Continuing with part two of Dillow's book and chapter on "The
By calling her "garden" an orchard of pomegranates, he says
her garden contains the most delicious of fruits. Thus, he speaks
of the pleasure awaiting him there.
The remainder of the verse refers to exotic, fragrant
plants, most of which Solomon imported to Palestine. They
constitute Solomon's erotic and poetic description of her
Nard is a fragrance-giving plant; saffron, a yellow plant;
calainus, a plant of reedlike stem and tawny color which grows in
wild marshes; cinnamon, a plant grown in the East Indies which
grows to thirty feet in height.
The perfumed oil obtained from the myrrh plant is called
myrrh and was used in gargles to scent the breath's. The ancients
were very fond of sweet perfumes of all kinds, and perfumed oils
were rubbed on the body and feet. Small pellets of dried mixed
spice and resins or resinous woods were burned in special
censers. Perfume was used to scent the breath (Song 7:8).
Clothing was perfumed (Ps.45:8; Song 3:6; 4:11). Couches and beds
were sprinkled (Prov.7:17). Frankincense was sometimes chewed to
give the mouth a fresh odors. The aloes plant grows in India; its
wood is very aromatic and was held in veneration by the natives.
The association of fragrant odor with the vagina is perplexing to
many women. For various reasons many wives consider their
genitals repulsive and cannot imagine how their husbands find
them attractive. God created husbands to enjoy their wives
bodies, including the genitals. When the genitals have been
thoroughly cleaned with soap and water, and when a woman is
sexually aroused, there is a faint and very stimulating odor
associated with the moistness. When he says her garden contains
"the finest spices," he means it is as rare and as much to be
valued as the most precious of aromatic herbs.
It is interesting again to see how some of the commentators
avoid the obvious implications of Solomon's praises of the
"scent" of her "garden." For example, Zockler in Lange's
commentary says, "A particular explanation of the individual
products of the garden is, on the whole, impossible, and leads to
what is a variance with good taste." But why is it "in variance
with good taste" if God included it in Scripture and sanctioned
it as beautiful and holy?
You are a garden spring, A well of fresh water,
And streams flowing from Lebanon.
To him, she is not a sealed garden. Her garden is an open
well from which he can draw refreshment as a tired and thirsty
traveller could at a fountain. To what do the "streams flowing
from Lebanon" refer? This phrase is used in Prov. 5:16 in a
similar sexual context of male semen:
Drink water from your own cistern
And fresh water from your own well.
That is, have sexual intercourse only with your own wife;
Should your springs be dispersed abroad,
Streams of water in the streets?
McKane says, "It is the male semen which constitutes the
'springs'and channels of water..."
Let them be yours alone,
And not for strangers with you.
"...intercourse with a strange woman is a waste of semen,
since it is the fathering of children from a strange household
and a consequent neglect of the building up of one's own house
and posterity." McKane could have added that it is also immoral!
There seems to be a parallel thought here with Song 4:15; both
passages are written by the same author, Solomon.
The wife in Prov.5:15,16.
The husband in Prov.5:16
waters out of a cistern
lest thy fountains be dispersed
running waters out of thine
rivers of water
If the "fountains" and waters of the male refer to his
semen, then what do the rivers of waters of the wife refer to? As
semen is the product of his sexual excitement, so running waters
must be the product of hers. Thus, the running waters would refer
to the juices which lubricate the vagina during intercourse.
Since these streams were also a symbol of refreshment, the
reference speaks of the sexual refreshment her garden provided.
It is worth noting she doesn't request sexual intercourse (4:16)
until she is already well-lubricated. Too many husbands tend to
start their lovemaking by direct genital stimulation, or they
begin intercourse before the wife specifically indicates she is
close to a climax and well lubricated. The mere fact that she is
lubricated, however, does not mean she is ready for intercourse.
Let her tell you when she's ready like Shulamith told Solomon.
Awake, O north wind
And come, wind of the south.
She now responds to Solomon's praises. She calls him the
north and south winds. The north wind brings clear weather and
removes clouds, and the south brings warmth and moisture. When
they blew across a garden in Palestine, coolness and sultriness,
cold and heat, would promote the growth of the garden. She is
asking Solomon to stimulate her garden with caresses to promote
the growth of her sexual passion.
