Song of Solomon 3-5: The Wedding

What's the most exciting and important part of a relationship? Did you guess the wedding? The middle of Song of Solomon gives us front row access to the marriage of a couple deeply in love with each other, with the intent of reminding us of our own upcoming marriage to Christ. It's pretty powerful, if you ask me.

Introduction

The last half of Song of Solomon 3, the whole of Song of Solomon 4, and the first verse of Song of Solomon 5 take us through the actual wedding of the couple. We see the groom lavish the bride with praise and experience the joy of these two uniting in love. This joy should extend to our reunification with Christ, as well! There's tons of metaphors and symbolism throughout these chapters and I'm sure I've missed some of it. Song of Solomon is proving to be one those books I'm going to have to read a few more times before I feel like I truly understand the whole of it.
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The Wilderness and A Pillar of Cloud

Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant?Song of Solomon 3:6 KJV
The question posed in Song of Solomon 3:6 references the journey of the Israelites out of Egypt and into the promised land. In that time, they were lead by God who appeared as a pillar of fire during the night and a pillar of cloud during the day. The second portion of the question, though not directly related to escape from Egypt, is also tied to God. Frankincense and myrrh are two of the gifts given to Jesus in celebration of His birth. Frankincense is mentioned heavily in Leviticus as the oil priests used to give offerings to God. Myrrh is not only brought to Jesus at His birth, but also at His death (Mark 15:23-24 and John 19:39-40).

Spiritually, this question takes us full circle, from the original covenant with the Israels (born of their escape from Egypt), to the new covenant given to all the world (born of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross and acceptance of the role as High Priest).

In the context of the relationship and wedding discussed in the song, I think it is the bride enamored by the power and might of her husband. The next verses go on to describe a display of power and wealth.

King Solomon

King Solomon appears to make a grand entry with many soldiers. The KJV refers to Solomon's bed, while others refer to the object as a carriage. Song of Solomon 3:9 refers to a chariot made by Solomon, so I guess this object was some sort of carriage or chariot used to transport the king. It was ornately recorded with silver, gold, and purple, as well as, guarded by 60 valiant soldiers.

7 Praises

Song of Solomon 4 starts with Solomon praising the beauty of his bride; he gives 7 praises. I believe there may be spiritual significance for each of these, though only a few presented obvious spiritual connections to me. If God ever reveals more about the spirituality of these praises to me, I will of course post the revelation. In the mean time, if you seem something that I've missed, feel free to share in a comment below.

Overall Beauty

First he calls her fair—if you remember from chapter one, we have already been told that the bride has a darker complexion, so we must understand fair to mean beautiful.

Hair

Photocredit: Unsplash.com/广博 郝
He then compliments her hair. He says there are doves' eyes in her hair and it is like a flock of goats. As strange of a compliment as that might be, it has meaning. In Song of Solomon 1:15 and 5:12, doves' eyes are mentioned as well. Newer translations continue this pattern of referring to her actual eyes as being like those of a dove (see the NKJV, NIV, or NLT), while the KJV asserts that the doves' eyes are in her locks (or hair). In the former instances it is a direct reference to the eyes of the bride and groom being focused on one another. Doves, it turns out, can only focus on one object at a time due to the physiology of their body.[1] So how does that relate to hair? One commentary suggests it is a statement about modesty.[2]

I haven't been able to verify from a scientific study that doves' eyes work in this way, though it seems to be a very common opinion and phrase (it even showed up in Urban Dictionary!) What I do know is that Biblically, the dove is a sign of hope and humility. It is the dove that brings back the olive branch to Noah after the water has receded from the flood (Genesis 8:11). Doves were also the accepted sacrifice for those who were too poor to offer a larger, more expensive animal. Of all the birds in the bird kingdom, I feel like doves are most often spoken of in the Bible and most exalted. Thus, whatever Solomon is saying about her hair, it must be a compliment.

