Read Song of Songs 5
5 I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride;
I have gathered my myrrh with my spice.
I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey;
I have drunk my wine and my milk.
Eat, friends, and drink;
drink your fill of love.
2 I slept but my heart was awake.
Listen! My beloved is knocking:
“Open to me, my sister, my darling,
my dove, my flawless one.
My head is drenched with dew,
my hair with the dampness of the night.”
3 I have taken off my robe—
must I put it on again?
I have washed my feet—
must I soil them again?
4 My beloved thrust his hand through the latch-opening;
my heart began to pound for him.
5 I arose to open for my beloved,
and my hands dripped with myrrh,
my fingers with flowing myrrh,
on the handles of the bolt.
6 I opened for my beloved,
but my beloved had left; he was gone.
My heart sank at his departure.
I looked for him but did not find him.
I called him but he did not answer.
7 The watchmen found me
as they made their rounds in the city.
They beat me, they bruised me;
they took away my cloak,
those watchmen of the walls!
8 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you—
if you find my beloved,
what will you tell him?
Tell him I am faint with love.
9 How is your beloved better than others,
most beautiful of women?
How is your beloved better than others,
that you so charge us?
10 My beloved is radiant and ruddy,
outstanding among ten thousand.
11 His head is purest gold;
his hair is wavy
and black as a raven.
12 His eyes are like doves
by the water streams,
washed in milk,
mounted like jewels.
13 His cheeks are like beds of spice
His lips are like lilies
dripping with myrrh.
14 His arms are rods of gold
set with topaz.
His body is like polished ivory
decorated with lapis lazuli.
15 His legs are pillars of marble
set on bases of pure gold.
His appearance is like Lebanon,
choice as its cedars.
16 His mouth is sweetness itself;
he is altogether lovely.
This is my beloved, this is my friend,
daughters of Jerusalem.
This passage has several distinct movements, beginning with v. 1: (Friends of the bride and groom speaking) “Eat, friends, and drink; drink your fill of love.” Love is more than a private affair. What one does with one’s sexuality is always more than a personal matter. It has widespread social implications. This is why traditionally, in our culture, a wedding is performed with witnesses who represent broader society. The woman now belongs to the man, and the man to the woman. Marriage changes all their personal relationships. The public aspect of marriage explains the presence of “daughters of Jerusalem” (mentioned five times) and “friends” (mentioned ten times). For Christians, selfless love expressed in marriage is a public witness and testimony to the relationship between Christ and the church. In Ephesians 5:31-32 we read, “’For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.”
Next, we see what is likely a dream sequence. It would be highly unusual for a Middle Eastern woman to be roaming about the streets in the dark of night, encountering watchmen (v. 7). The excitement of the preceding section is now replaced with apprehension. The maiden dreams that her lover comes to her, but it is inconvenient for her to respond. She is bathed, undressed and is now in bed ready to sleep. She is slow to acknowledge his advances, and the opportunity is gone. Her lover therefore departs, and she is now sick with longing for him.
Love brings us joy, but we are flawed creatures. There are adjustments to be made in marriage. Our natural laziness, differences between men and women, the variations in the rhythms of life, and our unwillingness to alter our own preferred patterns and habits all contribute to the problem of intimacy. A wise marriage counselor once wrote that the three most common areas of friction in marriage are sex, money, and in-laws. Couples planning to get married would be wise to seek mature Christian counsel prior to saying, “I do.”
In v. 16, the wife addresses her “beloved” as “my friend.” The Song of Solomon is unabashedly a romantic book, but love is never fully satisfied to be content with the physical alone. Marriage finds its deepest meaning and fulfillment only if there is trust and commitment. Our male hero is her lover, but he is more than this: he is also her friend.
- If you are married, does your marriage reflect the love of Christ?
- If you are married, how would your friends describe your marriage?
- If you are single, are you honoring God through your purity?
By the Way
Ephesians 5:24-25, “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Keep in mind that Christ demonstrated his love for the church by dying for her. A husband should be willing to do no less for his wife. Remember, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). For a husband, there should be no greater friend than his wife.
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