“How beautiful you are, my darling, How beautiful you are! Your eyes are like doves behind your veil; Your hair is like a flock of goats That have descended from Mount Gilead. “Your teeth are like a flock of newly shorn ewes Which have come up from their washing, All of which bear twins, And not one among them has lost her young. “Your lips are like a scarlet thread, And your mouth is lovely. Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate Behind your veil. “Your neck is like the tower of David, Built with rows of stones On which are hung a thousand shields, All the round shields of the mighty men. “Your two breasts are like two fawns, Twins of a gazelle Which feed among the lilies. “Until the cool of the day When the shadows flee away, I will go my way to the mountain of myrrh And to the hill of frankincense. “You are altogether beautiful, my darling, And there is no blemish in you.
What we are about to see in this chapter is a wasf, a style of Arabic poetry, where the body parts of another are described metaphorically. Normally, this type of description would go from head to toe, but here we see only a partial wasf. Only the eyes, hair, teeth, lips, temples, neck, and breasts are mentioned in this text. Perhaps this is part of a partial revealing which is a tease that leaves us all wondering what will be uncovered next. In chapter 5:10-16, we will see a similar description given by the beloved girl to her lover. There we will see a full wasf. Again, in 6:4-10 we will see the lover describe his beloved girl in another partial wasf. In the latter part of this book, we will see the beloved girl described in the most intimate way as her feet, thighs, navel (some question this rendering), belly, breasts, neck, eyes, nose, head, and hair (7:1-10) are adored. Interestingly, some have commented that these two young people are actually making fun of each other or that the descriptions are grotesque and bizarre. While we might find them strange, the language is a poetic phraseology that captures the true beauty and attractiveness of each person in our Song. Some authors make mention of how the author is looking at a picture or a statue, yet we will indeed find these two being described in flowing activity in a wasf in 7:1-10. One problem with the metaphor is that we have a tendency to get caught up in the many details. We should try to get the gist of each metaphoric description and leave the surreal details to the beauty of the poetry. When we see that the girl’s thighs are described like jewels, the work of a craftsman (7:1) the point is not that they sparkle and shine like these gems, but that her thighs are put together and are a beautiful piece of work. When we hear him say her teeth are like sheep just shaved, we think of wool-covered animals, while we should be thinking of the cleanliness of the white that is seen on a freshly shorn sheep. While some of these images may not be as easy to figure out, we need to learn to see the big picture instead of focusing on the smallest details. The theme in this wasf is “How beautiful”, which tells us how the man of our Song feels about his beloved girl. He begins with her eyes as describing them as doves behind the veil. The veil proves to be a barrier that creates a mystery to be revealed. He must unveil her beautiful eyes if their intimacy is to run deeper. This veil is probably not physical, but emotional, psychological, intellectual, or spiritual. These are the masks we tend to wear. The reason we grow closer to others is due to our unveiling of insecurities. We develop a relationship of love, acceptance, and trust that we might bear inadequacies, insecurities, fears, failures, and other such things. Most of these, we try to hide. The lover sees this mystery awaiting him behind the veil that his beloved wears. What awaits him in this marriage; only the unveiling will tell. He continues to tell her that her hair is like a flock of goats, descending from Mt. Gilead. Goats are smelly and they normally have tangled coats. What does our lover mean? He makes reference to their descending on Mt Gilead. Mt. Gilead should not be focused on as much as the flowing action of the descending goats. It has been said, “From a distance the jostling flock bobs and weaves in glistening undulation.” The beloved’s locks are like these flocks in the sense that her hair flows and ripples from the tip of her head, creating an outline for the beauty of her face. The long hair of the woman is her glory. In I Cor. 11:15, the apostle Paul revealed, “if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her.” Beautiful hair has the power to magnify the appeal of any woman. In Song of Songs 7:5, “Your head crowns you like Carmel, and the flowing locks of your head are like purple threads. The king is captivated by your tresses.” “Her teeth are white and sparkling”, comments Gledhill, as he views the next section of our text. All of her teeth are still in her mouth. She has not let them waste away. If you have ever seen the sheep shorn to the smooth skin that is white after their washing, you will be able to get this symbolism. As R. Davidson put it, “The lady would obviously be a perfect advert for any of the popular brands of toothpaste.” Many of us have seen the variety of cosmetics that have been made for the changing of the outline of the lips. This has been done because our culture calls for a certain acceptable shape and size. There is a reason they call it “make-up”. While you may think that this text refers to making up her lips with such cosmetics, it is rather