The reference to goats is much easier to understand. This is a reference to the texture of her hair. Goat's hair was used in the construction of the tabernacle, which means it was highly favored and valuable. It's been a while since I petted a goat, but if my I remember correctly, their hair is thick but soft.

Teeth

If you just read the first few words on Song of Solomon 4:2, you would think he was praising the whiteness of her teeth. However, he goes on to explain that the sheep he is comparing her teeth to, are fruitful to the point of bearing twins and none of these sheep are bear. What does fruitfulness have to do with teeth?

Red Lips

It's interesting that mankind has had such an obsession with red lips for so long. I don't believe I've ever met a woman with naturally red lips... Nonetheless, the real compliment in this verse is that Solomon not only praises the color of her lips, but the words that are produced from them.

Temples

Next, Solomon compliments her temples by comparing them to pomegranates. Pomegranates are sweet and juicy, which seems like an odd thing to say about one's temples. My study bible suggests temples could be translated as lips,[3] but the end of the verse places the temples "within thy locks," which seems more accurate for literal temples.

Long Neck

For some reason, a long neck has always been desirable. In Solomon's next compliment, he compares her neck to the tower of David, which we can assume to be tall and fortified. I think it's interesting that we generally think of swan's necks as the more poetic comparison, emphasizing grace and beauty, but Solomon chose something powerful and strong instead. Her neck isn't just long to be beautiful but to provide strength.

Bosom

As much as we can argue what is taught versus natural in attraction, it seems inevitable that Solomon would get to his love's bosom. His final compliment is for her boobs. Although it seems self explanatory from a fleshly mindset, I think it's interesting spiritually.

All mammals who come into the world rely on their mother's bosom to provide nourishment, otherwise they will die. Similarly, Jesus relies on the church to go out and spread the gospel. Without believers proclaiming Jesus Lord, millions of souls will be lost.

Without Blemish

We always say that no one is perfect, but God created us perfectly; we are beautiful to him, regardless of society has led us to believe. In Song of Solomon 4:7, Solomon tells his bride that she has no spot, blemish, or fault. When the church is presented to Christ as a bride, the same will be true for us—not be cause we have been perfect in our ways for life, but because Jesus has washed away our spiritual imperfection with His blood.

Sister?

In the concluding section of Song of Solomon 4, the groom refers to the bride as "sister" three times. Although there were marriages between siblings in the early days, after God gave Moses the law, this type of union was expressly forbidden. As such, we can be fairly certain that the groom is not speaking of literal sisterhood. There are many circles in which unrelated people refer to each other as sister or brother. The church is the first that comes to my mind, though there are many other examples. It is quite common for someone to say "this is my sister in Christ." In fact, growing up, many people referred to their elders as Sister or Brother so-and-so instead of Mrs. or Mr. so-and-so.

I know, I know, you want to know if our modern use of the word sister still holds for Solomon's era: it does. Scholars have studied writings of the same era from Egypt and found the same pattern of using the word sister as a term of endearment.[3]

The Wedding Night

The final set of verse in chapter 4 and the first verse in chapter 5 is heavy laden with metaphors. From gardens planted with fruits and spices, to hone and milk being under the tongue, there's a whirlwind of metaphors to figure out. The most obvious (at least to me) interpretation is that this is the wedding night and the consumption of the marriage.

I can also see this having great spiritual meaning. The garden speaks of Eden and perfection before sin separated us from God. In the garden was the living water, which we know to be Jesus and provides us with eternal life. In the end, it is our ultimate goal to be restored to this state where we can enjoy the presence of God and He can commune with us.

References

  1. Mark Lake. "What I Just Learned About The Eyes of a Dove". Follow the LIFE: Learning to live by Christ in us; visited December 9, 2017
  2. John Gills. "Song of Solomon 4:1 Commentary". John Gill's Exposition of the Bible, via Bible Study Tools; visited December 9, 2017
  3. Holman Bible Publishers. Holman KJV Study Bible, pg. 1115-1116. 2015

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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