By Don Ruhl
Remember how chapter 6 ended,
Return, return, O Shulamite;
Return, return, that we may look upon you!
What would you see in the Shulamite—
As it were, the dance of the two camps?
Then we read next of what Solomon saw. For this reason, some scholars and commentators believe that the daughters of Jerusalem or his friends, spoke the words of 7.1–5.
However, in verses 6–9a, it is obvious that Solomon spoke, and since it closely resembles in content what verses 1–5 say, I believe we may conclude that verses 1–9a are all by Solomon.
Was she next dancing in response to the request and question of 6.13?
Song of Solomon 7.1–5 – The Observations of Love
How beautiful are your feet in sandals,
O prince’s daughter!
The curves of your thighs are like jewels,
The work of the hands of a skillful workman.
Your navel is a rounded goblet;
It lacks no blended beverage.
Your waist is a heap of wheat
Set about with lilies.
Your two breasts are like two fawns,
Twins of a gazelle.
Your neck is like an ivory tower,
Your eyes like the pools in Heshbon
By the gate of Bath Rabbim.
Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon
Which looks toward Damascus.
Your head crowns you like Mount Carmel,
And the hair of your head is like purple;
A king is held captive by your tresses.
Notice that Solomon begins at her feet and ends with her head: Feet, thighs, navel, waist, breasts, neck, eyes, nose, head, and hair. Whereas, in chapter 4, he made a somewhat downward glance: Eyes, hair, teeth, lips, mouth, temples (or cheeks), neck, and breasts. In 5.10–16, she went from the top to the bottom, and then jumped back to the top: Skin, head, hair, eyes, cheeks, lips, hands, body, legs, face, and mouth.
He observed her body, and thought of it, but notice the lack of erotic comparisons. The body part itself can be erotic, but he uses common objects to make the comparisons.
There are limits on the visual comparisons. While the thing he describes is visual, and the comparison is visual, yet, the point of comparison is not necessarily visual. For example, How can the curves of her thighs be like jewels, which are either rough in their uncut condition, or angular with flat sides in their cut condition? Yet, Solomon revealed the connection in that both her thighs and jewels reveal a high degree of skill in their making. A skillful workman made the jewels, and God made the thighs.
How can the shape of her breasts be like two fawns, which are animals and do not resemble breasts at all? The visual connection does not exist. Something about the nature of fawns of a gazelle, reminded him of her breasts, or her breasts reminded him of the fawns of a gazelle.
Therefore, we have to figure out the connections with the comparisons. See the two objects, but then discover the non-visual connection.
How he saw her:
Her feet were beautiful in sandals. This one lacks a comparison. This is the one time he mentions clothing. (See also 4.1.) Her sandals accentuated her beauty like a frame does a picture.
He referred to her as a prince’s daughter. Was she a prince’s daughter? From 1.5, 6 we got the impression that she was a vineyard worker. Could a prince’s daughter be a vineyard worker? If she was not literally a prince’s daughter, perhaps Solomon spoke metaphorically. Her beauty made her a prince’s daughter. Perhaps this is a clue that she was Pharaoh’s daughter, “Now Solomon made a treaty with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and married Pharaoh’s daughter; then he brought her to the City of David until he had finished building his own house, and the house of the Lord, and the wall all around Jerusalem” (1Ki 3.1). “And the house where he dwelt had another court inside the hall, of like workmanship. Solomon also made a house like this hall for Pharaoh’s daughter, whom he had taken as wife” (1Ki 7.8). Both Pharaoh’s daughter and the Shulamite appeared to be special to Solomon.
The curves of her thighs were like jewels. The second line of verse 1 shows that Solomon thought of cut jewels, a process requiring a skilled workman. Her thighs did not happen by accident or evolution. A woman’s thigh are quite obviously the work of God the Creator.
Her navel was like a rounded goblet. A rounded goblet that did not lack any beverage. The reference to beverage keeps us from making a strictly visual connection. What then is the connection between her navel and a rounded goblet that lacked no blended beverage?
Her waist was like a heap of wheat. A heap of wheat set about with lilies. Again, we get two visuals before us, but what is the non-visual connection?
Her breasts were like two fawns. Not just two fawns, but twins of a gazelle. What are fawns like? They are young and innocent. They are new life. How would her breasts be like fawns? Aside from the pleasurable aspect of breasts, why do women have breasts? They are for feeding newborns. Thus, her breasts represented new life.
