Song of Songs 8
Song of Songs 8:1-3 (ESV) 1 Oh that you were like a brother to me who nursed at my mother’s breasts! If I found you outside, I would kiss you,and none would despise me. 2 I would lead you and bring you into the house of my mother—she who used to teach me. I would give you spiced wine to drink, the juice of my pomegranate. 3 His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me!
As public display of affection was only accepted in a familial way, she wishes he was her brother so she could kiss him any time in public. She could serve him special made drinks to show her love. They could enjoy one another's embrace at any time. Verse three repeats her phrase of 2:6, emphasizing her pleasure when she is embraced by him. Women love to be held. Husbands, if your wife is upset, discouraged, or fearful a nice long loving embrace does wonders for her.
Jesus will do that for us when we turn to Him (Psalm 91:4; Isa 40:11). His embrace is our refuge. When the day becomes overwhelming, stop and let Him hold you.
Song of Songs 8:3-4 (ESV) 3 His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me! 4 I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that you not stir up or awaken loveuntil it pleases.
3 and 4 are the same as 2:6,7. Now for the last time she warns the daughters of Jerusalem to keep passion in check until the right man comes along and the right time, which is in marriage.
Song of Songs 8:5a (ESV) Who is that coming up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved?
As she comes out of the wilderness (which may represent life with all its hardships and challenges contrasted with the fertile gardens) her identity is hidden in her beloved. People recognize him, but the one leaning on him is not recognizable. As we come out of the wilderness of an undisciplined life and find our refuge in Jesus, we lean on Him for our strength and new identity, people should see Him, not us. This is one of the climactic verses of the Song. She is lost in him, leaning on him, wanting to be always with him, and fully surrendered to him. This is the bride of Christ ready for His coming (Revelation 19:7; John 13:25).
Song of Songs 8:5b (ESV) Under the apple tree I awakened you. There your mother was in labor with you; there she who bore you was in labor.
Who says these lines 5b-7? I would guess it is the groom. She called him her apple tree (2:3). They consummated their love in the room where she was conceived (3:4). Is this comparing the home/family as a fruitful apple tree? The emphasis is on posterity and continuing the family lines. Spiritually that is new disciples who are the result of our love with the Lord.
Song of Songs 8:6a (ESV) Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm...
In the ancient world it was often the custom to wear a signet ring or cylinder on a cord or necklace around the neck and near the heart. Schwab notes, "To be imprinted as a seal on another is to be inseparable from that person.” (-Christ-Centered Exposition - Exalting Jesus in Song of Songs) She wants to know she is forever secure in His love for her.
One of the commands to Israel was to bind the Law on the arm and on the forehead (Deuteronomy 6:8). It was a figurative way to command that it always be on their mind and in their actions. Here in this verse she asks to be seal on His heart and arm. But we find it is our Groom, the Beloved, the Word made flesh (John 1:14), who asks that He be the seal on our hearts and on her arms - in other words that he be the constant desire of our heart and the motivation for our actions. He has sealed our hearts with the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22); and put His name on our foreheads (Revelation 9:4). When we ask Him to be our Lord, He makes us His own and helps us with these seals that make us know He will never leave us. We are secure in His love.
Did you know that the name David means beloved? In prophecies such as Hosea 3:5, the coming Messiah is called David (the beloved). It is possible then that this was always meant to be a parable about the Messiah, the Word made flesh?
Love is as strong as death - like the seal, it is a permanent condition if it is genuine. Love never ends! 1 Cor 13:8 But we can also read this as perhaps Jesus did. Greater love has no one than this that He lay down His life for His friends (John 15:13).
Song of Songs 8:6b (ESV) ...for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD.
The Lord names Himself Jealous (Exodus 34:14; 20:5). The word also means zeal or ardent love. Psalm 69:9 tells us the Lord is consumed with zeal for His house, and we are His house (John 2:17). That is what Jesus demonstrated when He cleaned out the temple. It was an expression that declared that He did not want our hearts given to greed but reserved for Him alone. That was the problem with merchants in the temple. The fire can be towards those who would turn our hearts away from Him (Isaiah 42:13), or toward us to turn us back when we stray (Ezekiel 16:38).
The description "as the grave" means love does not let go. Like the grave from which there is no return, so love swallows us up. Love never ends. We struggle against it at times and it is tested, but somehow it will hold on if it is sincere, sealed, covenanted.
The flashes of fire and flame of the Lord I believe to be a Hebrew parallelism of jealousy as fierce as the grave. The love of God for us and His love He puts in our hearts for others is unstoppable like a mighty forest fire. He is love, and that love is all-powerful (Ephesians 2:4; 3:19). It is the love He puts in our hearts for our mate but more importantly for Him. That is why martyrs will submit to anything and refuse to deny Him. They are consumed with fire of love for God that He has put in their hearts. May it burn freely in us!
