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Sunday, December 3rd, 2023
the First Week of Advent
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Bible Commentaries
Song of Solomon 2

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Verses 1-2

The Bride: a Lily

The bride says that she is “the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valleys”. The rose and the lily are small field flowers. In this way, the bride expressed her smallness, which she emphasized by saying that she is a lily “of the valleys”. The valley points to a place of humiliation. Sharon and the valley become places of safety and rest for God’s people, who come from the great tribulation: “Sharon will be a pasture land for flocks, and the valley of Achor a resting place for herds, for My people who seek Me” (Isaiah 65:10).

In Song of Solomon 2:2 the groom reacts to what the bride says in Song of Solomon 2:1 of herself. He takes over the image the bride uses and speaks of her as “a lily”. That’s how he sees her. And he sees her, this delicate wild flower, “among the thorns”, so that her beauty is expressed all the more. She is like a diamond lying on a black cloth, making the brilliance of the diamond shine all the stronger.

Thorns, often called along with thistles, are a picture of sin (Genesis 3:18). It is human nature, as it was made by the fall into sin. “The maidens” can be seen here as the daughters of apostate Israel (Hosea 4:14; Ezekiel 2:6). Thorns will no longer be there in the kingdom of peace (Ezekiel 28:24). “Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up” (Isaiah 55:13). This is thanks to the Lord Jesus, Who has born the curse of sin.

The world is full of thorns and thistles and sighs under the consequences of the curse that rests on creation through sin (Romans 8:20-Song of Solomon :). It is very painful to dwell here. Sometimes we feel it among each other that there are thorns and thistles. We too can hurt others.

Yet here we read that it is said, “As a lily among the thorns, so are you.’ A lily is a flower that flowers only for a short time. The Lord Jesus says: “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is [alive] today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, [will He] not much more [clothe] you?” (Matthew 6:28-Amos :). We see here that the Lord equates the lilies on the field with the grass because of the short-lived glory they have. The lilies shine one day and are burned the next day in an oven.

Despite its brevity, God clothed the lilies with a beauty that surpasses the glory of Solomon. The followers of the Lord Jesus receive a glory greater than that of Solomon, despite the fact that He must address them as ‘you of little faith’. The bride has the same great glory for the groom, despite what she thinks of herself. The faithful remnant of Israel will be clothed by the Messiah with a glory coming from Himself (Ezekiel 16:14).

The Lord Jesus sees His own in a world full of thorns and thistles. For Him they are like lilies. That may give us confidence in the short time we are on earth. He will give us everything we need. The care that He has for the faithful remnant in the end times, He now also has for us. We may be witnesses in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (Philippians 2:15) and especially in the midst of an apostate nominal Christianity.

Verse 3

My Beloved Is Like an Apple Tree

The bride gives a testimony again of what the groom is for her. He compared her in the previous verse to “a lily among the thorns”. She now compares him to “an apple tree among the trees of the forest”. A tree is a picture of power (cf. Daniel 4:10-2 Chronicles :; Daniel 4:20-Ezekiel :; Ezekiel 17:24). The apple tree speaks of the Lord Jesus. The other trees represent the young men of the world, impressive people, who also try to draw the bride’s attention to themselves and who want to seduce her to love them.

For those other trees she has no further attention, despite their impressive stature. Her longing goes out only to him, whom she calls her beloved. There is no one who can be compared to him. He is and has everything she desires. She yearns strongly for him because of his shadow and his fruit, that is because of his protection and his food.

Under the apple tree there is rest in the first place: she wants to sit there (cf. Luke 10:39). It is a refuge from the heat: there is shade (Isaiah 25:4). There is also food of which the taste is good: the fruit is sweet (Psalms 34:8). When the Lord Jesus gave food to the crowd, He first let them sit quietly (Mark 6:31; Mark 6:39-Matthew :). To receive something from Him, there must be rest. When we fly back and forth restlessly or are disturbed by all kinds of reports on the means of communication we have in our pockets or bags, we miss much of the food He gives us.

We must be close to Him to experience His shadow, His protection, and enjoy His fruit. If we stray from Him, if we are not close to Him, we miss His shadow. Christ is not simply a means to come into heaven, but in Him the joy of heaven comes down to fill our hearts and support us on our journey to heaven.

Apples, the fruits of the apple tree, are compared to good words in God’s Word. In Proverbs 25 it says in visual language: “[Like] apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances” (Proverbs 25:11). The words themselves are of gold; the silver speaks of the way they are passed on. That is how the Lord Jesus speaks to us. Gold speaks of divine glory. Silver refers to the price paid for the salvation. When we sit in His shadow and want to eat of the fruit of the tree, it means that He speaks to us words of Divine glory, which are connected with salvation.

How beautiful it would be if we could speak among ourselves in the same way, words that bear witness to God’s glory and words that we know are linked to salvation. Then we will not speak harsh words. Men are warned not to be embittered against their wives (Colossians 3:19). That will not happen when they speak good words, words that build up. To speak good words, we must first take them to us and eat them.

Jeremiah tells us how this can be done: “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, o LORD God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16). Isn’t that encouraging? When we talk to each other, let us use words that are good, that we want to eat, words that do us good spiritually and make and keep us healthy. The awareness that God’s Name has been proclaimed upon us, that we have been named after His Name, will work that out within us.

So we can rightly say that the Lord Jesus Christ is ‘the apple tree’ for the believer. Let us sit in His shadow and eat of His fruit.

Verse 4

His Banner over Me Is Love

The bride, after sitting in the shadow of the groom and enjoying what he is eating (Song of Solomon 2:3), is brought by the groom in a fullness of joy. This is symbolically expressed by the “banquet hall”, or better “the house of wine” (Darby translation) in which he brings her. She rejoices at his love, which is like a banner over her. A banner speaks of victory. Where the banner is placed, the victory is achieved. Love overcomes the greatest fear and enmity.

The believer may know that he is brought by the Lord Jesus in the full joy of the fellowship with Him. As we have seen before (Song of Solomon 1:2), wine is a picture of joy. Here we see ourselves as believers brought into a house of joy. We did not enter that house in our own power and we did not invite ourselves to it. Christ has invited us. He brought us there, in His grace He gave us that place with Him. Through His work on the cross He opened the door of that house for us and carried us inside.

The Lord Jesus shows this in the parable of the lost sheep found by the shepherd. He puts it on his shoulders rejoicing and brings it home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and invites them to rejoice with him. It is a picture of the joy that is in heaven over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:5-Judges :).

The same and even more impressive we see in the parable that the Lord Jesus tells about the prodigal son, also in Luke 15. When this son comes home, his father brings him into his own house, the father’s house, where there is an abundance of joy. A large meal is prepared there in an atmosphere of joy, which begins but never ends: “And they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:24). That starts here on earth, where we can already enjoy this feast as a foretaste of heaven, where we will continue this feast for all eternity.

The banner speaks of the Lord Jesus as the Victor and of His power (Exodus 17:15; Isaiah 5:26; Isaiah 11:10Isaiah 11:12). He proved His love by dying for us and thereby freeing us from the fear of the devil: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).

The banner speaks not only of victory, but also of ownership. The area where a banner is located belongs to the person who placed the banner there. If we look up and see the banner, we see Him, the Victor, and we know His love. Then we are no longer afraid of any power that might take us away from Him (John 10:28-Joel :). The banner of His love is like a shawl in which He has completely wrapped us, making us feel His warmth and also protection and security. We may rest with joy in that love.

This combination of joy and love we also see in God. Through the work of His Son God can rejoice with joy over His people and be quiet or rest in His love (Zephaniah 3:17). We are enabled to share in the feelings of God, because Christ has carried the judgment of God in our place. By doing so, He opened the door to the house of complete joy and love, to the house and the heart of the Father for us.

Verses 5-6

I Am Lovesick

The bride is overwhelmed by the banner of love of the groom over her (Song of Solomon 2:4). She is even “lovesick” (Song of Solomon 2:5). With this she says that she has the feeling that her heart succumbs under his love. Sick of love for us means merging into the perfect happiness of the consciousness of our Lord’s love, where the heart cannot grasp what He all has done for us. It is becoming unwell at the thought of all that the Lord has given and done and will give and will do.

The bride wants to answer his love, but is not able to. His love is so great, so impressive, that she succumbs to it. Therefore she asks him to strengthen her with “raisin cakes”. She wants to experience the full joy of his love. Raisin cakes are just like wine made from grapes. They speak of joy connected with power, a power that is found in God for the believer: “The joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

For Jerusalem, the bride of the Messiah, the time will come when she will no longer strengthen herself with the raisin cakes of the idols (Hosea 3:1), but with His raisin cakes. This will happen when the Lord Jesus returns as the true David to Jerusalem to reign there. We see that in the image as David brings the ark to Jerusalem. He then distributes “to all the people, to all the multitude of Israel, both to men and women, a cake of bread and one of dates and one of raisins to each one” (2 Samuel 6:19).

We can learn from the bride that she does not do her best to experience that love and to express her joy about it. She wants to rejoice about his love, but is aware that she also depends on the groom for that. In some Christian groups it is only about joy. You have to be happy and express it loudly and also think of all kinds of forms for it. Here we learn that the real experience of the Lord Jesus’ love overwhelms and breaks us down. The reaction to this is not a beaten-up joy, but the question to the Lord to help us with His power and to answer His love.

