Song of Songs 2:15-3:4 - NOTES
2:15 "Catch the foxes for us, The little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, While our vineyards are in blossom."
2:16 "My beloved is mine, and I am his; He pastures his flock among the lilies.
2:17 "Until the cool of the day when the shadows flee away, Turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle Or a young stag on the mountains of Bether
3:1 "On my bed night after night I sought him Whom my soul loves; I sought him but did not find him.
3:2 'I must arise now and go about the city; In the streets and in the squares I must seek him whom my soul loves.' I sought him but did not find him.
3:3 "The watchmen who make the rounds in the city found me, And I said, 'Have you seen him whom my soul loves?'
3:4 "Scarcely had I left them When I found him whom my soul loves; I held on to him and would not let him go Until I had brought him to my mother's house, And into the room of her who conceived me."
3:5 "I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, By the gazelles or by the hinds of the field, That you will not arouse or awaken my love Until she pleases."
2:15: "Catch the foxes for us, The little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, While our vineyards are in blossom." It might seem strange that, as the bride-to-be extols her betrothed's lovely face and sweet voice (verse 14), she would speak of a fox hunt. As with many images in this beautiful poem, the foxes are symbolic.
Solomon's readers considered foxes to be destructive animals that could destroy valuable vineyards (cf. Judges 15:4; Psalm 63:10; Ezekiel 13:4). As the Shulammite verbalizes her love for King Solomon, she speaks of the need to "catch" the foxes that spoil the vines. If the blossoming vineyard is taken to mean the growing romance between the couple, then the foxes represent potential problems that could damage their relationship prior to the marriage (which takes place in chapter 5). The bride-to-be is saying, in essence, "Let's take preventative measures to protect our love from anything that could harm it."
In ancient literature, wild animals were often used to represent problems that could separate lovers. For example, Egyptian love songs used crocodiles to picture a threat to romantic love. In Israel, crocodiles were not common, but foxes were.
In the Old Testament, foxes are mentioned in Judges 15. Samson ties torches to 300 foxes and releases them to destroy the grain fields of the Philistines. In Nehemiah 4:3, the evil Tobiah mocks the rebuilding of Jerusalem's wall, saying, "What they are building-even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!" In the New Testament, Jesus once uses the word picture of a fox in a negative way. In speaking of Herod, Jesus states, "Go tell that fox, 'I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal'" (Luke 13:32). Jesus calls Herod a "fox" as a rebuke of that monarch's crafty and worthless nature.
Song of Solomon 2:15 is a wise and beautiful verse. The vineyards are "in bloom"-the romance is alive and growing and preparing to bear fruit. The Beloved desires the "foxes" to be rounded up and destroyed-all potential threats to their relationship must be removed. And she specifies that the foxes are "little"-it's the little things, the things overlooked, that often spoil things of value. The Beloved wants her lover, Solomon, to address and remove all dangers, obstacles, and threats to their love. As they pay attention to the "little things," the lovers will continue to pursue marriage and sexual intimacy.
Song 2:15 (Catch the little foxes)
"Catch the foxes for us, The little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, While our vineyards are in blossom."
Introduction: This verse gives a call to "catch the foxes", but it is unclear who is speaking. While it is often credited that the man is speaking, this is uncertain as it may be the woman or even the "daughters of Jerusalem", though the later is very doubtful.
Explanation: This verse brings to mind a picture of both playfulness and seriousness. One can picture the foxes running playfully in the vineyard, at the same time they are destroying the vineyards. Just as this verse can bring various pictures to mind, it has been interpreted in many ways. The main way that this verse is often interpreted is that "anything that would spoil their relationship (the little foxes) must be caught and dealt with, however small they may appear to be.10" It has also been interpreted that catching the foxes is like a game and that "The couple, like the foxes they chase, are young, excited, and full of life. It is springtime, and young people are out playing.11" The support for the latter view is that the foxes, while a nuisance to the owners of the vineyards, were not a major threat to the crop and that catching the foxes was more of a game for the young boys than something to be taken seriously. However, this same evidence may be used to support the first interpretation. The couple is urged to "catch the foxes" in their relationship, even though they are small and do not seem like much of a problem. The couple needs to identify and remove areas which will destroy their relationship even if they seem small. If left in the vineyard, these foxes may slowly destroy the lovers love.
