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The Bridegroom-King

Listen, my dearest darling,
    you are so beautiful—you are beauty itself to me!
    Your eyes are
    like gentle doves behind your veil.
    What devotion I see each time I gaze upon you.
    You are like a sacrifice ready to be offered.[a]
When I look at you,
    I see how you have taken my fruit and tasted my word.
    Your life has become clean and pure,
    like a lamb washed and newly shorn.
    You now show grace and balance with truth on display.
Your lips are as lovely as Rahab’s scarlet ribbon,[b]
    speaking mercy, speaking grace.
    The words of your mouth are as refreshing as an oasis.
    What pleasure you bring to me!
    I see your blushing cheeks
    opened like the halves of a pomegranate,[c]
    showing through your veil of tender meekness.
When I look at you,
    I see your inner strength, so stately and strong.
    You are as secure as David’s fortress.
    Your virtues and grace cause a thousand famous soldiers
    to surrender to your beauty.
Your pure faith and love rest over your heart
    as you nurture those who are yet infants.

The Shulamite

I’ve made up my mind.
    Until the darkness disappears and the dawn has fully come,
    in spite of shadows and fears,
    I will go to the mountaintop with you—
    the mountain of suffering love[d]
    and the hill of burning incense.
    Yes, I will be your bride.[e]

The Bridegroom-King

Every part of you is so beautiful, my darling.
    Perfect is your beauty, without flaw within.
Now you are ready, my bride,
    to come with me as we climb the highest peaks together.
    Come with me through the archway of trust.[f]
    We will look[g] down
    from the crest of the glistening mounts
    and from the summit of our sublime sanctuary,
    from the lion’s den and the leopard’s lair.
For you reach into my heart.
    With one flash of your eyes I am undone by your love,
    my beloved, my equal,[h] my bride.
    You leave me breathless—
    I am overcome
    by merely a glance from your worshiping eyes,
    for you have stolen my heart.[i]
    I am held hostage by your love
    and by the graces of righteousness shining upon you.[j]
10 How satisfying to me, my equal, my bride.
    Your love is my finest wine—intoxicating and thrilling.
    And your sweet, perfumed praises—so exotic, so pleasing.
11 Your loving words are like the honeycomb to me;
    your tongue releases milk and honey,
    for I find the promised land flowing within you.[k]
    The fragrance of your worshiping love
    surrounds you with scented robes of white.[l]
12 My darling bride, my private paradise,
    fastened to my heart.
    A secret spring that no one else can have are you—
    my bubbling fountain hidden from public view.
    What a perfect partner to me now that I have you.
13–14 Your inward life is now sprouting, bringing forth fruit.
    What a beautiful paradise unfolds within you.[m]
    When I’m near you, I smell aromas of the finest spice,
    for many clusters of my exquisite fruit
    now grow within your inner garden.
    Here are the nine:
    pomegranates[n] of passion,
    henna[o] from heaven,
    spikenard[p] so sweet,
    saffron[q] shining,
    fragrant calamus[r] from the cross,
    sacred cinnamon,[s]
    branches of scented woods,[t]
    myrrh, like tears from a tree,[u]
    and aloe as eagles ascending.[v]
15 You are a fountain of gardens.[w]
    A well of living water springs up from within you,
    like a mountain brook flowing into my heart![x]

The Shulamite Bride

16 Awake, O north[y] wind!
    Awake, O south wind!
    Breathe on my garden with your Spirit-Wind.
    Stir up the sweet spice of your life within me.
    Spare nothing as you make me your fruitful garden.
    Hold nothing back until I release your fragrance.
    Come walk with me as you walked
    with Adam in your paradise garden.[z]
    Come taste the fruits of your life in me.

