Song of Solomon 4
Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead.
2 Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them.
3 Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks.
4 Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.
5 Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies.
6 Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.
7 Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.
8 Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards.
9 Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck.
10 How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices!
11 Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon.
12 A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.
13 Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard,
14 Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices:
15 A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.
16 Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.
Chapter 4 portrays the wedding ceremony of Solomon and his bride. Both bride and groom describe their lover’s beauty with exuberant praise, similar to the praise songs (called wasfs), in modern rural Syrian weddings. The mutual descriptions of the beauty of the beloved do not always refer only to physical beauty, but also often portray admirable moral qualities of the lovers.
The imagery of the “locked garden” used of Solomon’s bride in verse 12 denotes virginity. In the Song of Songs sexual intercourse between the lovers occurs only within the context of the marriage covenant. This verse is a strong affirmation of abstinence from sex until after marriage.
The bride invites her groom (Solomon) to come and partake of the fruits of her (now his!) garden (verse 16), and the groom accepts her invitation (5:1)—the equivalent of the public covenant-making ceremony, the marriage vows, and the invitation by the bride and acceptance by the groom to willingly complete their marriage covenant through sexual union. In the final part of 5:1 the authoritative Voice of God Himself pronounces a blessing upon the completion of the marriage union, just as He officiated and blessed by His presence the first Garden wedding in Eden (Genesis 2:22–24).
Richard M. Davidson
Professor of Old Testament Interpretation
Andrews University Theological Seminary