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Garden of Spices (4:12-16)

“A garden locked is my sister, my bride, A rock garden locked, a spring sealed up. “Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates With choice fruits, henna with nard plants, Nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, With all the trees of frankincense, Myrrh and aloes, along with all the finest spices. “You are a garden spring, A well of fresh water, And streams flowing from Lebanon.” “Awake, O north wind, And come, wind of the south; Make my garden breathe out fragrance, Let its spices be wafted abroad. May my beloved come into his garden And eat its choice fruits!”

The lover describes his beloved as a garden, a rock garden that is locked, that is the horticulturalists dream patch. It was one thing to be seen as a garden, but it is another thing altogether if you are the only one holding the key. This is like a secret garden, unexplored, and full of mystery and enticement. No one would ever cultivate all of these sexually evocative plants and spices in one garden, yet, to the lover, his girl is indeed full of the beauty and preciousness of all of these costly fragrances, ointments, and fruits. This garden, he mentions has its own watering system. A fountain sealed (meaning fresh and not tampered with) and a spring enclosed (not open to everyone) is his bride before his eyes. This idea represents the exclusiveness of the love she has kept for him and the preservation of her virginity. This is a rare trait to find in the world that we live in. Most gardens have been picked over and many have tried the waters before even entering into marriage. I don’t say this to leave someone that has fallen into sexual sin in perpetual shame. The goal is to reach those that have never allowed someone to enter the garden, to keep it locked up, and to seal up the fountain of water for marriage. For those of us that didn’t wait until marriage, we can find forgiveness and restore the beauty of our garden by the grace of God and determine to give it to only one person in marriage. The problem is that even after marriage vows are spoken, it is challenging for many to keep the promises made and provide their love exclusively for their spouse. While we have visited Prov. 5:15-20 before in this series, it applies more to the text here than ever before. The book of wisdom teaches us, “Drink water from your own cistern and fresh water from your own well. Should your springs be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be yours alone and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love. For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress and embrace the bosom of a foreigner?”

To the man in our Song, his girl is a private food and water supply that is so enjoyable because of all the spices with which she can add flavor to their relationship. She brings healing, health, and holiness. He is the only one that will ever know the richness of the variety that she provides. This is something very special. Young people if you are listening, keep yourself for your future mate. There is nothing more refreshing to bring to your marriage than a garden locked only to be opened and explored for the first time in the union that you share with a spouse. We need not to mention what each plant and spice represents other than their connections with her sweet fulfilling and aromatic love. After naming all of the choice fruits and plants that represent her love, he then calls her a garden fountain, a well of flowing water. He is saying to her that she is a refreshing oasis for his pleasure. He is thankful that she has refrained from premarital sex and promiscuous actions that would defile her innocence and sexual purity. He praises her with these kind words. In verse 14, the beloved girl accepts his praise during this wedding portion of their relationship and now gives her garden to her lover. The word for “awake” in this text is the same Hebrew word that was used in the plea to the daughters of Jerusalem to not awaken love until it pleases. Now she says “awake” as if to plead for their love to be fulfilled. In Hebrew expression, she is inviting her lover to sexual intimacy. To “enter” or “come into” the garden is a direct reference to their rights to display their love in full intimacy. For example, consider Genesis 38:9, where it says in reference to sexual intercourse, “he went into”. In Ezekiel 23:44, we find a similar term for those that slept with lewd women. To enter into sex outside of marriage with someone not exclusively yours is disgusting and repulsive. The point here is that we need to only go into the place where we belong. Do not enter another’s garden unless you have the right to be there! Do not allow someone to enter your garden that is not your spouse! In modern times people visit gardens that they have no right being in. The goal is to be private, locked, and preserved for the one that we love in marriage. Several times in this passage he says that she has been locked or sealed. She has not been physically locked, as with some chastity mechanism or other restraints. She has kept herself on lockdown. She has not been sealed up against her wishes. She made the choice to make sure the seal of love wasn’t broken. This is the purest form of sexual preservation; a mind determined not to arouse or awaken love before she pleases. But there will come a special moment when the garden will be unlocked, the fountain will be opened and all of the scents and flavors will be presented to one to behold and enjoy in the fullest measure.

Once she had been told that she was a garden full of fragrances, she turns and uses that thought to entice her lover. In other words, she wants the winds to come and blow her fragrance before her lover, with the hopes that this will allure him to take hold of his long-awaited passion with her. As we will see, he accepts her invitation and takes of her fruit and fragrance. We have all been there before and understand this scene. You are walking along the road and a flower garden is pumping its fragrance into the breeze blowing by. We have to stop and find out where this scent is coming from and take it all in. She is opening the door to her lover and he is welcome to enter and explore. SPIRITUAL APPLICATION: Each soul that is in a relationship with the Lord is reminded often that they are beautiful before Him in spite of any imperfections. He helps to cover our impurities with a showering of praise to draw us to Himself in love. But the Lover of our souls is also drawn to us. We are taught that we are made in His image, that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. We are supposed to open ourselves to the Lord and remain locked to any other enticements to love the world or the things in the world. We are keeping ourselves pure and undefiled and we realize that our love cannot be shared with any other. As we mentioned in a previous spiritual application, by our life of devotion to the Lord, we become a sweet-smelling aroma that rises up before Him and in using some poetic license, the thought of being with us forever drives Him wild. We pray that each day our fragrant incense burns so strongly that He will want to be with us and we will want to be with Him. QUESTIONS: 1. When you think about how we allure one another as lovers, what can you do more to make yourself more desirable to your love?

2. Many people do not have the option of offering a garden that was always locked, or a fountain that they have kept sealed until the day when they decide to enter a relationship. What can we do to seek forgiveness for our sexual impurities and learn to be devoted to a renewed commitment to being kept solely for the love of our life?

3. None of us are chaste before the Lord apart from His redemption. He overlooks our former pursuits of love and is willing to make us new in His eyes. He refers to Himself as our first love, even though we are all guilty of pursuing other relationships in our past. How does this relate to our relationships on earth in your opinion?

4. Sexual purity goes hand in hand with spiritual purity. Write down ways that you have kept yourself pure and if you have committed sexual sins, reflect on the goodness of God to forgive and accept you as a pure bride.

5. When we try to explain our feelings for a lover, it often is explained in these highly expressive manners where we compare our special someone in an overly special way. How do we maintain this wild passion throughout a relationship, so we can remain devoted and committed to our spouse?

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