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I am truly his rose,
    the very theme of his song.[a]
    I’m overshadowed by his love,
    like a lily growing in the valley!

The Shepherd-King

Yes, you are my darling companion.
    You stand out from all the rest.
    For though the thorns[b] surround you,
    you remain as pure as a lily,[c]
    more than all others.

The Shulamite

My beloved is to me
    the most fragrant apple tree—
    he stands above the sons of men.[d]
    Sitting under his grace-shadow,
    I blossom in his shade,
    enjoying the sweet taste of his pleasant, delicious fruit,
    resting with delight where his glory never fades.
Suddenly, he transported me into his house of wine—
    he looked upon me with his unrelenting love divine.[e]
Revive me with your raisin cakes.[f]
    Refresh me again with your apples.[g]
    Help me and hold me, for I am lovesick![h]
    I am longing for more—
    yet how could I take more?
His left hand[i] cradles my head
    while his right hand[j] holds me close.
    I am at rest in this love.

The Shepherd-King

Promise me, Jerusalem maidens,
    by the gentle gazelles and delicate deer,[k]
    that you’ll not disturb my love until she is ready to arise.

The Shulamite

Listen! I hear my lover’s voice.
    I know it’s him coming to me—
    leaping with joy over mountains,
    skipping in love over the hills that separate us,[l]
    to come to me.
Let me describe him:
    he is graceful as a gazelle,
    swift as a wild stag.
    Now he comes closer,
    even to the places where I hide.[m]
    He gazes into my soul,
    peering through the portal
    as he blossoms within my heart.

The Shepherd-King

10 The one I love calls to me:
Arise,[n] my dearest. Hurry, my darling.[o]
    Come away with me![p]
    I have come as you have asked
    to draw you to my heart and lead you out.
    For now is the time, my beautiful one.
11 The season has changed,
    the bondage of your barren winter has ended,
    and the season of hiding is over and gone.
    The rains have soaked the earth[q]
12 and left it bright with blossoming flowers.[r]
    The season for singing and pruning the vines has arrived.[s]
    I hear the cooing of doves in our land,[t]
    filling the air with songs to awaken you
    and guide you forth.
13 Can you not discern this new day of destiny
    breaking forth around you?
    The early signs of my purposes and plans
    are bursting forth.[u]
    The budding vines of new life
    are now blooming everywhere.
    The fragrance of their flowers whispers,
    “There is change in the air.”
    Arise, my love, my beautiful companion,
    and run with me to the higher place.
    For now is the time to arise and come away with me.
14 For you are my dove, hidden in the split-open rock.[v]
    It was I who took you and hid you up high
    in the secret stairway of the sky.
    Let me see your radiant face and hear your sweet voice.[w]
    How beautiful your eyes of worship
    and lovely your voice in prayer.
15 You must catch the troubling foxes,
    those sly little foxes[x] that hinder our relationship.
    For they raid our budding vineyard of love
    to ruin what I’ve planted within you.
    Will you catch them and remove them for me?
    We will do it together.

The Shulamite

16 I know my lover is mine and I have everything in you,
    for we delight ourselves in each other.[y]
17 But until the day springs to life
    and the shifting shadows of fear disappear,
    turn around, my lover, and ascend
    to the holy mountains of separation[z] without me.
    Until the new day fully dawns,
    run on ahead like the graceful gazelle
    and skip like the young stag
    over the mountains of separation.
    Go on ahead to the mountain of spices—
    I’ll come away another time.

