The Song of Solomon expresses the joys of romance and married love. God loves it when one man and one woman are totally in love with each other. Solomon and Abishag are the main characters, but knowing who is speaking is challenging in this book. There are pre-wedding flashbacks that make it hard to follow sometimes. There are dreams recorded that are interspersed throughout the song. And garden imagery is used to describe some very intimate, sensual topics. There are four places in the Song where either the husband or wife’s features are catalogued and commented on. It usually starts at the head and works down the body. While most of the previous posts in this series have dealt with the man viewing his new bride, this final post has the bride admiring her new husband.
She has to put words to how she feels. He has sung to her. Now, she will sing to him. There is an impulse in ancient love song toward hyperbole, exaggeration for effect. It’s perfectly permissible in a song. There is also a search for superlatives, words and phrases to highlight the value of the one being talked about. She compared her lover to the best things she could possibly think of in her day and time. In our search for superlatives, we might say “You’re astronomical, you’re galactical, you’re cosmic, you’re a star.” But her world was more about beautiful animals, dense forests, precious gems, lovely gardens, appealing smells, and great building materials. I want you to notice how many times his handsomeness and studliness is compared to precious gems or stones or to gold. She is trying to communicate his worth and value and her respect for him.
5:10-16 10 My lover is radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand.
She thought he was stunning and masculine and he just shined with a great complexion. She admired him. There’s just no rivals, no incoming freshmen who could ever match the handsomeness of her collegiate stud. Out of ten thousand, he’s still the one to beat. You know how hard it would be to find someone in a crowd of ten thousand people. Yet, she did find him and can hardly believe that people like him actually existed. Talk about respect. This guy is one lucky dude. Her facial expression and tone and now her words say that he’s the man she wants.
11 His head is purest gold; his hair is wavy and black as a raven.
This is not literal – a head of gold. He’s just number one in value to her. Gold was not native to Palestine. But it was used lavishly in the construction of important and valuable things, such as the temple. They even made false gods out of it. But she’s not making him a god. She’s not worshipping him. She’s saying that he has a good head on his shoulders. If his head was made out of pure gold, she wouldn’t be any better off. His level-headed approach was worth everything. She’s showing utmost respect for his judgment and his decisions. And when she disagrees, she does so winsomely. That’s how wise and perceptive he was and she was. I take it that he was well read, that he was a good leader, that he was a gentleman, that he was principled and moral, and had the utmost respect for women, especially her. He had the respect of a lot of people, even though he was young. And she just adored his jet black hair, black as a raven. There’s no gray in it. He’s young yet and he’s got a full head of wavy hair, and yet he is so wise.
12 His eyes are like doves by the water streams, washed in milk, mounted like jewels.
She’s just painting a picture with all this, isn’t she? She’s just giddy. He had beautiful eyes that just set perfectly with everything else. One resource said that the color of the dove noted hear would have been a deep blue color. When they would cluster up by a waterfall, the blueness would be set in contrast against the whiteness of the foam. He had gorgeous blue eyes. But they are white like milk. The guy is not a drunk with bloodshot eyes. He’s sober and in his right mind. These eyes are set like a jewel in a ring.
13 His cheeks are like beds of spice yielding perfume. His lips are like lilies dripping with myrrh.
She is moved by his looks, his smell, his kisses. An argument can be made here for good hygiene. Fellows, don’t overlook it. He had great breath. But even more, he said some really nice things to her. The “beds of spices” on his cheek leads me to believe that he’s got a beard. But it’s attractive and well kept. Beards were common in this day. Remember this is the exaggerated language of a girl in love. Beards are beds of spices to the lover. He must have wore great cologne too. Ladies go smell some samples, buy the one that just drives you wild and give it to your husband. He’ll be spraying it all over his body!
14 His arms are rods of gold set with chrysolite.
Chrysolite was a precious stone of some sort. As is the case with all precious stones, its color and rarity made it precious. When you have a precious multicolored stone, it commands a lot of attention because not that many people have them. These stones were used in jewelry or in decoration items or sewn into clothing. They were objects of appeal and beauty in the ancient world. She’s saying this guy is such a rare find. When she looked at him, she just couldn’t believe that he was hers. She loves his arms and hands were considered part of the arm in the ancient world. They are so sexy looking. Gold is actually a soft metal and pliable. When he flexed, it was like the gold just reshaped itself on his arms. He’s well molded. His head was like gold and now his arms are too. She loved his arms, hands, and fingers. You get the feeling that these hands have caressed her many times. She’s studied them. They’ve steadied her in a moment of imbalance on a walk in the Lebanon forests. They caressed her cheek as they have strolled through a garden. They’ve held her strands of hair. They’ve written her love letters. They’ve even been balled up and protected her from some rogue threat. They’ve intertwined with her hands. They tenderly touched her body. They have been used to figure out problems. She’s saying, “He can figure things out with those hands.” Men love to figure things out. If a man can find his way through a jungle with only a tattered map and pocket knife, he feels so alive, affirmed, excited, encouraged.
His body is like polished ivory decorated with sapphires.
Just the plain meaning of this indicates that he’s got a six-pack evidently – a strong torso. I’ve got a six pack. It’s just buried beneath all the polished ivory. A sapphire is a bluish stone and is mentioned frequently in the Bible. If his torso is decorated with these, perhaps she’s seeing the ripples of the six pack. There is also a very good possibility that she is describing his manhood and the male anatomy with the polished ivory tusk like remark and the sapphires. Let the Spirit speak.
15 His legs are pillars of marble set on bases of pure gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as its cedars.
This guy sounds like Conan the Barbarian or Hulk Hogan. He did not have bird-legs. Marble and gold and cedar made great building materials. This guy was one put-together dude. He was tall like a tree in Lebanon. You could build a life on this guy. He was like one of the choicest Cedar trees in the Lebanon forest. They provided great construction materials. You may not love this guy, but you have to respect him. He’s not a loose cannon who is going to go off on someone, but he’s put together and sturdy and demands a certain level of respect.
16 His mouth is sweetness itself; he is altogether lovely. This is my lover, this my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.
She loved the way he talked to her. She loved him for being so much more than a sexual partner. He was a soul mate, a friend. She looks at her imaginary friends and says, “Do you girls see what I mean now.” This guy is one in a million.
This woman loved her man. When a woman loves a man this way, it is not a guarantee that he will never stray, but it captivates his attention like nothing else can. Many men have affairs with women who may be less physically attractive than his wife, but the woman he had the affair with made him feel like a man again.
Remember this is all a song. They didn’t always get it right. But when it was time to write the song about it all, these were the things that they wanted to say. They relished each other and became the closest of friends. Long before they pleasured each other’s bodies, they delighted each other with warm, creative conversation, time spent together, and loving embrace. We don’t know for sure what each of them looked like, but we can’t deny the love with which they were loved. And regardless of what they looked like, that’s what made all of this a beautiful thing. It’s the value of the one loved.