The Garden Gate
Lord, I sing a hymn of praise to You today! Help me to truly love others with the love You have for me.
Read Song Of Songs 4:1—5:1
How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes behind your veil are doves.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
descending from the hills of Gilead.
2 Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn,
coming up from the washing.
Each has its twin;
not one of them is alone.
3 Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon;
your mouth is lovely.
Your temples behind your veil
are like the halves of a pomegranate.
4 Your neck is like the tower of David,
built with courses of stone;
on it hang a thousand shields,
all of them shields of warriors.
5 Your breasts are like two fawns,
like twin fawns of a gazelle
that browse among the lilies.
6 Until the day breaks
and the shadows flee,
I will go to the mountain of myrrh
and to the hill of incense.
7 You are altogether beautiful, my darling;
there is no flaw in you.
8 Come with me from Lebanon, my bride,
come with me from Lebanon.
Descend from the crest of Amana,
from the top of Senir, the summit of Hermon,
from the lions’ dens
and the mountain haunts of leopards.
9 You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride;
you have stolen my heart
with one glance of your eyes,
with one jewel of your necklace.
10 How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride!
How much more pleasing is your love than wine,
and the fragrance of your perfume
more than any spice!
11 Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride;
milk and honey are under your tongue.
The fragrance of your garments
is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
12 You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride;
you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain.
13 Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates
with choice fruits,
with henna and nard,
14 nard and saffron,
calamus and cinnamon,
with every kind of incense tree,
with myrrh and aloes
and all the finest spices.
15 You are a garden fountain,
a well of flowing water
streaming down from Lebanon.
16 Awake, north wind,
and come, south wind!
Blow on my garden,
that its fragrance may spread everywhere.
Let my beloved come into his garden
and taste its choice fruits.
5 I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride;
I have gathered my myrrh with my spice.
I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey;
I have drunk my wine and my milk.
Eat, friends, and drink;
drink your fill of love.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat does God’s version of love truly mean?
When he feels that his beloved has withdrawn as if to a distant mountain, the lover seeks to woo her back with praise of her physical beauty. It’s not only her beauty that delights him, but the way she looks at him, the way she loves him and the way she speaks to him. To the lover, these say that her beauty is reserved for his exclusive enjoyment. The features described in 4:1–7 could be observed by all, but it is her response to him which makes him more than a mere observer and leads him, in 4:12–15, to speak of his desire to also possess her beauty.
So much of the portrayal of sexual intimacy in our modern culture is about gratifying one’s own desires and impulses. We hear of people leaving a relationship because their “needs aren’t being met” or becoming intimate because they “couldn’t stop themselves.” Yet the true beauty and joy of physical intimacy come when we seek to honor and give pleasure to the other. In today’s passage we see the image of a garden used to ask and offer consent. The lover describes his beloved as a closed garden, hinting that he wishes to enter but cannot. The beloved then responds by inviting him to enjoy the garden. Fulfillment is then confirmed as the lover enters the garden.
Pray for young people you know as they face pressure to conform to the sexual norms of our day.
Lover of my soul, may I begin to understand Your love so that I can have the true definition of love in this broken world.
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