Going away together creates great anticipation
Song of Solomon 2.8–17
By Don Ruhl
This section differs from the previous one in at least three ways:
- 1.2–2.7 took place in Solomon’s home, whereas 2.8–17 takes place outside her home.
- 1.2–2.7 showed her wanting to join him, whereas 2.8–17 shows him inviting her to the countryside.
- 1.2–2.7 showed them peacefully together, whereas 2.8–17 shows them anticipating being together.
Song of Solomon 2.8–14 – Love’s Anticipation
The voice of my beloved!
Behold, he comes
Leaping upon the mountains,
Skipping upon the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.
Behold, he stands behind our wall;
He is looking through the windows,
Gazing through the lattice.
My beloved spoke, and said to me:
“Rise up, my love, my fair one,
And come away.
For lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of singing has come,
And the voice of the turtledove
Is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth her green figs,
And the vines with the tender grapes
Give a good smell.
Rise up, my love, my fair one,
And come away!
O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
In the secret places of the cliff,
Let me see your face,
Let me hear your voice;
For your voice is sweet,
And your face is lovely.”
2.8, 9a – Love in Action
To see his anticipation at seeing her, and her anticipation of his arrival, imagine if she had pictured him lumbering like a cow. No, she saw his excitement for her.
How much effort does a gazelle or a young stag exert in traversing mountains and hills? Just as she pictured them, they go about leaping and skipping, because mountains and hills are no obstacles to gazelles and young stags. Likewise, Solomon’s quest and the love in his heart for the Shulamite traverses any barrier easily, and she can see such is the case.
2.9bcd – Love in the Look
He wanted to see her. He did not travel to her home only to be left out.
2.10–13 – Love in the Planning
How did he make time together alluring? Going away together is a favorite thing of new couples (and old ones too). Consider our modern honeymoon. Why do we like to get away?
2.14 – Love’s Anticipation
He pictures her in the crack of a rock (v. 14). My wife and I, and some friends hiked Mt. Scott on the rim of Crater Lake in Oregon. As we drew closer to the top, we walked along giant slabs of rock. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought that I saw something colorful in one of the cracks. I walked back, and found that it was a yellow flower; growing in the crack; delicate, but hidden. They were all over the place as we began to search for more. What a delight and surprise. Solomon felt that way when he would find his love. The imagery of verse 14 is also carried over from verse 9. In both cases, he looked for her. She was inside, perhaps preparing herself to meet him or preparing herself for the wedding.
He was eager to see her, like finding a dove in a crack of the rock, or like my illustration, finding a flower in that crack.
Leland Ryken says in Words of Delight (p. 285), that this invitation to love in verses 10–14 “epitomizes the Song of Solomon as a whole.” Ryken also said,
“…the style…takes us to the heart of the Song of Solomon…The world that it creates in our imagination is an ideally beautiful and fruitful world, far removed from asphalt parking lots at hamburger stands. The short lines and parallel clauses produce a musical, songlike quality. Even when reading the lines silently, we hear the overtones of singing. The voice of satisfied desire is strong. An aphoristic line like ‘the time of singing has come’ sums up the mood of the book” (Ibid.).
Song of Solomon 2.15 – Love’s Spoilers
Catch us the foxes,
The little foxes that spoil the vines,
For our vines have tender grapes.
Love can be spoiled by little things.
Love can be overly sensitive. What then do we do? Catch the little foxes. What does that mean? Deal with the problem. Keep them out of the relationship.
Song of Solomon 2.16, 17 – Love’s Feast
My beloved is mine, and I am his.
He feeds his flock among the lilies.
Until the day breaks
And the shadows flee away,
Turn, my beloved,
And be like a gazelle
Or a young stag
Upon the mountains of Bether.
(Song 2.16, 17)
2.16 – Love feeding among the lilies
What picture do you see? Earlier she had compared herself to a lily of the valley. The second line pictures the truth of the first line. It shows the beauty of togetherness.
2.17 – Love feeding upon the mountains
Leland Ryken sees verse 17 as, “a concluding plea for the wedding day to come quickly” (The Literature of the Bible, op cit., p. 224).
Possible interpretation of the mountains of Bether: A literal mountainous area (2Sa 2.29). Bether means “separation,” so that they would overcome any obstacles separating them
She likened him to a gazelle or a young stag on mountains in verses 8 and 9. What has been the whole point of verses 8–17? They were not together, but they wanted to be. So I think she was telling him to come to her. Come to her quickly.
What shall we do with this section of the Song of Solomon?
- Plan for time together to build the anticipation of love.
- Do not let little things ruin the time.
- Enjoy your spouse because God has brought you together.