Sex in Song of Solomon, Chapter 6

(Click here to read the whole Sex in Song of Solomon series.)

Song of Solomon, Chapter 6.

In chapter 5 we read about the Beloved’s longing for her Lover, and we see her fantasize about his return. At the beginning of chapter 6 we hear the Chorus ask: where has your Lover gone?

Where has your beloved gone,
    O most beautiful among women?
Where has your beloved turned,
    that we may seek him with you?

And the Beloved responds that her Lover has returned, using flowers again as a sexual metaphor. What is the Lover’s garden? Where is he grazing? I think you know.

My beloved has gone down to his garden
to the beds of spices,
to graze in the gardens
and to gather lilies.
I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine;
he grazes among the lilies.

As a parallel to the Beloved’s praising of her Lover in chapter 5, we now see the Lover’s admiration for his Beloved.

You are beautiful as Tirzah, my love,
    lovely as Jerusalem,
    awesome as an army with banners.
Turn away your eyes from me,
    for they overwhelm me—
Your hair is like a flock of goats
    leaping down the slopes of Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of ewes
    that have come up from the washing;
all of them bear twins;
    not one among them has lost its young.
Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate
    behind your veil.
There are sixty queens and eighty concubines,
    and virgins without number.
My dove, my perfect one, is the only one,
    the only one of her mother,
    pure to her who bore her.
The young women saw her and called her blessed;
    the queens and concubines also, and they praised her.
“Who is this who looks down like the dawn,
    beautiful as the moon, bright as the sun,
    awesome as an army with banners?”

The Lover is overwhelmed when he meets his the eyes of his Beloved! As beautiful as the Moon and as bright as the Sun, she is the only one for him. You’ll also notice a technique common in Hebrew poetry: the passage ends by repeating the same metaphor it began with — the Beloved is as awesome as an proud army flying its banners. Definitely an image drawn from the mind of a military man.

In response to this praise, the Beloved is stirred with passion and… goes down… to see if there’s any budding or blooming going on…

I went down to the nut orchard
    to look at the blossoms of the valley,
to see whether the vines had budded,
    whether the pomegranates were in bloom.
Before I was aware, my desire set me
    among the chariots of my kinsman, a prince.

And she is overcome by desire to ride the Lover’s chariot.

The chapter finishes with a reflection of its beginning — the Chorus is now asking, where is the Beloved?

Return, return, O Shulammite,
    return, return, that we may look upon you.

And the Lover responds:

Why should you look upon the Shulammite,
    as upon a dance before two armies?

Sorry Chorus, my Beloved is currently unavailable. Two armies are dancing.

4 comments

  1. I wanted to wait until I’d read the whole series you’ve written and then put my comment on what Song of Solomon is about. It’s about sex, and it’s about marriage, and more than that it’s about our relationship with Christ.
    The woman that this book is based on is not Solomon’s first wife. In fact she’s his 141st wife, and there are ‘virgins without number’ waiting in the wings (SOS 6:8). Yet he loves this woman in such a perfect and beautiful way. She is his lily in amongst the thorns. What are the thorns? They’re not the other wives.
    Chapter 2: 16 My beloved is mine and I am his; he grazes among the lilies.
    LilieS, more than one. He grazes, a nibble here, a nibble there…
    There is no jealousy in this book. The love they both share for each other is not a competing love, it’s a complete love. The woman knows he goes off to the wives too, and she’s ok with that, because it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love her intensely. He loves all his wives that way.
    This is exactly how our relationship is with Christ. We are all brides of Christ, and he loves us all as individuals in a completely perfect way. There’s no jealousy, we all have different roles to fulfil and we all need different things from Him and He helps us and cares for us as we need it.

    1. Thanks for leaving a comment.

      It’s true that there is a lot of symbolism in Song of Solomon that can be applied to Christ and the church, but don’t elide the literal meaning while jumping to the metaphor 🙂

      In the metaphor, the Beloved is commonly interpreted to represent all believers as a corporate body, the Church as a whole, as the Bride of Christ — not individual believers in a polygamous relationship.

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