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Deeper Commentary


Song of Solomon 2:1 Beloved
I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys-
The Egyptian girl doesn't rate these common flowers; her lack of confidence in the face of the opposition from the daughters of Jerusalem is expressed again (see on Song 1:3,4), and comes to a climax at the end when she breaks up with Solomon, effectively saying "I knew it would end like this". And yet they are the flowers which are to adorn the restored Israel in the Kingdom of God (Is. 35:1,2; Hos. 14:6-8). Her every word shows her to be spiritually out of step with God's ways and viewpoints. She now feels unworthy of him; just an ordinary common nothing special flower. This kind of oscillation of confidence is true to observed experience of the "in love" period of relationship. The Songs have every reason to believe them to be a record of an actual relationship Solomon had.

Chapter 1 has closed with the couple in Solomon's palace, but now she seems despondent and considers herself just a common lily. Her dislike of the city life was not because she was a country girl- she was a "prince's daughter", daughter of Pharaoh (Song 7:1). She didn't like it because the 'daughters of Jerusalem' were there, her competitors.

It can be no accident that the Lord contrasts the lily favourably with Solomon in all his glory- as if He saw even this unspiritual Gentile girl as far better than Solomon. This is one of many NT allusions which present Solomon unfavourably.


Song of Solomon 2:2 As a lily among thorns, so is my darling among the daughters-
Solomon comforts her that he sees her as unique and special. This is what is hard to believe in love- that I am unique and special. And this is our difficulty in accepting the love of Christ for us. But Solomon negatively compares the daughters of Jerusalem to thorns, with all their associations with condemnation; just as he did in essence as noted on Song 1:9. Solomon addresses her obsession about "the daughters of Jerusalem" by saying that he sees them as thorns and her as a lily. He likens the Jerusalem girls to thorns- he was besotted with this Gentile. Ironically enough, Num. 33:55 had warned that the Gentiles within the land promised to Abraham would be "thorns" to Israel if they married them. And yet Solomon sees the Israelite women as "thorns" and the Gentile as a lily amongst them... Thorns are invariably connected  with spiritual weakness and rejection; it was  as  if  Solomon  was  saying  that he found the daughter of Pharaoh  spiritually  more attractive than the Jewish girls. This is the basis for the sarcastic comments and tensions between Solomon’s girl and the daughters of Jerusalem. And she  went along with how he wanted to see her: "I am the rose of Sharon,  and  the  lily  of  the valleys"; even though her heart  was  far  away  in Egypt, she described herself in Jewish terms because that was how he saw her; he calls her his "sister" (Song 4:9), as if she was actually Jewish- whereas she wanted him to be her Egyptian “brother”. The relationship was doomed from the start.


Song of Solomon 2:3 As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, his fruit was sweet to my taste-
She likens him to the apple tree, which is not a native of Palestine and may have been uncommon there at the time. She likes to see him as somehow not solidly Hebrew, just as he likes to see her as Israelite by comparing her to locations in Israel. They were both in love with a false image of the other which they had in their minds. This happens so often. The illicit nature of their relationship, the opposition they both had [she from her brothers, he from the daughters of Jerusalem] heightened the intensity of their passion and commitment- for a time. But there was no lasting cement in their relationship, because it was not based on spirit and truth.

It's hard to imagine what was actually going on in this part of the woman's speech. She speaks of meeting Solomon as a pleasant tree in the forest, then of being with Solomon publically at the banquet house, with a banner of his stated love over her, the ultimate answer to the daughters of Jerusalem whose competition she so feared; and then she is fantasizing about him arousing her with his right hand whilst having his left arm under her head, and then in :8 she hears the voice of Solomon indicating he is running across the mountains towards her. We surely cannot read all these things as descriptions of what actually happened in a short space of time; rather are they her fantasies, her imaginations of her idealized lover- see on :16. If we understand her words as largely the fantasy of imagination, then her whole speeches appear far less confused than if we try to read them as literal statements of what actually happened between the couple.

