"Sustain me with raisin cakes, Refresh me with apples, Because I am lovesick. Let his left hand be under my head And his right hand embraces me. “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, By the gazelles or by the hinds of the field, That you do not arouse or awaken my love Until she pleases.”
In verse 5, the young girl continues to desire his special love for her. In this text there seems to be a problem with the masculine forms of the verbs. “support, sustain, revive, strengthen and refresh” (word usage depends on the version of the Bible). In this text, the true meaning may be blurred to us, but in this passage, the girl is longing for her lover to make her a bed, (the literal meaning of “sustain”) to spread out a bed (See NIV), because she is lovesick, not like Amnon is faking sickness for love in II Sam. 13:15, but with a desire for loves fulfillment. Raisin cakes were associated with the erotic activity (See Hosea 3:1) and were also said to be a sustaining food (II Sam. 6:19) or as the word means “something closely pressed together”, yet as we have seen the sweetness of the apples represent his passionate love in kissing, the raisin cakes could be an analogy for the love she wants from her lover. I believe that she is asking for the close-up love of her man that will sustain her and refresh her. This will further be established with the desires of verse 6 when we see the position of the lover that she desires him to be in with her. How many of us have ever been lovesick? The ache in the stomach and the swooning with desire is not uncommon feelings in those who are old enough to approach marriage and its fulfillment. The beloved girl sees her lover lying with her in the greenery of their paradise, with her head locked in his strong left arm and with his right hand he caresses her. How far they go in lovemaking is not for us to see or know, but the one point that must be a constant reminder to us is that the text does not suggest that these things have already happened, but that due to her arousal and lovesickness she is thinking of the time when they can be together in this way. One thing that must be considered is the obscure request to the daughters of Jerusalem to not awaken love until it pleases in verse 7. This is a tempering of the urge to love intimately before the time is right. Again we need to see that the poetic aspects of this Song do not allow for the daughters of Jerusalem to be spying in on the young couple as if to be right in the conversation with them. They actually seem to be a literary fiction that is used as a sounding board for the feelings and thoughts of the beloved. Consider their first appearance in 1:5 and see that this logic fits perfectly. She asks them to swear in the verse of the Song that love would not be awakened until it so desires or pleases. She asked them to take an oath by the gazelles and hinds of the field, which were both female deer, shy, and yet wild on the hillsides and fields of the land. When one takes an oath they always swear by something or someone higher than themselves. The NEB translates this, “by the spirits and goddesses of the field“. This is an improper word choice since this not only was paganism, but also a completely incorrect translation of the words in the text. The NEB drew heavily on the Septuagint, which renders this, “powers and strength of the field”. Some have suggested the similarities with the Hebrew words for names of God, yet this nature scene calls for the scenery to be used in their discussion up to this point. I believe this is another literary device to show the need for waiting to awaken love until it pleases. Then again, perhaps there was a reluctance to use God’s name in this poetry and be careful not to take His name in vain. In either case, she is trying to wait till love is ready to have its eyes opened, even though she is lovesick now and ready to be with her lover. The word for “awaken”, “arouse”, or “stir up”, all come from the same Hebrew root meaning not only to awaken as with opening the eyes but also to interrupt or disturb. If we view this text with the latter definitions, “interrupt or disturb” then we need to interpret the text to mean do not disturb our affection until we have had our fill. It seems better suited to view this as a reality check to perhaps find a more appropriate or opportune time for the affection that they want to give one another, even though this phrase appears even after they are supposedly married (See 3:5; 8:4). I continue to believe that this is still in the mind of the beloved girl and not a real scene of lovemaking. As a reminder, these are love lyrics with lyrical characters. We can learn from this that our fantasies often times are an exaggeration of where we need to be in a relationship and also that we must know when to hold back what is to be kept for the marriage bed. In Song of Songs 5:1 for example, we find that the wait is over, “I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride; I have gathered my myrrh along with my balsam. I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey; I have drunk my wine and my milk. Eat, friends; Drink and imbibe deeply, O lovers.” The girl in the Song sees the red flashes of warnings signs when the physical overtook the personal, emotional, and psychological integration of these two. We have all been in this situation if we have pursued love. We get the urge to move forward into a deep passion and a more fiery intimacy, but that still small voice says, “No”. Our conscience is unsettled and it makes us sick with love. Sick because we need love, but sick because love cannot be