- Song of Songs - Interpretative Approach
- Song of Songs - The Speakers
- Song of Songs - The Timing
- Song of Songs - An Outline
- Song of Songs - Subtitles
- Song of Songs - The Language
- Song of Songs - Key Images and Key Words
- Song of Songs - The Setting
- Song of Songs - The Hebrew Language
- Song of Songs 1 Commentary
- Song of Songs 2 Commentary
- Song of Songs 3 Commentary
- Song of Songs 4 Commentary
- Song of Songs 5 Commentary
- Song of Songs 6 Commentary
- Song of Songs 7 Commentary
- Song of Songs 8 Commentary
SONG OF SOLOMON 8
Adam Clarke -
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Century Bible Commentary -
Thomas Constable - well done
Gene Getz short videos (3-12 minutes) -
Net Bible Notes synchronized with Thomas Constable's notes
Ellicott's Commentary -
H A Ironside
Keil and Delitzsch - not always literal
Lange - Comments by verse at top of page literal. Doctrinal section at bottom is allegorical.
Reformation Study Bible Notes
Rob Salvato Sermon Notes
Third Millennium - relatively detailed comments
Bob Utley - brief but insightful comments on Hebrew words and phrases
Steve Zeisler - sermon notes
|Shulammite (young woman)...
Song 8:1 "Oh that you were like a brother to me who nursed at my mother's breasts. If I found you outdoors, I would kiss you; No one would despise me, either.
2 "I would lead you and bring you Into the house of my mother, who used to instruct me; I would give you spiced wine to drink from the juice of my pomegranates.
3 "Let his left hand be under my head, And his right hand embrace me."
Solomon (young man)...
GROWING DESIRE FOR
NET - Oh, how I wish you were my little brother, nursing at my mother's breasts; if I saw you outside, I could kiss you– surely no one would despise me!
NLT - Oh, I wish you were my brother, who nursed at my mother's breasts. Then I could kiss you no matter who was watching, and no one would criticize me.
NET Note - Song 8:1–2 may be classified as a “a lover’s wish song” that is similar in content and structure to an ancient Egyptian love song in which the lover longs for greater intimacy with his beloved....the Beloved hyperbolically wished that she and Solomon were children from the same family so she could kiss him anytime she wished without fear of punishment or censure. (NET Notes on Song 8)
Like a brother - She is not saying she wished Solomon were her brother (she is not espousing incest)! The point is that public displays of affection were frowned upon between spouses but not necessarily between family members.
NET Note on Oh that you were - The imperfect יִתֶּנְךָ (yittenka) may denote a desire or wish of the subject, e.g., Gen 24:58; Exod 21:36; 1 Sam 21:10 (IBHS 509 §31.4h). The optative particle מִי (mi) with an imperfect expresses an unreal wish, e.g., Judg 9:29; 2 Sam 15:4; Mal 1:10. The construction יִתֶּנְךָ מִי (mi yittenka) is an idiom expressing an unreal wish in the optative mood (HALOT 575 s.v. מִי), e.g., “Would that it were evening…Would that it were morning!” (KJV) or “If only it were evening…If only it were morning!” (NIV) (Deut 28:67); “Oh that I knew where I might find him” (KJV, NASB, NJPS), “I wish I had known,” “If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling!” (NIV) (Job 23:3); (NET Notes on Song 8)
MacArthur explains like a brother - This way she could have publicly bestowed her affection without embarrassment. (MacArthur Study Bible)
Kinlaw - She would like the liberty in public that the brother and sister in that day had. So she wishes she could freely kiss him in public.
NET Note: Song 8:1–2 may be classified as a “a lover’s wish song” that is similar in content and structure to an ancient Egyptian love song in which the lover longs for greater intimacy with his beloved
Carr - O that (NEB, NIV If only; JB Ah, why … not) introduces a hypothetical wish directed to her lover, continuing into v. 2. She is not wishing that they were literally brother and sister, but that they had the freedom of public expression of their love. What was not in good taste even for husband and wife was perfectly permissible between brother and sister. (The Song of Solomon - Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries)
POSB - How to Keep the Marriage Fires Burning: Be active—not passive—in your affections. The Shulamite wanted the world to know that she was in love with her husband, and that her husband was well taken care of and satisfied. She did not want other women to get any ideas about her husband. She wanted to show affection to her husband whenever and wherever she felt like it—not just when they were alone. And she intended to do everything she possibly could to protect her marriage....We should be active in expressing our affection and desires to our spouses. We need to demonstrate genuine interest and make ongoing efforts to keep our marriages exciting. We can do so by showing special attention and by saying and doing things to entice and stimulate our spouses. The best way we can protect our marriages is to be proactive. As husbands and wives, we must be alert to the fact that different times in life bring different temptations. The mid-life crisis is not a myth. For many, it is a very real experience in life. The sexual desires of a woman peak at about the same time in life that a man feels his best years are behind him. This is a dangerous combination. Wives need to continually let their husbands know they are attracted to and excited by them, and husbands must continually shower affection upon their wives. The objective, of course, in addition to demonstrating genuine love and devotion, is to keep him or her so satisfied, so happy, so secure, that there is never a temptation to stray. (Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible- Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon)
Shulammite (young woman)...
NET - I would lead you and bring you to my mother's house, the one who taught me. I would give you spiced wine to drink, the nectar of my pomegranates. (This translation interprets the mother as the one who taught her)
NLT - I would bring you to my childhood home, and there you would teach me. I would give you spiced wine to drink, my sweet pomegranate wine. (This translation interprets Solomon as the one who taught her - see Carr's note below).
Deere - The beloved playfully assumed the role of an older sister (I would lead you—the verb nāhag is always used of a superior leading an inferior) and even the role of the mother. The lady of the house would give special wine to the guests. So the beloved shared the characteristics of a sister, an older sister, and a mother in her relationship to her husband. The Song also portrays the lovers as friends (cf. Song 5:1, 16). Thus the lovers had a multifaceted relationship. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary)
Guzik - The maiden wanted to enjoy the intimacy of married love with her beloved, but to enjoy in the context of the approval of their family. There was nothing impure or secretive about their love. “The verb (lead) is used nearly ninety times in the Old Testament, with the meaning ‘teach’ or ‘learn’ … the teacher is the mother who has instructed her daughter in the ‘facts of life’ and it is to that ‘schoolroom’ she wants to return to show how well she has learned her lessons.” (Carr)" (Song of Solomon 8 Commentary)
RSB on who used to instruct me - The Hebrew can also mean “you (the man) would teach me,” and the context seems to require this translation. The man would lead the woman in the art of lovemaking.
NET Note on drink of my picture) - This statement is a euphemism: the Beloved wished to give her breasts to Solomon, like a mother would give her breast to her nursing baby. This is the climactic point of the “lover’s wish song” of Song 8:1–2. The Beloved wished that Solomon was her little brother still nursing on her mother’s breast. The Beloved, who had learned from her mother’s example, would bring him inside their home and she would give him her breast: “I would give you spiced wine to drink, the nectar of my pomegranates.” The phrase “my pomegranates” is a euphemism for her breasts. Rather than providing milk from her breasts for a nursing baby, the Beloved’s breasts would provide the sensual delight of “spiced wine” and “nectar” for her lover. (NET Notes on Song 8)
Carr - If the feminine form is assumed, the teacher is the mother who has instructed her daughter in the ‘facts of life’, and it is to that ‘schoolroom’ she wants to return to show how well she has learned her lessons. If the masculine form is correct, her request is that her lover teach her the intricacies of love in the place where she had her first intimate contacts. In light of the last part of the verse, the feminine form is preferred: the art of preparing for love is best learned at home. (The Song of Solomon - Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries)
NET Note on spiced wine - “wine, that is, spiced mixture.” The term רֶקַח (reqakh, “spice mixture, spices”) refers to ground herbs that were tasty additives to wine (NET Notes on Song 8)
NET Note - The Beloved wished that Solomon was her little brother still nursing on her mother’s breast. The Beloved, who had learned from her mother’s example, would bring him inside their home and she would give him her breast: “I would give you spiced wine to drink, the nectar of my pomegranates.” Continuing the little brother/older sister imagery of 8:1, the Beloved suggests that if she had been an older sister and he had been her little brother, she would have been able to nurse Solomon. This is a euphemism for her sensual desire to offer her breasts to Solomon in marital lovemaking..... In Song 8:1 the Beloved expresses her desire to kiss Solomon on the lips when they are outdoors; while in Son 8:2 she expresses her desire for Solomon to kiss her breasts when they are in the privacy of her home indoors. (NET Notes on Song 8)
Shulammite (young woman)...
NET - His left hand caresses my head, and his right hand stimulates me.
NLT - Your left arm would be under my head, and your right arm would embrace me.
Let his left hand be under my head - Identical to Song 2:6-note.
Carr- The motif of the girl’s longing for intimate contact is common in the ancient love poetry. (Ibid)
Guzik - This phrase was used before in Song of Solomon 2:6, describing the maiden’s desire for lovemaking. The idea is that the maiden is reclined and her beloved caresses her with his right hand (perhaps intimately). (Ibid)
POSB - It is significant to note that all of her dreams and desires for marriage were being fulfilled. She was not disappointed at all. Marriage was everything she had hoped and dreamed it would be.... (Ibid)
LET LOVE TAKE — ITS NATURAL COURSE
NET - I admonish you, O maidens of Jerusalem: "Do not arouse or awaken love until it pleases!"
NLT - Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right. Young Women of Jerusalem
ESV I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.
Guzik - This is the third time that this phrase is used in the Song of Solomon (previously at Song 2:7-note and Song 3:5-note). As before, this idea can be understood as a plea to leave her sweet romantic dream uninterrupted. Or, it can be understood both in the context of relationship and in passion. In terms of relationship it means, “Let our love progress and grow until it is matured and fruitful, making a genuinely pleasing relationship—don’t let us go too fast.” In terms of passion it means, “Let our love making continue without interruption until we are both fulfilled. Don’t let us start until we can go all the way.”. “What is this warning? That love is so sacred a thing that it must not be trifled with. It is not to be sought. It stirs and awakens of itself. To trifle with the capacity for it, is to destroy that very capacity.” (Morgan) “The reader having just seen their lovely portrait of marriage might be tempted more than ever to force such a relationship in impatience.” (Glickman) (Ibid)
Basically she is telling the daughters not to force her love on the young man.