Song of Solomon 2:4 He brought me to the banquet hall. His banner over me is love-
Seeing their relationship was illicit, and they met outdoors, this appears to be the exaggerated imagery of the love poem. I suggested on Song 1:4 that the "chambers" to which he brought her was an open air bivouac or bower made from tree branches where they made love and drunk wine. And again here she speaks of him bringing her... to a banquet hall, in their imaginations, the open air bower, where they made love. 

But "banquet hall" can indeed mean a "house of wine" (RVmg.). Solomon later turned to alcohol for a while (Ecc. 2:3)- yet his girlfriend says that Solomon took her to the house of wine whilst still young. The seeds of failure were there early on- he preached against wine in Proverbs, and yet still drunk himself.

Song of Solomon 2:5 Strengthen me with raisins, refresh me with apples; for I am faint with love-
She may be saying that she is so in heat for him, that he must give her his apples / raisins. Clearly this is sexual imagery, and the songs are little short of verbal pornography. The desire for such illicit fruit (for they were not married) in an open air situation recalls the sin of Adam and Eve. Again we have the sense of an open air tryst. "Refresh me" can also be "make my bed" (s.w. Job 17:13 "made my bed"). In this case she is spreading an alluring couch before her would be lover, just as the wicked Gentile woman of Prov. 7:16. And Solomon falls for her, assuming all his truths of wisdom are somehow not binding upon him personally.   

The Song of Solomon really isn’t the idyllic love song some have made it out to be. Constantly there is fear and contradiction within it; the unsatisfactory ending is but a continuation of a theme of uncertainty and difficulty in the relationship. Throughout the song there are constant interjections of doubt and misunderstanding, and anticlimaxes between the height of love’s expression and the depths of doubt. We expect the Song to feature a romance that blossoms into marriage and the consummation; but all we have is a constant struggle in the relationship, and it all ends in a quite unsatisfactory and unfulfilled way. The sense of lovesickness reflects the unsatisfying nature of it all (Song 2:5, 15,16). She asks him to turn and go away, and then seeks him desperately (Song of Solomon 2:17; 3:1)- having earlier rejoiced at the news of his coming (2:8).

Song of Solomon 2:6 His left hand is under my head. His right hand embraces me-
In fantasy or reality, they were having sex. And the Lord teaches that in this area, the thought is anyway counted as the act.

Song of Solomon 2:7 I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, or by the hinds of the field, that you not stir up, nor stimulate love, until it so desires-
An oath was typically taken in the name of God in Israel (Dt. 6:13; Josh. 9:18; 2 Chron. 15:14). But again, this woman is portrayed as lacking any spirituality or relationship with God.  Her sarcasm turns to angry defence when she warns the Jerusalem girls not to stir up “my love”- i.e. ‘Hands off my Solomon!’. In turn, they ask her where Solomon has “turned aside” so that they can come and seek him with her (Song of Solomon 6:1), using a word elsewhere associated with ‘turning aside’ in apostasy to other gods. They in their turn sarcastically comment to her: “Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women… that we may seek him with thee?” (Song 6:1 AV), quoting Solomon’s terms of endearment back to her.  

It is no coincidence that she calls Solomon a roe and hind in :9. Surely her implication is that the daughters of Jerusalem should get on with their own boyfriends, and not stimulate Solomon away from her.


Song of Solomon 2:8 The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes, leaping on the mountains, skipping on the hills-
This is the language of fantasy; and is the basis for her nightmare in chapter 3, when she imagines Solomon coming in glory on a carriage / bed- but it was prepared for the daughters of Jerusalem, and not her. I suggest that we have here an absolutely credible insight into the mental processes of a girl in her situation. It really happened. 