Make my garden breathe out fragrance,
Let its spices be wafted abroad.
As the "winds" blow through her garden, first from one
direction and then from another, Shulamith's sexual passion grows
and grows until all the fragrance of the garden rises in waves to
become a sea of incense. She wants everything in her which
pleases her lover to show itself to him in full power and
loveliness. As a traveller passed by an Eastern garden its scent
would draw him to enter it. Shulamith wants her garden to become
more and more "enticing" to Solomon as a result of his caresses.
She wants a "sea of incense" to draw his interest to her garden
until his passion is great! She completely accepts her femininity
and is anxious that Solomon fully experience what she has to
offer. She relishes the fact that Solomon is highly aroused by
the sight of her garden and by caressing it. What a healthy
Now that she is fully aroused, she requests that Solomon
May my beloved come into his garden
And eat its choice fruits!
I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride
I have gathered my myrrh along with my balsam.
I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey; I have drunk my wine
and my milk.
To gather, eat, and drink are all terms that speak of sexual
enjoyment. Delitzsch says, "It supposes a union of love, such as
is the conclusion of marriage following the betrothal, the
God-ordained aim of sexual love within the limits of morality."
These references to wine and milk would be readily
understood in that culture as fertility symbols. Thus the poet
sings of the mixture of his love with hers, of his semen with her
vaginal moistness at the climax of their love.
After their love is consummated, a new speaker is
Drink and imbibe deeply, O lovers.
The commentators have differed widely on the identity of
this speaker. The intimacies of the scene make consideration of a
real human observer impossible. It cannot be the lovers who are
speaking, for they are the ones being addressed.
The poet seems to say this is the voice of God Himself. Only
the Lord could pronounce such an affirmation. He, of course, was
the most intimate observer of all. Their love came from Him (Song
8:7). Thus, the Lord pronounces His full approval on everything
that has taken place. He encourages them to drink deeply of the
gift of sexual love.
There is a beautiful unity to this chapter. It opens with
Solomon's praise and his concern for the emotional state of his
bride (4:1-7). Their lovep-lay pauses while he promises her a
honeymoon in the Lebanon mountains to the north (4:8). They then
resume their love play and his heart beats faster and faster
(4:9-11). He begins to caress her garden and stimulate her
passion (4:12-15). She then invites him to enter her (4:16): they
consummate their love (5:1), and the Lord pronounces His approval
on everything that has taken place.
Notice the very erotic and sensual language they use to
stimulate each other as they are making love. She speaks of the
spices of her garden being wafted abroad. She asks him to eat of
her garden's fruit. He calls her vagina a fruit orchard and
describes her vaginal moistness as streams flowing from Lebanon
(her home town). His genitals are called "fruit" in Song 2:3 and
hers a "garden" in 4:12-16. The song has dealt very delicately
with some extremely erotic and personal subjects, and yet one can
read it and not take offense.
Robert Gordis discusses the value of poetic symbolism in
subjects like this very well.
It is characteristic of the delicacy of the songs that the
woman in each case expresses her desire for love by
indirection. While a blunt avowal would repel by its
crassness, the use of symbolism, which conceals as it
reveals, heightens by its subtlety the charm of the
sentiments expressed. Psychoanalytic theory has offered a
highly plausible explanation for this powerful appeal of
symbolism to the human spirit.
According to psychoanalysis the unconscious persistently
seeks some avenue of expression which will elude the
'censor' who stands guard over the conscious mind. Symbolism
performs this liberating function for the unconscious
admirably, because, in its very nature, it expresses far
more than it says; its nuances are at best as significant as
its explications. Its overt meaning has nothing in it to
arouse the vigilance of the censor, and meanwhile its deeper
context is able to cross the threshold of consciousness.
In translating the symbolism, one risks the danger of
appearing crass. This is the ever-present danger in this book!
When God spoke of personal aspects of sex, He could have used the
slang terms; however, they would tend to raise up that
psychological censor. He could have used the medical terms, but
that leaves a feeling of "mechanics" and science and often a
sense of awkwardness.