And she requires not only reinforcement, but also refreshment. Not only strength is needed, but also consolation (cf. Psalms 94:19). In her need for refreshment she asks for “apples”. We can see in this the question of a believer who has come impressed by the love of the Lord Jesus and who wants to be invigorated by His words. They are words for someone personal in his own specific circumstances. He is able to prove the saying that “[like] apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances” (Proverbs 25:11). Whoever knows the Lord Jesus once and is overwhelmed by His love has a great longing for Him and wants to know Him better, especially in the circumstances in which he finds himself.

We need His support. We recognize this support in the bride’s longing for the left and right arm of the groom in Song of Solomon 2:6. This is a highlight in the book. After a period of trials and desires comes the moment of rest and security. There may be doubt and unrest if we do not experience the Lord. But He will convince us of His great love, which will make us long for Him.

The bride wishes to be in his arms. She mentions his two arms separately. His left arm is the arm that comes as it were from his heart, from his love – the heart is on the left. His right arm is the arm of his power (Isaiah 41:10; Psalms 63:8). In his arms she is safe in all respects (cf. Deuteronomy 33:27). The fact that his left hand is under her head also means that he lifts her head to look at him. The fact that his right arm embraces her means that he keeps it protective around her.

We recognize this in the Lord Jesus. Whoever lives in an intimate relationship with Him will experience His love and power. It is not about strength in itself, but about strength that works in an intimate relationship. His love supports and protects. If we can experience His love and power in this way, perfect peace has come. This will be experienced by the believing remnant of Israel in the future, when it will see after the great tribulation on Him Whom they have pierced and at the same time will find complete peace in Him.

With this scene of rest, the third part of the first main part of the book ends. The two previous sections have also ended in the same way. The first part, Song of Songs 1:1-4, ends with the bride brought into the king’s chambers; the second part, Song of Songs 1:5-17, ends with the scene that the king and his bride are together.

Verse 7

No Love Before the Appointed Time

Song of Solomon 2:7 is a refrain we encounter three times in the book, here for the first time (Song of Solomon 2:7; Song of Solomon 3:5Song of Solomon 8:4). It is about the special character of love, about which the bridegroom speaks to the “daughters of Jerusalem”. The daughters of Jerusalem represent believers who have a connection with the Lord Jesus, but do not live in the same close relationship with Him as the bride, and have other thoughts about love. They try to manipulate and steer love through prescriptions. But this is not how love can be guided.

When love is enforced, there is no more rest in love. This is shown in the comparison with the “gazelles” and “hinds”. These are shy animals. If there is no danger, if everything is quiet around them, they move full of grace. However, as soon as they smell the slightest danger, they become nervous. It is out with their rest and they shoot away. So it is with love.

Prophetically we can apply this to Jerusalem. It would be a forcing of love if the Lord Jesus returned now, for Jerusalem is not yet ready for it. She doesn’t know Him and doesn’t want to accept His love. First the city, that is to say the remnant, must go through the great tribulation. She will fervently long for His love and look forward to Him. Then love will be pleased to show herself to her and to embrace and protect her.

That’s how love always works. She has her own laws. She must not be forced upon and she must not be raised prematurely. That does not fit with love. Raising or stirring up love, before it is time for love to express herself, means disturbing the rest of love. We can apply this to the relationship with our children. We have seen the arms of the groom, what they mean as expressions of love for the bride. How do our children think about our arms? Do we embrace our children, or are they afraid of it because they are arms with hands hitting them?

Love needs time and must be given time. Let us also be patient with our children and with our brothers and sisters when we see something in them that we may not like so much. Let us not intervene too quickly. Our young people need time to grow in their love for the Lord Jesus. We can block this growth by asking for proofs of their love, which they cannot (yet) give. Remarks such as “if you really love the Lord Jesus” or “if you really love me” can lead someone to an action we desire, while love is lacking in that action. That breaks off love.

The whole scene of Song of Solomon 2:4-Judges : speaks of an atmosphere of love, of a love that cannot be forced. Real love needs time to develop. Older believers and parents can make their contribution. They do so in accordance with the awareness of the patience that the Lord has also had with them. Do we realize how much patience the Lord has had with us?

Verse 8

The Beloved Is Coming

Here begins a new section. After the time of the first love in the previous section, a certain time of slackening has come in the bride’s love. There is a distance between her and the groom. We probably recognize that when we look at our own lives. In the first time of our Christian life, we gave the Lord Jesus the first place. After that a time of cooling has come, the first love is somewhat eroded. Other things have come into our hearts, so that our love no longer goes out to Him alone.

