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The Blue Letter Bible

David Guzik :: Study Guide for Song of Songs 4

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The Beauty of Consummated Love

A. The beloved praises the appearance and character of the maiden.

1. (Sgs 4:1-5) The beloved praises the appearance of the maiden.

Behold, you are fair, my love!
Behold, you are fair!
You have dove’s eyes behind your veil.
Your hair is like a flock of goats,
Going down from Mount Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of shorn sheep
Which have come up from the washing,
Every one of which bears twins,
And none is barren among them.
Your lips are like a strand of scarlet,
And your mouth is lovely.
Your temples behind your veil
Are like a piece of pomegranate.
Your neck is like the tower of David,
Built for an armory,
On which hang a thousand bucklers,
All shields of mighty men.
Your two breasts are like two fawns,
Twins of a gazelle,
Which feed among the lilies.

a. Behold, you are fair, my love! Behold you are fair! We may fairly connect this snapshot with the one preceding it, which ended with the wedding procession and ceremony between the maiden and the beloved (Solomon). This section describes the first intimacy of the maiden and the beloved after the wedding, and is given to us almost completely in the words of the beloved, who was preparing his maiden for their first experience of marital intimacy.

i. “It was now the night their courtship would end and their marriage begin. The wedding guests had gone. The evening had come... it was an eloquent silence, the silence of anticipation of love fulfilled.” (Glickman). Now, the beloved groom was the first to speak and when he spoke he praised the beauty of his bride.

ii. As he spoke, it was evident that the beloved was skilled at showing affection to his maiden. The Apostle Paul would later write, Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her (1 Corinthians 7:3). It is wrong for a husband to withhold affection from his wife; and since Paul meant this to apply to every Christian marriage, it shows that every wife has affection due her. Paul didn’t think only the young or pretty or submissive wives were due affection; every wife is due affection because she is a wife of a Christian man. Jesus is affectionate to His own Bride after the same pattern.

b. Behold, you are fair, my love! Behold you are fair! The beloved began not with aggressive or selfish actions, but with tender and confidence building words to his maiden. She had previously doubted her beauty (Song of Solomon 1:5-6); yet he truthfully assured her (doubly so) that she was the most beautiful woman in the world to him.

i. “How sensitive it was of the king to eloquently praise his bride on their wedding night. Even the loveliest girl might feel insecure on this occasion. Yet as always he was sensitive to her and careful to make her secure in his love.” (Glickman)

ii. Charles Spurgeon took this as an analogy of how Jesus speaks to and praises His people: “But to hear Christ turn round upon his Church, and seem to say to her ‘Thou hast praised me, I will praise thee; thou thinkest much of me, I think quite as much of thee; thou usest great expressions to me, I will use just the same to thee. Thou sayest my love is better than wine, so is thine to me; thou tellest me all my garments smell of myrrh, so do thine; thou sayest my word is sweeter than honey to thy lips, so is thine to mine. All that thou canst say of me, I say it teach to thee; I see myself in thy eyes, I can see my own beauty in thee; and whatever belongs to me, belongs to thee. Therefore, O my love, I will sing back the song: thou hast sung it to thy beloved, and I will sing it to my beloved.'” (Spurgeon)

c. You have dove’s eyes behind your veil: The beloved not only gave a general statement of the maiden’s beauty (Behold, you are fair!); he also told her specifically how she was beautiful to him. He did this with poetic language more familiar to her ears than to ours, but clearly wanted her to know how beautiful her eyes were to him.

i. John Trapp wrote of the characteristics of dove’s eyes: “Fair, full, clear, chaste.” Yet as he took the Song of Solomon to be primarily an allegory, he thought that these beautiful eyes belonged to the church, the bride of Christ: “But by ‘eyes’ here we are chiefly to understand pastors and ministers, those ‘seers,’ as they were called of old.” This is another example of the weakness and danger of an overly-allegorical approach to the Song of Solomon.

ii. This is the first of seven physical features that the beloved described and praised in his maiden (eyes, hair, teeth, lips, temples and cheeks, neck, and breasts). “In their culture seven was the number of perfection. So even in the number of compliments he gives, the king tells his bride how perfect she is for him.” (Glickman)

iii. It also evident that the beloved used his powers of observation and description; he was focused upon her and not upon himself. Taken with her beauty at the wedding ceremony, he continued the focus into the beauty. He wisely touched her with his words before he touched her with his hands, assuring her that she was captivating and interesting enough to both carefully observe and describe. The maiden could safely yield to a man who cared for her this much, and this unselfishly.