The Lord avoided both problems by using poetic symbolism. It
is impossible, however, for the interpreter of the Song to leave
it in poetry; to do so leaves it without interpretation to modern
readers unfamiliar with ancient oriental symbols. It is the job
of a commentator to explain the symbols just as an expositor of
the book of Revelation must do.
On "dressing up" for your mate
While it is certainly true that God looks on the heart, and
that the focus on clothes and appearance can be overdone, it is
also true that the letters M-R-S (Mrs.) before your name do not
stand for Miserable Rut of Sloppiness, or Miss Rummage Sale. But
judging from the looks of the typical housewife, you would never
Take a look at nine out of ten women pushing carts in a
supermarket. They look like survivors of a shipwreck wearing
clothes distributed by the Red Cross. They spend more time
selecting a head of cabbage than a new shade of lipstick.
The next time you go shopping, count the number of women you feel
the average man would find sexy. The aisles of a supermarket
offer a horrifying potpourri of feminine ugliness. The 'Girl
Scout Leader' types with their pulled-back
run-a-quick-comb-through-it hair and hem lines that are never
quite right. The 'good mother' types with their cracked
fingernails and broken-zippered Bermudas (hair forever in plastic
Ask yourself this question, ladies: "Would I have wanted him
to see me looking this way before we were married?" If you cannot
answer yes, you need to make some changes. When your husband
leaves for work, he carries a picture of you in his mind. Is that
image likely to give him romantic thoughts during his afternoon
coffee break? Solomon says the image of the Shulamite left these
kinds of thoughts in his mind!
It seems strange that wives and husbands often save their
best for comparative strangers while their mate must settle for
what he (she) can get. After you collapse on the couch completely
"exhausted" from a "hard day," he's supposed to understand,
right? He ought to; you have explained it to him in tiresome
detail. Yet let an insurance salesman or a friend drop by, and
instantly you become all smiles, coffee, and conversation.
What do you look like when he comes home from work? Do you
get the house ready, and more importantly do you get yourself
ready? A man needs a "magnet" at home that keeps drawing him
back. If he does not find that magnet at home, there are hundreds
of them out in the business world. The girls at the office always
appear to him at their best! The way Shulamith dresses has a
definite effect on her sex appeal to her husband. Note in 4:11
where Solomon comments on the "fragrance of her garments." She is
skilled in the use of perfumes and cosmetics which make her as
attractive to her husband as possible (see 1:9,10,15; 4:1-7;
These comments need some qualification. No woman should be
expected to appear as if she stepped out of a beauty parlor
twenty-four hours a day. The home should be a place where one can
relax and "let your hair down." All we are suggesting is that
often we let too much hair down and the result is very
Men are no less guilty of sloppiness than many women. Too
many husbands lay around the house in sweat-shirts or dirty work
clothes. They lounge in front of the TV set watching football
with their overweight bellies hanging over their belts and wonder
why their wives are not sexually responsive to them.
Do you make her feel needed?
Solomon did! When he gazed at her body and referred to the
stately carriage of her neck (4:4), he was poetically telling
her, "My darling, you are a constant source of encouragement and
strength for me. I need you desperately to carry out my
responsibilities as King of Israel."
Have you ever told your wife something like that? She needs
to feel needed. You also need to feel needed. If your boss
continually communicated to you that you were unnecessary to the
function of the company, your motivations to do a good job would
rapidly disappear. You and the family are her world. She needs to
know she's succeeding at her "job" just as much as you need that
assurance on yours.
The problem is she often has a difficult time trying to
determine exactly what you need her for. She pleasures you in
bed, takes care of your things, keeps the place attractive for
you and sees that there are three meals on the table every day.
But what else? She wants to know how much you appreciate her
encouragement. Tell her what her support does to give you the
incentive to go on. Tell her you need to know she believes in
you, trusts you, and has faith in you. She needs to know you
recognize that need and rely on her faith.
Resident Ford in his acceptance speech said, "I am indebted
to no man and to only one woman." He was telling the world she
contributed to his success. He was giving her honor (1 Peter
If it is difficult for you to express this to her, work on
your inhibitions; you might try writing it all out in loving
detail and sending it to her in a special delivery letter! She
may tend to evaluate herself in terms of dishwashing, floor
scrubbing, and all those other "busy" charm and believe me, it
isn't these things that make her feel important in your life!