Footnotes

  1. 4:1 The Hebrew text literally means “Your hair is like a flock of goats streaming down Mount Gilead.” There is great symbolism in this verse. Hair is a symbol of our devotion to Christ. Mount Gilead (“hill of testimony”) is where the sacrificial animals were kept in preparation for temple sacrifices. So a goat coming down Mount Gilead was “a sacrifice ready to be offered.”
  2. 4:3 The “scarlet ribbon” in the text is a comparison to the ribbon Rahab placed at her dwelling to show the place where mercy would spare her life. The color scarlet points us to the blood of mercy, Christ’s sacrifice that has spared us. See Josh. 2.
  3. 4:3 Pomegranates speak of our open hearts of love, filled with passion for God. The Hebrew word for “pomegranate” is ramam, a homonym for a word that means “to rise up.” Pomegranates were also engraved on the tops of the pillars of Solomon’s Temple and sewn into the hem of the robe of the high priest, interspersed with golden bells.
  4. 4:6 Literally “the mountain of myrrh”—the emblem of suffering love. To become the bride, she must experience Calvary, as did her Lord. We must be his co-crucified partner who will embrace the fellowship of his sufferings. See Gal. 2:20; Phil. 3:10.
  5. 4:6 As implied in the context and affirmed by the bridegroom in v. 8, this verse is the first mention of the Shulamite as the bride.
  6. 4:8 This phrase is translated from the Septuagint. The Hebrew is “the crest of Amana.” Amana comes from a Hebrew root word from which we get the English word “amen.” This is also one of the Hebrew words for “faith.” The crest of Amana is the realm where all God’s promises are kept and realized. Amana can also be translated “a place of settled security.” (Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names by J. B. Jackson.)
  7. 4:8 The meaning of the word for “look” includes “survey, inspect, look all around, observe.” The bride of Christ is seated on high with Jesus and is encouraged to survey all the blessings heaven contains—it is a picture of our co-exaltation with Christ.
  8. 4:9 Or “sister.”
  9. 4:9 Or “you have ravished my heart.” This is the Hebrew word libabethini, which is taken from a Semitic root word that means “to tear bark off of a tree.” He is saying that your loving eyes of worship have uncovered his heart and laid it bare, making him vulnerable to you. What a description of what happens to Jesus when he looks into your eyes. Your worship brings to him such an ecstasy and delight that it becomes hard to even imagine. Yet God has placed inside of you the ability to ravish the vulnerable heart of your King—not someday in heaven, but now, even when you feel incomplete and weak.
  10. 4:9 Or “the jewels of your neck [necklace].” These divine jewels are the beautifying graces that the Holy Spirit gives to us. They are the “graces of righteousness” given to the redeemed bride of Christ.
  11. 4:11 Both the promised land and your heart flow with milk and honey. You have become the promised land of Jesus Christ.
  12. 4:11 Or “like the scent of Lebanon.”
  13. 4:13–14 Or “Your shoots are a paradise of pomegranates.”
  14. 4:13–14 “Pomegranate” is taken from a word that means “exalted.” The temple pillars and the robe of the high priest were adorned with pomegranates.
  15. 4:13–14 “Henna” comes from a root word for “ransom price” or “redemption.” The fruit of mercy is seen in his maturing bride.
  16. 4:13–14 The Hebrew root word for “spikenard” means “light.” She (the bride) is walking in the light as he (Christ) is the Light.
  17. 4:13–14 “Saffron” is the crocus, the lover’s perfume, costly and fragrant.
  18. 4:13–14 “Calamus” is taken from a marsh plant known as sweet flag, which produces fragrant oil. The Hebrew word for this spice can also mean “purchased” or “redeemed.”
  19. 4:13–14 Cinnamon emits a fragrance that is representative of an odor of holiness to the Lord. It was used in the sacred anointing oil of the priests and the tabernacle.
  20. 4:13–14 This is the incense that would be burned on the golden altar in the Holy Place.
  21. 4:13–14 Known as “tears from a tree,” myrrh was a resin spice formed by cutting a tree. It is a picture of the suffering love of Christ dripping down from Calvary’s tree.
  22. 4:13–14 Aloe is considered by many to be a healing balm. The presence of the Lord within her is released as a healing balm to those she touches. Jesus’ robes smelled of aloe (see Ps. 45:8). One of the names used by some for aloe is “eagle wood.” Like eagles, we fly above our wounds, free from the past as we walk in intimacy with Jesus.
  23. 4:15 See Jer. 31:12.
  24. 4:15 Or “like the flowing streams of Lebanon.”
  25. 4:16 The Hebrew word for “north” comes from a root word for “hidden,” “to treasure up,” or “hidden (ones).” It takes both the cold north wind (God’s hidden ways) and the south wind (God’s pleasant, refreshing dealings with us) to bring forth the fragrance of his life in us and to saturate us with divine aromas.
  26. 4:16 The scene of a garden and the breath of God point us back to Eden. Now this paradise is found in the bride (of Christ). This is the reason the reference to Adam is given: to help the reader connect with the mystery of this scene. See Jer. 31:12; John 15:1–2.