18 January 2013

Song of Solomon 7:10 – 8:4

"I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me. Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the fields, and lodge in the villages; let us go out early to the vineyards, and see whether the vines have budded, whether the grape blossoms have opened and the pomegranates are in bloom. There I will give you my love." (vv. 10-12)


Today's passage is another descriptive outpouring of affection and admiration by the maiden for her husband.

In the opening words of verse 10 we find an unusual link with Genesis 3:16: "... yet your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you". In Genesis, these words are spoken to the woman as a curse by God for her disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit in God's perfect garden. Here, however, the tables have turned as we find that she is in control - her husband belongs to her and she is the subject of his desires. Her curse has been reversed and she finds freedom and power in her union with him.

And yet, there is also a sense in which she still seems to be trying to win him over - to call to be with her and enjoy their union. She is coaxing him to come away with her, promising all the gifts of spring - symbols of life and joy. If commentators are right to suggest that she is King Solomon's bride, this may well be a subtle reference to the act of polygamy. She may be the most favoured of the King's brides, but one suspects she still has to share him. So perhaps her sense of freedom is more limited than she might imagine.

The slightly strange-sounding reference to wishing that he had been "like a brother to me" (8:1) from the beginning may give voice to her overwhelming desire for a special intimacy with him, known by no other person. If she had truly known him from the beginning of her life, perhaps he would be hers and hers alone - there is certainly a strong sense of jealousy to be found in her desire for him.

To Ponder

  • In what ways can relationships empower us?
  • In what ways might relaionships restrict or dis-empower us?
  • Do you ever feel that you need to pursue God or win God over? Or perhaps that God is trying to pursue you? 

Bible notes author

Anna Drew

Anna Drew is Director of Communications for the Diocese of Canterbury. She is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4's Daily Service and Prayer for the Day and a freelance writer on faith issues.