'Ur functions as the imperative wake up (Isa 52:1), awake (Jdg 5:12), or come alive (Hab 2:19). All verb conjugations describe rousing someone (Job 41:10). The intensive verb also means stir up (Isa 14:9) or rally (Ps 80:2). One brandishes whips (Isa 10:26) and raises (2Sam 23:18) or wields (1Ch 11:11) spears. People raise cries (Isa 15:5). The causative verb also means awaken (Isa 50:4), raise up (Isa 45:13), or unleash (Ps 78:38). One puts into the mind or motivates (Ezr 1:1,5). God moves on someone's behalf (Job 8:6). People stir fires (Hos 7:4). The infinitive indicates arising (Ps 73:20). The reflexive-passive verb signifies be excited (Job 31:29) or wake oneself (Isa 51:17). The passive-reflexive shows people stirring from sleep (Job 14:12). It suggests taking sheaths from bows (Hab 3:9). God is coming from heaven (Zech 2:13). The noun 'ir denotes agitation (Jer 15:8) or rage (Hos 11:9).
Lxx uses exegeiro which means to arouse, raise up (from sleep), to awaken, and in some contexts to awaken from the dead (Da 12:2, used of rising to the new resurrection life in Christ; in 1Cor 6:14) and used in Ro 9:17 meaning to cause to appear in history, to call into existence.
'Ur - 65v in NAS -Deut 32:11; Judg 5:12; 2 Sam 23:18; 1 Chr 5:26; 11:11, 20; 2 Chr 21:16; 36:22; Ezra 1:1, 5; Job 3:8; 8:6; 14:12; 17:8; 31:29; 41:10; Ps 7:6; 35:23; 44:23; 57:8; 59:4; 73:20; 78:38; 80:2; 108:2; Prov 10:12; Song 2:7; 3:5; 4:16; 5:2; 8:4f; Isa 10:26; 13:17; 14:9; 15:5; 41:2, 25; 42:13; 45:13; 50:4; 51:9, 17; 52:1; 64:7; Jer 6:22; 25:32; 50:9, 41; 51:1, 11; Ezek 23:22; Dan 11:2, 25; Hos 7:4; Joel 3:7, 9, 12; Hab 2:19; Hag 1:14; Zech 2:13; 4:1; 9:13; 13:7; Mal 2:12. NAS translates as - arise(1), arouse(12), arouse or awaken(3), aroused(10), arouses(2), awake(15), awaken(2), awakened(2), awakens(2), awakes(1), exulted(1), lifted(1), raise(1), rouse(3), rouse yourself(2), roused(1), stir(7), stirred(7), stirs(2), swung(2).
TODAY IN THE WORD - An anonymous humorist defined the honeymoon as “a short period of doting between dating and debting.” Honeymoons may be short, but few are as short as Carla Dunford’s. According to a British newspaper, Dunford left her husband Pete for Chris Herbert after she had been married for less than three weeks. Her husband was away on a trip when she met her new love interest.
“He’d only been gone a couple of days,” Carla said, “when I walked into the newsagent’s and there was this gorgeous man there. It was Chris, although all I knew at the time was that he was young, smart, good-looking and sexy.” Claiming “love at first sight,” Dunford announced her decision to end the marriage when her husband returned home. — — The phrase “the honeymoon is over” implies that the initial fire of romance will diminish over time. To some extent this is true. The nature of the love relationship changes–but it does not have to grow cold. In our passage today, the bride longed to see the passion they experienced during their honeymoon continue into the marriage. — — Her wish that the groom would be like a brother who had been nursed at her mother’s breasts probably sounds a little strange to modern ears, if not perverse. It must be understood in light of ancient Hebrew culture, where it was unusual for a husband and wife to show affection to one another in public. If he were her brother, however, she could embrace him publicly without stigma. — — Technically, she does not say that she wishes that her groom were actually her brother, but rather that he would be to her “like” a brother. This simile is used in the New Testament to characterize the relationship between men and women in the church. As we see in today’s verse, Paul urged Timothy to treat the women in the church with the same respect found in family relationships. — — If you are a married person, why not plan a “honeymoon” weekend with your spouse? If you cannot afford to get away for the weekend, plan a romantic dinner at home.
|Daughters of Jerusalem... — Song 8:5 "Who is this coming up from the wilderness, Leaning on her beloved?"
Young woman... — Song 8:5b "Beneath the apple tree I awakened you; There your mother was in labor with you, There she was in labor and gave you birth. — Song 8:6 "Put (command) me like a seal over your heart, Like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, Jealousy (note) Sheol (note)); Its flashes are flashes of fire, The very flame of the LORD.
Song 8:7 "Many waters cannot quench love, nor will rivers overflow it; If a man were to give all the riches of his house for love, It would be utterly despised."
Song 8:8 "We have a little sister, and she has no breasts; What shall we do for our sister on the day when she is spoken for?
Song 8:9 "If she is a wall, we shall build on her a battlement of silver; but if she is a door, we shall barricade her with planks of cedar."
|Daughters of Jerusalem...
Song 8:5 Who is this coming up from the wilderness, Leaning on her beloved?"
NET - Who is this coming up from the desert, leaning on her beloved? Under the apple tree I aroused you; there your mother conceived you, there she who bore you was in labor of childbirth.
NLT - Who is this sweeping in from the desert, leaning on her lover? Young Woman I aroused you under the apple tree, where your mother gave you birth, where in great pain she delivered you.
Guzik - As with a few passages in the Song of Solomon, it is difficult to say with certainty who the speaker and the intended hearer are with these words. (Ibid)
Who is this - similar to Song 3:6 and Song 6:10.
Carr on Song 8:5-14 - Here we have a series of short references to, or comments from, all the participants in the Song—the companions, the brothers, King Solomon, the mother, the beloved, and the lover—as the commitment of the lovers to each other is re-affirmed and re-consummated. (Ibid)
MacArthur on Song 8:5–14 - This final scene portrays the original “marriage encounter” where they reaffirm their love for one another. (Ibid)
Schwab - The wedding of the great king is reenacted in the [public] passion of the twosome; the kingly celebration serves as an example for all lovemaking. (The Song of Songs' Cautionary Message Concerning Human Love)
RSB on who is this coming up from the wilderness. - This clause is an exact repetition of 3:6, where it introduces the wedding segment of the girl’s dream (Song 3:6–11). Now the dream has given way to reality. The happy pair, married at last, no longer have to conceal their relationship, but can walk in public arm in arm
Constable has an interesting explanation of coming up from the wilderness - The couple is coming up out of the wilderness. The “wilderness” connoted Israel’s 40 years of trials to the Jewish mind. The couple had emerged from their trials successfully too (i.e., insecurity, Song 1:5–6; the “foxes,” Song 2:15; and apathy, Song 5:2–7). The “wilderness” also symbolized God’s curse (cf. Jer. 22:6; Joel 2:3). The couple had likewise overcome the curse of disharmony that God had placed on Adam and Eve by their love for one another (cf. Ge 3:16). (Song of Solomon Commentary)
HCSB on Song 8:5-7 All earlier praise, though differing at times in purpose (cf Song 6:4-10) was in praise of the lovers. The lyrics of this section, however, praise love itself. The love that pleased to awaken Solomon and Shulamith has a fiery origin in the love of Yahweh.
Leaning on her beloved - Closeness, intimacy.
Carr observes that "No completely satisfactory explanation of this verse has yet been proposed, but as the Hebrew has all masculine endings in this section it is evident that the beloved is addressing her lover. Most commentators and many translations (e.g. JB, NEB) recommend changing these to feminine forms, but there is no support in the text for this change. Here, as elsewhere in the Song, the girl initiates the love-play." (Ibid)
Daniel Akin on Song 8:5-14 - A Love That Lasts Forever - Main Idea: The gospel shapes marriage in such a way that the love shared by husband and wife extends grace to both and reflects the love between Christ and His bride, the church. Twelve different characteristics of the love God cultivates between a man and a woman in covenant marriage are addressed in 8:5-14. Here we will see that love truly is “a many splendored thing.” Here we will discover “a love that lasts forever!”
Young woman... — Song 8:5b "Beneath the apple tree I awakened you (you = masculine in Hebrew); there your mother was in labor with you, there she was in labor and gave you birth.
SCENE SHIFTS FROM THE — PUBLIC TO THE PRIVATE
Mother - This is the sixth reference to the Shulammite’s mother (Song 1:6; 3:4; 6:9; 8:1; 8:2) whereas Solomon’s mother Bathsheba is mentioned only once in Song 3:11.
Apple tree - Compare Song 2:3, 5 Constable adds that "The apple tree was a symbol of love in ancient poetry because of its beauty, fragrance, and sweet fruit." (Ibid)
Awakened - Repeated from Song 2:7, Song 3:5, Song 8:4 This recalls the beginning of their love when she "awakened" her lover to love.
Deere comments that "The “awakening” is a metaphor for new life or rather a new way of perceiving life, which her love had brought to him. Much as he was the product of his parents’ love and was brought into the world by physical birth, the lover had now received a second “birth” or “awakening” through the love of his beloved. (Ibid)
Akin - Once more the wife has initiated lovemaking. Under the tree of romance and sexual intimacy, “the sweetheart tree of the ancient world” (Glickman, Song, 96) Shulammite awakens her lover, saying that it is “there your mother conceived you; there she conceived and gave you birth.” This is a beautiful example of Hebrew parallelism.....It is important to see that the passion and desire for sexual intimacy is still aflame in their marriage. Their private time alone in the bedroom has not grown cold or stale. Again we see that what takes place outside the bedroom impacts what takes place inside the bedroom. In that private sanctuary, he initiates lovemaking and she initiates lovemaking. Clearly, the king continues to “take pleasure in the wife of [his] youth” (Prov 5:18) and Shulammite does the same with her husband. We should, by God’s grace, grow old together, but our love should never grow old.. (Exalting Jesus in Song of Songs -Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary)
Gaebelein on Song 8:5b - The best literal interpretation is that during their retreat, Solomon had “taken her to the site of his conception. There they… sealed more deeply their love.” (Expositor's Bible Commentary)
NET Note - The imagery of v. 6 is romantic: (1) His mother originally conceived him with his father under the apple tree, (2) his mother gave birth to him under the apple tree, and (3) the Beloved had now awakened him to love under the same apple tree. The cycle of life and love had come around full circle under the apple tree. While his mother had awakened his eyes to life, the Beloved had awakened him to love. His parents had made love under the apple tree to conceive him in love, and now Solomon and his Beloved were making love under the same apple tree of love. (NET Notes on Song 8)
Young woman... — Song 8:6 "Put (command) me like a seal over your heart, Like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, jealousy (note) is as severe as Sheol (note); Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD.