iv. Behind your veil: The veil was not regular dress for a Jewish woman in Old Testament times. “Normally girls and women wore head-dresses but not veils, except for special occasions. Engagements (Genesis 24:65) and the actual wedding celebration (Genesis 29:23-25) were two of these occasions.” (Carr)

d. Your hair is like a flock of goats: The idea is not that her hair is like the hair of a goat; rather, it is that her hair beautifully flows down her head like a black-haired flock of goats, going down from Mount Gilead. Her hair was long and flowing and seemed to bounce with life.

i. “Most Palestinian goats have long wavy black hair. The movement of a large flock on distant hill makes it appear as if the whole hillside is alive.” (Carr)

e. Your teeth are like a flock of shorn sheep: The idea isn’t that her teeth are wooly; they are like a flock of shorn sheep that all look the same, are clean (come up from the washing), match one another (every one of which bears twins), and are complete (none is barren among them).

i. Matthew Poole understood this primarily as an allegory, and related it to a description of the church: “By the teeth some understand the teachers, which may be compared to teeth, because they prepare, and as it were chew, spiritual food for the people.”

f. Your lips are like a strand of scarlet: The idea is that her lips are thinner rather than fuller (thought to be more attractive in that day), that they are well outlined, and a beautiful deep red color.

i. “The delicate outline of a girl’s features frequently determines her beauty, especially with respect to her lips. It is this delicate form he praises. With a scarlet threat an artist could perfectly shape a woman’s lips.” (Glickman)

g. Your temples behind your veil are like a piece of pomegranate: The word translated “temples” here also includes the cheeks. He saw her temples and cheeks as full of color, flushed with both excitement and beauty.

i. “The term means more broadly ‘the side of the face’ i.e. cheeks.” (Carr)

ii. A piece of pomegranate has the idea of the outside of the fruit, not the inside. “The interior of the pomegranate with its juicy red flesh, hard white seeds and yellowish membranes... sounds like a description of an advanced case of acne.” (Carr)

h. Your neck is like the tower of David: The idea is not that her neck was as long as a tower or proportioned like one. Rather, it speaks of the noble and strong character displayed by her neck, both literally and symbolically. In the ancient world, the neck was one part of the body thought to reflect character. A bent-over neck was a picture of humiliation. A stiff neck was a sign of stubbornness.

i. “The tower of David was a military fortress of the nation. The country depended upon the faithfulness and integrity of that fortress. And it must have been very reassuring to loop upon that awesome stronghold, displaying as it did all the shields of war. The people had a healthy respect for it. Therefore, when the king likens the neck of his bride to the fortress, he is paying her a great compliment. The way she carries herself reflects an integrity and character that breeds a healthy respect from all who see her.” (Glickman)

i. Your two breasts are like two fawns... which feed among the lilies: The idea is that the maiden’s breasts look as innocent and attractive as young deer (fawns); or also perhaps that her breasts are as beautiful as white fields of lilies marked by the color of two fawns.

i. “A baby deer is soft and gentle, and everyone seeing these little deer long to pet them and play with them. Thus, when the king compares her breasts to two fawns, he is really saying that he longs to caress her soft and tender breasts.” (Glickman)

ii. “It may be the nipples especially, which the poet compares to the two young roes; and the lilies may refer to the whiteness of the breasts themselves.” (Clarke) “The lilies being white and swelling, and the roes of a reddish colour, and their bodies being hid from sight by the lilies, their heads only appearing above them, bear some resemblance to the red nipples appearing in the top of the lily white breasts... They are compared to roes for their loveliness, of which see Proverbs 5:19; to young ones for their smallness, which in breasts is a beauty; to twins for their exact likeness.” (Poole)

iii. Many commentators follow Trapp’s hesitancy to think this refers to the actual breasts of an actual woman: “The Church’s breasts here are said to be fair, full, and equally matched. Hereby some understand the two testaments... These breasts are also suitable and equal, as twins.”

iv. “The lover’s metaphors permit a chasteness and a modesty that less poetic speech would preclude.” (Kinlaw)

2. (Sgs 4:6) The beloved longs to consummate his love for the maiden.

