By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)
Scripture Readings: Song of Songs 1-2
Key Scripture Verses: Song of Songs 2:12-13, 14-15 (NIV, Life Application Bible; consulted commentaries: The Layman’s Bible Commentary, Believer’s Bible Commentary)
SHE (quoting her beloved and what he said to her)
“’Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.
The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come my darling:
my beautiful one, come with me.’”
“My dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the hiding places on the mountainside,
show me your face,
let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.
Catch for us the foxes,
the little foxes
that ruin the vineyards,
our vineyards that are in bloom.”
The Song of Songs, also known as the Song of Solomon, is attributed to Solomon and he is also named in the song. Scholars do not agree fully on the meaning of the song, but most agree that it is a wedding song that reflects God’s gift of love, intimacy, and sexuality within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman. The commentaries indicate that Solomon likely wrote this when he was young and before he became proud, turned away from God, and succumbed to marrying foreign women. The Song is also felt to be a reflection of God (bridegroom) and Israel (bride). Christians later applied meaning to the song as symbolic of the love between Jesus Christ and his church.
Its beautiful imagery of nature, springtime and the awakening of new life beautifully depict the awakening of the senses, sensuality, physical attraction, sexual intimacy, and love between the young lovers.
This song reflects the love God intended for us to enjoy. It is a celebration of joy and love—a gift of God in celebration of marriage. God is love and he created us with the ability to love, to give and receive love in a spiritual and emotional way and also created physical intimacy, giving us the senses to enjoy. When enjoyed in the context of his intended love, this love is in its purest form.
The first two chapters of the Song of Songs depicts the early attraction stage of love and early courtship. The couple regard each other with loving words and flattery. I love the imagery and the poetry of these verses. I particularly love verse 15 where Solomon warns us to “catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin our vineyards,” because he’s saying that we should be careful not to let the little irritations and small conflicts create problems in our marriages.
The “little foxes” represent conflicts that we need to learn to manage, in order to preserve the love that starts like the love depicted here in these first two chapters. In these verses we are reminded of the beginnings of love—that giddy, delightful attraction. The young lovers speak to each other of wanting to remember how they regard each other in this moment so that as their love progresses, they will be mindful of the little things that can escalate and cause significant conflict between them and to catch them before they do.
If we can take care of the “little foxes” before they “ruin our vineyards,” when they first start to cause trouble, we can maintain a healthy relationship. Often the little irritations build up and can grow into serious trouble for a marriage when they are not addressed appropriately. Couples end up fighting over trivial things which tend to be just a reflection of bigger problems within the relationship. They start to forget the early times when they would do anything not to offend their new lover. They start to let small resentments build up without addressing them. In the long run they may find themselves arguing over a cup left on the counter instead of being put in the sink—the cup becomes the topic of argument, but it’s really not about the coffee cup.
Let us reflect on the Song of Songs with the joy that is within its words and images. Let us remember the delight instilled in us by new love and let us delight in it anew. May we catch the little foxes before they have a chance to ravage our happy homes. May we enjoy the blessings of God’s love as it was intended for us.