A SEAL OF OWNERSHIP:
NET - Set me like a cylinder seal over your heart, like a signet on your arm. For love is as strong as death, passion is as unrelenting as Sheol. Its flames burst forth, it is a blazing flame.
NIV 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.
NLT - Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave. Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame.
ESV Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD.
CSB Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death; ardent love is as unrelenting as Sheol. Love's flames are fiery flames-- the fiercest of all.
Schwab - To be imprinted as a seal on another is to be inseparable from that person. She wishes his life to be hers.
Carr introduces his comments on Song 8:6-7 remarking that "These two verses have been the object of extensive discussion. Delitzsch and Pope have six and twelve pages respectively, and Pope has an additional twenty-page essay on love and death linking this passage (and the Song as a whole) with a funeral celebration. Such interpretation appears forced and unlikely." (Ibid)
Deere - These verses may be divided into three parts: a request by the beloved (v. 6a), an explanation about the power of love (vv. 6b–7a), and a concluding practical application (v. 7b). In Old Testament times a seal was used to indicate ownership of a person’s valued possessions. So the beloved asked to be her lover’s most valued possession, a possession that would influence his thoughts (over your heart) and his actions (over your arm). Such a demanding request required the explanation which she gave in verses 6b–7a. (Ibid)
NET Note on how a seal was made - The impression could be placed upon wet clay of a jar or on a writing tablet by rolling the seal across the clay. Because it was a valuable possession its owner would take careful precautions to not lose it and would keep it close to him at all times....There were two kinds of cylinder seals in the ancient Near East, namely, those worn around one’s neck and those worn around one’s wrist. The typical Mesopotamian seal was mounted on a pin and hung on a string or necklace around one’s neck. The cylinder seal hung around one’s neck would, figuratively speaking, rest over the heart (metonymy of association). The Beloved wished to be to Solomon like a cylinder seal worn over his heart. She wanted to be as intimate with her lover as the seal worn by him. (NET Notes on Song 8)
NET Note - There were two kinds of cylinder seals in the ancient Near East, namely, those worn around one’s neck and those worn around one’s wrist. The typical Mesopotamian seal was mounted on a pin and hung on a string or necklace around one’s neck. The cylinder seal hung around one’s neck would, figuratively speaking, rest over the heart (metonymy of association). The Beloved wished to be to Solomon like a cylinder seal worn over his heart. She wanted to be as intimate with her lover as the seal worn by him....(Seal is) Literally “cylinder-seal” or “seal.” The term חוֹתָם (khotam, “cylinder-seal”) is repeated in Song 8:6 for emphasis. The NET translation above uses the terms “cylinder seal” and “signet” simply for the sake of poetic variation. The Beloved wanted to be as safe and secure as a cylinder seal worn on the arm or around the neck, hanging down over the heart. She also wanted to be placed on his heart (emotions), like the impression of a cylinder seal is written on a document. She wanted to be “written” on his heart like the impression of a cylinder seal, and kept secure in his love as a signet ring is worn around his arm/hand to keep it safe. (NET Notes on Song 8)
Like a seal - The Song of Solomon makes liberal use of terms of comparison // similes // metaphors. A simile is easily identified by a preceding "as" or "like." As is used in 9v - Song 5:6, 8, 11, 15; 6:4, 10, 13; 8:6, 10. Like is used 47x in 36v - Song 1:3, 5, 7, 9, 15; 2:2, 3, 9, 17; 3:6; 4:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 11; 5:11, 12, 13, 15; 6:5, 6, 7, 10; 7:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9; 8:1, 6, 10, 14. Ask the Spirit, your Teacher to guide you in the correct interpretation of these terms of comparison and this should greatly assist your understanding of this great love letter.
Kinlaw - Married love should be like a seal, in the sense that a seal speaks of permanence, belonging, and security. “Her love is so total and so strong that she wants their mutual possession of each other to be as lasting as life. It is a strongly poetic demand for ‘until death do us part.’
MacArthur on seal - The Shulammite is the seal and Solomon would do the sealing. This represents their publicly declared mutual love for one another. (Ibid)
Carr on seal - The engraved stone or metal seal was used to mark possession or ownership. Since they were, in part, the ‘signature’ of the owner, possession of another’s seal was tantamount to having free access to all his or her possessions. The context here suggests that the girl wants to imprint her claim to her lover deeply and openly on him. (Ibid)
RSB on seal - This “seal” is a signet made of metal or stone and worn on a necklace over the heart or on an arm band (Gen. 38:18).
Seal (signet, signet ring) (02368)(chotham) is a masculine noun which was a seal, a signet ring. Webster says a signet is a seal used officially to give personal authority to a document in lieu of signature or the impression made by or as if by a signet. The signet was usually made of baked clay, metal, or stones and was used to identify someone, functioning as an ancient ID card (Ge 38:18) by bearing the person’s distinctive mark. Chotham also signified a mold (metal, et al) containing the person’s seal which was then impressed into clay or another substance (Job 38:14). In Exodus we see that a jeweler would engrave the markings of a seal or signet ring (Ex 28:11) which served as a ring (with the specific seal) which could then be impressed into clay. Signet rings were recious and intimate possessions of their owner (Jer. 22:24)/ Finally, as used here in Song of Solomon, a signet could be used figuratively of a person closely connected to someone (cp Hag. 2:23).
Lxx use sphragis for the Hebrew word for seal (chotham). Sphragis was literally the instrument used for producing a seal or stamp (cf Rev 7:2) and by metonymy speaks of the impression made by the seal (Rev 9:4) and metaphorically of an identifying authentication or a way to recognize (2Ti 2:19). The Shulammite desired this symbolic identification with her bridegroom. Liddell-Scott says that sphragis was used in secular Greek writings of the gem or stone for a ring. Interesting! (Cp other uses in the Septuagint - Ex 28:11, 21, 36, 35:22, 36:9)
Chotham - 14v in NAS - Gen 38:18, 25; Ex 28:11, 21, 36; 39:6, 14, 30; 1 Kgs 21:8; Job 38:14; 41:15; Song 8:6; Jer 22:24; Hag 2:23
POSB - A seal was a signature of possession and ownership. In Jewish culture, it took the form of a signet ring usually worn on the finger, or occasionally on a chain around the neck. In some Mesopotamian cultures, it was an engraved cylinder that left its imprint as it was rolled upon clay. Both forms were marked by an image that was exclusive to the owner, and was stamped upon the possession. It left a permanent mark that could not be removed. This is how the Shulamite was asking Solomon to stamp her upon his heart. The reference to his arm refers to the strength and muscle that provided the force of the stamp. Solomon’s wife was saying, “Stamp me hard upon your heart, with all of your strength.” The basis for her request was an inspired description of true love. True love is like: Death: the strength of death is irresistible and unconquerable. The grave: the hold of the grave is cruel and jealous. It obstinately refuses to give up its possession.....Fire: the flame of the fire continuously burns. It is an intense, consuming flame. How to Keep the Marriage Fires Burning: Regularly renew your commitment to your spouse. The Shulamite yearned for assurance of her husband’s commitment to her. She longed to know that her husband had stamped her upon his heart. Husbands and wives should never allow or cause their spouses to be unsure of their commitment. This is another area where it is necessary to be active rather than passive. Some husbands and wives control their spouses by keeping them in doubt. They want them to fear the breakup of their marriage in order to keep them striving to please them. This is manipulation and it is wrong. It is exactly the opposite of the way Christ loves the church. His perfect love casts out all fears, and He gives His bride (the church, all true believers) security in His love for her. Women especially need security and reassurance. A wife needs to know that her husband will never leave her. She needs to know that her husband’s love for her is as strong as death and as jealous (protective) as the grave. She must know that there is nothing—or nobody—her husband would take in exchange for her, that she is priceless to him. A wife who feels this secure will delight in giving herself fully to her husband and in submitting to him. (Ibid)
NET Note on over your heart - The term לֵבָב (levav, “heart”) is used figuratively here as (1) a metonymy (container for the thing contained) for his chest over which the cylinder seal was hung or (2) a metonymy (concrete body part for the abstract emotions with which it is associated) for his emotions, such as love and loyalty to the Beloved (e.g., Jdg 16:25; Ru 3:7; 1 Sam 25:36; 2 Sam 13:28; 1Ki 8:66) (NET Notes on Song 8)
Akin - For the king to love his lady in such a way that she felt near and dear to his heart would speak personally of his undying devotion and lasting love. As long as his heart beats, she wants to know and feel his love....This wife also wants to be set as a seal on her husband’s arm. The idea is one of safety, security, and strength. If the seal on the heart spoke of that which is deep and inward, the seal on the arm spoke of that which is public and external. It would be analogous to our wedding rings today. True love will always have a protective attitude and disposition toward one’s mate. You will want them to feel safe and secure in the strength of your love. You will work mightily to guard them, protect them, shield them from anyone or anything that could damage, harm, or injure them. You will be their defender to whom they can always run for rest and refuge. Now let me make a specific application at this point. It is very important. One of the most lethal weapons in a relationship is the little chipping at one another with hurtful and sarcastic barbs. This is deadly when done in front of others. You develop and encourage a person by magnifying their strengths, not their weaknesses. Take pride in your mate. Praise your mate. Learn to protect your mate, especially with your words.. (Exalting Jesus in Song of Songs -Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary)
LOVE THAT IS
NET Note on like a seal from your arm - In Palestine cylinder seals were often hung on a bracelet worn around one’s wrist. The cylinder seal was mounted on a pin hanging from a bracelet. The cylinder seal in view in Song 8:6 could be a stamp seal hung from a bracelet of a type known from excavations in Israel. (NET Notes on Song 8)
For (love...) - Always be alert to this important term of explanation - she explains the previous clause.
Love is as strong as death - speaks of its permanence and strength. It is irresistible and will "swallow you up!" It will not let go.
