“Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
so is my beloved among the young men.
I delight to sit in his shade,
and his fruit is sweet to my taste.
He brought me into the banquet hall,
and he looked at me lovingly.
Sustain me with raisin cakes,
refresh me with apples,
for I am faint with love.
His left hand is under my head,
and his right hand embraces me.
I admonish you, O maidens of Jerusalem,
by the gazelles and by the young does of the open fields:
Do not awaken or arouse love until it pleases!”
(The Song Of Solomon 2.3-7, NET)
As the relationship develops we see here the strong desire that the lover has to be with her beloved. She wants to be with him because he is bringing goodness into her life (v.3a) and affords her shelter and protection (v.3b). She wants to be with him because he has publicly committed to fidelity (v.4, cf. ‘banner’ in some translations). She wants to be with him so intensely she feels faint with love and knows that the only remedy is to be with her beloved (vv.5-6) for as long as she pleases (v.7).
Again we see that the feelings of desire and passion are not inherently evil: what we do with them counts. The lover is actively pursuing one, singular partner as the object of her desire. There is also a case to be made that vv.5-6 speak of sexual desire and wishes that are yet to be fulfilled ([May his] left hand is under my head, and [may] his right hand embraces me.)
Why is this important?
It shows us that whilst the beloved and the lover clearly have strong and passionate physical feelings towards one another they have not yet acted upon them. Preston Sprinkle writes on this, and gives us a strong thought to carry into the day:
“Throughout the Old Testament, it’s assumed that God designed sex for marriage. Deuteronomy condemns a soon to be wife who has had sex before marriage (Deuteronomy 22:13-19), and the love poetry contained in the Song of Songs delights in the joys of sex but reserves it for a husband and wife. Extra-marital sex is never looked upon with divine approval in the Old Testament, no matter how bright the love-flame burns.”
(Theology In The Raw, emphasis added)
Read the full piece from Preston here: