Groom's song: Songs 4:1-7

This is a continuation of the Song of Songs series. This is a look at 4:1-7, Lover sings Beloved a wedding night song. I will get back to chapter 3, but Valentine's Day is getting closer and I wanted to cut to the chase. Italics indicate the NET Bible assumption of who is talking. All Bible quotes from the NET.

The Lover to His Beloved: 4:1 Oh, you are beautiful, my darling! Oh, you are beautiful! Your eyes behind your veil are like doves. Your hair is like a flock of female goats descending from Mount Gilead.

I have been to a couple weddings during which the groom sings a song to the bride. It is simultaneously impressive and awkward for me. It’s awkward because the bride starts crying and I’m a New Englander who is uncomfortable with such public displays of emotional intimacy. Here in New England we won’t greet anyone until we’ve seen them over a year and can no longer ascribe it to coincidence. Someone we see that much must live around here and is not a tourist. It’s a sad way of thinking we New Englanders share. However, when we finally warm up to someone, we stay warm with them, even after they rip us off. I’m digressing. Solomon sings such an awkward song here. His song is nothing new for his time. Other examples of wedding songs from the ancient Near East have been found.

His song is all about her.

He begins with an affirmation of her beauty. In fact he affirms it twice, a second time can only do more good. The thing to learn from Solomon is that this isn’t the last song for his Beloved. He has two more in chapters six and seven. He is committed to a lifetime of romance with this woman. Being the wisest man on the planet perhaps he knows that the more he affirms her the greater her security and the greater their romantic fire will burn. God wants us to know that an amazing romantic relationship is possible within the bounds of his prescription and Solomon is demonstrating this.

Assuming this is a wedding song, her eyes are covered with a veil. In chapter 2 he compared her to a dove. She is vulnerable to him. Her eyes communicate her openness to him behind her veil. She is available to no one else.

Have you ever seen a flock of goats? They love climbing and jumping. A flock descending a mountain is like a bubbling stream. Bouncing and bobbing like the curls down the face of a beautiful bride. He lets her know that he loves what she did with her hair. I’m sure that feedback made her smile.

4:2 Your teeth are like a flock of newly-shorn sheep coming up from the washing place; each of them has a twin, and not one of them is missing.

As she smiles he compliments it. Water fluoridation wasn’t available in the ancient Near East. Neither were toothbrushes. Missing teeth were not uncommon. Nevertheless, she has them all and they shine like shorn sheep. Sheep’s wool collects all sorts of nasties while it grows. Dirt, burrs, manure, mud all build up on that outer layer. It’s actually a great invention by their creator. The shorn wool needs a great deal of processing before it becomes white and ready for use. The shorn sheep however are liberated from all that junk they were carrying around with them. They are clean. He’s appreciating her smile. It’s a way to keep his bride smiling even more.

Have you ever looked at adolescent school pictures? Have you noticed how many kids are not smiling? I was one of those. I was insecure about my smile. It might have been only one critical comment from a peer that made me never want to share it with the camera. Eventually, I rejected it and overcompensated by making sure as many teeth as possible were visible. It’s easy to feel insecure about inconsequential things about your appearance, but when someone notices those inconsequential things positively, well we are no longer ashamed. We start to think that perhaps God didn’t make a mistake. Notice your spouse’s smile and dental hygiene.

4:3 Your lips are like a scarlet thread; your mouth is lovely. Your forehead behind your veil is like a slice of pomegranate.

Now she learns that even her lips are pleasing. Pleasing lips and a pleasing teeth are obviously a pleasing mouth, but he states the obvious. Pomegranates are bright red, so the alternate translation of cheek instead of forehead makes more sense. She's blushing.

"Oh come on," you exclaim. "This is ridiculous. No adult talks this way. That is idiotic talk." No it is romantic talk. It's the talk of people who have fallen head over heels for each other. It's amazing how married people can be unable to think and talk like this until adultery strikes. Have you read any of the text messages between Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his chief of staff? Why couldn't he save these sweet nothings for his wife? And that's exactly what romantic language is, sweet nothings, like candy. There is plenty of hard work in a marriage but these sweet nothings can make the rough patches a little smoother. If you are going to live together till you die, you might as well make the most of it. "That would be so much easier if my spouse wasn't so ___ ." Now this line of reasoning I do not understand. When Boston fans could root for a baseball team for 76 years until they won a World Series, but can't cheer on a spouse for 10 years? When the Red Sox were in the playoffs on their way to their championship in 2004, fans wore shirts with one word on them, "Believe." A true fan says, "If they only had ___ and ___ they'd be a lock for another championship, but I still think they'll make it this year." There are many caveats to this in marriage. Addiction, abuse and unfaithfulness, for example, force an adjustment in this advice, but I encourage you to start believing in your spouse. Affirm the positive. There is a feedback loop in marriage that can either make things more positive or more negative. As you affirm your spouse's attractiveness, they'll want more affirmations and will try to keep them coming, and as you hear yourself affirm their attractiveness, your perception will agree more and more with your assessment.

4:4 Your neck is like the tower of David
built with courses of stones;
one thousand shields are hung on it –
all shields of valiant warriors.

What a nice way to say, "I like your necklace dear." She has an appealing neck and the necklace reminds him of a source of pride in the city. She wells up in him similarly strong emotions.

4:5 Your two breasts are like two fawns,
twins of the gazelle
grazing among the lilies.

In case you haven't noticed. He's moving his compliments in an orderly fashion from the top down. He started at her head and as he moves further down he starts to get hungry. Then he remembers what a great cook she is, especially her fried chicken. Her breasts are incomparable.

4:6 Until the dawn arrives
and the shadows flee,
I will go up to the mountain of myrrh,
and to the hill of frankincense.

If you remember (1:13), she kept myrrh on her chest at night as a fragrance for the next day. Well he's planning to spend some time at a mountain of myrrh... all night... and on another hill also, all night...

4:7 You are altogether beautiful, my darling!
There is no blemish in you!

Now he boldly sums up his assessment of her beauty. He has found her perfect. He has not analyzed everything about her. But he has picked out a couple things about her to highlight his delight in. He's done it in a sensitive way too. He spends most of his time complimenting her public features before proclaiming his pleasure in her private features. He is quite the gentleman. For his effort they partake of each other in multi-dimensional ecstasy all night long. It's not just physical. It's also emotional and spiritual.

It's verses like this that Christians see the metaphor of Christ and his bride the church. Ephesians 5:25-27. His blood makes our sins as white as snow. Isaiah 1:18. It's his covering that makes souls acceptable in heaven with the right wedding clothes for the wedding banquet. Matthew 22:11, 12. As anyone will tell you the church is imperfect, but Jesus knows perfection is coming. He doesn't have to "Believe" because he knows how it all ends.


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