Spring Has Arrived!
8 “Listen! My beloved!
Behold, he is coming,
Climbing on the mountains,
Leaping on the hills!
9 “My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.
Behold, he is standing behind our wall,
He is looking through the windows,
He is peering through the lattice.
The long winter of waiting is now coming to an end. Spring has arrived and with the budding flowers comes the time of the marriage ceremony. As the winter months, the prior months have been long and relatively dreary. With the coming spring and the approaching wedding, beauty has reawakened in the world.
Under Jewish traditions, engaged couples generally spent a year getting to know each other before the actual wedding took place. Assuming this tradition reached backed to the days of Solomon, then we can assume a year has almost past since the young woman arrived at the palace.
We see the excitement of Solomon through the eyes of the young woman. He comes bounding in to see his beloved woman like a gazelle or a stag. He is so excited that he can barely stand still! He is in a rush, running from place to place. He is full of boundless energy.
From this section, we learn that the area the young women reside in is walled off from the rest of the palace. Even the king cannot enter. Instead, he must impatiently wait outside the wall, peering through the latticework in the windows to see if she is coming yet.
She has left him waiting long enough and as she greets him, he says . . .
11 ‘For behold, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
12 ‘The flowers have already appeared in the land;
The time has arrived for pruning the vines,
And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land.
13 ‘The fig tree has ripened its figs,
And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance.
Arise, my darling, my beautiful one,
And come along!’”
Notice that Solomon’s terms of endearment for this young woman are increasing as his love is increasing. No longer is she just his darling. Now she is his darling and his beautiful one.
Winter in Israel is a time of overcast skies and frequent rains, but these have ended just as their wait for marriage is about to end. Flowers have appeared. The gardeners are out. The birds are singing.
The Hebrew word zamir only appears in Song of Solomon 2:12. It is a noun derived from the verb zamar. The verb can mean either "to prune" or "to sing" depending on the verb stems used. This has lead to a debate as to the meaning of the noun. Some translations say "prune" and others "sing."
Regardless, the budding of spring illustrates their love blossoming. It is nearing the time for it to bear fruit. Like many fruit-bearing plants, some pruning is needed for maximum harvest. If these two lovers are to enjoy a rich harvest of love, now, while the relationship is still new and tender, some gentle pruning needs to be done.
Many relationships begin with an infatuation between two people. People dream of the man or woman they are going to marry and their heart leaps when they stumble across the man or woman of their dreams. But as they spend time together, they realize that many of their dreams do not match reality. He is not as handsome as she thought at first. She has a few annoying habits that he didn’t expect. As a result, some of the dreams wither and die.
Yet, too, as you spend time with your beloved you find there is more to him or her than you first expected. He has a unique way of looking at the world. She has a charming way with children that you never noticed before. New shoots of endearing love spring up, replacing the dead shoots of disappointment.
However, for the relationship to grow to its maximum potential, time must be spent between the couple in resolving those disappointments. You can’t build a marriage always longing for what you thought should have been. You have to face reality and decide if what is really there is good enough.
14 “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
In the secret place of the steep pathway,
Let me see your form,
Let me hear your voice;
For your voice is sweet,
And your form is lovely.”
And so the two of them go off to quiet places where they can just talk. There are plenty of distractions in life and demands on our times, but at this critical junction in a couple’s lifetime must be set aside just for the two of them.
Solomon wants to spend time doing seemingly nothing more than to gaze at his love and listen to her speak. Now is the time that he can learn who she is inside – what her hopes, her dreams, and her aspirations may be. He calls her his dove, perhaps indicating that she brings him peace of mind.
15 “Catch the foxes for us,
The little foxes that are ruining the vineyards,
While our vineyards are in blossom.”
While grapes are in bloom, the vines are tender and the blossoms can easily be knocked off. Growers of grapes frequently had problems with fox cubs playing in the vineyards. Their antics would knock blossoms off and break the new shoots. So the growers had to set traps for the foxes and remove them from the vineyards so the vines could grow unmolested.
In new relationships, even ones that have been established for a year, problems are going to arise. It is tempting to ignore them. Who wants the distraction? There is hope that they will go away and not harm the relationship too much in the future. However, for love to reach its fullest potential, the problems need to be dealt with while the relationship is still new and little damage has been done.
16 “My beloved is mine, and I am his;
He pastures his flock among the lilies.
17 “Until the cool of the day when the shadows flee away,
Turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle
Or a young stag on the mountains of Bether.”
As this couple resolves their differences, their love for one another solidifies. They belong to each other and no one else. True, he must spend time among the other lilies, but at the end of each day, he always returns to his fairest flower.
Once again she expresses her desire for him. She longs for the time they can spend the whole night together, until the dawn breaks being passionate with each other. Literally in the Hebrew, she speaks of the day coming to blow the shadows away. As they are not yet married, he must leave, but in her heart she wants him to turn back to her and put that boundless energy in him to use, playing like a stag upon her breasts.
The phrase “mountains of Bether” is a subtle phrase containing many layers of meaning. Bether means a cutting or a cleavage. So in one sense, she is referring to the cleavage of her breasts (her mountains), and she is expressing a desire for the physical delights of sex. But the same word is used in reference to cutting animal sacrifices in half. It is not mentioned often in the Bible, but when God made a covenant with Abraham, Abraham cut various animals in half and the presence of God in Abraham’s vision moved between the two halves sealing the covenant (Genesis 15:10). Later God talks about other covenants that were made when people moved between the two halves of a calf (Jeremiah 34:18-19). So this idea of moving between two halves invokes the image of a covenant that cannot be lightly broken. The marriage of two people is the establishment of a covenant (Malachi 2:14). Hence she is also expressing her longing for the sealing of their covenant in marriage for which she has kept herself pure in expectation of that day.
- If Solomon is so eager to marry, why the year-long courtship?
- Why didn’t he enter his own fiancee’s home?
- Why is it better to address problems that arise before marriage instead of afterward?
- How does the excitement of an upcoming event, such as marriage, change your perception of the world in general?
- Can a solid relationship for marriage be built from a distance?
- How does holding on to a covenant of sexual purity before marriage strengthen the marriage?
- Is it proper for a woman to flirt with her fiancee?