Song of Solomon 2:9 My beloved is like a roe or a young hart. Behold, he stands behind our wall! He looks in at the windows. He glances through the lattice-
"Windows... lattice" are literally "gaps". The idea is that they are separated by a stone wall in which there are gaps through which they can look at each other. Again there is a sense of separation between them, and only having their relationship as it were through the gaps. Again, the imagery is unfortunate because a broken down stone wall with gaps is a Biblical picture of the spiritually broken down state of Israel (Is. 5:5; Ez. 13:5,10). But these lovers cared nothing for such concerns.

If we read still as "windows" and "lattice", then again we have the impression of furtiveness, secrecy and a concealed relationship. It's as if he comes to her home as she is looking out for him through the closed window blinds and says 'It's all clear, come with me now, let's dash' (:10). And then at the end of it she has to tell him to "flee" back home at daybreak (:17). Note she is in a "hiding place" (:14) from which Solomon calls her out. The obvious question 'Why all the secrecy?' is clearly because the relationship was illicit and mismatched.

Solomon in Prov. 7:6 likens himself to a wise man looking out through his lattice window and noticing a man going astray with a woman. But the precise figure is used in Song 2:9 for how his illicit, paganic Gentile girlfriend found his doing this to be so attractive, if not somehow erotic. The connection shows how totally confused Solomon was in his personal spirituality.

Song of Solomon 2:10 My beloved spoke and said to me, Rise up, my love, my beautiful one, and come away-
This is reported speech- her hopes of what her lover would say, her fantasy about his words rather than reality. See on :16. For she had decided at the start that the only way out of the problem with the daughters of Jerusalem was to get Solomon to agree to leave Jerusalem and Israel (Song 1:4). Her heart was in her home in Egypt, and she wanted to get Solomon there. She is presented as the very opposite of Ruth's attitude.

 But these may be Solomon's words. By contrast, instead of running off to Egypt with her, he wants to take her on a tour of Israel (as in Song 4:8), enthusing about the sights, speaking of them as the things  of  "our land". He wanted her  to  be  an Israelite,  and  he spoke to her as if she was, assuming that he could  psychologically  and  spiritually dominate her so that he could  have  a little of both- his own carnal fulfilment coupled with spiritual satisfaction. How many times has this been worked out in the experience of a spiritual brother enthusing about the beauty of the  Truth and spiritual Israel to an Egyptian girl, who  only  superficially  shares  his enthusiasm, longing in her heart to have him with her in Egypt. 

Song of Solomon 2:11 for, behold, the winter is past. The rain is over and gone-
The romance happened in the spring, the time when Solomon should have been keeping Passover to remember his deliverance from Egypt. But at that very time, he was getting involved with an Egyptian girl.

Song of Solomon 2:12 The flowers appear on the earth. The time of the singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land-
The turtledove is a migratory bird which returns to Israel in April; this confirms that this romance is happening in the spring (:11), the time when Solomon should have been keeping Passover to remember his deliverance from Egypt. "The time of the singing" may refer to the Passover feast, and rejoicing in the destruction of Egypt's chariots which Solomon so admired (Song 1:9). But at that very time, he was getting involved with an Egyptian girl.

Song of Solomon 2:13 The fig tree ripens her green figs. The vines are in blossom. They give forth their fragrance. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away-
Again we see her wanting Solomon to "come away" from the scene in Jerusalem where the daughters of Jerusalem would always be his competitors (Song 1:4). She has fantasized about him agreeing to this in :10. And so it will ever be in the marriage of believer and unbeliever; the unbeliever will always want to get the believer to "come away" to Egypt. And so it happened with Solomon's heart, finally.

I am not a fan of trying to interpret the Song as an allegory of Christ and His church. But the blossoming of the fig tree is associated with the soon coming of the bridegroom, possibly alluded to by the Lord in His Olivet prophecy. However we must face the problem that the girl wishes Solomon to "come away" not to Yahweh but to Egypt and her idols.