Song of Songs 8:7 (ESV) Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.
This flame of the LORD that is His passion for us cannot be quenched with any amount of water. A flood cannot quench it! That is the hesed/agape of God for His people (Jeremiah 31:3; Romans 8:31-39). It is unconditional because Jesus gave us His righteousness when He took all our sins. What a comfort to know nothing can dampen that love! Storms of life can sweep away almost anything, but not God's love (Isaiah 43:1,2).
That kind of love cannot be bought. It is freely given. When someone offers anything to pay for it, that person is cheapening it, for it is priceless. Jesus didn't buy our ransom with gold but with His own precious life (1 Peter 1:18). He gave Himself in our place and as the Mighty One, the greatest warrior, He defeated death and hell. Think of what a mockery indulgences were! No wonder works cannot save us. The priceless gift of all is ours in Jesus.
Song of Songs 8:8-9 (ESV) 8 We have a little sister, and she has no breasts. What shall we do for our sister on the day when she is spoken for? 9 If she is a wall, we will build on her a battlement of silver, but if she is a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar.
The others sing of their little sister whose breasts are small. In this song the breasts of the Shunammite were very attractive to the king. So, these others ask what they should do for their little sister to make her attractive. The answer is adornment. Silver is redemption. Cedar was known for its fragrance and durability. It is not just physical attraction. This moves beyond that to the beauty of redemption/silver and the sanctifying work of Christ in our lives (Numbers 19:6; Leviticus 14:4). In Christ, there is a beauty that is much more than physical.
One commentator suggests this looks back on the Shulammite's youth and the others are her protective brothers. He suggests that the wall metaphor means chaste and pure. In other words, they promised to honor her and giver her freedom if she kept herself pure. The door then would mean promiscuous. Then they would have to restrict her freedom, enclosing her in boards of cedar. That would explain verse 10 opening line.
Song of Songs 8:10 (ESV) I was a wall, and my breasts were like towers; then I was in his eyes as one who finds peace.
The Shulammite says she was pure even as she matured into a woman. That is one reason the king sees her as a place to find peace. The wall came down for him and the towers were his. She has matured to the point that the king sees her as an escape from the busyness of the kingdom. He sees her secure in his love and therefore a place of peace. She is his compliment.
I wonder if I will ever mature to that place of such trust in my King and His love for me that when I enter that prayer closet, it is not my anxious requests and concerns that fill the conversation, but rather my words of love and respect. Does Jesus see you as one who has found perfect peace in Him? This is what He is working into our lives through trials and His Word (Psalm 119:165; Romans 5:3-5; James 1:3,4).
Song of Songs 8:11-12 (ESV) 11 Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon; he let out the vineyard to keepers; each one was to bring for its fruit a thousand pieces of silver. 12 My vineyard, my very own, is before me; you, O Solomon, may have the thousand, and the keepers of the fruit two hundred.
Land owners lent their land to sharecroppers. Solomon asked a thousand pieces of silver from them for each vineyard. Baal-Hamon means "lord of abundance." Though Solomon has a thousand vineyards, the Shunammite has just one vineyard, (likely referring to her body) and she gives her beloved the profit. The keepers may be her handmaids to whom she owes something for their service.
God has everything, but He does expect a return on His investment. We see that in the parable of the talents and also in that of the rich fool who built bigger barns. Those who know His love take care of their debts, but they give all their unencumbered assets to Him to do as He pleases. Love gives all to the one who is loved (Psalm 119:72).
Song of Songs 8:13 (ESV) O you who dwell in the gardens, with companions listening for your voice; let me hear it.
Her companions listen for her voice because it is lovely and wise. She knows when to speak and what to say. She speaks from a place of complete security and peace because of the assurance of the king's love. He wants to hear that voice.
This is one last plea for you to come to Him in prayer and share your heart with Him. Maybe you aren't as mature as the Shunammite, as assured of His love and at peace. But if you listen to Him speak His words of love you will be changed as she was. Your insecurities will melt away. Peace will fill your heart because you belong to the Prince of Peace. He longs to hear your voice. Don't leave Him waiting.
Song of Songs 8:14 (ESV) Make haste, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices.
The song ends with her heart cry. Come take me! I'm yours! And those are the words He longed to hear her say. Will you make them your words to our Savior? Is that not the cry of "Maranatha!"? Revelation 22:17,20 The song ends the way the entire Bible ends. Come quickly Lord Jesus.
How can we relate to her desire to be held?
What does 5a show us about our identity?
What does 6a invite us to do?
What does 6b and 7 tell us about godly passion?
Does Jesus see you as one who has found perfect peace in Him?
How can we be assured of His love and be at peace?