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Deeper Commentary


Song of Solomon 4:1

Behold, you are beautiful, my love. Behold, you are beautiful. Your eyes are doves behind your veil-
Parts of the Song are very sexually explicit once the fairly obvious allusions are figured out. He's describing the vaginal lips of his girlfriend, his intended spouse (Song 4:1,3,8 etc.); and he has seen "behind your veil", the symbol of her virginity. And yet he glorifies all this in his song. Quite clearly, Solomon was guilty of fornication with the one whom he wished to marry, although the ending of the Song seems to imply the relationship somehow broke up. And this was all right at the beginning of his reign. He seems to have assumed that if he thought his behaviour was OK, then it was. It's rather like how he declared the middle court to be "holy" and a kind of extended altar (2 Chron. 7:7)- he doesn't ask God if God would sanctify it, he just decides what is holy and what isn't- Solomon played God, and it led him into sin and loss of faith in God.

Your hair is as a flock of goats, that descend from Mount Gilead-
Throughout the Song, Solomon describes her in Jewish terms,  he  likens  her  to many well-known places in Israel: the Heshbon  fish pools,  the tower of Lebanon etc., seeing the way her hair draped over her breasts as reminiscent of how Mount Gilead looked (Song 4:1,4). He wanted to see her as  an  Israelite  girl, and so that was how she appeared to him.  She  even uses similar language in praise of him (Song 1:14).

Song of Solomon 4:2 Your teeth are like a newly shorn flock, which have come up from the washing, where every one of them has twins. None is bereaved among them-
Without dental science, missing teeth would have been common in those days, even in youth. But she apparently had none missing. Here and :3 "your mouth is lovely" suggests they had already been involved in deep kissing.

Song of Solomon 4:3 Your lips are like scarlet thread. Your mouth is lovely. Your temples are like a piece of a pomegranate behind your veil-
When Solomon describes her painted lips as being like a thread of scarlet, he uses two Hebrew words which only occur together in Josh. 2:18, describing how the Gentile harlot Rahab hung the scarlet thread outside her home in order to bring about the salvation of her mother and her family. The people of Jericho may well have understood this scarlet thread or rope as a sign of prostitution. Solomon wanted to justify his Egyptian girlfriend by comparing her to Gentile Rahab. And such sophistry goes on at the beginning of every relationship that leads to a marriage out of the Faith. 

Song of Solomon 4:4 Your neck is like David’s tower built for an armoury, whereon a thousand shields hang, all the shields of the mighty men-
The idea is that David's tower was built in terraces, and this is how her neck appeared, with her ornaments hanging on the string of her necklace likened to shields. Solomon may be alluding to his 1000 other wives; he is trying to convince her that she is better than them all. She loves him because of his ointment, and he loves her because of her jewellery (Song of Solomon 1:2,3,10; 4:4). It’s all very human and carnal, based upon the external and not the internal. But this is what Solomon was like. He sees wisdom, even in Proverbs and certainly in Ecclesiastes, as only helpful in that it gives a person a good name and image in this life.

Song of Solomon 4:5 Your two breasts are like two fawns that are twins of a roe, which feed among the lilies-
Breasts as twins means Solomon considered them, after much observation, to be perfectly identical- apparently something he found attractive. Clearly he had at this point explored her naked body, although not married to her. "The lilies" is likewise a sexual allusion; see on Song 2:16. He was  ravished  with this Egyptian girl, especially with her breasts (Song 4:5; 7:3). Yet at the same time he could confidently exhort in Prov. 5:18-20 AV: "Rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe (Song of Solomon language); let her breasts satisfy thee... be thou  ravished  always with her love... And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange (i.e. Gentile) woman?". How,  indeed? But 999 women later, it was a different story for Solomon. Solomon  writes in Prov. 5:18-20 as if it is of course unthinkable  that he should  have  been  ravished by a Gentile woman;  but he had been. Beyond mere hypocrisy, this reveals how Solomon saw himself as somehow beyond his own wisdom and a free moral agent. This is a common temptation for those who think that mere possession of God's truth will somehow of itself justify them.

Song of Solomon 4:6 Until the day is cool, and the shadows flee away, I will go to the mountain of myrrh, to the hill of frankincense-
The myrrh and frankincense were being used as aphrodisiacs, which had their desired effect upon Solomon (:16). And yet they are the language of the temple sacrifices. At the very time Solomon was building the temple and establishing the temple cult, he was using the very same items in his illicit relationship with this Egyptian woman.