The bride wakes up as it were when she hears the voice of her beloved. She doesn’t see him yet, but she recognizes his voice. Thus the Lord wants us to give Him our first love again, that is our only love. For this He uses His voice, that is His Word. When we read God’s Word, we hear the voice of the Lord Jesus. And when we hear His voice, we also get an eye for Him again. We see that when the bride then says, “Behold, he is coming.” Not only does she hear Him, but now she sees Him.

She also sees how the Bridegroom comes. He comes “climbing on the mountains, leaping on the hills”. In the mountains and hills we see a picture of the great and small difficulties in our lives, as a result of which the Lord Jesus has disappeared from sight. Apart from His Word the Lord also uses difficulties and problems in our lives to regain sight on Him. When His voice has again penetrated our hearts and our eyes have turned to His Person, we see that He is above the difficulties. For Him there are no such problems.

By introducing Himself to us in this way He wants to lift us up above our problems. The problems don’t disappear, but He helps us to get out of it and not let us be controlled by it. We will gain that experience when we throw all our care upon Him. If we do, we will find peace in the certainty that He is taking care of us. He invites us to bring to Him all worries and difficulties: “Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you” (Psalms 55:22; 1 Peter 5:7; Matthew 6:25-Amos :).

When we cast (there is power in that expression) our burden upon Him, He has taken them over from us and continues to take care of us. If we don’t do that, we will continue to walk around with our burden and will be so preoccupied that we have no eye for God. But He loves it to take care of us. That means that every detail of our lives is to His heart. He not only wants to be involved, he wants to take over all our needs from us. He brings us into trial and need, that we may learn to accept it from His hand and give it into His hand (Psalms 10:14).

Verse 9

The Beloved Seeks Cautious Rapprochement

The bride compares the groom to a gazelle and the young of a deer. Gazelles can walk over the mountains with great speed and grace (cf. 2 Samuel 2:18; 1 Chronicles 12:8). In the case of the stag or deer, who also jump easily over obstacles, there may be added the thought of joy (cf. Isaiah 35:6). Gazelles and deer are innocent animals. They are not carnivores, they are not hunting animals. These are pure animals, which could be eaten by the Israelites (Deuteronomy 12:15; Deuteronomy 12:22Deuteronomy 14:4-:; Deuteronomy 15:22). Both animals are also known to be wary of danger and their direct and rapid flight as it presents itself.

This is how the bride sees her groom approaching. He quickly comes closer and allows himself to be stopped by nothing. At the same time, he remains cautious in his approach. In this way the Lord Jesus also comes to each one of His own, who turns to him again after a period of weakening of love. He is careful to see if there is a working desire to live in fellowship with Him. He does not impose Himself and He does not force access. He does not, so to speak, enter our lives like an elephant to roll over us.

We can learn from this how to approach someone whose life with the Lord has been put on hold. True love for our straying brother or sister will make us quick to help and at the same time we will do so with due caution. In these cases it is not about clear sins, but about signs that may indicate that someone no longer lives fully for the Lord. If we find that someone does not visit the meetings of the believer as often, it is good to pay attention to this and to inform ourselves why – without directly accusing anyone of infidelity.

That there is some reserve with the groom in his approach, we can conclude from the place where the bride is located. She says herself that the groom is “behind our wall”, the wall around her house. He has come closer and looks inside through the windows. She likes the fact that he is there, but there is still a wall between them. She calls it ‘our’ wall, but she only hid behind it and he is outside. It has more or less become her wall.

A wall is a picture of separation from the wrong in order to be devoted to the Lord. If it is separation without the Lord, it has become isolation. We can withdraw so far into our isolation that we no longer allow the Lord to come to us. He does look inside and is standing behind the wall. He is not sitting, but is ready to take action when the bride is ready.

The Lord wants to use other believers to visit us at a time of spiritual decline. Maybe we let them into the house, but do we also let them into our lives? Just when we are no longer full of the Lord and other things in our lives have become important, we tend to maintain the wall around our hearts. We do not want to expose ourselves or dare to be vulnerable, perhaps because we are afraid of being hurt again.

For example, we may have entrusted something to someone who we thought would keep it to himself, but he has told it all over the place. Then we don’t just reopen our hearts, because we are afraid of another disappointment. That reaction is understandable. At the same time, it is good to be aware of the danger of our retreating completely into isolation. The Lord wishes to point this out with caution. He wants to have the first place in our lives again and point out what prevents this.

Life in isolation is increasing in the world and among Christians. This is due to the growing individualism, through which also increases selfishness. We want to have everything for ourselves and do everything for ourselves. Computers, internet, smartphones, all these devices carry the danger that we will completely withdraw into our own world. Our children grow up with it. They only need that one device to have fun. But also older believers may have a need for all kinds of things to keep up with the times. We are increasingly being seized by these devices, which are strongly ‘I’ oriented.