Until the day breaks
And the shadows flee away,
I will go my way to the mountain of myrrh
And to the hill of frankincense.

a. Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away: The beloved welcomed the coming of the night, after the celebration of the wedding mentioned in the previous snapshot. Their wedding night was the appropriate setting for the consummation of their deep love.

i. “He will fulfill her request and hence declare that until the light of dawn breaks they will give their love to one another.” (Glickman)

b. I will go my way to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense: Some focus on the mountain and hill imagery in this verse and believe the beloved longed for the embrace of the maiden’s breast. This is possible, but doesn’t explain well the references to myrrh and frankincense. It is perhaps better to see this as a poetic reference to their seclusion, surrounded by the luxury and sensual pleasure of rich scents.

3. (Sgs 4:7-8) The beloved praises the character of the maiden, and tells of his desire to be with her.

You are all fair, my love,
And there is no spot in you.
Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse,
With me from Lebanon.
Look from the top of Amana,
From the top of Senir and Hermon,
From the lions’ dens,
From the mountains of the leopards.

a. You are all fair, my love and there is no spot in you: After giving a seven-fold description of his maiden’s beauty, the beloved summarizes his observations. She was more than fair; she was all fair, and there was no spot in her.

i. No spot in you: “The word is used only eighteen times in the Old Testament... generally in describing the perfect sacrificial animals which were required.” (Carr)

b. Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse: Since the maiden came from the north, the beloved poetically invited her to leave the northern region, to leave her family and her fears (alluded to with lion’s dens and leopards) – and to “come with me.”

i. Before he asked her to pledge the sharing of her virginity, he pledged the sharing of his life. “The ‘come with me’ of our translation is in Hebrew itti (‘with me’) twice repeated, a prepositional phrase used as an invitation! He wants her with him. ‘With me’ sums up his desire.” (Kinlaw)

ii. This is the first time he calls the maiden his spouse, his bride – and then he uses the word repeatedly. According to Kinlaw, it could very well be that the Hebrew word for spouse (bride) comes from the root to complete.

iii. Spouse: “The focus of the word is on the married status of the woman, particularly on the sexual element presupposed in that status as ‘the completed one.'” (Carr)

iv. From the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards: “In asking her to come from such fearful places, he is really asking her to bring her thoughts completely to him and leave her fears behind and perhaps to leave the lingering thoughts of home behind as well... he wished her to leave her fear and anxiety about the new life of marriage and simply come to him... So he calls her from her fears to his arms.” (Glickman)

4. (Sgs 4:9-11) The beloved expresses the depth of his passion for the maiden.

You have ravished my heart,
My sister, my spouse;
You have ravished my heart
With one look of your eyes,
With one link of your necklace.
How fair is your love,
My sister, my spouse!
How much better than wine is your love,
And the scent of your perfumes
Than all spices!
Your lips, O my spouse,
Drip as the honeycomb;
Honey and milk are under your tongue;
And the fragrance of your garments
Is like the fragrance of Lebanon.

a. You have ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse: Here the beloved went beyond praising the maiden’s beauty and even character; he described the effect that she had upon him. With one look of your eyes, he was a changed man and deeply in love with her.

i. You have ravished my heart: ” ‘Thou hast hearted me,’ i.e., taken away my heart.” (Clarke)

ii. Sister: “At last she would become his wife... that is the reason he calls her his sister. In their culture ‘sister’ was an affectionate term for one’s wife.” (Glickman)

iii. “My sister; so he calls her, partly because both he and she had one and the same father, to wit, God... and partly to show the greatness of his love to her, which is such as cannot be sufficiently expressed by any one relation, but must borrow the perfections and affections of all to describe it.” (Poole)

iv. “As if he could not express his near and dear relationship to her by any one term, he employs the two. ‘My sister’ – that is, one by birth, partaker of the same nature. ‘My spouse’ – that is, one in love, joined by sacred ties of affection that never can be snapped. ‘My sister’ by birth, ‘My spouse’ by choice. ‘My sister’ in communion, ‘My spouse’ in absolute union with myself.” (Spurgeon)

b. How fair is your love... How much better than wine is your love! The beloved’s praise of the maiden’s love reminds us that she was not a passive recipient of his love. He initiated the relationship and pursued her; but she responded with beautiful and precious love all her own.