Akin adds that "There is a permanent possessiveness to the kind of love God gives to the godly man and woman in marriage. “Lovers are defenseless when in its grasp” (Schwab, “Song,” 426). “When the going gets tough, love keeps going.” It refuses to quit, drop out of the race, throw in the towel, or let go of its lover. It is strong and unrelenting. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:7-8, “It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”". (Ibid)
Guzik - Death is strong enough to make every man answer to it; love is much the same way and the strength of romantic love is more powerful than many powerful men (Samson as one example). (Ibid)
RSB on strong as death - Love is as strong as the most powerful, negative human experience. This phrase marks the beginning of a short “hymn to love” spoken by the bride.
Carr on strong - is frequent elsewhere in the Old Testament of an irresistible assailant or an immovable defender (Jdg. 14:18; Nu 13:28). (Ibid)
Sheol - speaks of the grave, the abode of the dead (compare Sheol in Pr 30:15-16)..
Carr - Love, as such, is as strong as death. Note that this is a comparative, not a superlative. Just as death is the fate of all—except those who are alive at the Lord’s return—and when death summons, each one answers, so too, when love calls, that call is irresistible. The word of the gospel in John 3:16, through the hope of 1 Corinthians 15:51–57, finds its final glory in the marriage feast of Revelation 21:1–4. (Ibid)
NET Note on your love is as strong as death - It was a common practice in the ancient world to compare intense feelings to death. The point of the expression “love is as strong as death” means that love is extremely strong. The expression “love is as cruel as Sheol” may simply mean that love can be profoundly cruel. For example: “His soul was vexed to death,” means that he could not stand it any longer (Judg 16:16). “I do well to be angry to death,” means that he was extremely angry (Jonah 4:9). “My soul is sorrowful to death,” means that he was exceedingly sorrowful (Matt 26:38 = Mark 14:34) (D. W. Thomas, “A Consideration of Some Unusual Ways of Expressing the Superlative in Hebrew,” VT 3 : 220-21). (NET Notes on Song 8)
LOVE THAT IS
RSB on jealousy...flame - In parallel with “love” here, “jealousy” is positive zeal, like the jealousy of God (Ex. 20:5; John 2:17). Like God’s love, the love being celebrated tolerates no rivals. Literally “the flame of Yah,” where “Yah” is a shortened form of the divine name Yahweh. The use of the expression confirms that there is an implicit comparison with divine love.
NET Note on jealously (NET Bible = passion) - Alternately, “jealousy.” The noun קִנְאָה (qin’ah) has a wide range of meanings: “jealousy” (Prov 6:34; 14:30; 27:4), “competitiveness” (Eccl 4:4; 9:6), “anger” (Num 5:14, 30), “zeal” (2 Kgs 10:16; Pss 69:10; 119:139; Job 5:2; Sir 30:24), and “passion” (Song 8:6). The Hebrew noun is related to the Akkadian and Arabic roots that mean “to become intensely red” or “become red with passion,” suggesting that the root denotes strong emotion. Although קִנְאָה is traditionally rendered “jealousy” (KJV, RSV, NASB, NIV), the parallelism with אַהֲבָה (’ahavah, “love”) suggests the nuance “passion” (NJPS). Coppes notes, “This word is translated in the KJV in a bad sense in Song 8:6, ‘jealousy is as cruel as the grave,’ but it could be taken in a good sense in parallel with the preceding, ‘ardent zeal is as strong as the grave’” (TWOT 2:803). (NET Notes on Song 8)
Glickman on the very flame - The love on which a beautiful love is built is a persevering flame burning as brightly at the beginning as it does later on. (Solomon's Song of Love - Let a Song of Songs Inspire Your Own Romantic Story).
Akin asks "why do some translations have the words Lord or divine in them and some do not? It is because in the Hebrew Bible on the word translated “flame” there is a suffix -yah, which could possibly be a shortened form of the divine name Yahweh. If this is correct, and I am inclined to think that it is, then the Lord God Himself, Yahweh, is the source of this mighty, fierce, blazing, passionate love. The kind of love ignited and fueled by the Lord is a fervent flame, a blazing fire. As we will see in verse 7, nothing can extinguish this love. Like a raging forest fire, it burns with such intensity that no one can control it. It is a passionate, God-given, red-hot flame that will endure any and all efforts to put it out.. (Ibid)
Carr on the divine name - The meaning could be ‘love is a flame which has its origin in God’; while this is technically true, the fact that this is the only place in the Song a possible use of the divine name appears militates against this understanding of the final syllable. More likely, this is simply a use of a standard idiom for the superlative, as the RSV translates. (RSV = Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, jealousy is cruel as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a most vehement flame.) (Ibid)
NET Note on the very flame of the LORD (NET Bible = it is a blazing flame.) - The most likely view is that יָה is an intensive adjectival suffix, similar to –iy and –ay and –awi in Aramaic, Akkadian, and Arabic: “a most vehement flame” (KJV), “a mighty flame” (RSV, NIV), and “a blazing flame” (NJPS). This also best explains “darkest gloom” (Jer 2:31), and “mighty deeds” (Jer 32:19) (See Note 24 on Song 8:6 for other interpretations)
NET - Surging waters cannot quench love; floodwaters cannot overflow it. If someone were to offer all his possessions to buy love, the offer would be utterly despised.
NLT - Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.
MacArthur on Song 8:6-7 - This represents the 1Co 13:1–8 of the OT. Four qualities of love appear: 1) love is unyielding in marriage, as death is to life; 2) love is intense like the brightest flame, perhaps as bright as the glory of the Lord; 3) love is invincible or unquenchable, even when flooded by difficulty; and 4) love is so priceless that it cannot be bought, only given away. (Ibid)
Akin - God designed marriage to last. Jesus said, “Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate” (Matt 19:6). Marriage is not for a season. It is not like leasing a car. It is meant for a lifetime. Solomon says the love that God gives is so passionate and powerful, “Mighty waters cannot extinguish it; rivers cannot sweep it away.” (Ibid)
Carr on many waters cannot quench love - The tenacious staying power of love is set against these tides and perennial rivers which are unable either to wash love away or put out its sparks. (Ibid)
POSB on many waters cannot quench love - rivers continuously, consistently flow; they are never still. The continuous waters of life cannot erode love or carry it away. Love is like a rock set and unmovable in the stream. A priceless treasure: it cannot be bought, and it will not be sold. (Ibid)
Tom Gledhill - For though water can quench any flame, there are no hostile forces which can quench the flame of love. It is inevitable that love will always be tested and tried, will always encounter forces that threaten to undermine and destroy it. These may be the outward circumstances that may erode love’s power: the pain of separation, the uncertainty of the present or future, the loss of health or means of livelihood. But the love which is fuelled by the energy of God will triumph and overcome all these adversities and will emerge purer and stronger and more precious through the testing. (The Message of the Song of Songs Bible Speaks Today)
Give all the riches...for love it would be utterly despised - Love is not for sale! It is priceless! That is quality of love every marriage needs to seek (intentionally) to cultivate (it won't happen by accident)! See the interesting blog with 25 Ways to Love Your Lover - you will probably be as challenged as I was.
Guzik - This phrase reflects the sentiment of a popular song from many years ago, that “money can’t buy me love.” Love has its own economy, often dramatically separate from our normal financial reckonings. (Ibid)
NET Note - The point is simply that love cannot be purchased; it is infinitely more valuable than any and all wealth. Love such as this is priceless; no price tag can be put on love. (NET Notes on Song 8)
Glickman comments on a man who gave all his riches for love - He would be despised for reducing love and the person from which it comes to an object. If you set the price of love at a billion dollars, you would then have reduced it to nothing. By its very nature love must be given. Sex can be bought; love must be given. (Ibid).
Deere adds that "All one’s wealth would be totally inadequate to purchase such love. In fact such money would be … scorned, because love cannot be bought. Any attempt to “buy” love depersonalizes it. If love is priceless, how then can it be obtained? The answer is that it must be given. And ultimately love is a gift from God. The epilogue explains how the beloved received this priceless gift of love." (Ibid)
Akin - The ESV says, “He would be utterly despised.” Try to buy love, he says, and prepare to be publicly ridiculed and mocked. Prepare to become a laughingstock. (Ibid)
Guzik observes that "All in all, these verses give us four remarkable pictures of love:
• Love is like a seal on the heart and arm. Therefore, love belongs to those who are willing to give up something of themselves to another person who is also willing to give up something of themselves.
• Love is like death, in that it is persistent and keeps reaching out; it is total and irreversible. Therefore, the bond of love needs to be nourished and regarded as permanent.
• Love is like a raging fire and cannot be extinguished. Therefore, one must take care how, where, and with whom the spark of love is ignited.
• Love cannot be bought or sold; it is not a piece of merchandise. Therefore, love must be appreciated for its great value and not be taken for granted. (Ibid)
Tanner on Song 8:6-7 - With this homily, the bride has delivered the great moral lesson of the book....She was prepared to be a loyal and faithful wife, but Solomon ultimately had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines (1Ki 11:3). No wonder she, not he, delivers the moral lesson of the book. He was totally unqualified to speak on the issue of godly dedicated love. He knew the physical side of it, but apparently he did not know the love she cherished. (The Message of the Song of Songs - Pdf - Bibliotheca Sacra 154: page 142-161, 1997) .
Here is a poem by Van Buren "And You Wonder" that speaks to a persevering (or not) love...
She married him because he was such a “strong man.”
She divorced him because he was such a “dominating male.”
He married her because she was so “fragile and petite.”
He divorced her because she was so “weak and helpless.”
She married him because “he knows how to provide a good living.”
She divorced him because “all he thinks about is business.”
He married her because “she reminds me of my mother.”
He divorced her because “she’s getting more like her mother every day.”
She married him because he was “happy and romantic.”
She divorced him because he was “shiftless and fun-loving.”
He married her because she was “steady and sensible.”
He divorced her because she was “boring and dull.”
She married him because he was “the life of the party.”
She divorced him because “he never wants to come home from the party.”
The Young Woman's Brothers
NET - We have a little sister, and as yet she has no breasts. What shall we do for our sister on the day when she is spoken for?
NLT - We have a little sister too young to have breasts. What will we do for our sister if someone asks to marry her?
