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Bible Commentaries

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Song of Solomon 4

Verse 1

Women in Solomon’s culture did not always wear a veil. Before their wedding they put one on and did not take it off for some time after that (cf. Genesis 24:65; Genesis 29:19-25). From a distance, a herd of black goats descending from the mountains at dusk was very attractive and reminded Solomon of his beloved’s long black locks rippling and tumbling freely.

"The hair of goats in ancient Israel was commonly black or dark colored, whereas that of sheep, used for comparison in the next verse, was commonly white." [Note: Exum, Song of . . ., p. 162.]

Verse 1

B. The Consummation 4:1-5:1

Our attention now turns from the public procession that took place on the wedding day to the private union that followed that night.

Verses 1-7

1. The bride’s beauty 4:1-7

His bride’s beauty ravished Solomon. His praise in Song of Solomon 4:1; Song of Solomon 4:7 frames his description of her in Song of Solomon 4:1-6.

Verses 2-3

Her teeth were white and evenly matched. Her mouth had a beautiful color and shape. Her temples were rosy with robust health, like the outside of a pomegranate. Carr rendered the Hebrew word for temples "the sides of her face," and noted that cosmetics were common in the ancient Near East. [Note: Carr, The Song . . ., p. 116.]

Verse 4

A long neck, which gives a stately appearance, may have been a mark of beauty in the ancient world. [Note: Kinlaw, p. 1229.] On the other hand, this may be a figurative description designed to compliment. It was customary for soldiers to hang their shields on the towers belonging to the lords to whom they pledged allegiance (cf. Ezekiel 27:11). [Note: Deere, p. 1018.]

"Her neck would hold much of the jewelry that a woman might wear. Such jewelry was often layered, where strands of jewelry were placed one on top of the other. This formed a layered appearance that could ascend from the shoulder and reach as far as the top of the neck." [Note: Hess, p. 134.]

What "tower of David" this was, we do not know. It was not David’s "citadel," that now stands on the west side of old Jerusalem, because that tower did not exist then. The idea is that many of the best people loved and stood by the bride. She enjoyed popular acceptance by Solomon’s subjects.

Verses 5-6

Fawns are soft and lovable. The "mountain" and "hill" are also metaphors for the girl’s breasts. Myrrh and frankincense were expensive perfumes, so Solomon may have meant his wife’s breasts were precious to him as well as attractive.

Verse 7

Perhaps she was not really as perfect as Solomon claimed here (cf. Song of Solomon 1:5-6). "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." She was perfect to him.

Probably Solomon drew comparisons between his bride and things common in pastoral settings, because rural life was her background and was dominant in Israel. She would have understood his meaning easily.

Verse 8

2. The groom’s request 4:8

Solomon appealed to his bride to put all thoughts of her former life away. These included both the pleasant thoughts-such as those of the beautiful mountains of the Anti-Lebanon and Hermon ranges in Lebanon, from which she had come-and fearful thoughts, such as those of wild animals. He urged her to give him her attention on this their wedding night.

Verse 9

"Sister" was an affectionate term for wife (cf. Song of Solomon 4:10; Song of Solomon 4:12; Song of Solomon 5:1-2; Tobit 7:16; Tobit 8:4; Tobit 8:7). [Note: Longman, p. 151; J. G. Westenholz, "Love Lyrics from the Ancient Near East," in Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, 4:2474.]

Verses 9-11

3. The bride’s love 4:9-11

In these verses, Solomon evidently praised his bride for giving herself wholly to him as he had asked.

Verse 10

Again the word translated "love" means physical expressions of love (cf. Song of Solomon 1:2). Her "oils" were her perfumes.

Verse 11

Milk and honey not only connote sweet delicacies but also the blessings of God (cf. Exodus 3:8). Lebanon was fragrant because of the many cedar trees that covered its hills.

". . . it is probably better to understand that the sweetness of the passionate kiss is in view." [Note: Patterson, p. 74.]

Verse 12

Solomon praised his bride’s virginity also. She had kept herself a virgin for the man she would marry.

Verses 12-15

4. The bride’s purity 4:12-15

Verses 13-14

She was like a garden full of beautiful and pleasing plants that was now open to Solomon. [Note: See the subject study on "garden" as used in the Song of Solomon in Carr, The Song . . ., pp. 55-60] These spices, fruits, and flowers probably represent her whole person rather than her individual parts.

"The most obvious feature of the Song of Songs is the sexually explicit nature of the material, sensitively guised in figurative language." [Note: Tanner, "The Message . . .," p. 145. Cf. Exum, Song of . . ., p. 176.]

Verse 15

Though she had kept her most intimate parts from others in the past, they were now open to Solomon, and he experienced full satisfaction with her love.

5. The bride’s surrender 4:16-5:1

Verse 16

The Shulammite invited Solomon to take her completely. She called on the winds to carry the scents to which Solomon had referred so he would find full satisfaction (cf. Song of Solomon 4:13-14).

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 4". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". 2012.