In our study of Song Of Songs chapter two, we look at the fact that, once we have accepted Jesus, we are set apart for Him much like a bride is set apart for her husband. In chapter one, we looked at the fact that God calls us into a relationship with Him that is much like the marriage relationship between a man and a woman. In this chapter, we will see how this is an exclusive relationship on our part just as the biblical marriage between a man and a woman is to be exclusive.
"I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys. Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the young women." NIV translation
While nobody is completely sure of what flower the "rose of Sharon" is talking about, we can be sure that it was not a rose like it has been translated (roses did not exist in Israel at that time). The best guess is that it was speaking about a type of lily that grew in the area of Sharon. Sharon is a plain that extends from Mt Carmel and Haifa in the north to Tel Aviv in the south of Israel. There is an old saying that goes "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" and it speaks of the fact that beauty is only beauty when it is observed and appreciated by another person. Here, the young girl does not see herself as being that special while Solomon sees her as standing apart from other women much like a flower stands apart from a thorn bush. This is a picture of the fact that, when we accept Jesus Christ, we are set apart from the rest of the world. We have a special beauty in the eyes of God because of our relationship with His Son. This being set apart is what is commonly called sanctification. We also see that, though we are set apart (sanctified), we are still among the thorns. Just as a lily stands out among thorns, we, as Christians, have a purpose in this world and that is to stand out as a witness to others.
"Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest is my beloved among the young men. I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste. Let him lead me to the banquet hall, and let his banner over me be love." NIV translation
Now, the young lady describes Solomon as an "apple tree" among the other trees of the forest. Although the Hebrew word "tappuwach" is translated here as "apple tree", she was actually speaking of an orange tree as apples did not grow in Israel at that time. Her description (which is a picture of Jesus Christ in our lives) speaks of the fact that Jesus stands out from the crowd as the one that actually produces fruit. We are reminded of the fact that Israel was surrounded by pagans following all sorts of "gods" but none of those "gods" actually had the power to work in the lives of the people (produce fruit). She describes his fruit as "sweet" and we get the picture of joy that is produced from the enjoyment of that fruit. This speaks of the work of the Holy Spirit inside of us as our acceptance of Jesus Christ gives us access to His fruit which is the Holy Spirit. That presence, in turn, produces fruit in our lives and one of those fruits is joy. The "banquet hall" speaks of the celebration at the end of days and her reference to being led to the hall is a picture and reminder of the fact that it is the Holy Spirit that is to guide us in our lives on this earth. She refers to "his banner" and we are reminded that when Israel left Mt. Sinai and was heading to the promised land, they were counted and then told to camp under the banner of their tribe (family). This was a way of identifying the people and, here, the young lady wants to be identified as belonging with Solomon (marriage). This is a picture of the fact that the Holy Spirit living in us is what identifies us as belonging to the family of God. We also see this identification in the sealing of the 144,000 of Revelation (see Revelation 7).
"His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me." NIV translation
In the previous passage, we saw that the young girl desired to be identified with Solomon's family and the fact that this was a picture of our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This verse gives us the picture of the couple locked in an embrace but, why would God include this in the Bible? This is a reminder to us that our relationship with Jesus Christ is very personal and it does not come from being a part of an earthly family. There are many people that identify themselves as Christians but, when you ask them why, they will say something like "my family has always went to church". As we have seen, we do not enter the family of God without stating a personal desire much like this young lady did with Solomon. Once we do so, He embraces us and draws us ever closer to Him.
"Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires." NIV translation
Now the young lady issues a caution to the other young ladies of Israel as she urges them to not chase after other men but to wait for the one. This is good advice but it is also a picture of the fact that all people must wait for the call of God in their lives. The Hebrew word that is translated as "arouse" here is "uwr" and it actually gives the idea of opening one's eyes. In effect, she is telling us that we cannot force someone to see and accept the gift of salvation. This is a reminder that it is only through the working of the Holy Spirit that we can truly be called into a right relationship with God. So then, what is our role, as Christians, and why did Jesus give us the Great Commission? We are here to help people to understand the call and the working of the Spirit in their lives. When they accept the call, we are to help them to understand what that means as well as to show them the example of being a disciple of Jesus Christ.
"Listen! My beloved! Look! Here he comes, leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Look! There he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattice." NIV translation
The young lady continues with the song of sanctification as we get the picture of a young lady in her garden waiting for the man she loves to come and get her. She describes Solomon (a picture of Jesus) as "leaping across mountains" and we are reminded that Jesus overcame all of the barriers that kept us from having a right relationship with God. She also describes Solomon as a gazelle or young stag and we get the picture of youthful energy and strength. Through this picture, we are reminded of the fact that Jesus does not get tired of waiting on us or pursuing us as we stumble through life without Him. The young girl describes her man watching and waiting behind the garden wall until the proper time to call her to him. This is a reminder that, even as we may feel alone and without hope, Jesus is watching and waiting until the proper time to reveal Himself to our hearts.
"My beloved spoke and said to me, 'Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me.'" NIV translation
Now, the young lady describes the moment that she is called to go away with the love of her life. Practically every woman that has been married will remember the time that her husband asked her to join him in marriage and it is the same when we are called to faith in Jesus Christ. We may not remember the date or time when we asked Jesus to save us and be our Lord but we will never forget the circumstances. We also see that her man calls her "my beautiful one" and that brings up the question: What makes us "beautiful" in the eyes of Jesus? The answer is simple and it is humility. We are beautiful in His eyes when we reach the point of acknowledging the fact that we cannot save ourselves and that He is the ONLY One that can.
"'See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.'" NIV translation
This new relationship is compared to the springtime where everything is new again which reminds us that, when we come to Christ, it is a time of newness. The darkness of the winter months is gone and life springs up all around us. This is the traditional season of love and the scientific reason is a chemical in the brain called dopamine which is increased by the excitement of new things.
"My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom." NIV translation
A dove has been a symbol of peace since the time of the end of the flood in Genesis while the fox is associated with cunning and trickery. Here, the peace that comes from a right relationship is endangered by the cunning of the devil. For some rather odd reason, foxes love grapes and so they would sneak into the vineyard to steal the fruit of the vines. This reminds us that, when we come to Christ, we immediately have an enemy which is the devil. Like the fox, he is clever and his purpose is to get into our lives and destroy the fruit. We see that we are urged to call out to Him and to catch the "little foxes" before they grow into bigger more dangerous foxes that can produce more foxes.
"My beloved is mine and I am his; he browses among the lilies. Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, turn, me beloved, and be like a gazelle or like a young stag on the rugged hills." NIV translation
This passage sums up the song of sanctification with the idea of exclusiveness in the relationship. We also see that our Lord stands watch over us during the dark times so that we can rest and His power is put on display just like the young stag.