Carr comments on Song 8:8-10 - For many commentators the Song ends with 8:7. These last few verses are often relegated to the category of ‘appendices’ (JB). But even for those who take them as part of the Song proper, there are difficult problems. Most of the vocabulary is frequent in the Old Testament, but many words appear in the Song for the first time in these verses. Verses 8 to 10 seem to go together, but there is no universal agreement on this division. Nor is there consensus on the identification of the speaker/speakers, nor on the number of women being discussed in these verses.....No proposal has won the allegiance of the commentators, although it seems most probable that the brothers are speaking here, and the object of their attention is the heroine of the Song. (The Song of Solomon - Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries)
POSB - The married couple remembered how their love began: A picture of keeping marital love alive. This great book now concludes with the couple’s sharing some very fond memories. They recalled how they first met and fell in love, then continued to share how passionately they still desired each other, as in the days of their courtship. The couple recalled how protective her brothers had been: They had planned for her marriage (Song 8: 8-9). (Ibid)
Deere sees Song 8:8-12 as an "epilogue" with Song 8:8-12 representing a "flashback explaining (a) the protection of the beloved by her older brothers when she was young and (b) her subsequent initial meeting with Solomon. The Song concludes in Song 8:13–14 with statements that show the couple’s love has not lost its intensity." (Ibid)
RSB on Song 8:8-10 - The climax of the Song has been reached and passed (see Introduction: Characteristics and Themes), but there is still room for a few memories. In this unit, the woman remembers how possessive and protective her brothers were when she was too young to marry (Song 1:6)."
Song 8:8-9 - Shulammite's brothers took responsibility for her care when she was young and had no breasts, promising restrictions if she was promiscuous (if she is a door) but rewards if she was responsible (if she is a wall) as they prepared for the day she was spoken for. (HCSB)
NET Note - The Beloved’s brothers knew that once a couple is betrothed, sexual temptations would be at their greatest. Thus, in v. 9 they devise a plan to protect the purity of their sister: If she is a virtuous young woman, they would reward her; however, if she is prone to temptation, they will restrain her and guard her from promiscuity. (NET Notes on Song 8)
The day when she is spoken for - Someone asks for her hand in marriage.
Estes - Shulamith’s brothers took their responsibility seriously, for long before she was of marriageable age they determined to keep her pure for her husband (Song of Solomon 8:9). They resolved to provide guidance and positive pressure to help Shulamith remain a virgin. (Life and love- Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon)
MacArthur - 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 Ge 24:50–60; Dinah in Ge 34:13–27; and Tamar in 2Sa 13:1–22). The same standard of purity is taught in the NT (cf. 1Th 4:1–8). (Ibid)
Guzik on Song 8:8-9 - The idea is that Song of Solomon 8:8–9 is a look back at a planning session held by the maiden’s brothers when she was still a fairly young girl. They recognized that they had a responsibility towards her; to plan ahead for the day she would be spoken for—the day of her marriage. (Ibid)
The Young Woman's Brothers
NET - If she is a wall, we will build on her a battlement of silver; but if she is a door, we will barricade her with boards of cedar.
NLT - If she is a virgin, like a wall, we will protect her with a silver tower. But if she is promiscuous, like a swinging door, we will block her door with a cedar bar. Young Woman
MacArthur on wall … door. Wall represents sexual purity; door portrays an openness to immorality. (Ibid)
Deere agrees with MacArthur commenting that "If she displayed good character and judgment and resisted temptation (if she is a wall) then they would allow her a large measure of freedom and reward her. Towers of silver may be translated “a turret (sing.) of silver,” referring to a beautiful, much-valued head ornament, or it may simply refer figuratively to their adorning her as people adorned defense towers with silver. But if she were reckless and prone to immorality (if she is open to advances like a door) then they planned to restrict her freedom (figuratively spoken of as enclosing her with cedar panels, like barricading a door with planks). (The Bible Knowledge Commentary)
Guzik - The brothers wisely decided to guide and help their sister according to her own character and choices. If she were like a wall that stood effectively against despoilers and exploiters, they would reward, encourage, and build upon her. If she were more like a door allowing unwise access, they would then restrict her freedoms in her own self-interest (we will enclose her)....This presents a principle that is often overlooked in the western world and dangerously over-emphasized in other parts of the world: that the family has a shared responsibility for the purity and romantic supervision of the young of the family. (Ibid)
Glickman interprets it that "If she could handle responsibility, they would give it to her; if not, she would be restricted.” (Ibid).
NET Note on wall - The simile if she is a wall draws a comparison between the impregnability of a city fortified with a strong outer wall and a virtuous young woman who successfully resists any assaults against her virginity. The term חוֹמָה (khomah, “wall”) often refers to an outside fortress wall that protects the city from enemy military attacks (e.g., Lev 25:29–30; Josh 6:5; 1 Kgs 3:1; Neh 2:8; 12:27; Jer 1:8; 15:20). (NET Notes on Song 8)
Taylor - If she be a wall, built upon the true foundation, strong and stable, she shall be adorned and beautified with battlements of silver; but if unstable and easily moved to and fro like a door, such treatment will be as impossible as unsuitable; she will need to be inclosed with boards of cedar, hedged in with restraints, for her own protection.
NET Note on battlement - The term טִירָה (tirah, “battlement, turret”) refers to the row of stones along the top of a fortress wall, set for the defense and stability of the wall (Ezek 46:23; cf. HALOT 374 s.v. טִירָה). This structure is connected with military operations set in defense of a siege. (NET Notes on Song 8)
NET Note on barricade - The verb צוּר (tsur, “to surround, encircle, enclose”) is often used in military contexts in reference to the siege or defense of a fortress city: (1) setting up military positions (siege walls) to surround a besieged city (e.g., Isa 29:3); (2) encircling and laying siege to a city (e.g., Dt 20:12, 19; 2Sa 11:1; 1Ki 15:27; 16:17; 20:1; 2Ki 6:24–25; 17:5; 19:9; 24:11; 1Chr 20:1; Isa 21:2; 29:3; Jer 21:4, 9; 32:2; 37:5; 39:1; Ezek 4:3; Da 1:1); (3) enclosing a city with sentries (e.g., Isa 29:3); (4) shutting a person within a city (1Sa 23:8; 2Sa 20:15; 2Ki 16:5); and (5) barricading a city door shut to prevent the city from being broken into and conquered (e.g., Song 8:7) (NET Notes on Song 8)
POSB - If she stood strong and firm against temptation, like a wall that denies access to a garden or vineyard, they would reward her. Whether “palace of silver” is a tangible reward or a metaphor for the honor and praise they would bestow upon her is unclear. Either way, they instilled in their little sister the value of purity and some incentive for making chaste choices. If she was morally loose, they would restrict her. The obvious image is of an open door or gate that allowed entrance to her vineyard. The phrase “enclose her with boards of cedar” describes barricading a door with wood boards. It pictures the restrictions they would place upon her if they sensed she was prone to temptation. (Ibid)
Today in the Word (Song 8:6) - In William Goldman’s story The Princess Bride, Princess Buttercup falls deeply in love with a poor farm boy named Westley. Wanting to find his fortune before he marries, Westley goes out to sea but is captured by pirates and believed dead. The story tells of the young couple’s adventure as they struggle to reunite, fighting tremendous obstacles and near-death experiences before they can finally be together. True love, the story says, cannot be stopped no matter the obstacle.
Everyone wants to be loved like that, to be pursued at the risk of death and to be desired in an unstoppable, indestructible way. That is the type of love described at the close of Song of Songs, a love “as strong as death” (8:6). Love here is described as jealous in a positive sense. This is not the jealousy that comes from insecurity, but the jealousy that is strong and steadfast and consuming.
God’s love is also described as a jealous love (Ex. 20:5; Deut. 4:24). Paul mentions that he is jealous for his fellow believers with “godly jealousy” (2 Cor. 11:2). The New Testament word for jealous is translated from the Greek word zelos. It carries the idea of warmth and heat and is related to our English word zealous.
True love is like a flame, producing intense love and caring. This is not a fire that can flicker or burn out but is one that continues to burn. True love is steadfast and righteous, desiring the one that is loved in a holy and consuming manner. The object of such love will feel deeply treasured. Her needs will be fully met.
For Solomon, who hungered to know the purpose of life and to feel fully loved, this ending is a positive one. To love and to be fully loved, by another and by God, will completely satisfy.
Apply the Word - As we complete this study, having read two different books by Solomon, consider which of his life lessons spoke most specifically to the needs of your heart. Have you struggled with life’s purpose? Have you searched to love and be fully loved? The answer to both questions is found in God. To love God and to know Him is to be fully known (1 Corinthians 13).
TODAY IN THE WORD (Song 8:5-9) - An old song says, “Don’t sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me.” The bride might have sung the same words. Today’s passage describes the couple’s return to an ancestral home, although we aren’t given more details in the text.
People marvel at the sight of the bride, who appears “coming up from the desert leaning on her lover” (v. 5). This may suggest that she was pregnant with their first child, and they are returning home for the birth.
The imagery the bride uses as she speaks to the groom emphasizes the importance of commitment and the power of love. For example, she asks him to place her like a “seal” over his heart. Seals were often made of gold or precious gems and were given as a pledge. They were used to signify ownership and right of access. Even today, wedding rings are given and worn as a kind of “seal.” They symbolize the wearer’s obligation to be faithful to the one they have wed.
The bride’s call to faithfulness is accompanied by a warning about jealousy. This is not a petty reminder. It is true that there are times when jealousy is a sin. Christians are warned not to act in “dissension and jealousy” (Rom. 13:13). Jealousy is one of the works of the flesh listed in Galatians 5:20. But jealousy is also an attribute of God. He is a “jealous” God (Ex. 20:5; 34:14). In His case, jealousy is appropriate. God alone deserves our worship.
In some contexts human jealousy is also an appropriate response. Jealousy arouses a husband’s fury and sparks a desire for justice (Prov. 6:34). Old Testament scholar Derek Kidner calls this kind of jealousy, “a proper intolerance of disruptive intrusion.” He notes that it is actually a mark of love.
What makes you feel jealous? Make a list. Next to each item write either the letter “A” (for appropriate) or “I” (for inappropriate). If you have items marked “A” on your list, consider prayerfully discussing them with the one who is the cause. Your feelings may be a sign of a more serious problem in the relationship. If you have items marked “I” on your list, ask God to replace your jealousy with the appropriate fruit of the Spirit. If you are unsure whether your feelings are appropriate or inappropriate, consider discussing them with your pastor or a Christian counselor.
|Shulammite (young woman)...
Song 8:10 "I was a wall, and my breasts were like towers; Then I became in his eyes as one who finds peace.