Christan Focus: We are called into relationship with Christ. Just as the little foxes can destroy human relationships, these little foxes may hinder our relationship with Christ. If we are not communicating openly with him, if we are keeping areas of our life to ourself instead of being shaped by Christ. Some of these little foxes may seem small, but sin is sin and will destroy our relationship with our Creator.
Application: This world is full of foxes that would seek to destroy our relationship with our spouse and with our Creator. These foxes may seem cute and harmless at first, failing to mention something here, a small white lie there, etc. However, these foxes can work their way into our relationships in such a way that trust, closeness and unity are destroyed. Most problems in marriage do not start big, they start as little habits, rare occurrences, that slowly grow into major problems that destroy the marriage. It is important to heed the words of the Song writer and to "Catch the foxes" before they have a chance to ruin the vineyard.
Song 2:16-17 (Delighting in mutual ownership and sexual desire)
"My beloved is mine, and I am his; He pastures his flock among the lilies. "Until the cool of the day when the shadows flee away, Turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle Or a young stag on the mountains of Bether.":
Introduction: The woman now delights that her beloved is hers, and that she is his. She continues to delight in their sexuality and invites him to come to her and to be with her all through the night.
Translation: As seen in the following translations, Song 2:16 has been translated in two different ways.
(1) He pastures his flock among the lilies. (Song of Solomon 2:16, NASB95) and (2) he browses among the lilies. (Song of Solomon 2:16, NIV). While the Hebrew allows for both, the wording for "his flock" is absent in Hebrew and it is likely best translated "he browses among the lilies" as it is in the NIV. However, this does not have a major impact on the meaning.
Explanation: This passage begins with a beautiful recognition of the mutuality of the relationship. "My beloved is mine, and I am his." They are able to rejoice in belonging to one another. This looks back to Genesis, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24, NASB95) and looks forward to 1 Corinthians 7:4, "The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does" (1 Corinthians 7:4, NASB95).
Illustration: When I was younger, this idea of possession used to really both me. I would heard a guy say "She is MY girlfriend." It sounded rude to me, to think that you could own someone like a dog or a favorite toy. I think that that rejection had an element of truth to it. Many times this was said by someone who was immature in their relationship and was looking at ownership, and a mark of manhood rather than the loving ownership and care of an adoring husband. This man may have been thinking of his girlfriend as more of an object to be conquered and owned than as his beloved to be cherished. Now that I am older and married and can see the beauty of this realization, "My beloved is mine! I am his!" This is a unity of love as God intended it. This woman is not to share her husband with any other woman and this woman is not to share herself with any other man. There is exclusivity in the relationship and they belong to each other. I am joyful as I continue to be amazed that my beloved, my Elyse, is mine. She is mine and no other's. I also delight that I am hers and no other's.
After delighting in their mutual bond, the girl delights in their sexual union. As we already mentioned the lilies (or lotuses) were commonly pictured in relation to sexuality. The man is pasturing among the lilies. He is enjoying her sexuality. She then calls to him to enjoy their love, their sexuality together until the morning, "the cool of the day when the shadows flee away." Their mutual love and even ownership increases her passion and desire. She continues to urge him to be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of Bether. The mountains of Bether were a mountain range near Jerusalem. However, rather than referring to these mountains specifically she seems to be using them more as a reference to mountains in general.. In Song 4:5-6 we see the man reply to the woman's request in similar language.
"Your two breasts are like two fawns, Twins of a gazelle Which feed among the lilies. "Until the cool of the day When the shadows flee away, I will go my way to the mountain of myrrh And to the hill of frankincense. (Song of Solomon 4:5-6, NASB95).
Here we see the woman's breasts being compared to two fawns which feed among the lilies (parallel to Song 2:16) and he will go to the mountains until "the cool of the day, when the shadows flee away. The woman is inviting the man to energetically enjoy her sexuality and to enjoy her fruit, namely her breasts, all night long until the morning comes.
If we look ahead to the very last verse of the Song we will see the same request, "Hurry, my beloved, And be like a gazelle or a young stag On the mountains of spices" (Song of Solomon 8:14, NASB95). The Song delights in our human sexuality and presents it again and again as good, pleasing, exciting and delightful to the couple within the freeing commitment of marriage.
