like a seal that rested over his heart in chapter 8.
“Today, we exchange wedding rings. The ring says to the world, ‘I belong to my husband and he belongs to me … for as long as we both shall live.’ The Shulammite Welcomed that kind of ‘ownership.’ She had given herself to her man, just as he had given himself to her. ‘I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine’ (6:3). This was no passing fancy that could be shrugged off if the feelings wore off. They were committed to each other no matter what. The couple had established their commitment on their wedding day when they made a covenant before God.”

  • Sharon Jaynes, Lovestruck

Song of Songs 8:6 ‘Giving Life for Love’: “This is certainly true of creature love. It is a mighty, all-constraining, irresistible passion. Even the love of friendship occasionally has proved itself to be ‘strong as death.’ ‘No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends’ (Jn 15:13). There have been those who were willing to sacrifice their lives for their friends. Filial affection has sometimes proven to be more than a match for the terrors of the grave. Nor do we lack painful proofs of the converse proposition as it is stated in the next clause of our text. Jealousy has often proved itself ‘as unrelenting as Sheol.’
“The Song of Songs, however, is spiritual, or else it has no claim on our attention—its very inspiration was incredible. We cannot imagine the Holy Spirit giving us this song merely for the purpose of entertaining us with the figures and metaphors of eastern allegory. There must be a deep and hidden meaning in it. It will be fair to say that there are two high spiritual forms of love and jealousy and that our text is lucid in its description of both: first, the love and jealousy of the saints with regard to Christ; and secondly, the love and jealousy of Christ with regard to his saints. The saints have received, by the Holy Spirit, a love of Christ that is ‘strong as death.’ How strong is death? So strong is he, that he has up to now reigned as a universal monarch. Nor will he ever resign his scepter until he comes whose kingdom will have no end. Behold the love of our Lord Jesus Christ! It is as strong as death! It can and it does overcome all adversaries—yes, even death itself.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Song of Songs 8:7 ‘Giving Wealth for Love’: You cannot purchase love. If it is true love, it will not run on rails of gold. Many a marriage would have been a very happy one if there had been a tenth as much love as there was wealth. And sometimes love will come in at the cottage door and make the home bright and blest, when it refuses to recline on the downy pillows of the palace. Rest assured that this is pre-eminently true when we get into higher regions—when we come to think of the love of Jesus, and when we think of that love that springs up in the human heart towards Jesus when the Spirit of God has renewed the heart and shed abroad the love of God within the soul. Neither Christ’s love to us nor our love to him can be purchased. Neither of those could be bartered for gold or rubies or diamonds or the most precious crystal. If someone should offer to give all the substance of his house for either of these forms of love, it would be utterly despised.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Song of Songs 8:8-9 ‘The bride’s brothers’: “The bride’s brothers reminded everyone that they did their brotherly duty of keeping their sister pure before marriage (cf. the brothers of Rebekah in Gen. 24:50-60; Dinah in Gen. 34:13-27; and Tamar in 2 Sam. 13:1-22). The same standard of purity is taught in the NT (cf. 1 Thess. 4:1-8).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Song of Songs 8:8-9 ‘a brother’s protection’: “The brothers remembered when the Shulammite was a young girl whose body had not yet begun to bloom. They may have seemed tough on her by making her work in the fields, but they also made sure that she stayed in a locked—up garden until the time was right. Her purity was secured by their protection, like towers built to protect the city walls. Maybe they were good guys after all. She grew to think so.”

  • Sharon Jaynes, Lovestruck

Song of Songs 8:10-12 ‘’: “Solomon owned the vineyards where the Shulammite and her family worked in earlier days. They were simply tenants. And while she originally thought her stepbrothers harsh for making her work in the scorching sun, she now appreciated how they cared for her in difficult times. ‘And two hundred are for those who tend its fruit,’ she said with a nod toward her stepbrothers. I’ll be honest, I didn’t like those guys very much in the beginning, but now I would love to give them a hug of gratitude.
“As we know, the Shulammite’s body didn’t stay a wall forever. She blossomed into a beautiful woman who captured Solomon’s heart, who brought him contentment and satisfaction as no one else could. While Solomon owned the vineyards her family tended, he did not own her. She gave her vineyard to him willingly and completely. Then he became the one tending her garden, and he enjoyed its delicious fruits until the end of their days.”