NET - I was a wall, and my breasts were like fortress towers. Then I found favor in his eyes.
NLT - I was a virgin, like a wall; now my breasts are like towers. When my lover looks at me, he is delighted with what he sees.
ESV I was a wall, and my breasts were like towers; then I was in his eyes as one who finds peace.
RSV I was a wall, and my breasts were like towers; then I was in his eyes as one who brings peace.
NIV I am a wall, and my breasts are like towers. Thus I have become in his eyes like one bringing contentment.
The young woman testifies she was a wall, that she was chaste.
My breasts were like towers - This description speaks of her physical maturation (cf NLT paraphrase = "now my breasts are like towers").
Glickman - She herself had chosen to be a wall. And finally she grew up. Her breasts were like towers. The towers were the fortresses of the land. They inspired a somber appreciation from the citizens and a healthy respect from their enemies. (Ibid).
Deere explains that "Having grown up and matured physically, she was then pure for her husband which enabled her to give him (Solomon) contentment. The Hebrew word for contentment (šālôm) provides an interesting wordplay because it sounds much like Solomon’s name (šelōmōh). (Ibid)
MacArthur on 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. (Ibid)
Carr remarks that the young woman "gladly takes the wall image as her own and promptly proceeds to describe her breasts as towers (Heb. migdālôt, cf. 5:13 ‘treasure-chests’), more imposing and glorious than the crenelated battlements her brothers proposed. She is proclaiming her maturity and readiness for the love and marriage she has celebrated. Cf. Ezekiel 16:7f., 10–13." (Ibid)
Net Note on tower - The noun מִגְדָּל (migdal, “tower”) can refer to the watchtowers of a fortified city (2Ki 17:9; 18:8; 2Chr 26:9), projecting median towers along the fortified city wall which were crucial to the defense of the city (2Chr 14:6; 26:15; 32:5), or fortress towers in the countryside set for the defense of the land (Jdg 9:52; 2Chr 27:4; Ezek 27:11) (HALOT 544 s.v. I מִגְדָּל). The Beloved mixes metaphors by describing her breasts with a comparison of sense and a comparison of sight: (1) Comparison of sense: She successfully defended her virginity and sexual purity from seduction, as fortress towers defended the city. (2) Comparison of sight: Just as the fortress towers along a city wall projected out at the corners of the wall, the Beloved’s breasts finally developed into beautiful “towers” (see 8:8 when she had no breasts as a young girl). (NET Notes on Song 8)
The Beloved mixes metaphors by describing her breasts with a comparison of sense and a comparison of sight: (1) Comparison of sense: She successfully defended her virginity and sexual purity from seduction, as fortress towers defended the city. (2) Comparison of sight: Just as the fortress towers along a city wall projected out at the corners of the wall, the Beloved’s breasts finally developed into beautiful “towers” (see Song 8:8 when she had no breasts as a young girl).
Carr - The last colon can be read either then or thus (NIV, Pope; NEB so), and the verb as either a simple statement I was, or a stative ‘I became and continue to be’. In the former case the assumption is that the beloved is to be identified with the ‘little sister’ of Song 8:8, and that she is now grown up. In the latter case, the contrast is between the mature beloved and the still immature ‘little sister’. (Ibid)
Net Note on peace (shalom) - An eloquent wordplay is created by the use of the noun שָׁלוֹם (shalom, “peace, favor”) in Song 8:10b and the name שְׁלֹמֹה (shélomoh, “Solomon” = "peaceable") in Song 8:11a. The Beloved found “favor” (shalom = שָׁלוֹם) in the eyes of Solomon. She won his heart because she was not only a beautiful young woman (“my breasts were like fortress towers”), but a virtuous woman (“I was a wall”). (NET Notes on Song 8)
Carr on one who finds peace - The verb occurs nine times in the Song, frequently as part of the search/find motif (cf. 3:1–4), and often has the connotation ‘find by chance’. The emphasis is on the unexpected nature of the discovery....However, a better sense for this line is obtained when šālôm is translated as ‘completeness’, ‘harmony’, or ‘wholeness’. The central concept of the Hebrew term is one of unimpeded relationships with others and fulfilment in one’s own undertakings. There is a clear reference here to the ‘Shulammite’ as the ‘completed one’ of Song 6:13. (Ibid)
Guzik on one who finds peace - This slightly changes a familiar Old Testament expression—to find grace in the eyes of the LORD (as in Genesis 6:8 in reference to Noah). “Frequently, as in this case, it refers to a girl finding love in the eyes of a man. She is said to have found grace in his eyes. So when this young girl says she has found peace in his eyes, she is saying that she has found romance in Solomon’s eyes.” (Glickman) We dare not miss the connection between the wise and noble defense of her honor and virginity described in these and the previous verses, and the health and peace she now found in married life. Her wall-like character was an important part of the foundation for the blessed married life she now enjoyed. It was also important that her family encouraged this concern and character development in her from a young age. One reason this is important is that once we experience something—such as premarital sex—the temptation to do it again will be stronger....In all this, medical research agrees with the Bible: His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, and he is caught in the cords of his sin (Proverbs 5:22). If we fail to be a wall against certain sins, we will be caught in the cords of those sins, and never know the goodness of becoming as one who found peace. (Ibid)
Akin - This woman made this man complete, whole. She was that divinely sent companion, the helper who is his complement (Ge 2:18,20). In her presence he finds peace; he is set at ease. For him, the wall comes down and her towers fall into his hands. His banner over her is love (Song 2:4), and her banner over him is peace (Song 8:10). O’Donnell says it well: “His victory over her virginity (ironically) brings peace—to her, to him, to them, to everyone around them” (Song, 129). So we see in marriage holiness is a path to happiness. Purity is a path to peace, just another gift ultimately provided by the Prince of Peace, our Lord Jesus Christ (Isa 9:6-7). (Ibid)
Shulammite (young woman)...
NET - Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-Hamon; he leased out the vineyard to those who maintained it. Each was to bring a thousand shekels of silver for its fruit.
NLT - Solomon has a vineyard at Baal-hamon, which he leases out to tenant farmers. Each of them pays a thousand pieces of silver for harvesting its fruit.
Deere has an interesting comment on Song 8:11-12 - Apparently they first met in a vineyard that Solomon had leased out to her brothers. (The location of Baal Hamon is unknown.) Each tenant was to grow enough grapes to make 1,000 shekels (about 25 pounds) of silver for the landowner. And each tenant would receive 200 shekels (about 5 pounds) of silver as his wages. As stated near the beginning of the book (1:6), the beloved worked in the vineyard, submitting to her brothers’ discipline. While there she met Solomon and he fell in love with her. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary)
Guzik - The idea in these verses seems to be an appreciation of the cost and value of something. Solomon’s vineyard had value, and so it cost something to use it. (Ibid)
Net Note on vineyard - The term כֶּרֶם (kerem, “vineyard”) is used literally in 8:11 in reference to Solomon’s physical vineyard, but in 8:12 it is used figuratively (hypocatastasis) in reference to the Beloved: כַּרְמִי (karmi, “my vineyard”). Throughout the Song, the term כֶּרֶם (“vineyard”) is used figuratively (Song 1:6; 2:15; 8:12). In Song 8:12 it is used in reference to either (1) herself, (2) her choice of whom to give herself to in love, or (3) her physical body. In contrast to Solomon’s physical vineyard, whose fruit can be bought and sold (Song 8:11), she is not for sale: She will only give herself freely to the one whom she chooses to love...In contrast to King Solomon, who owns the vineyard at Baal-Hamon and who can buy and sell anything in the vineyard that he wishes, she proclaims that her “vineyard” (= herself or her body) belongs to her alone. In contrast to the vineyard, which can be leased out, and its fruit, which can be bought or sold, her “vineyard” is not for sale. Her love must and is to be freely given. (Bolding added) (NET Notes on Song 8)
Carr on shekels - The term shekel is not in either of these texts, but since the shekel was the common measure of weight (and of coinage after about 500 BC), it is probably intended here. The common shekel weighed about 0.4 ounces (11.3 grammes) and the ‘royal’ (‘heavy’) shekel about 0.457 ounces (13 grammes), and at current silver prices would be worth around $3.00. The fee per tenant would, on this reckoning, be about $3,000. (Ibid)
Shulammite (young woman)...
Song 8:12 "My very own vineyard is at my disposal; The thousand shekels are for you, Solomon, and two hundred are for those who take care of its fruit."are for you, Solomon, and two hundred are for those who take care of its fruit.”.
NET - My vineyard, which belongs to me, is at my disposal alone. The thousand shekels belong to you, O Solomon, and two hundred shekels belong to those who maintain it for its fruit.
NLT - But my vineyard is mine to give, and Solomon need not pay a thousand pieces of silver. But I will give two hundred pieces to those who care for its vines. Young Man
See comment by Deere in Song 8:11.
My very own vineyard - She is not speaking of a literal vineyard, but of herself, her body. And since she was the "owner" she could give it to whom she chose and clearly she chose Solomon.
Akin - Shulammite also had a vineyard: her body (cf. 1:6). She belongs to no one except the one to whom she chooses to give herself. Solomon may own thousands of possessions, but she is given as a gift. Again, we are reminded that love cannot be bought; it can only be given. It is a privilege, not an obligation, to give your body to another, to give yourself to another person. Never lose sight of the truth that you are blessed and privileged to receive the affection and love of your mate. You cannot earn it and you really do not deserve it. Do you ever look at your mate and think, “God gave her to me?” “God finely crafted this man for me?” You should. True love always has the quality of a gift. After all, God loved the world by giving His only Son (John 3:16). (Exalting Jesus in Song of Songs -Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary)
Guzik - The maiden recognized her own value, and after defending her honor and virginity both in her youth and courtship, she was then able to freely and rightly give it to Solomon.....The attitude of the maiden is quite different from that of most people in modern western culture. She saw genuine value in both her virginity and more importantly in herself. She was not to be cheaply and easily given away; and therefore she found a man who truly valued her, estimating her worth correctly and highly. (Ibid)
Glickman - Her own vineyard represents her own person (Song 1:6-note; Song 2:15-note). Its ‘position’ before her emphasizes that she is under her free direction to do with herself as she pleases.” (Ibid).
