15 January 2013

Song of Solomon 2:8-17

"The voice of my beloved! Look, he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Look, there he stands behind our wall, gazing in at the windows, looking through the lattice." (vv. 8-9)


The Song of Solomon is a dramatic poem in which we find two main characters: a girl and her lover (thought by most scholars to be King Solomon in whose harem the girl finds herself at the beginning of the poem). These voices are supplemented by a supporting cast or chorus, who chime in from time to time to offer commentary or encouragement.

In today's passage we find the girl peeking out through the palace window for her lover, straining to hear his voice from a distance. She imagines him as wild and free, tempting her away into the joys of spring and the promise of togetherness. Sharp-witted readers may spot a number of euphemisms among the colourful and emotive imagery used by the author.

There's a very strong sense of desire here and it's clear that the love yearned for is something personal and secret - perhaps it's even under threat from others. Some commentators suggest that the "vineyard" in verse 15 may be a symbol of the lovers' love and that the "foxes" are those that threaten to disrupt and ruin it.

One might wonder how much of today's passage is simply a daydream, for in tomorrow's reading we'll see that - for now, at least - the maiden's desires must remain unfulfilled.

To Ponder

  • The desire for freedom is a strong theme in today's passage - what does freedom mean to you?
  • The maiden finds herself shut away from her lover, but also from nature, spring and joy. Have you ever felt like that?
  • What is it about 'locked-in' places that makes our hearts wander further afield? 

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.