People no longer know how to deal with each other. It is a recognizable scene: people sit at the table eating together, but there is no mutual communication because there is a digital connection with the outside world. Everyone eats for themselves and is now busy with their smartphone. If there is a message, it must be responded to immediately. We must be aware of these dangers! These devices are said to promote communication. But in reality, the real communication decreases and finally disappears completely. The device says you are important. People need me, they want to let me know something; and I think it is necessary to let people know what I think of a case.

The result is that we do not have time to quietly occupy ourselves with the Word of God, to visit church meetings, and to help brothers and sisters. We just don’t have time anymore. This risk is great because we are withdrawing from the fellowship of the saints and living in isolation. We live in such a way that the Lord cannot come to us. But he does try to come to us. He stands there, He looks through the window, that are in fact barred windows.

The bars give the impression that we are locked up in a prison. Are we locked up? We can be locked up in our own thoughts, in our lives, in the plans we have and be a prisoner of them. But He looks through it. What plans do we have? What do we want? What is the purpose of our life? Is all this a prison for us? Can we think of nothing else? The Lord now stands before the window of our lives and looks through the bars. He looks and He loves to come to us to give us satisfaction and true fulfillment of life.

Verse 10

Arise and Come Along

The part of Song of Solomon 2:10-1 Chronicles : begins and ends with the same words the groom speaks to the bride. He wants her to arise in her place of isolation, a place of rest in the sense of laziness, and come to him. The bride is still inside, behind the wall, and the groom is still outside. When he begins to speak, his speaking is an answer. He “responded” to her (Song of Solomon 2:10). However, we do not read that she asked a question. This may mean that his answer is directed to the weakened feelings of her heart, which he knows.

He addresses her very personally. She knows, he says it “to me”. Now she hears not only his voice, but also what he says. There is no reproach from his mouth because she hides from him and he does not order her to show herself. The way he approaches her is full of tenderness and love. He asks her to arise.

He calls her “my darling, my beautiful one”. These are names in which he expresses the value she has for him. He wants to share the thoughts of his heart with her as his ‘darling’. That he calls her the ‘beautiful one’, indicates that he is full of admiration for her and that his heart is full of her. With these names he wants to speak to her heart and persuade her to come to him. Thus the Lord Jesus will tell the remnant of Israel how beautiful it is for Him. He calls Zion “the perfection of beauty” (Psalms 50:2; Colossians 2:15; Ezekiel 16:14).

In the same way, the Lord Jesus is busy with each of His own, who has lost sight of Him through circumstances. He says what value he or she has for Him (Isaiah 43:4-Judges :). He chooses His words with care to make clear how much He cares about them. He fully means what He says. His words are not harsh, but pleasant, beneficent. They touch the heart and make it soft and willing to live with Him again.

The bride must start by rising. This is the beginning of every true conversion, whether it be the conversion of an unbeliever or the conversion of a believer. From the prodigal son in Lukas 15 we also read that at some point he says he will get up and go to the father. Then we read that he gets up and goes (Luke 15:18-Proverbs :).

For us it may also be the case that we have to arise from our circumstances, for example from our self-pity or from the excuses we bring forward to not completely surrender our lives to the Lord Jesus.

Verses 11-12

Winter Is Past, Singing Time Has Arrived

Prophetically, the bride is a picture of the faithful remnant of Israel. This remnant will pass through a time of great trial. The Lord Jesus speaks of “a great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21). At that time God will provide a refuge for that remnant (Isaiah 26:20). The period of great tribulation comes to an end after three and a half years, because the Messiah causes the tribulation to stop. Then He comes to them and says that “winter” of the great tribulation is “past” (Song of Solomon 2:11). “The rain” time with its devastating torrential rains is also a picture of the great tribulation (Ezekiel 13:11; Ezekiel 13:13). That time “is over [and] gone”.

The groom assures the bride that the time of tormenting fear and impending suffering is really over. It has become spring. The groom then points this out to the bride (Song of Solomon 2:12). Prophetically it looks as if the great tribulation with the cold of winter and the flood of trials is over and gives way to the beautiful spring of the kingdom of peace (Isaiah 35:1-Exodus :; Isaiah 35:10). The Lord Jesus is the Man Who has been for the remnant a “shelter from the storm” (Isaiah 32:2). He will now be for them for a thousand years in the kingdom of peace the “King” who “will reign righteously” (Isaiah 32:1).

We may also experience a time in our lives when the problems excess our capacities and we are under pressure and lose sight of Him. The Lord then offers us to come back into our lives. When He comes into our lives, He can turn winter into spring and the flood of rain into mild rain. When winter, the time of trial, is past, there is room for a new floral splendor with a multicolored beauty. Beautiful flowers will appear. After the death of winter, the new life of spring appears.