Deere says that the thousand...are for you means she is saying "Even her possessions (including her income) were his." (Ibid)
MacArthur - While Solomon might have leased out his real vineyard for profit, she gave the vineyard of her love to Solomon. (Ibid)
Estes on my very own vineyard - Shulamith’s life was her vineyard. Because she was pure, she could give herself entirely to her husband. Her heart was undivided, and her body was not tainted by premarital sex. (Ibid)
Spurgeon - There are a great many people, who seem to forget that they have a vineyard of their own to keep; or else, if they remember it, they cannot say, ‘My vineyard, which is mine, is before me,’ for they go about gazing on other people’s vineyards, instead of keeping their eyes fixed upon their own. They say, ‘Look at So-and-so’s vineyard; I don’t think he trims his vines in the new style.’
RSB - The expression “My own vineyard” suggests that this verse is spoken by the woman. Here as in Song 1:8 the literal use of “vineyard” is followed by a metaphorical use. The girl’s “vineyard” is her body, with its natural, rustic beauty. She is content with this treasure to share with the one she loves. Solomon can keep his wealth.
Carr on my very own vineyard - The contrast is between Solomon’s extensive properties (harem?) and the beloved’s own person, of which she alone has the right of assignation. (Ibid)
At my disposal - This can also be expressed as "before me" (cp this idea of "before" in e.g., Ge 13:9; 20:15; 24:51; 34:10; 47:6; Jer 40:4) The idea is that someone who has control (such as a land-owner or king) over the property to dispose of as he wishes.
Two hundred are for those who take care of its fruit - This is difficult to understand with any degree of certainty.
Kinlaw postulates that "The probability is that references that were easily understandable when written have become problems for us because of distance and its accompanying ignorance of ancient customs."
Carr on Two hundred (shekels?) is probably to be understood in connection with the payment fee in Song 8:11, and is the percentage of the profit shared by the laborers. The king does not have the power to give the girl to any of his people, any more than he has to command her love. (Ibid)
POSB - When the Shulamite was young and began to mature and be desired by men, she was, as her brothers termed it, a wall. She was pure and discreet, and carefully guarded her virtue (v.10). Her purity and physical beauty would prove to be sources of great favor and contentment to her husband in the future. But even then, as a young lady, she had already found favor with Solomon. He had been very attracted to her beauty and character. And, in time, he would marry her. She had first met Solomon in a vineyard near her home (Baalhamon), where her brothers farmed as tenants of the king (v.11). Each man was expected to produce fruit valued at 1,000 shekels of silver. The young woman’s statement about her own vineyard—her body—relates something about her virtue (see 1:6). When Solomon first saw her and was attracted to her, she let him know that she was not a part of her brothers’ arrangement with him. Because her vineyard was her own, her body and her love would be enjoyed only by the man to whom she chose to give it. Obviously, the king did win her heart and her love completely, for eventually, she freely gave herself—all she was and all she possessed—to him. She asked Solomon to reward her brothers for tending the fruit in her vineyard—or protecting her. (Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible- Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon)
Solomon (young man)...
THE MARRIED COUPLE IN
NET - O you who stay in the gardens, my companions are listening attentively for your voice; let me be the one to hear it!
NLT - O my darling, lingering in the gardens, your companions are fortunate to hear your voice. Let me hear it, too! Young Woman
Deere - These words of the two lovers recall early passionate requests from their courtship days which show that their love had not lost its intensity. (Ibid)
Carr on listening for your voice - The lover calls for her response to his presence (cf. Song 2:14). (Ibid)
Listening (07181)(qashab) means to incline one's ears, to attend to, to hearken to.
NET Note on listening for your voice - The term מַקְשִׁיבִים (maqshivim) is in the Hiphil stem which denotes an intense desire to hear someone’s voice, that is, to eagerly listen for someone’s voice (e.g., Jer 6:17) (HALOT 1151 s.v. קשׁב 1). The participle functions verbally and denotes a continual, ongoing, durative action. (NET Notes on Song 8)
Net Bible - Hiphil stem which denotes an intense desire to hear someone’s voice, that is, to eagerly listen for someone’s voice (e.g., Je 6:17)...The participle functions verbally and denotes a continual, ongoing, durative action. (NET Notes on Song 8)
Let me hear - This is in the form of a command by Solomon to his beloved to hear her voice, which he described as "sweet" in Song 2:14. NET Note adds "The imperative הַשְׁמִיעִינִי (hashmi’ini) functions as a request. The lover asks his beloved to let him hear her beautiful voice (e.g., Song 2:14)."
Shulamite (young woman)
NET - Make haste, my beloved! Be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices.
NLT - Come away, my love! Be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices.
Hurry - His request in Song 8:13 stimulates an immediate response from they young woman in the form of a command to her beloved. And then in a manner reminiscent of a previous description (Song 2:9-note, Song 2:17-note) she pictures what his rushing to her side looks like ("like a gazelle or young stag on the mountains")
Deere - In their courtship she had longed for him to take her as his bride (see Song 2:17). Now in their marriage she longed with the same intensity for his strength and agility. Like the “hills” in 2:17, the mountains in 8:14 may refer to her breasts. (Ibid)
Constable - The narrative closes with a call for the lover to return to his beloved. Many students of the Bible have noted the similarity with how the whole Bible ends: “Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20). (Ibid)
My beloved - 24x in 23v in the Song = Song 1:13, 14, 16; 2:3, 8, 9, 10, 16, 17; 4:16; 5:2, 4, 5, 6 (twice), Song 5:8, 10, 16; 6:2, 3; 7:9, 11, 13; 8:14. (There are only 2 other uses in the OT - Isaiah 5:1, Jeremiah 11:15).
Beloved (01730) (dod) means beloved, loved one. 32 of 53 OT uses are found in the Song of Solomon.
Carr - The final invitation is to a continued celebration of the love and communion hich the happy couple shares. The joys of physical union and mutual enjoyment are stamped with God’s approval, for the Song of Songs is part of his holy Word. (Ibid)
Guzik makes an interesting comment - Because her husband, the beloved, cherished her so much her life was indeed as pleasant as a garden. Dr. Jeff Schloss noted how important it was for a wife to feel this, explaining that husbands and wives rank their happiness in correlation to how much they believe they are loved and cherished by their spouse. Wives who do not have the confidence that they are loved and cherished by their husband in fact die sooner, and they die sooner than single women. These findings are true across cultures. (Ibid)
Glickman sums up - In every way we have seen a marriage in maturity. In their more intimate sexual experience, in the greater security of the wife, in her playful freedom to initiate love, and finally in the fullness of their relationship the poet has sketched a revealing portrait of the model couple. (Ibid).
Deere concludes his comments on Song of Solomon - The Song of Songs is a beautiful picture of God’s “endorsement” of physical love between husband and wife. Marriage is to be a monogamous, permanent, self-giving unit, in which the spouses are intensely devoted and committed to each other, and take delight in each other. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24).The Song of Songs shows that sex in marriage is not “dirty.” The physical attractiveness of a man and woman for each other and the fulfillment of those longings in marriage are natural and honorable. But the book does more than extol physical attraction between the sexes. It also honors pleasing qualities in the lovers’ personalities. Also moral purity before marriage is praised (e.g., Song 4:12). Premarital sex has no place in God’s plans (Song 2:7; 3:5). Faithfulness before and after marriage is expected and is honored (Song 6:3; 7:10; 8:12). Such faithfulness in marital love beautifully pictures God’s love for and commitment to His people. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary)
Paige Patterson - In a world awash with the debris of broken homes, crushed spirits, and fractured dreams, God’s people need the message of the Song of Solomon as never before. The Song is a righteous antidote to a licentious society that has prostituted the sacred nature of human love. Hope exudes from its pages. If ever a book was written with a message more salient for a later generation, Solomon’s ode is that book.
Constable has some wise words for all who seek to study the Song of Solomon - Hebrew poetry generally contains many figures of speech, and the Song of Solomon in particular contains an unusually large number of them. It is therefore often difficult to know whether we should interpret a particular statement literally or whether it is a poetic description of something else. These judgments require skill in interpretation. As we continue to read the text and the comments of others who have studied it, we need to ask God to open our minds so that we will understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45). Biblical interpretation is an art that any Christian can perfect, though it requires much practice as well as divine enablement. (Song of Solomon Commentary)
POSB - How to Keep the Marriage Fires Burning: Regularly rehearse your love story, and keep adding new chapters. What a beautiful ending to the Song of Solomon…no wonder it is called the Song of Songs! This happily married couple of many years relive the story of how they met and fell in love—the mighty king and the country girl. The Song closes with them still passionately in love, and leaves us with the feeling that their love would continue on and on. Every couple should treasure the path they have walked together. As husbands and wives, you should never forget the first time you laid eyes on your spouse, your first kiss, your first date, your wedding night, the days your children were born…the list goes on. Likewise, you should never forget the storms you have survived together nor the fires that have made your love stronger. Your story is important, and it is not over. God does not intend for your story to end because you fell out of love, or because you are not the same people anymore. The last chapter is not set in the divorce court due to harsh words, bitterness, unforgiveness, or infidelity. God designed your story to go on until one must gently lay the other in the arms of Jesus. You must place your wife or husband like a seal over your heart and jealously guard your love, knowing that it is the most precious and valuable treasure in your life. Do not let anything threaten it. (Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible- Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon)
TODAY IN THE WORD - “We are all made for marriage, as our bodies show and the Scriptures state,” Martin Luther noted. On this point, however, Luther was wrong. Scripture does not actually say that we are all made for marriage. Jesus taught that being married and being single were both callings from God. While some marry, others have been called to be single for the sake of the kingdom of God.
Likewise, the apostle Paul pointed out that single people enjoy certain advantages when it comes to serving God. They have the potential to minister without the distractions of married life. The determining factor is a matter of divine purpose for the individual. Paul favored the single life because of his own personal experience; he admitted that “each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that” (1Cor. 7:7).
Paul also recognized that one’s marital state is also a matter of choice. When he was asked by a group of singles in the Corinthian church whether it was appropriate for them to marry, Paul left the decision up to them (1Cor. 7:25-28). They had the freedom to marry whomever they pleased, as long as they married another believer (cf. 1 Cor. 7:39).
In today’s reading the bride speaks of a similar freedom. She compares what she has to offer with the vineyard in Baal-hamon that Solomon already possesses. Just as Solomon had the right to let his vineyard out to tenants, she has the right to give herself to the one she chooses. The Song of Solomon concludes with her offering herself to the one she loves, as a treasure unequaled.
