In Song of Songs 4:8-12 we see the following plea,
“Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, May you come with me from Lebanon. Journey down from the summit of Amana, From the summit of Senir and Hermon, From the dens of lions, From the mountains of leopards. “You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride; You have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes, With a single strand of your necklace. “How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better is your love than wine, And the fragrance of your oils Than all kinds of spices! “Your lips, my bride, drip honey; Honey and milk are under your tongue, And the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.”
We enter this part of our Song and we find the invitation of the lover to take his girl away with him. We are not to get caught up in topography and geography in the text as the girl is not entering Lebanon any more than she was in the cleft of the rock in 2:14. We want to ask a list of questions that surround her being in Lebanon when we see mention of the city in the text, yet we have seen this happen in many lyrics of the Song (where the location of the couple is vague). The picture I get is that after he has made some lofty claims about her beauty, he is seeing her as an exalted one who he feels would have to make a sacrifice to come along and be with him. All of the summits mentioned in the text (Amana, Senir, Hermon), coupled with the den of lions and the mountains of leopards paint a picture for us. Just as he tried to allure his beloved in the previous texts, so here he recognizes his blessing in having her as a bride-to-be and offers kind words and an invite to cause her to come and be with Him. It is as if she is a princess being guarded by lions and leopards in a palace on the highest peaks. He wants her to give up her lofty heights to be with him, a shepherd. As a side note, there is some wordplay in these verses that are linked to frankincense and myrrh (Lebanon is close to labonah for frankincense while leopard nemerim has the root for myrrh [mor] within its text. In essence, we behold the lover’s feelings about her fragrant, ethereal beauty. While awaiting a response, the lover tells his beloved how he feels inside about her. The lover tells her that his heart rate rises in her presence. All she has to do is look at him. All he has to do is see the gems she is wearing. The NIV says, “You have stolen my heart”. He is overwhelmed by her beauty and it has an internal effect on him, making his blood pressure high. While he calls his beloved his bride in this verse for the first time, we must know that this is only fitting in this wedding cycle, and the consummation of their marriage is to follow shortly. We will see the intimate language keys used that will lead us to the consummation of love in 5:1. Look for the words, “Lebanon…sister…my bride…wine…milk…honey… fragrance…spices, etc. There seems to be an overload of their passion and the inevitability of sexual fulfillment in becoming one flesh. The love of this girl for her lover is so sweet that he says it is beautiful and better than wine or the fragrance of your oils (or all kinds of spices). This love here means to “boil over”, which is leading us to the caresses and kisses they have long-awaited. He describes her kisses in verse 11 and says that her lips drip honey and that the honey and milk are under her tongue. He also comments on how sweet-smelling her clothing is, in mentioning its likeness to the fragrance of Lebanon. Do not forget that Lebanon is not to be viewed as a real city, but that this may refer to the wordplay for frankincense. Also take note then, that the lover has described her beauty (sight), touch (feel), and fragrance (smell). The mention of milk and honey brings thoughts of the promised land of God. These items are constant symbols of blessings. The kissing of these two is seen as a promise to behold when they are alone to finally share their love. The garment in this passage is actually an undergarment and is also the word that is used for the garments spread on the bed of a virgin. This last concept will tie into verse 12 in our next episode.
I know this episode was much shorter than you might be accustomed to, but please don’t miss the importance of it or what we are going to say now in the Spiritual Application portion. SPIRITUAL APPLICATION: I see this same reciprocating relationship between us and the Lord. When He shows His faithful love by coming down from heaven to die for an obstinate people while they are still rebellious and unwilling to return the love, it compels us. Yet after the Lord accomplished the sacrificial death on the cross and then ascended back to his lofty place, where He is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven, He beckons us to come away with Him. We mentioned in our session how the blessings of milk and honey resemble the description of the promised land flowing with both of these gifts. The fact is that we are now being wooed to fix our eyes on Jesus and stay heavenward bound because He is deeply in love with us and wants to spend eternity with us. We are told of our beauty is spite of our faults and failures and He wants to redeem us and capture our souls for heaven. We are told to be a fragrant aroma unto the Lord, but this is accomplished through holy living and not showering ourselves with costly perfumes, lotions, and oils. We are to parade an array of righteousness through holy acts that clothe us in white and by prayer sends forth an irresistible cloud of incense before the dwelling place of God. The heart of our Lord was pierced for our transgressions and He demonstrated by laying down His life, the greatest love ever known. Our hearts should beat harder and faster within our chest (mentioned twice in this session) when we think of the Lord, sing songs of praise unto His name, and when we enter our room to pray. These are all moments when we draw near to our Lord and the Lover of our souls. While we do not want to stretch the imagery too far, we also anticipate that there will be a full consummation of love in our eternal union with Christ. This is becoming one spirit with Him forever is mentioned by the apostle Paul in contrast to someone giving their flesh to sexual acts. We are admonished in I Corinthians 6:17-20 “But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” An old hymn by Henry Barraclough, called Ivory Palaces speaks of this symbolism, (verse one, the refrain, then verse four) "My Lord has garments so wondrous fine, And myrrh their textures fill; Its fragrance reached to this heart of mine, with joy my being thrills. Out of the ivory palaces, into a world of woe, Only His great eternal love, made my Savior go. In garments glorious He will come, to open wide the door; and I shall enter my heavenly home to dwell forevermore." QUESTIONS: 1. Many couples reminisce about the early stages of their relationship and they can remember the heart racing and the butterflies in the stomach when even beholding one another. Why do you think this wanes over time or becomes a weaker sensation?
2. Is this healthy that the earlier passions are tempered over time? Why or why not? 3. When you contemplate our relationship with the Lord and consider how you first adored and loved Him, has your spiritual devotion decreased? Do you still get those feels that you first did when you heard the story of the love of Jesus for you?
4. What occurs that stifles this heartthrob relationship? Name some other ways in this text that we are told to woo and win our lover.
5. Are we putting in the effort to be a pleasing presence before both our earthly mate physically, and when coming before the Lord Jesus, spiritually?
This brings our episode to an end. Please join us next time for a study of Song of Songs 4:12-16, in a message titled, “Garden of Spices”.