fulfilled. Adulterous thoughts and acts of fornication are easy to think about in the abstract. The girl in our story wants their love to be consummated, yet she knows that the time is not right. She is basically talking to herself when speaking with the daughters of Jerusalem and states, “settle down…wait for the right time” For the Christian, the right time is in marriage only. We often offer lame excuses and poor logic for why we have no self-control in the self-discipline and thought category. Jesus taught us to be totally pure in these things regarding sex and its desires. He preached, “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right-hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell. (Matt. 5:29-30). If what we see, touch, emotionally feel, read, or hear causes us to have a wrong mental image of physical action, we must refrain from it in whatever way possible. Remember the desire is not wrong in itself; it is the improper approach and fulfillment of those desires. How many times have we heard stories of two young people who think they are in love and are ready for lovemaking, fulfill their lusts, only to find out that it drove them far away from each other in hatred. In II Sam. 13:1-4, we hear this story, “Now it was after this that Absalom the son of David had a beautiful sister whose name was Tamar, and Amnon the son of David loved her. Amnon was so frustrated because of his sister Tamar that he made himself ill, for she was a virgin, and it seemed hard to Amnon to do anything to her. But Amnon had a friend whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David’s brother; and Jonadab was a very shrewd man. He said to him, “O son of the king, why are you so depressed morning after morning? Will you not tell me?” Then Amnon said to him, “I am in love with Tamar, the sister of my brother Absalom.” Then in verses 10-17, the text continues, “Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food into the bedroom, that I may eat from your hand.” So Tamar took the cakes which she had made and brought them into the bedroom to her brother Amnon. When she brought them to him to eat, he took hold of her and said to her, “Come, lie with me, my sister.” But she answered him, “No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this disgraceful thing! As for me, where could I get rid of my reproach? And as for you, you will be like one of the fools in Israel. Now, therefore, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.” However, he would not listen to her; since he was stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her. Then Amnon hated her with a very great hatred; for the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Get up, go away!” But she said to him, “No, because this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you have done to me!” Yet he would not listen to her. Then he called his young man who attended him and said, “Now throw this woman out of my presence, and lock the door behind her.”. What occurred that drove his emotions from love to hate in such a short time? We do not know in particular about this scene, but it has been said that unless there is true marital love and pure intimacy in our sexual encounters, the outcome will be very similar every time. In James 1:14-15 we find this teaching, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” Lovesickness is not cured by improper relations, but it creates more sickness, lust, hatred, hurt, immorality, and even death.
What promises so much at the onset actually produces very little. One author said that this pursuit of pleasure was, “frustrations of pursuing an ever-increasing pleasure only to be met by an experience of ever diminishing intensity.” Be careful what you do and make sure the time is right. Our passionate beloved with all of her many desires and anticipations, like all young people falling in love, will have to wait until her lover is joined to her in a marriage where she can fulfill her deepest longings. SPIRITUAL APPLICATION: Our desire is to be at home with the Lord in the most intimate face to face relationship while at this moment we are left to love him while we do not see him. Our wedding day has not come and we are left to be lovesick in essence while we ache for the fulfillment of our spiritual longings. We want to be held and feel safe in the arms of our Lord. We want to feel the warmth of His embrace and the security of our soul. What we often long for in the flesh with a physical partner, can be a direct parallel with our soul and the passion for our Savior. Until the day when we are ushered into the marriage supper of the Lamb, we are left to build our anticipation for eternal love. We are also faced with the temptation to succumb to the allurement of the world with its various forms of enticement to love the things in it as opposed to cherishing the future with Jesus. QUESTIONS: 1. Since her lover was compared to an apple tree in previous studies, what message is she sending him when she says, "Refresh me with apples"?
2. With both the left hand and right hand involved in the lovemaking process, what can we learn about being totally devoted to one lover?
3. While the need for making love is a natural human desire given to us by God, why do you think it is important to wait until the time is right?
4. What are the pros and cons of fantasizing about lovemaking or in the case of our Song being lovesick?
5. When you contemplate our spiritual application of this text, how strong should our longing for heaven and our marriage to the Lord be each day? Can we say that we are lovesick at the soul level and ache for the embrace of the Lord?