  • Sharon Jaynes, Lovestruck

Song of Songs 8:10 ‘wall’: “She reaffirmed that she lived a premarital life of a wall, successfully rebuffing all attempts on her honor. Thus, her husband took great delight and contentment in her moral purity.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Song of Songs 8:11-12 ‘A vineyard in Baal-hamon’: The great husbandman has graciously leased his vineyard out to me, that I may keep it and dress it. He has made it mine tor the time being. I have some ground to till, some plants to tend, some vines to prune. It may not be a very large vineyard, but still, it is mine, and I am accountable for it and must look well to it. It is before me. I am thinking of it. I am caring for it, I am praying about it. This is our resolve—-that our greater Solomon should have the profits and proceeds of his own vineyard. It is ours on lease, but the title is his. He must have a thousand, and we are content with our share of the vintage—joyful and glad that we may have ‘two hundred.’ ”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Song of Songs 8:14 ‘Run away with me’: The Song of Songs describes the love of Jesus Christ to his people, and it ends with an intense desire on the part of the church that the Lord Jesus should come back to her. The last word of the lover to the beloved is, in effect, ‘Speed your return; make haste and come back for me.’ Is it not somewhat singular that, as the last verse of the book of love has this note in it, so the last verses of the whole book of God, which I may also call the book of love, have that same thought in them? At the twentieth verse of the last chapter of Revelation, we read, “He who testifies about these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!’ The song of love and the book of love end in almost the same way—with a strong desire for Christ’s speedy return.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

 

My Thoughts

In the Shulamite’s song, she mentions mandrakes.  It is thought that the mandrake was a phallic symbol of the time, enhancing one’s abilities to procreate in bed, but the mandrake is also hallucinogenic.

In Song of Songs 8:4, we get the final admonition to wait for the right time – after marriage.  Even the conversation between the “brothers” and the Shulamite in Song of Songs 8:8-10 is a remembrance of her brothers protecting her virtue and her confirming her virtue.  But the time for that is passed now that the king and she are married.

The seal is placed on their marriage.

And while Solomon may own many vineyards and the Shulamite’s family may have simply been stewards, Song of Songs 8:12 reminds me of God being the Creator of all things and we only tend to our portion of what is God’s.  The correlations get blurry between Song of Songs being a sensual love story, or a model of how deeply we as individuals should love Jesus, or a pattern of the wedding feast when Jesus marries His bride, the Church.  Some analogies work wonderfully well and some seem to not work for one, but much better for another.  I think all three can be found in the book.

As an individual, I need to seek out Jesus, especially when in a vulnerable situation as if my life depended upon it, which it does.  As a Church, not each individual church, we will be part of that wedding someday.  As a church, lower case, meaning each individual church, if we do not focus on the groom and prepare for the wedding, there may not be a wedding in that church’s future.  And as for the literal meaning, it might get steamy at times, but the love between spouses should be kept warm and a priority in the marriage.

Some Serendipitous Reflections

Song of Songs 7:9-8:14: 1. Take time to think about the degree of exclusiveness in your relationship with the one you love. Do you actively and openly prefer your beloved to all others? Do you work to make yourself preferable? How so? When were you last jealous for the good of your beloved? Ask the Author of love for the gift of single minded love today.
“2. What makes sexual freedom within marriage possible: (a) Time spent ‘being with’? (b) Reassurances from the man? (c) Environmental factors? (d) Internal factors? Explain.
“3. How important is the sizzle factor in friendship that leads to marriage? Even if all other systems indicate ‘Go for it,’ should two friends marry who do not have irresistible physical chemistry? What’s wrong with ‘experimenting’ beforehand to see if the sexual compatibility is there? Would such an experiment ever be valid without a commitment factor secured only in marriage blessed by God?
“4. This story only speaks of the woman saving herself for marriage (8:8-9). Isn’t sexual purity equally incumbent upon men? Why or why not?
“5. How would you compare the Song of Songs in its approach to love, sex, and marriage with the ‘love-boat theology’ of today’s pop culture? If pop culture portrays women as sex objects to be owned, how does this Song counter that? What healthy antidotes to casual sex, emotional insecurity, and self-destructive thinking does this Song offer?
“6. What aspects of this love poem were for you erotic? Which were romantic? Mystic? Why then do you think this Song is in the Bible?
“7. Using the allegorical approach, how is Christ’s love for you like the king’s love for the girl? Where have you experienced his painful, possessive, persevering, and priceless love?
“8. Who would you recommend this book to? Why?”

  • Lyman Coleman, et al, The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups

There is one set of questions for this one and a half chapters.

Note: These questions cover both literal and allegorical interpretations.  And some of the answers may be tough to say out loud in a small group unless you trust each other completely.

Substitute whatever group for any reference to a small group or ask who could come to your aid.

If you like these Thursday morning Bible studies, but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Thursday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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