This points to the resurrection of the believer, the transition from death to a new life. The groom points this out to the bride, because it seems she has no eye for it yet. She is reminded of the fruits of the resurrection. The groom stands at the ground of the resurrection. Death has been conquered. Do we see the signs of recovery when the Lord Jesus comes to us in our circumstances? Wherever He comes, there is restoration and blessing.

Another application can be made to the situation in which our lives have become so superficial, that there is neither smell nor taste. Nobody sees anything of the fact that we know Christ. We complain bitterly. When our eye is then again turned to Christ, He will become visible again; for He is our new life. Then our life will show the beauty of flowers. Are we in our environment the ‘flowers’, do we radiate beauty and attractiveness? Flowers give fragrance, you can smell them, you can see them and touch them. Flowers brighten up the surroundings and make them more beautiful.

Paul thanks God for leading him and his associates “always … in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place” (2 Corinthians 2:14-Ezra :). It is God’s intention that our lives spread the scent of Christ. He is working on this. That is why we mean so much to Him. Our life is a new land, a new creation, in which He grows and takes care of these flowers.

The new life not only has a smell, it also has a sound. We got a voice to sing along with. Can we sing? Or can we only complain? James says, “Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises” (James 5:13). When the Lord Jesus has come into our lives, we have every reason to sing. We can even do everything singing if we let the Word of Christ dwell richly in us: “admonishing one another with psalms [and] hymns [and] spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16). Are we still singing in our hearts before God? When we are full of problems, criticism and bitterness, singing is stilled. If the Lord Jesus is central to our lives, we will praise Him daily.

Prophetically, there will come a moment for the remnant of Israel when the time for complaining is over and the time for singing has arrived. Spring is so beautiful and pleasant because it follows a period of darkness and cold. Because of the contrast with winter, spring is warmly welcomed. The flowers on the ground and the birds in the air also testify in their own way that the whole creation has been renewed. They express a heavenly message of joy, peace and righteousness.

The “turtledove” is a picture of the faithful remnant (Psalms 74:19) which, like the turtledove, knows the time of its arrival in the kingdom of peace (Jeremiah 8:7). When the cooing of the turtledove is heard in “our land”, it means that the remnant of God’s people is back in the Promised Land. We as Christians must also understand the coming or presence of the right time to do something.

Verse 13

Again: Arise and Come Along!

After the winter, the time of trial, come the fruits. Besides the flowers that appear on the land (Song of Solomon 2:12), we also see “the fig tree” and “the vines in blossom” (Song of Solomon 2:13). The young figs show that it is spring and that summer is on tour (Matthew 24:32). The fig tree represents righteousness. Adam and Eve, after their fall into sin, wanted to cover their nakedness before God with aprons of fig leaves (Genesis 3:7). However, these homemade aprons are not a covering for God.

There is no self-righteousness whatsoever that counts for God as a covering for sin. Israel has tried to establish its own righteousness before God with the result that it has not submitted itself to the righteousness of God (Romans 10:3). The only righteousness that applies to God is the righteousness which is worked through Christ on the cross and to which man takes part through the faith (Romans 10:4). On the basis of faith in that righteousness, God’s people can enjoy the blessing before God in the coming kingdom of peace.

The result is joy. We see this in the image of the flowering vines (Judges 9:13; Psalms 104:15). A vine in blossom has the promise of a dissolving harvest of grapes or joy. The grapes are not there yet, but the scent is already smelled. So it is with the believer who has had a time of trial. He is no longer in need, there is liberation and that can be seen in him. Peace and rest have come in his life. It won’t be long before he expresses his joy about it in an exuberant way. He will testify of how the Lord has redeemed him from his need and what a joy fills his heart for what the Lord has done.

The author of the letter to the Hebrews links to the discipline which God inflicts on believers the production of righteousness as a good fruit: “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11). Through discipline we are “trained”, that is, we are trained in how to deal with it. By training we learn to control something. If we can thus accept the discipline, if we know how to deal with it, then we will have a more intimate fellowship with God. The result will be that we enjoy more practical peace and show more justice in our lives.

The “peaceful fruit of righteousness” will soon be reality for Israel in the realm of peace, after the people have passed through the exercises of great tribulation. God already wants to bring this fruit into our lives through His upbringing (John 15:2; John 15:8). The vine and fig tree together symbolize the time of the kingdom of peace, of which we in the reign of Solomon – the Prince of Peace and a picture of the Lord Jesus – have a foreshadowing (1 Kings 4:25).

After the description of spring with its wonderful evidence of new, fresh life in Song of Solomon 2:11-1 Chronicles :, the groom invites his bride to come to him again with the same words as in Song of Solomon 2:10. He would like her to enjoy that spring. She can leave winter behind her by accepting his invitation. After what he has shown her of spring, it can no longer be difficult for her to give up her back-drawn existence and share her life with him.