i. How much better than wine is your love: “This same she had said of him in Song of Solomon 1:2. Now he returns it upon her, as is usual among lovers.” (Trapp) Spurgeon applied this principle to the relationship between Jesus and His people: “Now can you believe it? Just what you think of Christ’s love, Christ thinks of yours. You value his love, and you are right in so doing; but I am afraid that still you undervalue it. He even values your love, if I may so speak, he sets a far higher estimate upon it than you do; he thinks very much of little, he estimates it not by its strength, but by its sincerity.” (Spurgeon)

ii. This compliment showed she wasn’t passive in their lovemaking. “He found her not lovely only, but loving; he had made her so, and now takes singular delight and complacency in his own work.” (Trapp)

iii. And the scent of your perfumes than all spices! “The sense of the colon is not that her perfumes are better than any others, but that to her lover even her everyday anointing oils smell better than the most exotic perfumes.” (Carr)

c. Your lips, O my spouse... honey and milk are under your tongue: The beloved described the sweetness of the kisses of the maiden.

i. “Way back then the king tells his bride that honey and milk are under her tongue. But this expression may tell us more than that French kissing was around long before the French.” (Glickman)

d. The fragrance of your garments: The whole scene is intimate and filled with beautiful sights, smells, tastes, and words. We are poetically and tastefully brought to the point of the consummation of their intimacy.

i. “Garments is not the common word for clothing... The salma is the outer garment which served both as a cloak for the day and a cover while sleeping. This latter usage gave rise to the use of the word for a bed-covering... In the context here, some sort of sleep-wear (negligee?) may be implied.” (Carr)

B. The consummation of the love between the maiden and the beloved.

1. (Sgs 4:12-15) The beloved praises the virginity of the maiden.

A garden enclosed
Is my sister, my spouse,
A spring shut up,
A fountain sealed.
Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates
With pleasant fruits,
Fragrant henna with spikenard,
Spikenard and saffron,
Calamus and cinnamon,
With all trees of frankincense,
Myrrh and aloes,
With all the chief spices—
A fountain of gardens,
A well of living waters,
And streams from Lebanon.

a. A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed: With these three images the beloved praised the virginity of his maiden, and did so immediately before receiving the gift of her virginity. Her sexuality had not been given to another; it was like an enclosed garden, a protected spring, a fountain sealed.

i. A garden: “A garden is neither common ground nor ground for the planting of things at random, nor is it ground for mere agricultural purposes, but for the production of something for beauty and pleasure.” (Nee)

· The idea of this garden suggests privacy; the maiden’s sexuality was to be privately expressed.
· The idea of this garden suggests separation; the maiden’s sexuality was to be focused on and set apart to her beloved. “A garden indeed, but she was not a public garden.” (Nee)
· The idea of this garden suggests sacredness; the maiden’s sexuality was something holy, and both she and the beloved were to regard it as such.
· The idea of this garden suggests security; the maiden’s sexuality was to be respected and not violated, even by the beloved – it was only to be expressed in the context of security.

ii. A spring shut up, a fountain sealed: The idea is not that this metaphorical spring or fountain is dried up and useless; rather that it is protected so that its water can only go to its rightful owner. “To ‘seal’ a spring was to enclose it and protect the water for its rightful owner; Hezekiah did this when he had the tunnel dug from the Virgin’s Spring at Gihon to the Pool of Siloam to safeguard Jerusalem’s water supply [2 Kings 20:20].” (Carr)

iii. The beloved therefore recognized the great value of the maiden’s virginity, as she also recognized. Individuals and societies suffer greatly when virginity is no longer valued. It is important for parents, young men, young women, and the church as a whole to value virginity and never treat it as something to be embarrassed of. In addition, the concept of a restored or a “from-now-on” virginity should be promoted and valued.

iv. Seeing the high value of virginity also helps us to understand the Biblical commands against pre-marital sex. It is helpful to refute many myths about pre-marital sex:

