Sorry for the break and we now return to the Song for yet another powerful lesson. This one is especially for you single people out there.
1 I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.
2 Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens.
3 Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest my lover among the young men. I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste. 4 He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love. 5 Strengthen me with raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am faint with love. 6 His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me. 7 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.
There is much to “digest” (notice the pun ;)) in these verses that speak both to human sexuality and to moral purity. First of all, Song 2:1 actually appears in two hymns, #1 in “The Lily of the Valley,” (or, “I have found a friend in Jesus”) and also in the hymn “Jesus, Rose of Sharon.” I am not sure as to why the authors of each song attributed Jesus to the lily of the valley or the rose of Sharon but my gut tells me it is an allegorical interpretation of the song as speaking not about a marriage but about Jesus and the church. This is just not the case and is more fanciful than fact.
In verse 4 the imagery there is, more than likely, the bed where the love-making occurs. It may allude to a specific place but since the beloved’s love was better than wine (1:2) it seems to point to the same sort of metaphor. The scene is one that is romantic as she is “faint with love” (2:5). The ESV translates this phrase, “for I am sick with love.” Tremper Longman III says:
“Presumably, the woman continues speaking and exclaims that the intensity of her love makes her physically weak. She is exhausted…Love has made her faint…She is overwhelmed emotionally and physically by her love for the man. It is a strong statement of the power of love and may also contain a cautionary note to the effect that love is wonderful but not something to play around with.”
Have you ever felt so strong about a person that it made you physically sick? Have you ever been so in love with a person that all you could think about, all you could dream about was that person and the thought of that person made emotionally drained you? May we all be this sick in love with someone.
“Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” (2:7). That’s a warning! We need not be sick in love and that love be quenched in an unacceptable manner. Love has its appropriate time in the scheme of God’s appropriate plan.
“Love is such a powerful emotion and carries such enormous power that it must not be misused…The full appreciation of the joys of physical love can happen only when love comes at the appropriate time with the partner that love chooses. For the Christian, here are the beginnings of a powerful message of physical love as God’s gift according to his will and timing. It is not a decision reached by the daughters of Jerusalem (any more than by the sons) but one that must be received when and in the manner God has decided.”
In other words…acting out sexually is something that any sexually capable person can do. Many people are out getting a sexual fix for their sexual appetite . This impulse is a strong emotion that is hard to overcome. Many people give in to sexual temptation because their boyfriend or girlfriend whispers in their ears how much they love them and that they would not do this with anyone else so it must be ok. Yet, they are saying that because they want to gratify their sexual desires and so it sounds good but it is not. It is carnal and is weak. But…to quench love when it arouses in the proper scheme is not something everyone does but is something God’s people can experience. This is worth waiting for. I venture into dangerous territory here for there are plenty of people who lost their virginity, are still Christians, are single and wonder what to do now. I recognize that you have made a mistake but fully embrace the idea of you having a brand new start. I heard of one Christian woman tell her Christian boyfriend who upon confessing to her that he was not a virgin and that he felt like she needed to know before they could move on in the relationship she looked at him and said, “You can still be a virgin for me!” It takes a godly woman to say that and be able to accept someone like that.
Good lessons in these verses…What are your thoughts?
. Hippolytus, Origen, Ambrose, Gregory of Nyssa and Bernard of Clairvoux all claimed an allegorical interpretation for this Song. For a reasonable introduction to this and other interpretations of the Song read Hess, Song of Songs
. Tremper Longman III, Song of Songs (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001): 114.
. Hess, Song of Songs, 83.