The Lord Jesus presents to us the attraction of living with Him, so that we no longer allow ourselves to be controlled by circumstances that depress. He is committed to ensuring that it is not the ‘wintery conditions’ in which we sometimes find ourselves that determine the temperature of our spiritual life, but the mild temperature of ‘spring life’. To this end, He points out to us the features of the new life, which He possesses and also wants to work in us.

Verse 14

Seeing the Form and Hearing the Voice

The groom uses different images each time to reach the bride and to move her to come to him. He now calls her “my dove” (Song of Solomon 2:14). The dove is an animal known for its loyalty and attachment to its partner. The bridegroom appeals to the bride in her loyalty and attachment to him. The memory of this may prompt her to leave her isolation and come to him.

He also mentions the place where she is different than in Song of Solomon 2:9. It is “in the clefts of the rock, in the secret place of the steep pathway”. The place where she has withdrawn is a place where she wants to hide from the enemy. The groom tells her that she can emerge, because the enemy has disappeared just as winter has passed. She has hidden herself from the enemy, but at the same time from him.

In the same way, we too may have withdrawn into isolation for fear or other reasons. This is why we have also withdrawn from His presence. We are then not perfect in love, that is to say that the awareness of His love for us does not live. Perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18). He wants us to turn our eye back to His love, so that we seek our protection from Him and not from anyone or anything else.

He wants to see the bride and hear her voice. Thus the Lord also wants us to come out of our hiding place and let Him hear our voice in praise and prayer. This is a wonderful invitation to go to Him boldly with all that is in our hearts. He wants us to see as we are before Him and He wants us to know that and say that to Him. This can be a very short prayer or a very short thanksgiving as long as it is the sincere expression of the love of our heart.

We can make another application. The Lord wants to see the “form” of each of us personally, “your form”, and not that of another. He wants to hear the “voice” of him from us personally: “your voice” and not the voice of another. When we speak to Him in prayer, we should not suddenly start talking in a completely different tone, as I have heard someone do. The words we use must also be our own. Not parroting others or necessarily wanting to do things completely differently, because we want to be ‘original’. The Lord then sees another form.

Every believer who lives with the Lord has learned a lot from others, but he is not a copy of those other believers. It is not about trying to say it in a way that no one – we ourselves or anyone else – has ever said it before. It is about saying it in a way that the Lord has never heard of us before. We use the same words as before or words that someone else has used, but it comes from our heart in a more profound way.

The Lord does not only say that He wants to see our form and hear our voice. He says also why this is so: “Your voice is sweet, and your form is lovely.” This shows His desire for fellowship with us. We hear this desire in His voice. When we hear Him speak like this, can our hearts remain cold? When He speaks so to us to persuade us to come to Him, can we keep Him at a distance? He speaks so graciously to us to let us know how precious we are to Him and that He is so eager to hear from us how precious He is to us. Shall we let Him talk and ignore His loving attempts to conquer our hearts? Shall we forget Him and continue our own life? What a disappointment and sorrow that would be for Him!

Verses 15-17

Catch the Little Foxes

The groom tells the bride to catch “the foxes” and especially “the little foxes”. She has to catch those little foxes “for us”, with which the groom indicates that she has to defuse them in view of their relationship. The foxes, also the small ones, destroy the vineyards, especially at a time when “our vineyards” are in blossom. He uses the word “our” again, with which he emphasizes their relationship, here in connection with the joy it gives to belong together.

In the spiritual application we see in the blossoming vineyards the early fruits of joy through new spiritual life, which the believer has in his relationship with the Lord Jesus. When these fruits are spoiled by little foxes, joy into the Lord disappears and spiritual growth stops. Our joy and growth are nipped in the bud. The little foxes represent things in our lives that deprive us of the joy in the Lord. These are often small sins, which are justified by the reasoning that there is nothing wrong with them.

The Lord Jesus calls Herod “that fox” because of his cunning to thwart God’s work that the Lord is doing (Luke 13:31-Jonah :). False prophets are also called foxes (Ezekiel 13:4). These foxes are big enemies that we have to eliminate, so that they cannot exert their pernicious influence. In the case of the fox Herod we can think of the pressure exerted on us not to devote ourselves to God’s work. In the case of the great foxes we can think of false prophets and of charismatic errors in which, for example, it is told that you do not have to be ill and that your faith is not right if you are or remain ill. If we know God’s Word, we will easily recognize these ‘great foxes’ and defuse them.