· Myth: “The Bible says nothing against premarital sex.” Fact: The high value placed on virginity, seen here and in other passages such as Deuteronomy 22:13-29 shows premarital sex is wrong. But it also clearly found in the passages that speak against the sexual sin known in the New Testament as porneia, and commonly translated “fornication” (1 Corinthians 6:13 and 6:18; Ephesians 5:3 and 5:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3. Porneia broadly refers to all types of sexual activity outside of marriage (including homosexuality); it encompasses practically all sexual behavior outside of that which is practiced between a husband and a wife in the bonds of their marriage.
· Myth: “He wants to have sex with me because he loves me.” Fact: His love for you will be proved by his willingness to wait for marriage. The desire for sex does not prove love in a man. In one survey, 55% of men said “yes” to the following question: “If you could be certain that your wife or girlfriend would never know, would you have sex with any of her friends?” And to the question, “Have you ever had sex with a woman you have actively disliked?” 58% of men said “yes”. You are foolish if you think a boy loves you – or even likes you – because he wants to have sex with you.
· Myth: “My boyfriend is a Christian and loves the Lord. I don’t have to worry about that.” Fact: Christian men face the same challenges as non-Christians when it comes to sexual desires and lusts. They have the ability to overcome those lusts by the power of the Holy Spirit, but it isn’t easy and many who thought they were strong enough have fallen to these sins.
· Myth: “We are going to get married, so it doesn’t matter.” Fact: It does matter. First, you are setting a value on your own sexuality; there is a sense in which a woman then gives her future husband the right to treat her as an object. Second, you are setting a pattern; you are agreeing that in some circumstances, sex outside of marriage is acceptable, and this is something you don’t want in your mind or in the mind of your marriage partner; especially because on of the most important aspects of a long lasting, fulfilling sexual relationship is trust. Third, you are only taking away from the blessing God intends for your sexual relationship when married.
· Myth: “We can be married before God.” Fact: If you were on a desert island without any intuitions of government or society, this might be an argument. But marriage in both the Biblical and cultural sense is being joined together in a public ceremony that is recognized as legal and legitimate by the law and the culture. You aren’t on a desert island.

b. Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates with pleasant fruits, fragrant henna with spikenard...: Since he introduced the metaphor of a garden, the beloved poetically described the value and beauty of the maiden’s sexuality.

i. Some take the metaphor of the garden to be a rather direct reference to the female genitalia. Given the continued metaphorical description of these verses, it is better to see the garden more as a reference to the maiden’s sexuality in general. Of course, this idea is connected to her anatomy, but its concept is less direct.

c. A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters: The images reinforce the idea of richness and abundance. The beloved understood that the maiden’s virginity was not previously spent because it was considered small and insignificant; rather it was protected because it was great and important. Now that her virginity would be properly yielded, its abundant and life-giving character would be seen and experienced.

i. As stated before, the expression of the maiden’s sexuality was to be private, separate, sacred, and secure. Yet the goodness and benefit of such a godly expression of sexuality would benefit her whole person, and that benefit would be public, like a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters.

ii. “Her garden is a paradise of delightful fruits, fragrant flowers, colorful blossoms, towering trees and aromatic spices. She is overwhelmingly beautiful, as refreshing and uplifting as spring flowers and enchanting spices. She was the embodiment of the rich life of spring itself.” (Glickman)

iii. In seeing the goodness and honor and blessing of virginity – of a woman’s sexuality being protected and not trampled upon until it is ready to be properly yielded in marriage – it is almost impossible for those women who have not properly guarded their virginity (or worse yet had it stolen from them) to feel that they can never enjoy this blessing or anything like it. It is true that once entered, this garden can no longer be un-entered. But to extend the garden metaphor, a garden that has been trodden upon and is in disarray can be restored again to health and beauty through wisdom, self-control, effort, and most importantly through the work of the Master Gardener (the one who created the woman’s sexuality). It cannot be un-entered if it already has been, but it can be restored to goodness.

iv. These principles apply equally unto men, who may of course also unwisely forfeit their virginity. Like the woman taken in adultery and brought before Jesus, one can hear the words from their Savior, “Neither do I condemn You” and “Go and sin no more.”

2. (Sgs 4:16) The maiden yields her virginity to her beloved.

Awake, O north wind,
And come, O south!
Blow upon my garden,
That its spices may flow out.
Let my beloved come to his garden
And eat its pleasant fruits.

a. Awake, O north wind, and come O south! Blow upon my garden: Here, for the first and only time in this section, the maiden speaks. First she took the garden imagery introduced by her beloved, and thought of gentle winds releasing and carrying the fragrance of a literal garden. In this she asked both her beloved (and perhaps also her God) to release the beautiful fragrance of her preserved, protected sexuality – now ready to be yielded to her beloved.

i. “As the breezes of spring are the fragrant messengers of a garden sent to lure the outside world within, so now she requests those breezes to blow upon her garden and bring her lover to her... With poetic beauty and propriety she asks her lover to possess her.” (Glickman)

b. Let my beloved come to his garden and eat its pleasant fruits: This is the moment of yielded virginity, where the beloved is invited to enjoy the previously protected and sealed sexuality of the maiden. A line before, the maiden called it “my garden“; now it was his garden. Her virginity, her sexuality, was protected so that it could be fully given to her beloved.