Christian Focus: Just as the beloved delighted that her man was hers and she was his, we can delight that our Savior is ours and we are his. In 1 Corinthians 6:20 and 1 Corinthians 7:23 we are reminded that Christ has bought us with a price, in that "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8, NASB95). Our heavenly Lover, died for us to buy us from death and to unite us with himself. We are his. At the same time, we are reminded in Galatians 2:20 that Christ is in us and in a way is ours. "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me" (Galatians 2:20, NASB95). Christ is ours because he gave himself for us and to us. He is our ultimate Lover.
Application: Here, as throughout the Song, we are reminded to delight in our sexuality. In Song 2:7 we were urged to wait until the proper time, within marriage and here we see the delight in knowing that you belong to one another. This unity, this oneness, can lead to a joyful giving of yourselves to one another physically as well as emotionally. Sex is not something simply for having children and it is certainly not something dirty. It is a gift of God to be delighted in and enjoyed with our spouse in a monogamous marriage.
Closing: As we have read so far we have had the delight to see the couple's relationship grow. We have repeatedly heard them express their desire for one another, a desire for openness, oneness, and physical intimacy. We have gone with them on a date and praise each other with loving words. However, through all their desire, which is shown again as good, we have not yet been told that they have fulfilled this desire. They have not yet consummated their love and their marriage through sexual love. They are waiting to enjoy this "banquet" at the proper time.
Song 3, Verses 1-5
Song of Solomon 3:1-5 describes the pain of separation when love is at its height leading up to the wedding. Love becomes so strong that it even becomes difficult so sleep at night. Duane Garrett interprets Song of Solomon 3:1-5 to mean that the young lady has decided to give herself totally to her Lover. 146] In other words, she has made the decision to marry him. He says this text stresses the "mental anxiety" that a young girl experiences prior to marriage. She is no longer at rest in her bed of rest, which the king built for her in Song of Solomon 1:16-17. Her passion for more time with him causes her to lose sleep.
Figurative Interpretation - The preceding acts of separating oneself from the cares of this world and learning to commune with God has the transforming effect of developing an intense longing in one's heart for communion with God and His Word. Figurative interpreted, Watchman Nee suggests Song of Solomon 3:1-5 represents the time when the Lord's presence subsides in order to allow the believer to feel uncomfortable enough to begin seeking God's face of his own will. 147] Just as the Shulamite quickly finds her lover, Jesus knows our limits and allows Himself to be soon found. The Shulamite's efforts to bring her lover into her bedchamber represent our efforts to maintain a feeling of the Lord's constant presence again, which was recently lost. However, this journey of faith requires God's children to walk at times without a sense of His tangible presence. At this phase in spiritual growth, a child of God must find rest in allowing the Lord's presence to come and go at God's own will and timing. The believer is being trained to walk by faith with or without the feeling of His divine presence. For example, Andrew Wommack tells the story of how he experienced forty days of supernatural, divine encounters at an older teenager. When this experience ended, he began to wonder what he had done to cause these encounters to subside. He later understood that he had no more influence of turning them off than he had in turning them on to begin with. It was entirely orchestrated by the Lord. Soon afterwards, Andrew was drafted into the military and served about a year and a half in Vietnam. During this time he was placed in military barracks with others. The walls of these barracks were plastered with pictures of unclothed women. This forced him to spend his entire day with his head in the Bible. He read the Bible twelve hours a day in an effort to keep his eyes and mind off of those dirty pictures. He makes the point that this second uncomfortable experience did more in growing him spiritually than the short season of divine encounters, since it forced him into God's Word intensely for the first time in his life.
Song 3:1 "On my bed night after night I sought him Whom my soul loves; I sought him but did not find him.- Comments- The word "night" is found in the plural in the Hebrew text. Therefore, the text is literally translated, "by nights." Duane Garrett explains that the KJV phrase "by night" is better understood to mean "in the nights," or "night after night." 149] The concept of repetition is meant. He understands this verse to describe a young maiden who longs to lay with her lover each night she goes to bed. Although she does not expect him to be there prior to marriage, she nevertheless longs for him during this time of solitude and rest. Garrett says her "yearning and agitation" are emphasized here in this verse.
Song of Solomon 3:2 I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.
Song of Solomon 3:3 The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?
Song of Solomon 3:3 - "The watchmen that go about the city found me" - Word Study on "The watchmen" - Strong says the Hebrew word "watchmen" "shamar" ( שָׁמַר) (H 8104) is a primitive root meaning, "to hedge about, protect, attend to." The Enhanced Strong says it is used 468 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as "keep 283, observe 46, heed 35, keeper 28, preserve 21, beware 9, Mark 8, watchman 8, wait 7, watch 7, regard 5, save 2, misc 9."
