“Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12). At the beginning of this chapter the shepherdess is dreaming that she is awakened by her lover’s knock at the door. He desires to come in and be with her (v.2). This is clearly taboo because they have not yet married and the temptation for physical intimacy would certainly overwhelm them. She gives several petty excuses for her reluctance to open the door (she has already disrobed and washed her feet in preparation for bed), but her excuses only result in his further arousal (v.3). Persistently, he tries to open the door, only to find that it is locked. They are both inflamed with passionate desire for intimacy, but fight to constrain their lust for one another. He reaches for the door and her heart leaps, she can no longer constrain her desire (v.4). When she finally acquiesces and opens the door she finds that he has already left. She quickly pursues him but is found by the watchmen of the city who abuse and bruise her, removing her veil of chastity (v.7). Physically abused and emotionally distraught she cries out to her girlfriends (the daughters of Jerusalem) and request they find and tell her beloved that her behavior is because she is “sick with love” (v.8). Her girlfriends respond, in essence, with the question: “What’s so special about this man?” What follows is her description of him.
The shepherdess describes him from head to toe. His complexion is beautifully clear and healthy, better than ten thousand others. He is wonderful to observe. His beard is flawless and he always smells great. He pays attention to every detail. What proceeds from his lips is desirously enticing. With materials used to construct magnificent statues and temples she describes his physique. He is chiseled; his arms are like golden rods; and his legs are like alabaster columns. He is accented with jewels. Clearly he is to be praised. This man is head and shoulders above the rest. And to top it off, he always treats her well. She looks back to the sweetness that proceeds from his mouth. Not that they have kissed, but rather his speech is always uplifting. He’s her best friend!
This allegory is an illustration of God’s desire for Israel, Christ’s love for His bride (the church), and the perils that lurk (in the world) as she pursues Him. He was the first to pursue her (Israel), but she turned Him away. When she opened up to Him, He had already gone away. In her pursuit she suffered abuse at the hands those set to watch out for her safety. In her attempt to find Him she cries out to others, but they can’t understand the nature of their relationship.
So she describes Him: He is strong and attractive. He pays attention to every detail. Though she cries out to the world, the world just doesn’t understand what’s so special about their relationship. He is head and shoulders above the rest. He always treats her well and there is not another friend like Him. But the description is not complete: He washes her bruises and cleanses by His words. Those who open up to Him, He will one day present to Himself in flawless fashion and without a blemish. How do you describe this Most Handsome Groom?