Footnotes

  1. 2:1 The Hebrew text reads “a rose of Sharon.” The word Sharon can be translated “his song.” She now sees herself as the one he sings over. The root word for “rose” (Hb. habab) can mean “overshadowed.”
  2. 2:2 This is a thorn bush, which speaks of “the curse of sin.” See Gen. 3:18; John 19:5; Gal. 3:13. On the cross, Jesus wore a crown of thorns, for he took away the curse of sin.
  3. 2:2 The emblem of a lily was engraved on the upper part of the pillars of Solomon’s Temple. Lilies are symbols of purity in the “temple” of our inner being.
  4. 2:3 Or “trees of the forest.” Trees in the Bible are often metaphors for humanity.
  5. 2:4 Or “His [tribal] banner covering me was love.” There are two Hebrew words for “banner”: nes is the military banner, and the one used here is degel, the tribal banner, of which there was one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. The Shulamite lives under the banner of the tribe of love.
  6. 2:5 Or “goblet of wine.” King David gave raisin cakes to the entire nation of Israel in celebration of the ark of glory, God’s presence, coming into Jerusalem (see 2 Sam. 6:19). Additionally, the Hebrew word for “with raisin cakes,” ba’ashishot, is a homonym that can also mean “fires.” The fires of passion and love are overwhelming.
  7. 2:5 Or “apricots.” These are the sweet promises of grace that sustain us.
  8. 2:5 Or “wounded by love.”
  9. 2:6 The Hebrew word for “left” is smowl, which can also mean “dark.” The “left hand” of the Lord speaks of the mysteries of his ways—the unseen activities of grace, which are so little understood.
  10. 2:6 For more on the right hand and left hand, see Prov. 3:16.
  11. 2:7 In the poetic imagery of the Song of Songs, “deer” and “gazelles” are symbols of the joys of love. The Septuagint reads “by all the powers and strengths of the field.”
  12. 2:8 Implied in the context of v. 17.
  13. 2:9 Or “There he stands behind our wall.” Fear and religious duty will always have a wall to hide behind. The contrast is striking. He is free and leaping over mountains, but the Shulamite was enclosed and restricted behind a wall.
  14. 2:10 The Hebrew word for “arise” (quwm) was used by the high priest when he spoke to the Levites to take up the ark of glory on their shoulders to move it as Israel journeyed through the wilderness (Ps. 132:8). The ark can be a metaphor for the bride, carried on the shoulders of our Bridegroom (Luke 15:1–7).
  15. 2:10 Or “my fair one.” This is the Hebrew word for “fullness” or “complete.” He calls us his complete one.
  16. 2:10 Or “Come to me.” See Matt. 11:28–30.
  17. 2:11 The rains speak of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. She is refreshed and prepared to move out with him.
  18. 2:12 These flowers may point to the holy lovers of God throughout the ages, which after “rains” of God’s Spirit mature, blossom, and give forth the fragrance of Christ. Paul was a flower; Peter was a flower; and Mary of Bethany was a flower blooming. The sons of God are the flowers appearing on the earth out of their union with Christ.
  19. 2:12 Or “The season of singing has arrived.” The Hebrew word for “pruning” is a homonym that can also mean “singing.” This translation includes both meanings.
  20. 2:12 This is the turtledove, which is heard only at the time of harvest. The turtledove is also an acceptable sacrifice of cleansing in place of a lamb. The words “our land” show the joint possession of all things that we enjoy through our union with Christ.
  21. 2:13 This text is literally translated “The fig tree has sweetened and puts forth its early figs.” In the language of allegory, the fig tree is a picture of destiny and purpose. The sign of a fig tree blooming is the sign of an early spring, a new season.
  22. 2:14 This speaks of the wounded side of Jesus, our Rock where we hide and rest. When Moses asked God to see his glory, God hid Moses in the cleft of the rock. See Ex. 33:22.
  23. 2:14 The Hebrew text literally means “Your voice is delicious.”
  24. 2:15 These “foxes” are the compromises that are hidden deep in our hearts. These are areas of our lives where we have not yet allowed the victory of Christ to shine. The foxes keep the fruit of his Spirit from growing within us.
  25. 2:16 The Hebrew wording includes the phrase “He browses among the lilies.” The Hebrew word for “browse” can also mean “to take delight in” or “to be as a special friend.” The same Hebrew word, ra’ah, is used in Ps. 23:1, “The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd.”
  26. 2:17 This text literally means “mountains of Bether,” the Hebrew word for “separation” or “gap.” This could be the realm of holiness, being separated to God. Some scholars say Bether was a spiritual representation of a mountain of fragrant spices; i.e., the realm of holiness.

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