During the wedding ceremony both husband and wife are asked to make a commitment. In a sense, the same is true of the believer’s relationship with Christ. Jesus has already spoken His vows. He has promised to receive all who come to Him in faith (John 6:37). He sealed this vow by offering Himself on the cross as a payment for sin. All that remains is for us to respond.
Joe Guglielmo's Sermon Notes on
Now as we read this what she is requesting might seem kind of strange in our culture but please understand that she does not desire for Solomon to be her literal brother. You see, in that culture to kiss anyone in public besides your brother or sister was frowned upon. Kinlaw put it like this, “She would like the liberty in public that the brother and sister in that day had. So she wishes she could freely kiss him in public.” And yet she wanted to display her love, she enjoyed kissing her husband and did not want to be restricted in showing her love toward him.
I think that is important in a marriage relationship. Not only for the couple that are married, but that their children can plainly see how much they love each other and that the foundation for their love is Christ. Our children never had a doubt how much Julie and I loved each other, in fact they would see us kiss and they would be embarrassed. But they knew we loved each other very much and that love was based in Christ because we both loved the Lord!
Now how does this relate to our relationship with Christ? Think about that for a minute. We have Christians today who hide their faith; they don’t want to show their love for Christ, like they are embarrassed by it. There are no secret agent Christians, at least there shouldn’t be! They are either hiding their faith or on the other end they are so obnoxious with their faith that they are repulsive to others. Display your love for God in a way that would bring Him honor, that would bring Him glory and as others see your love for Him they will desire to have what you have!
Notice how he embraces her. His left hand is under her head supporting her. His right hand is around her protecting her. May we love our wives that way, that we embrace them with love, supporting her, making her feel that she is the most precious person in the world! May we rap ourselves around our spouse and make them feel secure in us, that we are there to protect them!
Now in your relationship with God we need to allow God to hold you close, draw near to Him and He will draw near to you. Allow God to embrace you, comfort you, love you as He desires. If you do, He will lift up your down cast soul, He will give you rest, He will encourage you and direct you.
We see in verse 4 that she once again says, “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, Do not stir up nor awaken love Until it pleases.” This is the third time in this Song of Solomon that she says this, we read this previously in Song of Solomon 2:7 and 3:5. And the basic idea is not to go looking for love; God will bring it to you just as He brought Eve to Adam. In His time, according to His plan, He will bring the person for you. Don’t go looking for love, don’t go stirring up those emotions until God brings that person to you or you will be in trouble. Don’t go looking but just live out your life and God will bring the one to you otherwise you will be looking in all the wrong places. Fall in love with Jesus and He will give you the desire of your heart because it will be His desire for your life!
There is some dispute regarding who is speaking here but I lean towards the fact that these are the people from her community and as Solomon and his bride return from their mountain get-away, they were in the mountains of Bether or separation, the people notice something different about her. Now she is leaning on her beloved. She learned to trust in him. She was unsure at first, but once she spent time with him she learned to rest in him.
And this apple tree that is spoken of may be the place that they met, under this tree and this is the place where their love for each other began to grow. And it also seems to be the place, under this tree that her mother gave birth to her so it has a very special meaning to her.
Now let’s make the spiritual application here because I believe that is what the Lord is doing with us. He is getting us to lean more and more upon Him and to trust less and less in ourselves. But you must get alone with Him, to the mountains of Bether or separation. And, as you spend time with the Lord, when people see you, do they see something different in your life? Do they see you leaning upon the Lord?
It is as Spurgeon wrote, “Beloved, there is no part of the pilgrimage of a saint in which he can afford to walk in any other way but in the way of leaning. He cometh up at the first, and he cometh up at the last, still leaning, still leaning upon Christ Jesus; ay, and leaning more and more heavily upon Christ the older he grows.” May we learn to lean upon Him!
Here we see the Shulamite speak to her beloved and as you can see, their love for each other was strong, their love for each was burning hot! On the other hand, jealousy, which is not true love, is destructive. At least worldly jealousy is destructive. Think of relationships that jealousy has destroyed and which many times is an unfounded jealousy.
Keep in mind that true love is freely given, there are no strings attached. If you can’t give love freely, then don’t give it at all. The fire of true love will not be put out but will continue to burn no matter who or what tries to throw water upon it and quench it as long as you tend to that fire!
As you look at these verses there are four pictures that are being painted for us in regards to love. They are,
Love is like a seal on the heart and arm. Therefore, love belongs to those who are willing to give up something of themselves to another person who is also willing to give up something of themselves, it is working together and willing to surrender all to the other person.
Love is like death, in that it is persistent and keeps reaching out; it is total and irreversible. Therefore, the bond of love needs to be nourished and regarded as permanent. You starve a love relationship and it will die!
Love is like a raging fire and cannot be extinguished. Therefore, one must take care how, where, and with whom the spark of love is ignited. And once that relationship is established, never let that fire burn out!
Love cannot be bought or sold; it is not a piece of merchandise. Therefore, love must be appreciated for its great value and not be taken for granted. May we never take our relationship with our spouse for granted!
Now in regards to the spiritual application, God has given to us the Holy Spirit as His seal of love for us, showing that we are His and that He will return someday to take that which He has purchased with his life - the Church, His bride!
It is as Paul said in Ephesians 1:13-14, “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”
Also, and this is important, God wants us to love Him with no strings attached. Often people say to God, “I will trust in you if you do such and such for me.” That is the wrong attitude; you don’t approach God that way. Jacob did this with the Lord when he said in Genesis 28:20-22, “. . . ‘If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.’” Jacob spent 20 years away from God before he returned to Bethel and this time there were no demands that he made to God before he would follow and serve Him. An important lesson for us to learn!
Here we see her brothers and some feel that they are speaking of a sister that they and this Shulamite woman had. And their concern is preparing her for marriage because she is going to grow up. And they are just wondering how she will turn out, what they will do for her when she is older and ready to marry.
That is a possibility, but I tend to see this as looking back when this Shulamite woman was very young, before she was in puberty, and her brothers are concerned about her growing up and how she will turn out, will she be married and how they can prepare her for this day!
And as you get to verse 9 they seem to be saying that if she lives a good life, a life of separation, they will build upon that. But if she is open to all kinds of things, living an immoral lifestyle, they will try to protect her, enclose her so she won’t continue down this destructive path.
How does that apply to us as Christians? I look at it like this. As Christians we need to be a wall, to live a life that is separated unto God. Too often Christians are open to anything and everything, accepting all that comes their way. God has called us to be holy, set apart for His use, for His glory.
In the church God has placed leaders “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head; Christ; from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:12-16. May we come out from among the evil of this world and be holy for our Lord is holy!
Here in verse 10 she is responding to what her brothers said, remembering back and looking back from where she is at now. Glickman made these comments about this verse, "She herself had chosen to be a wall. And finally she grew up. Her breasts were like towers. The towers were the fortresses of the land. They inspired a somber appreciation from the citizens and a healthy respect from their enemies.”
She did not let her walls come tumbling down but kept herself pure, she did not engage in premarital sex and her family helped her to stay strong. We read, “. . . We will build upon her A battlement of silver; And if she is a door, We will enclose her With boards of cedar.” Song of Solomon 8:9
David Guzik gives us these insightful words that are important in the days we are living in. He wrote, “We dare not miss the connection between the wise and noble defense of her honor and virginity described in these and the previous verses, and the health and peace she now found in married life. Her wall-like character was an important part of the foundation for the blessed married life she now enjoyed. . . .
It was also important that her family encouraged this concern and character development in her from a young age. One reason this is important is that once we experience something – such as premarital sex – the temptation to do it again will be stronger. This is confirmed by not only experience, but also by neurobiology. When we get a chemical/hormonal/biological rush from a physically pleasurably experience, it builds brain circuits that look for a repeat of the same rush. The body also compensates by decreasing the production and contribution of natural and healthy chemical/hormonal/biological agents.”
We need to keep those walls up, we need to keep those doors closed and remain pure. Remember what the Shulamite said to the daughters of Jerusalem, “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, Do not stir up now awaken love Until it pleases.” Song of Solomon 8:4. If we fail to be a wall against certain sins, we will be caught in the cords of those sins, and never know the goodness of becoming “as one who found peace.” Solomon said in Proverbs 5:22, “His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, And he is caught in the cords of his sin.” Be wise and don’t let your walls come crumbling down or keep your doors open, remain pure and God will honor your faithfulness to Him!
One more point here and that is the Shulamite speaks of her life of separation and now her joy, her satisfaction, her rest in her beloved. Spiritually speaking we know this to be true, that true peace is found only in the Lord as we look to Him.
She tells us that Solomon owned a vineyard in the northern part of the country, in Baal Hamon. And Solomon leased his land to others to grow their fruit and he made a profit from it. And the Shulamite builds on that picture by telling Solomon that yes, he has leased his land, but he can have her freely. She desired to give her love to him. Estes builds on that and he said, “Shulamith’s life was her vineyard. Because she was pure, she could give herself entirely to her husband. Her heart was undivided, and her body was not tainted by premarital sex.”
I also see a beautiful picture in our relationship to our Lord. God wants us to give our love freely to Him as Paul said, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2. May we freely give our love to Him, not out of the Law or some requirement, but because we love Him so much we freely surrender to Him!
Solomon is once again just expressing his love for his bride and men, this is so important. Our wives should feel that they are the most important, the most cherished person in our lives and thus, we need to let them know it! Dr. Jeff Schloss showed how important it is for a wife to feel that way, in fact both husbands and wives ranked their happiness in correlation to how much they believe they are loved and cherished by their spouse. Wives who do not have the confidence that they are loved and cherished by their husband in fact dies sooner, and they die sooner than single women. These findings are true across cultures. Solomon made her feel loved and as much as others wanted to hear her voice, he wanted to hear her voice more!
As the song concludes she calls for her beloved to come and claim her as his own. What a beautiful song of love that Solomon and his bride had for each other and it should be reflected in our own lives towards our spouse and towards our Lord. As we close this book this evening, also understand that this is a love song and it is “the Old Testament’s endorsement of monogamy in the face of the most glaring example of polygamy to be found in the Scriptures. It is a powerful plea to Israel of Solomon’s day to return to the God-given ideal of love and marriage.” (Twyman Williams, The Song of Solomon, p. 422) Apply those lessons to your marriage, to your walk with the Lord, and watch both areas of your life grow and blossom!