Song of Solomon 4:7 You are all beautiful, my love. There is no spot in you-
This last phrase is alluded to in the New Testament concerning the spotless nature of the bride of Christ (Eph. 5:27). But upon this has been built the quite unsustainable position that the entire Song is an allegory of the relationship between Christ and His bride. This is simply not sustainable; the sexual allusions, and the final breakup of the relationship after the unsatisfactory tensions between the two of them all shout out against such an approach. The New Testament quotes the Old Testament in the style of its day; whereby words or verses from scripture were applied out of context to situations. It is simply not true that every New Testament quotation of the Old reveals that the surrounding context of the quotation is also relevant to the New Testament context. Going through all the quotations and allusions, it is obvious that this is just not the case. And it seems to me that this idea that the Song is an allegory is a desperate attempt to whitewash Solomon, despite the clear Biblical condemnations of him.

As he sees her as so entirely beautiful, so she sees him (Song 4:7; 5:16). This mutuality of praise is indeed part of the "in love" period. But it was all a matter of external observation of each other, and because of that, the relationship fell apart.

Song of Solomon 4:8 Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, with me from Lebanon. Look from the top of Amana, from the top of Senir and Hermon, from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards-
These northern mountain ranges, forming the northern border of the land, were famed for their inaccessibility. Perhaps the idea is that although so much was against their relationship, Solomon vows to somehow get her from the most inaccessible point... into his kingly bed in Jerusalem. This is perhaps his answer to her desire that he be like a mountain deer, and jump over the mountains of division, out of Jerusalem and back with her to Egypt (see on Song 2:17).

Or we can understand that Solomon takes her on a tour of Israel, enthusing about the sights, speaking of them as the things  of  "our land"  (Song of Solomon 2:10-13).  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 4:9 You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride-
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", as if she was actually Jewish- whereas she wanted him to be her Egyptian “brother”. The relationship was doomed from the start. We note that "sister" is a term of endearment used in Egyptian love poetry. Solomon clearly was well versed in the thinking and language of Egypt. Everything points to him being spiritually rotten from his youth.

The  blindness  of  Solomon  is  driven  home time and again. He warned  the  typical  young  man  about  being captivated by the eyelids of the Gentile woman (Prov. 6:25); yet it was the eyes of Miss  Egypt  that  he openly admitted stole his heart (Song 4:9; 6:5). 

You have ravished my heart with one of your eyes, with one chain of your neck-
In Prov. 25:11,12, especially in the LXX, Solomon likens wise words to beautiful jewellery and necklaces; they are (LXX) set "in a necklace of sardius". But Solomon was blown away by the jewellery of his illicit Gentile girlfriend; he looked on the external, rather than on the internal, despite teaching the value and beauty of the internal. "The necklace you are wearing has stolen my heart" (Song 4:9 GNB). And indeed gentile women did steal his heart away from Yahweh.

The general contrast with Solomon's warnings is marked. Thus Prov. 5:19 "A loving doe and a graceful deer- let her breasts satisfy you at all times. Be captivated always with her love". The idea is "don't be ravished with the breasts of a Gentile and don't have many wives; be content with your first wife". But Solomon was (Song 4:9; 7:3), and he had many wives; he totally refused to see the personal relevance of the truth and wisdom he taught.

 Despite his ravishment  with Pharaoh's daughter as outlined in the Song, she never  fulfilled him; indeed, none of his women did. In the Song he speaks  of  how  he  was  ravished  with this Egyptian girl, especially with her breasts (Song 2:7; 3:5; 4:9; 8:14). Alluding to  this  he  could confidently exhort in Prov. 5:18-20 AV: "Rejoice with  the  wife  of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe (Song of Solomon language); let her breasts satisfy thee... be  thou  ravished  always  with  her love... And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange (i.e. Gentile) woman?". How,  indeed?  But 999 women later, it was a different story for Solomon.  Solomon  writes  in Prov. 5:18-20 as if it is of course unthinkable  that  he  should  have  been  ravished by a Gentile woman;  but  he  had been. He spoke to others with absolutely no thought  as  to whether his words had an application to himself. Effectively  he was kidding himself, on a deeply internal level, that  he hadn't married out of the faith. The obviousness of all  this  is  in  order  to drum the warning home to us. How tragic  that  Solomon  should go on to comment that such a person would die  for  want  of  instruction (Prov. 5:23). Solomon had all the instruction  he could wish for; but he didn't allow it to really sink  home  one  little  bit. He  hit  out  on  the search for an ultimately satisfying woman, but out of the 1000 he had he never found one (Ecc. 7:28), even when he sat down and analyzed each of them. And even politically, his marriages with all those Gentile women  didn't  seem  to  achieve him the support he desired from their  home  countries; Egypt gave refuge to Jeroboam, Solomon's main rival (1 Kings 11:40), even though he always acquiesced to his wives and even in his very old age he still didn’t destroy the idol temples he built for them (2 Kings 23:13).

Song of Solomon 4:10 How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better is your love than wine! The fragrance of your perfumes than all kinds of spices!-
His praise of her is her praise of him in Song 1:2,3. There is a mutuality in the falling in love process, and we see it clearly expressed here. The whole document has every indication that it is indeed a real, historical description of an actual relationship Solomon had.