Comments- Isaiah and Ezekiel use the word "watchman" to refer to those whom God has appointed to watch over His people, those who are to preach the Word of God to the people ( Isaiah 52:8; Isaiah 62:6, Ezekiel 33:7).
Isaiah 52:8, "Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion."
Isaiah 62:6, "I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence,"
Ezekiel 33:7, "So thou, O son of Prayer of Manasseh , I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me."
Song of Solomon 3:3 - Figurative Interpretation- Under the Old covenant, a Jew had to look beyond the instructions of the Law and understand its original purpose was to bring a man to the Lord. Paul said in Galatians that the Law was given to the Jews as a way of guiding them to Christ. She will encounter these watchmen again in Song of Solomon 5:7, but this time they will strike her. This means that after the Resurrection of Christ the Law was no longer man's instructor, and those who still clung to the Law also persecuted those who accepted Christ as the fulfillment of this very Law.
Song of Solomon 3:4 It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.
Song of Solomon 3:4 - Word Study on "chambers" - Strong says the Hebrew word "chambers" "cheder" ( חֶדֶר) (H 2315) means, "an apartment, bed chamber, inner chamber innermost." The Enhanced Strong says it is found 38 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as "chamber 21, inner 4, bedchamber + 42963, bedchamber + 49043, inward parts 2, innermost parts 2, parlours 1, south 1, within 1." It is used one other time in Song of Solomon 3:4.
Song of Solomon 3:4, "It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother"s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me."
Song of Solomon 3:4 - Literal Interpretation - The Shulamite found him and brought her beloved to her most intimate place, which was her mother's bed chamber. Since she was still a virgin maiden, this was also her dwelling place.
Figurative Interpretation - "It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth" - We think that we have "found" the Lord. But in actuality, He has allowed Himself to be found by us. He does this to cause our faith to be tested so that it grows. God has set watchmen over Israel and the Church to guide the people. However, every person must encounter the Lord for himself, and not become dependent upon the Jewish priests and Church leaders for guidance. Only those who passionately desire the Lord will look beyond the priesthood and Church leaders to find a personal encounter with Christ. This phase of the Beloved's life ( Song of Solomon 2:8 to Song of Solomon 3:5) has been this time of separation that has given her "dove's eyes," or the spiritual insight to understand her need for a personal encounter with Christ. "I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother"s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me" - Watchman Nee interprets this phrase to mean that "her self-life was mingled with her spiritual desires". 150]
Song of Solomon 3:5 - Word Study on "the roes" - Strong says the Hebrew word "roe" "tseb-ee'" ( צְבִי) (H 6643) means, "prominence; splendor (as conspicuous); also a gazelle (as beautiful)." The Enhanced Strong says it is used 39 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as "roe 9, roebuck 5, glory 8, glorious 6, beautiful 1, beauty 1, goodly 1, pleasant 1." This Hebrew word is used 5 times in the Song of Songs ( Song of Solomon 2:7; Song of Solomon 2:9; Song of Solomon 2:17; Song of Solomon 3:5; Song of Solomon 8:14). Of all the animals in the ancient Orient, the deer symbolized grace and beauty. In Song of Solomon 2:9; Song of Solomon 2:17; Song of Solomon 8:14 this word is used metaphorically of the Lover, who figuratively represents Christ. It may refer to Christ in Song of Solomon 2:17; Song of Solomon 8:14.
Song of Solomon 3:5 - Word Study on "love" - Strong says the Hebrew word "love" "ahabah" ( אַהֲבָה) (H 160), means, "love." The Enhanced Strong says this word is used forty (40) times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as "love 40." It is found 11times in the Song of Solomon ( Song of Solomon 2:4-5; Song of Solomon 2:7; Song of Solomon 3:5; Song of Solomon 3:10; Song of Solomon 5:8; Song of Solomon 7:6; Song of Solomon 8:4; Song of Solomon 8:6-7[twice]), with one of these uses as a substantive to refer to her lover ( Song of Solomon 7:6).
Comments- The possessive personal pronoun "my" is not found in the original Hebrew text. The translators of the KJV added it as a means of clarifying their interpretation of the verse to say that Shulamite woman was telling the daughters of Jerusalem not to awaken her lover.