The biblical definition of "romance"
Women are incurable romantics with no discernable interest
in being cured. If you ever wrote her any love letters, chances
are she has kept every one of them. Men are harmed by a lack of
romantic love to a much less degree than importance to her. If a
man is denied this, he generally throws himself into his work and
finds fulfilment there. Not so a woman; since her life is more
directly focused in the home she probably feels this lack more
deeply than a man.
A man once told his wife on their wedding day, "I want you
to know I love you. If I didn't I wouldn't have married you. I
expect to continue to love you, but don't expect me to say any
more about it. Remember, I have already said it."
The wife was speechless and, guided by instinct, said, "Oh,
I can't remember something like that. I think you will have to
remind me again and again." As plants need sunshine and water, so
a woman needs romantic love if she is to flourish and bloom.
In chapter 4 we see a beautiful illustration of romantic
love. In fact, the whole book illustrates this point and defines
it for us in tangible ways. Many women complain that their
husbands are not romantic enough, but they never seem to be able
to define exactly this mysterious substance called "romance."
Listen carefully, men, you are at least going to get a
definition, and from the Bible, no less! The Song of Solomon
seems to teach that "romance" has at least FOUR ingredients.
(1) It includes an element of the unexpected. When Solomon
constructs a bedroom with cedars from Lebanon (1:16,17) to
surprise his bride, he's being romantic. When he springs a
surprise vacation in the Lebanon mountains on her, he's being
romantic. The element of surprise is important to romance. A
single long-stemmed rose when there is no special occasion is
Anything that repeats itself over and over again loses its
romantic value, such as always having dinner at the same
restaurant, with movies always to follow.
(2) It includes dating. We find Solomon taking his wife-to-be on
a date in 2:8-17. After they are married, he still takes her on
dates (7:11-8:14). Do you regularly date your wife like Solomon
Let me carefully define what I do not mean by a "date." It
is not hurling a newspaper her way some evening while you are
laying in front of a boring TV show and saying, "Honey, why don't
you see if there is anything on at the movies and call and get a
A date is when you plan the evening, you get the babysitter,
and YOU TAKE HER. You remember, like you did before you married
her. You might get a list of the names and phone numbers of all
the babysitters she uses. Something is missing if you have to ask
her where to go. When you were dating her before you married her,
you didn't wait for her to come up with the ideas.
Also, a date is one husband and one wife, not a crowd.
Double dates went out with the junior prom. Going out with
another couple is great, do it often, but that's not a date.
Generally, what happens is that you spend the evening talking to
him, and your wife spends the evening talking to her, and a week
later she says, "Why don't you ever take me out?" You reply, "I
just took you out last week!" But you didn't take her out. You
were "out" with the other wife's husband! Call going out with
another couple "Christian fellowship" or something ... but that's
not what we're talking about when we speak of a "date."
Sometimes your dates should involve pre-planning that
appears spontaneous. For example, let's say you are going
window-shopping with your wife on an evening downtown. You
casually pass by a restaurant and say, "Why don't we go in and
get a bite to eat." When you enter the restaurant, there are
twenty-five people waiting to be seated, and the waiter informs
you it will be about an hour and a half before you can get a
table. Just at that moment the head waiter arrives and says,
"Good evening, Mr.Jones, we have your table for two right over
here overlooking the lights of the city." That's romance! That's
pre-planning that appears spontaneous.
What can you do on a date? Here are some suggestions.
-Take a window-shopping stroll after the stores have closed.
-Go river bank fishing by moonlight without too much attention to
-Find a secluded spot and build a fire.
-Go for a drive in the car and just talk.
-Go ice or roller skating.
-Visit a zoo.
-Visit the airport (you might even "watch the airplanes" like you
did before you married her).
-Go on a camp-out.
-Go to a rodeo.
-Visit a museum.
-Visit a library some evening and browse through all the books on
sex, love, and marriage.
-Spend an evening sharing mutual goals and planning family
-Locate an unusual and different restaurant and spend the evening
there in loving conversation.