Here Solomon does the very opposite of what he says in Prov. 27:16; for here he also uses the word for "oil" or "perfumes" about the perfume of his illicit Gentile girlfriend, which he found so attractive. Yet in Prov. 27:16 he warns that a bad woman has such oil; but he falls for her. He utterly failed to personalize his wisdom, it flowed through his mouth and mind without taking any personal lodgment within him. And we must be warned by this ability of human nature.

Song of Solomon 4:11 Your lips, my bride, drip like the honeycomb. Honey and milk are under your tongue. The smell of your garments is like the smell of Lebanon-
The  strange woman has words like a honeycomb (Prov. 5:3); and  yet  this  is  exactly  how Solomon found his woman's words (Song  4:11). He refused his own wisdom of Prov. 7:21: "With the flattering of her lips, she seduced him".
Solomon in Prov. 7:5 argues as if mere intellectual assent to the truths he was teaching would keep a man safe from sexual temptation and the flattery of bad women. But Solomon himself possessed all this truth and failed miserably in this area. The Hebrew literally refers to the smoothness of her lips; and Solomon admired the smoothness of the lips of his illicit Gentile girlfriend (s.w. Song 4:3,11; 7:9). Again we see Solomon doing the exact opposite of the wisdom and theoretical truth he was blessed with.

Song of Solomon 4:12 A locked up garden is my sister, my bride-
AV "my sister, my spouse". Solomon's assumption that he was Messiah, the promised seed of David, presumably led him to assume that he was likewise the promised seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. No less that four times he calls his Egyptian girlfriend "my sister, my spouse" (Song 4:9,10,12; 5:1). This repeated emphasis seems to me to be an allusion to the way in which the patriarchs called their wives their sisters (Gen. 12:10-20; 20:1-18; 26:6-11). And yet clearly enough, these incidents were lapses of faith for which they were rebuked. Yet Solomon didn't want to see it like that; they did it, therefore he could. David his father had horses and many wives; therefore he could. His sense of morality, of right and wrong, was controlled by the precedents set by his worthy ancestors. And so often we see this in supposedly Christian lives- the weak elements of our fathers we tend to feel are perfectly acceptable for us too. We do just what Paul says we should not do- we compare ourselves amongst and against ourselves, rather than against the Lord Jesus (2 Cor. 10:12).

A locked up spring, a sealed fountain-
The imagery of water, well and cistern in a sexual context is found on Solomon's lips in Prov. 5:15,18. But having written all that, he now uses these terms about his illicit Gentile girlfriend. Solomon saw her as a “paradise”, a garden with rivers and exotic fruits, surrounded by a wall- exactly the language of Eden. And she was a fount of “living waters” (Song 4:12,13,15 RVmg.), the language of Messiah. He saw her as the Kingdom / Eden personified. And yet her response to being described in this way is inappropriate- for she invites him to come and eat the fruit of the garden (4:16), exactly after the pattern of Eve destroying Adam. Yet Solomon didn’t want to see this connection; she was the Kingdom to him, just as so many have felt that having their new partner means that nothing, not even the Kingdom, is meaningful any more. Although he had slept with her, he considers her locked up and sealed. Again we see how Solomon was in love with an image of this woman which he had in his own mind, and which just didn't correspond to reality. 

Song of Solomon 4:13 Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates, with precious fruits: henna with spikenard plants-
The non Hebrew word here used for "orchard" suggests that Solomon really had a relationship with this woman and spoke to her in terms she understood. This failed, illicit romance really happened. Her "shoots" and "fruits" are clearly allusions to her sexuality.

Song of Solomon 4:14 spikenard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with every kind of incense tree; myrrh and aloes, with all the best spices-
He presents her as the garden of Eden. And yet he totally fails to take the allusion further, and perceive that by breaking divine law in 'eating' of her in sex, he was setting himself up for a catastrophic fall which would affect not only him but all Israel.

Song of Solomon 4:15 a fountain of gardens, a spring of living waters, flowing streams from Lebanon-
It seems likely that Solomon wrote down his inspired Proverbs (a result of the wisdom God  gave  him) and the Song about the same time. In Proverbs he uses  the figure of a well of living water to describe spiritual words  and  thinking (Prov. 10:11; 13:14; 14:27; 16:22). Yet this is  the  very  figure which he uses concerning his worldly bride (Song of Solomon  4:15). He wanted to see her how she wasn't. He sees her as the garden of Eden, and yet 'eats' in her in defiance of Divine law.


Song of Solomon 4:16 Awake, north wind; and come, you south! Blow on my garden, that its spices may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and taste his precious fruits
This is an open invitation to Solomon to have sex with her. She sees herself as a living aphrodisiac. She doesn't wish to be a closed garden to him (:14). She is the very fulfilment of the bad Gentile woman of Prov. 7, and yet Solomon refuses to see the connections. He was the young man being led astray, and down to the grave by this woman.