i. “And she calls the garden both hers and his, because of the oneness which is between them... whereby they have a common interest one in another’s person and concerns.” (Poole)

ii. The description is poetic and shy; the experience was deep and moving.

iii. He and he alone has the right to eat the pleasant fruits of her garden; only he can enjoy the pleasure and blessing of the maiden’s sexuality.

iv. Some who take the garden metaphor as a direct reference to female genitalia believe this describes a specific sex act that the beloved performed upon the woman, involving the lips of the beloved and the metaphorical garden of the maiden. This is an unnecessary over-interpretation of this passage, though such acts are entirely permissible for non-coerced, fully consenting married couples under the principle of the honorable and undefiled marriage bed of Hebrews 13:4.

v. Taking these lines as allegorical and applying them to the life of the believer with their Savior, G. Campbell Morgan wrote: “The one overwhelming passion of the loved of the Lord, is to give His heart satisfaction, to provide from Him the precious fruits for which He in love is seeking. That we may do that, we call for the north wind and for the south; for adversity and prosperity; for winter and summer; in order that by their varied ministries, we may become to Him a garden of delights.”

3. (Sgs 5:1a) The beloved receives the offered virginity of the maiden.

I have come to my garden, my sister, my spouse;
I have gathered my myrrh with my spice;
I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey;
I have drunk my wine with my milk.

a. I have come to my garden, my sister, my spouse: The beloved accepted the invitation of his maiden, and had received her virginity as a precious gift. The long anticipated, passionate desires were now rightly and beautifully consummated.

i. “Here, for the first time in the Song, the ‘garden’ is opened and entrance is invited and fulfilled.” (Carr)

ii. “The language used here of love’s consummation is classic in its chasteness, a character possible only through the use of symbolic language.... Metaphor plays the same role here as the veil in the temple. Sinful man needs such to protect the mystery.” (Kinlaw)

b. My garden: In the previous verse the maiden made the transition from “my garden” to “his garden.” Now the beloved received her gift, and made her garden – that is, her sexuality – his own. There was a very real sense in which her sexuality now belonged to him (and his to her).

i. The Apostle Paul reinforced this principle in his first letter to the Corinthians: The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. (1 Corinthians 7:4)

ii. Of course, this principle could never justify a husband abusing or coercing his wife, sexually or otherwise. Paul’s point was that we have a binding obligation to serve our marriage partner with physical affection. It is an awesome obligation: out of the billions of people on the earth, God has chosen one, and one alone, to meet our sexual needs. There is to be no one else.

c. I have gathered my myrrh with my spice... honeycomb... honey... wine... milk: Using the images of luxury and satisfaction, the beloved poetically described how pleasing their experience of intimacy was.

i. “So few couples seem to experience that kind of wedding night. Why is this so? Perhaps one reason is that their courtship does not prepare them for it.” (Glickman)

4. (Sgs 5:1b) The comment from heaven.

Eat, O friends!
Drink, yes, drink deeply,
O beloved ones!

a. Eat, O friends! Drink, yes, drink deeply: There is considerable disagreement among commentators as to who speaks these words. Some believe that the groom left the marriage bedroom and spoke to the remaining guests of the wedding party. Others think of an imaginary chorus, such as the previously mentioned Daughters of Jerusalem. On balance, it is best to see these words as divine; an approving statement from heaven, glorying in the goodness and purity of their love.

i. Adam Clarke describes the idea that this was addressed to guests at the wedding party: “These are generally supposed to be the words of the bridegroom, after he returned from the nuptial chamber, and exhibited those signs of his wife’s purity which the customs of those times required. This being a cause of universal joy, the entertainment is served up; and he invites his companions, and the friends of both parties, to eat and drink abundantly, as there was such a universal cause of rejoicing.” (Clarke)

b. O beloved ones! This was the best of relationships. Not only were the marriage couple deeply in love, but they also were beloved of God. We might say that no one was more pleased over their relationship than God Himself. This was the beginning of a blessed sexual relationship.

i. “He lifts his voice and gives hearty approval to the entire night. He vigorously endorses and affirms the love of this couple. He takes pleasure in what has taken place.” (Glickman)

©2013 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission
[A previous revision of this page can be found here]

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