However, there are also the little foxes. These are not gross sins, but sometimes feelings of dissatisfaction that cannot be mentioned and that negatively affect our lives as Christians. These are the small irritations in the interrelationships. Our brother or sister says or does something we do not like so much. We react agitated and thereby make the atmosphere even more unpleasant. Irritations create an extremely unpleasant and eventually explosive atmosphere, which puts an end to all the joy that characterizes a good relationship.

The fathers in the families are told not to exasperate their children “so that they will not lose heart” (Colossians 3:21). This includes minor harassment, which makes a child despondent and thoroughly disrupts the relationship if not stopped. This also applies to relations in the church and in society. All these irritations have a direct effect on the relationship with the Lord Jesus, because it is disturbed by that. It is therefore important that minor irritations are immediately judged before they become a major quarrel. As Solomon says in the book of Proverbs: “The beginning of strife is [like] letting out water, so abandon the quarrel before it breaks out” (Proverbs 17:14).

The little foxes who disrupt the joy of fellowship with the Lord can also be little time robbers. How much time is not lost doing useless things? They need not be bad things, but things to which we devote a great deal of attention, forgetting time. In our hobby or sport or other forms of pastime, which in themselves can be quite relaxing, we can go overboard and forget about time. The Lord Jesus seeks fellowship with us. Also our hobby or whatever it is, we may do in fellowship with Him. If we thank Him for what He gives us in this, we will capture the “little fox” who wants to prevent us from living in fellowship with Him.

What a loss it would be if the little foxes would prevent grapes from growing on the vines that blossom. Spiritually applied it means that the Lord is deprived of the joy of fellowship with His own. We are certainly also losers, but He suffers the most loss. For he has done everything possible to make fellowship with Him possible. It is our responsibility to eliminate everything that makes it impossible for Him to enjoy that fellowship with us.

In Song of Solomon 2:16-Esther : we hear the bride’s reaction to all the groom’s efforts to persuade her to come to him. He pointed out to her that she must catch the little foxes so that she can no longer be stopped from being with him. A first effect of the expressions of his desire for her is that she becomes aware again that her beloved is hers and that she is his. There is an inseparable bond between them. Love is the strongest bond that connects people.

It is remarkable, however, that she says these words to others and not to him. The answer she gives is also not the one the groom is waiting for. Her thoughts revolve around herself. Her love is still self-centered. The point is that he is hers, “mine”. What matters to her is what it brings her, not yet what she means to him. She still has to grow in her love and she does. We will see that later (Song of Solomon 6:3; Song of Solomon 7:10).

She relates his love to his person as the shepherd who pastures his flock (cf. Ezekiel 34:11-Ezra :; Isaiah 40:11). The words ‘his flock’ are not in the original text and are therefore placed in square brackets. All emphasis therefore falls on his shepherd’s task, the fact that he pastures. He is not so much operating among the sheep, but “among the lilies”, under which that special lily is located, his bride (Song of Solomon 2:2). The bride knows she is one of his lilies. She emphasizes that. It is not about him, but about herself. She knows she belongs to the right company, but does not yet go out to Him.

We see in Song of Solomon 2:17 that the bride wants to wait a while. She wants to wait “until the cool of the day when the shadows flee away”. This indicates that she is not yet fully convinced that winter is passed and spring has arrived. She still is in the dark of the night. When the day comes and the refreshing wind makes life pleasant, then she wants to come to him. If the shadows flee away first and she has a clear view of reality, then she will give herself to him. “Until” this moment arrives, she prefers to stay in her cozy environment.

Similarly, in our lives there may be circumstances in which we want to see improvement before we entrust ourselves entirely to the Lord and go to Him. We experience the cold of the trial of faith too much to accept that it is really over. There is a wait-and-see attitude. We want to see if the Lord really has brought a change in our circumstances. This shows that we have not yet learned that as soon as the Lord comes to us and we entrust ourselves to Him, this will bring about a tremendous change. As soon as we surrender to Him, the day in our lives has come and we see everything clear again.

The bride tells the groom to leave. She still calls him “my beloved”, but he needs to be kept at a distance until she feels able to join him. Until then, he can move freely “like a gazelle or a young stag”. So she described him when he came to her in Song of Solomon 2:9.

Because she is not ready to accept his loving invitation he can go as he came and return to the “mountains of Bether”. They are the “cleaved mountains‟ – that means the name “Bether” –, mountains in which a way has been made. She allows him a way without obstacles. But he is not interested in her wish that he will have an easy way, he wants a highway in her heart. He wants access to her heart, but she turns him down. The following chapter shows the reason for this.

The spiritual lesson is obvious. We may not say clearly to the Lord that He must leave, but we can behave in such a way that our attitude gives that message. He seeks fellowship with us, but we turn Him down because we have no time. Not now. It takes us too much effort to catch the little foxes. Then He does not impose Himself, but continues His way.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Song of Solomon 2". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/song-of-solomon-2.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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