Her neck was like an ivory tower. Sometimes the two visuals seem similar, so we are apt to think only in visual terms. However, up to this point, we have seen that Solomon did not have the visual in mind only. The visual was there, but the connection went beyond that in each case thus far. What is a tower, or for what did the ancients use towers? They served as lookouts for danger, and provided defense in the case of an attack. Out of what did they make towers? Did they make them of ivory? No, they would have used cheaper materials. Thus, her neck, that which holds the head, was a thing of beauty that supported her watchful eyes. She held herself in such a way as to show her vigilance.
Her eyes were like the pools in Heshbon. They were like the pools by the gate of Bath Rabbim. He had spoken of her eyes as doves, and so has she of him, but now he thought of the beautiful pools in Heshbon. For what would those pools have been used? They could have been for drinking water. They could have been used for other household purposes. Or they could have simply been for decoration.
Her nose was like the tower of Lebanon. Her nose was like the particular tower facing Damascus. This was obviously a prominent tower. It was not in Jerusalem, but in Lebanon. Since it faced Damascus, it looked East, and the East we think of as the rising sun. Could this be a picture of hope?
Her head was like Mount Carmel. “Crowns” is in italics. The newer translations have it, whereas the Old King James and the Old American Standard Versions do not have it, reading that her head was like Mount Carmel. Interestingly, he did not say that her head was like a mountain, but like Mount Carmel. This mountain is not like we would think of mountains in the American West, but it was more like a hill. Again, what is the connection between these two visuals? If we saw her head, we would not think that it looked like a mountain. If we saw a mountain, we would not think it looked like a woman’s head. Literally it means God’s vineyard.
Her hair was like purple. A king could be help captive in such hair. Again, see the two visuals. Twice before he had compared her hair to a flock of goats going down Mount Gilead (4.1; 6.5). Here though we see her hair and purple. Was her hair purple? If so, how would that compare to a flock of goats, if we only see a visual connection? What is purple or what does it signify? Scripture associates purple with royalty. Remember what he had said just after speaking of her feet! He called her a prince’s daughter. Here he speaks of her hair like purple, and if we understand the modern translations to be correct, that her head crowned her like Mount Carmel, then when he saw her, from head to toe, she was like royalty.
She had these royal traits without being married to Solomon. Having married him, she became a queen, but in none of what he has painted has he attributed any of her royal-like qualities to the fact that she had married him. She was royalty in her own right. It was just and fitting that she married Solomon.
Kings hold captives, but with her and her hair in particular, he became a captive. To see the captive power of a woman, read Proverbs 30.18–19 and First Esdras 3 and 4 in the Old Testament Apocrypha.
Who created the body? Who created the female body? Knowing that God created the body, and that He created woman’s body as a thing of poetic beauty, we are not surprised to hear Solomon speak of her in such images.
Song 7.1–5 shows that:
Song of Solomon 7.6–9a – The Delights of Love
How fair and how pleasant you are,
O love, with your delights!
This stature of yours is like a palm tree,
And your breasts like its clusters.
I said, “I will go up to the palm tree,
I will take hold of its branches.”
Let now your breasts be like clusters of the vine,
The fragrance of your breath like apples,
And the roof of your mouth like the best wine.
Love praises (v. 6). Remember how God referred to Ezekiel’s wife as the delight of his eyes (Eze 24.16). He loved looking at her, and all that she was. Is it wrong for a man and a woman to appreciate the natural beauty in the other? Is this necessarily fleshly? While it may deal with the flesh, remember that God made the flesh. The flesh is not inherently evil. It is what we do with it that can become evil.
Love enjoys (vv. 7, 8a). Here he introduced two more comparisons, this time her stature, to which he compared it to a palm tree, and her breasts again to which he compared them to the date clusters on a palm tree. He wanted to enjoy her as one would a palm tree, and the fruit it gave.
Love releases (vv. 8b, 9a). What good is marriage, if a man and a woman cannot enjoy one another? Therefore, he lovingly encouraged her. This time he compared her breasts to the grapes on a vine. He also spoke of her mouth and its breath. How important is breath in all this interaction? The “roof of your mouth” could be a way of referring to her tongue.
What shall we do with this section of the Song of Solomon?
Praise one another.
Specify your praises.
Personalize your praises.
Enjoy one another.
Have personal time for one another.
5 thoughts on “Love Delights in Observing ”
Super job on a subject few are willing to tackle!
Thank you Don. This is a very difficult book and most of us simply avoid it. You’ve done a wonderful job not only at expounding it but also finding application for it.
Thanks, John, for your kind words. I believe that the Holy Spirit gave us the Song of Solomon, placing it Scripture, even as any other Book of the Bible. Therefore, we need to read it, figure out its meaning, meditate upon it, and see how we can live it.