Song of Solomon 2:14 My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places of the mountainside; let me see your face. Let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely-
I suggested on :9 that they are on different sides of a broken down stone wall, playing peek a boo through the many gaps in it. "Face" is plural, and could be translated "sights", as if he is asking to see her body in a sexual sense.

The desire to 'see your face' and the reference to being hid in a cleft of the rock is very much the language of Moses desiring to see God's face whilst hid in a cleft of the rock. The point is, that Solomon's desire for his illicit girlfriend should've been instead redirected into a desire to meet God in the spirit of Moses. This is one of many indirect allusions in the Song to spiritual things, but always to point out that those allusions were utterly missed by Solomon and his lover.

Song of Solomon 2:15 Catch foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards; for our vineyards are in blossom-
I explained on Song 1:6 that the vineyards are representative of her sexuality, which we learn there was guarded by her brothers. It is possible that this verse is in fact her brothers speaking, or her fear of their attempts to catch a "fox" like Solomon from spoiling her vineyard / virginity- which she wants to give him.

 Keil suggests this is "A vine-dresser's ditty". If we don't accept this is the voice of the brothers, then this could be a cry to the foxes to 'clear off'. But why the fear of foxes? Perhaps this is another call for the potential observers, those who would spoil their tryst, to go away- just as the girl shouts such things in her own mind at the 'daughters of Jerusalem'. Their meeting places were in the countryside, and Solomon sees her work as his- he speaks as if they are joint vineyard keepers in 'their' vineyard where they meet. These rural locations for their meetings explain the many rural allusions in the song. She was a "prince's daughter" with whom Solomon secretly met in the countryside. This to my mind is a more fulfilling explanation than the suggestion that the rural allusions mean she was a simple country peasant whom he had fallen in love with. 

There is an undoubted connection between the record of Samson catching the foxes and using them to destroy vineyards (Jud. 15:4,5) and Song 2:15, where Solomon suggests that he and his girl go and catch the foxes that destroy the vineyards. This seems an allusion to Samson, although this Biblical allusion (as noted on :14) puts Solomon in a poor light, comparing him to the sexually out of control Samson, who was destroyed for his infatuation with Gentile women. Both Solomon and his Gentile girlfriend owned vineyards (Song 1:6; 8:11,12), and both were concerned that the fruit would not be damaged (Song 2:13,15; 6:11; 7:12). However, the implication from the allusion was also that in fact Solomon was in the position of the Philistines, worrying about the effect of Samson's foxes. See on Ecc. 7:26


Song of Solomon 2:16 My beloved is mine, and I am his-
Solomon had at least 1000 women in his life and got involved with many of them at the start of his reign- it was her wishful thinking that he had eyes for her only, and those fears were expressed in her angry and aggressive comments to the "daughters of Jerusalem" whom she rightfully feared were her competitors- see on:7. As noted on :3 and :13, much of this relationship was based around being in love with an image of the other, in love with an expectation and imagination, an idealization of the other, rather than with the other as they really were. For all her self confidence and scheming, she is also presented as an utter fool in believing that she was really Solomon's "only one".

He browses among the lilies-
Lilies are representative of the girl's body in a sexual sense (Song 4:5; 7:3; 6:2).

Song of Solomon 2:17 Until the day is cool, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be like a roe or a young hart on the mountains of Bether
There is always the hint of secrecy, of spending the night together in secret and then running away at dawn. This heightened the sense of immediate attraction, but reflected how the relationship could never ultimately work. And her urging of him to just run away is to be understood in the context of her desire for Solomon to run away from the Jerusalem scene, and come with her to Egypt (see on :10,13; Song 1:4). There is no place known as "Bether". The word can mean "division" or according to some readings, "incense". She saw Jerusalem or Israel as surrounded by mountains, and she wants Solomon to leap over them with her and get away. And perhaps she has the idea of getting him to offer incense in such high places. He is out of step with this idea, instead asking her to jump over mountains and to him in Jerusalem (see on Song 4:8). Always the couple are presented as fundamentally out of step with each other.