-Spend an evening making love in a motel, away from the children
and the phone. Be home by midnight.
-Go to the drive-in.
-Visit a convalescent home and take some presents to cheer up the
patients and elderly people.
(3) It includes the impractical. Cedars from Lebanon are very
impractical for bedroom construction! Furthermore, kings can't
afford time frivolously spent wandering through the forests of
Lebanon mountains with their wives (7:11). How impractical! Our
emphasis of "being practical" is a major killer of romance. There
is a beautiful illustration of impracticality in the Old
Testament. David and his mighty men were at war with the
Philistines. One day David casually remarked that he desired a
drink of water out of the well of Bethlehem (1 Sam.23:13-17). The
problem was this well was now located behind enemy lines and in
the middle of the Philistine camp! Three of David's "Five Star
Generals," the chiefs of the mighty men, overheard his remark.
That night they crept away from the camp and secretly crossed
enemy lines and crept right into the Philistine campsite. After
securing a pitcher of water from the well, they returned to the
Israelite camp completely undetected. When they gave their gift
to David, he was so overwhelmed that he said, "I am not worthy to
drink this water," and he poured it out on an altar - a sacrifice
to the Lord.
What utter nonsense! The three top men in David's army risk
their own lives and therefore the future of David's military
operations against the Philistines for a pitcher of water! It may
be impractical nonsense, but it is this kind of nonsense that
makes the world go around.
Creative romantic love is often stifled by the desire to be
reasonable and practical. "This isn't a strategic way to spend
money." "We're too old for that sort of thing." "Why don't we
wait until we have fulfilled all of these other
I'm not advocating irresponsibility. I'm simply observing
that practicality can sometimes squelch love. Don't hesitate to
be impractical once in a while.
Your wife may need an ironing board to the point of
desperation. That would be a very "practical" gift but it rates
quite low in the romance department.
When I was a child I always bought my mother practical gifts
for Christmas like knives, plates, placemats, etc. Those gifts
are necessary, but we are supposed to be men now. Buy her some
perfume, scented soap, a record, lingerie, a basket of fruit, a
new plant for the house, or the new outfit she wanted but
(4) It includes creativity. Solomon is a very creative lover. We
find this illustrated profusely throughout the Song. It takes
creativity to design that kind of bedroom (1:16,17); he speaks to
her in poetry to describe her beauty (4:1-7); he takes her for
walks in the forests and they make love outdoors (7:11-13); he
buys her little trinkets and pieces of jewelry (1:11); he
encourages variety in their loveplay (7:1-11).
How creative are you toward your wife? Men tend to think in
categories and settle down into the rut of marriage very quickly.
We use a systematic and categorized approach to our jobs and
unfortunately often carry it over into our relationships with our
I once talked to a woman who told me of her husband's
lovemaking: "I can tell you exactly what my husband will do next,
how long he will linger on that part of my body to the second. He
hasn't changed the routine in twenty years." She doesn't want a
tired old man who treats her to a
"good-old-reliable-mother-to-my-children" kind of affection.
It has been said the only difference between a rut and a
grave is the depth of it. If you have fallen into that
nine-to-five, sex-only-after-the-late-news, camping-vacation-
always-with-the-children-along rut, don't expect her to be a very
exciting lover. Introduce creativity into your lovemaking and
your total relationship like Solomon did.
To find out just how creative you are as a husband, may I
suggest you take the following "Lover's Quotient Test." Give
yourself ten points for each item on the following list if you
have done it once in the past six months. If you have done any
item on the list two or more times, you get twenty points.
-Have you phoned her during the week and asked her out for one
evening that weekend without telling her where you are taking
her? A mystery date.
-Have you given her an evening completely off? You clean up the
kitchen; you put the kids to bed.
-Have you gone parking with her at some safe and secluded spot
and kissed and talked for an evening?
-Have you drawn a bath for her after dinner? Put a scented candle
in the bathroom; add bath oil to the bath; send her there right
after dinner, and then you clean up and put the kids to bed while
she relaxes. (My wife says in order to get any points for this
you must also clean up the tub!)
