In our study of Song Of Songs chapter four, we look at Jesus' satisfaction with those who put their faith in Him. We will look at the reasons for His satisfaction and how it is due to our acceptance of His work on our behalf and not our own efforts to "pretty up" our lives.
"How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes behind your veil are doves. Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from the hills of Gilead." NIV translation
This song begins with Solomon speaking about the physical beauty of the young lady that has now become his bride and this is a picture of how Jesus sees those that have entered a relationship with Him. He begins by describing her eyes as doves and that is kind of different but, in Jewish thinking, the eye is like a fountain or spring. This is because of the fact that you can tell a lot about someone just by looking them in the eye. Here, the eyes are described as being a dove (which is a symbol of peace) and so flowing out of her eyes is a peace. So, what does that mean and why is it important? In Galatians 5:22 & 23, Paul tells us that peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit and that it is a direct result of the Holy Spirit living in us. We are also reminded of the fact that the Holy Spirit is a seal (evidence) that marks us as a child of God. We become a child of God and receive that Spirit through accepting Jesus as our Lord and so, His satisfaction with us is because of our acceptance of Him. Therefore, when we see this peace in the eyes of others or when they see it in us, we know that we have fellowship with them in the family of God. Next, Solomon describes her hair as a flock of goats coming down from a mountain and, what girl doesn't want to hear that? So, what does that mean? Goats of that place and time were black and they preferred to graze on the rough ground of the mountains. Gilead was located on the east side of the Jordan River (not inside the Promised Land) so we get the picture of a long line of goats coming down from the mountains and heading towards the Promised Land. If you were standing at the bottom of that mountain and looking up, it would almost seem like long dark hair flowing over a woman's shoulders. In the goats coming down from the mountain (doing their own thing) Jesus sees us and our decision to follow Him instead of chasing after our own desires.
"Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn, coming up from the washing. Each has its twin; not one of them is alone." NIV translation
Solomon continues to describe his young bride as he now describes her teeth. He compares them to sheep that have been washed and sheared. To understand how this applies to our lives in Christ, we must understand some of the practical facts about sheep and shearing their wool. The sheep's wool is allowed to grow throughout the fall and winter but in the spring it is cut off. As the wool gets longer and longer, it gets dirtier and dirtier because dirt and debris gets caught in it. The process of shearing takes place at the proper time and it must be when there is going to be an extended period of time with plenty of sunshine. The sheep are washed in a pond, river, lake, etc and then they must be allowed to completely dry which can take up to ten days. Once they are dry, the wool is cut off and the sheep are prepared for the hot summer months but it is easy for them to get sick if the weather becomes cool and damp. So, what does this have to do with us as followers of Jesus Christ and why does it show us Jesus' satisfaction with us? The sheep are cleaned and that is a picture of His blood removing the stain of sins from our lives but we also see that they come out of the process with each having "its twin". This speaks of the fact that we are being conformed to Him and not to the ways of the world. We also see that "not one of them is alone" but the Hebrew word that is translated as alone, here, is "shakkuwl" and it means bereaved. These are happy sheep because they have gotten the dirty, heavy wool off of them and it is like a big weight has been lifted from their backs. In this, we see that Jesus is satisfied with us because we are happily being transformed to be more like Him. In verse 1, we saw that the Spirit was in us and now we see that the Spirit has been transforming us to be more like Him. Jesus also sees that we are happy about this transformation and it is not some religious ritual or program that we are going through.
"Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon; your mouth is lovely. Your temples behind your veil are like halves of a pomegranate." NIV translation
Solomon continues to describe his young bride with a look at her lips and this speaks of boundaries. The Hebrew word that is translated here as "mouth" is "midbar" and it actually refers more to what comes out of the mouth (speech) than the actual physical characteristics of the mouth. He also describes her temples as being blushed which refers to embarrassment. In this description, we see that the mouth is controlled (has boundaries) and will not allow just any type of speech to come out of it. This speaks of self-control which is another fruit of the Spirit. James spoke of the great struggle of controlling the tongue and it is really impossible on our own. Therefore, our control of the tongue is a sure sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit living in us. Once again, this is a reason for Jesus' satisfaction with us.
"Your neck is like the tower of David, built with courses of stone; on it hang a thousand shields, all of them shields of warriors." NIV translation
Next, Solomon moves down to the young lady's neck and describes it as long like the tower of David and this is a little bit confusing. Solomon was speaking of the Millo (military fortifications) in the city of David and not the Tower of David that is located near the Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. This Millo was a part of the fortifications after David captured the fortress of Zion from the Jebusites. At any rate, this tower speaks of an armory and Solomon describes it as being full of shields. This speaks of peace as, during times of war, the shields would not be hanging on the walls of the armory but would, in fact, be in the hands of the soldiers. This peace is also an indication of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer as we rest in Christ and His ability to defend and protect us. Jesus is satisfied with us when we have faith in Him and His ability to take care of us.
"Your breasts are like two fawns, like twin fawns of a gazelle that browse among the lilies." NIV translation
Although this verse tends to make me want to blush a bit because of the traditional view of this book, the breasts being like two fawns speaks of the fact that the young lady is growing up. This reminds us that Jesus' satisfaction with us grows as we mature in Him. The "lilies" refer to the fact that God sees us as beautiful because of the work of Jesus Christ and the fact that the fawns browse among them speaks of the fact that our worth (beauty) is found in Him. This also reminds us of the fact that our beauty and worth does not depend on what others may think about us. The fawns browsing in the meadow with the lilies gives us a peaceful picture of contentment as they simply wander along and enjoy. That is a lot like the freedom that we have in Jesus Christ and that peace remains unless we start to focus on what the world thinks of us.
"Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, I will go to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of incense." NIV translation
This verse speaks of Solomon embracing his young bride but it is also a picture of the fact that God is attentive to our prayers. Elsewhere in the Bible, incense is associated with the prayers of God's children and, here, it is specifically talking about the prayers of the young believer. What is so special about the young or new believer? They are special because of the fact that they have not been tainted by religious rituals and their prayers are simple heartfelt talking to their Father in heaven. The phrase "the day breaks and the shadows flee" speaks of the coming new day in which Jesus will rule and reign from Jerusalem. Until that time, when we will see Him face to face, God will be attentive to our prayers and concerns because of His love for us. When that time comes, all of our concerns will depart and we will no longer be sending up our prayers.
"You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you." NIV translation
Solomon sums up the way he looks at his new bride by describing her as flawless. Now, we know that no woman (or man for that matter) is perfect either physically or in action so, what does Solomon mean by that? We remember that he is describing how she appears in his eyes and that, in this book, he is a picture of Jesus Christ. This verse reminds us that we, like Solomon's young bride, are flawless in the eyes of Jesus Christ. Does that mean that we do not do things that we shouldn't or that we all have the perfect body? No, the rest of the world will see our little bumps and bruises as well as those times when we are not at our best but, even at those times, Jesus sees us as flawless. One of the tactics of the devil is to get us to forget that fact and to feel guilty or distant from Jesus Christ but, when that happens, we must remember who we are in His sight. As that song says, it is our acceptance of the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross that is the reason for His satisfaction with us.
"Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, come with me from Lebanon. Descend from the crest of Amana, from the top of Senir, the summit of Hermon, from the lions dens and the mountain haunts of leopards." NIV translation
Lions and leopards are a picture of violence and they lived in the mountains of Lebanon until about the 19th century when they were wiped out. Solomon is calling his young bride to leave the danger and violence of the countryside and to go with him to Jerusalem. It is the same with us as Jesus calls us from a violent self-serving lifestyle to a life of peace and resting in Him. We can have and maintain that peace as well as sharing it with others when we remember that we are, in fact, flawless in His sight.
"You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace." NIV translation
Did Solomon marry his sister? The answer to this question is both a yes and a no. No, this young bride was not the child of Solomon's parents but she was an Israelite woman probably from the tribe of Issachar in the northern part of the land. When Solomon refers to her as his sister, he is speaking of the fact that she was an Israelite and, therefore, one of God's chosen people. Solomon had chased after many women and had around seven hundred wives many of which were from peoples that God had forbidden the Israelites to marry. Solomon describes the fact that this young girl has a grip on his heart because of what is inside of her and not only because she was very beautiful on the outside. The eyes speak of a fountain and they are a window into our inner being. He also speaks of her necklace and jewelry was even more of a status symbol during those times than it is today because common women could not afford jewelry. So, what does all of this have to do with us as Christians? A necklace can draw a man's eyes up to the face and to the eyes of a woman and that is the place where we truly see the internal status of a person. In a similar manner, our (necklace) walk as Christians being led by the Holy Spirit allows others to see what is truly inside of us. As we saw earlier in Solomon's description of this young lady, he saw peace in her eyes. It is the same with us as others can see the peace that we have because of our faith in Jesus Christ. This is especially true during the difficult times when that peace can shine from our eyes even though we may be going through some terrible circumstances. As we see in the beatitudes, this peace will be an identifying characteristic of a child of God (see Matthew 5:9). In this, we see that Jesus is satisfied with us because of the fact that we are His brothers and sisters.
"How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume more than any spice!" NIV translation
The word that is translated as "love" here is "dowd" in Hebrew and it actually speaks of boiling and gives the idea of a love that is on fire. Solomon goes on to describe the fact that this on fire type of love is more pleasing than any perfume or wine. This verse speaks of the fact that Jesus is pleased when our love for Him is just boiling over and flows out of our lives and into the lives of others. If you have ever tried to hold the lid onto a pot of boiling water, then, you understand how hard it is to contain it and that is what is being described in this verse. The perfume speaks of the incense offering and incense is a picture of the prayers of the saints. This reminds us that God loves to hear our prayers but He is more pleased when He can see that we are on fire for Him.
"Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride; milk and honey are under your tongue. The fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon." NIV translation
Solomon now describes how blessing flows out of the mouth of his young bride and how she smells as good as the smell of Lebanon but what does that mean? The fragrance of Lebanon is talking about the smell that comes down from the mountains of Lebanon in the spring. This wonderful smell is from the white chamomile flowers that grow on the mountains and that are commonly used for various medical purposes. He is describing how her presence is a blessing to him. Fragrances (spices) were used in the incense offering and this verse is reminding us of the fact that God loves to hear our prayers. These prayers from a heart that is on fire for Him are much more than some kind of religious duty or memorized phrase. They flow naturally from those that have heard the songs of salvation, sanctification, service, and the song of His satisfaction with us.