interesting to note that her lover is not so much in love with her lips as he is the kisses and words that come from them. While her lips may have had a wonderful appearance as a thin line of red scarlet, the color, shape, and size, mean nothing, when all the mouth does is speak evil, while showing no affection. She has a pretty thin lip line that he loves and nothing but sweetness leaves her mouth out of affection for him. Next, we either view the cheeks or the temples of the girl in our song. The translation is difficult when trying to harmonize the context that this word is found within. If we see it as her temples (NIV), we will have trouble with the coloring of the rosy pomegranate. All of us have heard of rosy cheeks. To be honest, the temples are not a symbol of love as much as the cheeks, which tend to give form to the face. Her neck is now pictured as the tower of David. We are not talking in terms of size but in how the tower was layered in beads and decorations from top to bottom. Many cultures continue this display of jewelry today. If we focus on the tower, we have an obscured image, but when we see the way that tower was arrayed, we understand what the lover sees. When we think of shields we think of protection, but here these simply refer to the solid array of her fine jewelry (See 1:10). The lover now describes her breasts like two fawns. The gracefulness of the animal, with a soft texture, is an invitation to the touch. Since the text says, her breasts browse among the lilies, we are to think of the later reference to her lover's lips as lilies (5:13). Later we will see where she wants to give her breasts to her lover (8:2). We may be reading a deep symbol of what the lover anticipates doing with his beloved in that he will kiss her breasts. Since breasts are a symbol of femininity, here they represent her attractiveness and sexual appeal. Due to the attractiveness of her breasts, the boy desires to be with her and enjoy the pleasures of her breasts (See 1:13). It is expressed in his saying that he wanted to go to the “mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense” (4:6). While the mountains of Bether may come to mind from the end of chapter 2, we must be reminded that the meaning given to Bether was “divided”. This is a symbol of how they had restrictions to love. Here it is expressed in terms that show no division, but rather only marriage that keeps them from their most intimate desires. As the lover concludes this wasf in verse 7, he considers all that she has to offer and exclaims that there is no flaw or blemish in her. She is everything that he desires. All of us when enraptured by love have these feelings for the partner we have chosen. During these stages of intimate desires and passionate longings, the enthusiasm for fulfillment can cause one to exaggerate the reality of any situation. This covers any minor infirmities and allows one to look at the opposite party with a clear vision in seeing who they truly are. SPIRITUAL APPLICATION The Bible tells us that one day the bride of Christ will be presented to Him in all of her glory, without spot, blemish, wrinkle, or any such thing. She, the church will be pure, chaste, and robed in white, which represents the righteous acts of those sanctified to love Him, and He in turn loves them. One truth that stood out to me as I considered the Arabic wasf in our study, is that Christ will examine the various parts of the body and admire each one and explain what enthralls Him about every person that has been saved and added to this glorious church. Each one of us that is in Christ has been placed in the body as the Lord wills and there is something beautifully entrancing about us that draws his attention and affection our way. A humbling thought also crossed my mind to consider that there will be those parts of the body that will become defiled by sin, and will be cut off, severed from Christ. The hope is that all of the saved will get to be wed to Christ, but the Bible is clear that there are some that will return to a life of sin and fall from grace. The church of Christ that will be delivered back to God, will be presented to the Lord, Jesus. In it, there will be none that are defiled. For those of us anticipating ascending into heaven, we need to make certain that whatever role we have been given in the body, be it an eye, an ear, or any other part of the church, that we maintain our love with the Lord. When His eyes behold His bride, our goal should be to make a glorious appearance before Him, while He meets us in the air and we stand in awe of Him. What a day that will be! QUESTIONS 1. In our marriages we certainly want to reassure our spouse of the ways that we are enthralled with them. How do we do this sincerely and regularly?
2. Are there some compliments that can go too far considering that a wasf describes intimately the full scale features of the body of a lover?
3. Make a list of the features that drew you to and continue to capture your attention in the love of your life.
4. Write down what you imagine it will be like to enter into the gates of heaven and come face to face with Jesus in your marriage with the Lamb? Note: Feel free to read Revelation 19:7-9 before this activity.
5. If you consider the spiritual state of your life and your relationship with the Lord, where could you use some work to purify yourself for that glorious entrance into the Lord's presence?
This concludes our study for today. Please join us next time as we examine Song of Songs 4:8-12 in a message titled, “Come Away with Me”.