-Have you phoned her from work to tell her you were thinking nice
thoughts about her?( (You get no points for this one if you asked
what was in the mail.)
-Have you written her a love letter and sent it special delivery?
(First class mail will do.)
-Have you made a tape recording of all the reasons you have for
loving her? Give it to her wrapped in a sheer negligee!
-Have you given her a day off? Send her out to do what she wants.
You clean the house, fix the meals, and take care of the kids.
(My wife says you ought to get thirty points for this one.)
-Have you put a special effect stereo recording of ocean waves on
tape and played it while you had a nude luau on the living room
floor? (If this seems a little far out for your tastes, you could
substitute a by either removing the stereo effects tape or having
a popcorn party in the privacy of the bedroom.)
-Have you spent a whole evening (more than two hours) sharing
mutual goals and planning family objectives with her and the
-Have you ever planned a surprise weekend? You make the
reservations and arrange for someone to keep the children for two
days. Tell her to pack her suitcase, but don't tell her where you
are going. (Just be sure it's not the Super Bowl.) Make it
-Have you picked up your clothes just one time in the past six
months and put them on hangers?
-Have you given her an all-over body massage with scented lotion
and a vibrator?
-Have you spent a session of making love to her that included at
least two hours of romantic conversation, shared dreams, many
positions of intercourse, and much variety of approach and
-Have you repaired something around the house which she has not
-Have you kissed her passionately for at least thirty seconds one
morning just before you left for work, or one evening when you
walked in the door?
-Have you brought her an unexpected little gift like perfume, a
ring, or an item of clothing?
-Have you replaced her old negligee?
I have given this ridiculous test to men all over the
country. Let's see? how your scores compare with theirs.
200-360-LOVER - You undoubtably have one of the most satisfied
wives in the country.
150-200-GOOD - Very few make this category.
100-150-AVERAGE - This husband is somewhat typical and usually
not very exciting as a lover.
50-100-KLUTZ - Too many score in this category. I hope you'll
begin to move up soon.
0-50-HUSBAND - There is a difference between a "husband" and a
"lover." The only reason your wife is still married to you is
that she's a Christian; she has unusual capacity for
unconditional acceptance, and there are some verses in the Bible
While the test shouldn't be taken too seriously, it does
outline a plan of attack to increase your creativity level. I
realize that many things on the list may not fit your temperament
and your marriage relationship. Make up your own list. The idea
is simply to encourage creativity in a fun way.
After giving this test as a humorous conclusion to messages
on sex for men, I find varied reactions. Most of the men seem to
like it and leave encouraged to break the routine of the
marriage. One man wrote me and said the whole thing was silly and
ridiculous! Furthermore, everyone he had talked to agreed. This
test may be ridiculous as far as its application to your marriage
relationship is concerned. Fine. Furthermore, there are many
sincere, godly men who are very creative in their approach to
their wives, but who scored poorly on the test. The issue is what
is appropriate in your particular and unique marriage
relationship that will bring new zest and vitality.
At the conclusion of one seminar, a man rated in the lover
category. He had a score of 340! Another man on the front row
laughed out loud when he heard the score and blurted, "How long
has he been married?" He was implying that the man who scored so
highly must have been only recently married. Once you settle down
in the daily routine and have been married for a number of years,
he reasoned, these things are no longer expected as a regular
part of married life, they are for "young couples."
If you are responding this way, let me ask you a question.
Does your relationship with the Lord Jesus become more and more
"settled" with time? Does it automatically loose its creativity
and zest the longer you know Him? If it does, then you have a
definite spiritual problem in your relationship with Him. It is
The Bible says the believer's relationship to Christ is to
illustrate the husband's relationship to his wife physically.
Just as a lack of spiritual vitality reflects a spiritual
problem, a lack of growth in the vitality of your marriage
relationship reveals a marriage problem. If your marriage is
truly an illustration of Christ and the church, it should become
more and more vital, free, and exciting as the years go by.
The other side of this is, creativity as a wife. We will
pick up some suggestions in that area when we discuss Song 7:13
in another chapter. For now, this brings the first part of the
Song to a dose. We must now turn our attention to the second
half, in which we glean insight into resolving marital problems.
Entered on this Website August 2007