Troublesome Topic: Hard Times

Song of Solomon 2:2



Like a lily

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among thorns

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so is my Love among the maidens.

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Like a burst of refreshing beauty amid the difficulties of life is my Love when compared to all other women.

Song of Solomon 4:16



Awake, north wind,

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and come, south wind!

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on my garden, that its fragrance

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may flow everywhere.

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Let the one I love come into his enclosed garden

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and taste

its choice fruits.



Bring on the times of refreshing! Bring on the times of pain and discomfort!

Let them appear unpredictably in my place of beauty, so that what my life has to offer will become evident to all.

The one I love is free to come to me, his protected place of beauty and refreshing, and enjoy

the best I have to offer.

Song of Solomon 4:6


When the day breathes in refreshing coolness,

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 and shadows become indistinguishable,

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I will go

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to the mountain

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of myrrh

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and to the hill

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of frankincense.

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In times of encouragement and refreshing, and in times of discouragement, I will go to that which powerfully heals and uplifts me, I will rely on the great impact of prayer which revives my spirit.

Song of Solomon 3:6


Who is this coming up from the desert

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like columns of smoke,

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like the sacrificial burning of myrrh

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and frankincense,

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along with all the spices

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of the merchant?

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Who is this coming out of hardships

surrounded by much prayer,

revived by communing with God,

the kind of

reviving desired by all?

Song of Solomon 7:11


Come, my Love, let us go to the open fields, let us spend the night  in the villages.    


Come, O love of my life, let’s enjoy quiet solitude and natural beauty; let’s share the trying times with ordinary people.

Song of Solomon 8:5


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Who is this coming up from the desert,

leaning on her beloved?



Who is this emerging from hardships

relying on her beloved [for support]?

Song of Solomon 5:2



I slept

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but my heart was awake. It is the voice of my Love that knocks:

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to me, my sister, my Love, my dove, my flawless

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My head

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is filled with dew,

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my locks of hair

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with the heavy dewdrops

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of the night.”

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There was a time when my body found a semblance of peace but my heart could not find true peace.

I heard the one I long for, demanding permission to access my heart.

He said, “My dear one, the love of my life, take down your guard, let me into your life, my gentle one, you are just right in every way.

The respect and honor I have is a blessing that comes from God to refresh me; in the little things in my life I see God’s blessings coming out of difficulties.”

The next lesson in the topic Marriage Issues is: Our Use of Knowledge – Song of Solomon ch 1 & ch 5

The next lesson in the topic Solomon’s Life and Writings is: Our Use of Knowledge – Song of Solomon ch 1 & ch 5



Lilies as refreshing splashes of beauty amid otherwise ordinary stuff.


Thorns easily become a symbol for a painful hindrance, or the difficulties of life. Her beauty, both inward and outward, are able to refresh him in times of abundance (v. 1) and in times of hardship (v. 2).

3: "among the maidens”

The Hebrew word used here is often translated “daughters” but it can also mean “girls, maidens, sisters, or women.” Its purpose here is to serve as a comparison between the Shulammite and all other women, thus it is not a reference to their daughters.


The text does not include the word “wind” at all; it only says, “Awaken, O north, come O south.” However, because of the verb “blow” that follows, it is appropriate for a translator to assume it is talking about the north wind and the south wind.

Re: the imagery: Since the text does not mention the word “wind” it is obvious that the intent is to point to the meaning of the imagery of North and South, and nothing else. If the word “wind” were included, that would bring in another set of mental images which are not intended here. The North wind brought cool, refreshing air from the mountains of Lebanon.


The south wind brought hot, dry air off the desert land known as the Negev.

6: "Blow"

One of the characteristics of wind is that you cannot see it and you cannot predict what it will do. This phrase is highlighting the reality that sometimes the wind brings cool refreshment and sometimes it brings hardship. Through these word pictures the Shulammite is saying, “Bring it all on, no matter what it is. I won’t let the successes of life distract me from what is truly important, and I won’t let the difficulties of life discourage me. Both the good times and the hard times demonstrate what my life has to offer, what I’m made of, and I commit to standing firm in all times.” That is tough talk from a godly woman demonstrating that she is velvet-covered steel!  This is what God designed womanhood to look like. Notice where this wind will blow—“on my garden,” or “on my place of beauty.” How do the events of life, both good and bad, affect a woman’s beauty? It should make her inner beauty even more attractive; they should make her a more beautiful person.

I must add that every time the ancient Hebrews read or heard the word “blow” they thought about God’s Spirit and how He gives life. At least they asked themselves if there was any way in which the Spirit of God was connected to what was being discussed. In this case the connection is indirect and very minimal. But we could rightly say that the Hebrews of old saw God and His Spirit behind everything that happened. Sometimes God’s involvement was direct, and sometimes it was indirect, But He was seen as being behind all things. Did Pharaoh harden his heart or did God harden Pharaoh’s heart? The Jews would say, “Yes, his heart was hardened.” A quick search reveals that seven times the scriptures say that “The Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart,” and two times they say that “Pharaoh hardened his heart.” The Jews of old did not see this as a contradiction, for God is behind all things, either directly or indirectly and it really doesn’t matter which it is. God either does it, or He allows it, that is all we need to know. So in this limited sense the word “blow” used in this portion of The Song does refer to the Holy Spirit, if nothing else because He allows things to come our way, knowing that we can learn from them. We can learn from the good and from the bad. In fact, while many important lessons are learned from the difficult times, if you really want to see what is in someone’s heart give him wealth and power.

7: “fragrance”

This word often meant “spices, or balsam,” but sometimes it referred to the “fragrance or aroma of the spices.” I believe that here it is the aroma that is spreading to all.

The name Basemath is derived from this verb; I believe it was the name of the second daughter of Solomon and the Shulammite.

8: "flow everywhere"

The word used here means “to drip, drop, distill, or flow.” Most of these are slow but continual processes. In the case of this usage it appears that the larger, more intense idea fits best, thus I have translated it “flow” instead of something like “drip.” The word “everywhere” is not in the original, but is implied.

9: “enclosed garden”

I shouldn’t have to write this footnote, but I fear that I do. It should be obvious that the physical aspects of a woman’s beauty are to be kept exclusively for her husband’s eyes. That is the application of the idea of “protected” that is part of the word “garden.” American culture, and many others for that matter, encourage any female above the age of 12 or 13, to show off what she has to offer. There is a great deal of pressure for women to dress in culturally acceptable ways, and if one does not dress in the modern styles, she might be considered Amish. However, the modern secular standards for women’s clothing do not place an emphasis on covering or protecting certain parts of the body from the view of everyone else; to the contrary, the clothing most American women wear calls attention to certain parts of the body—“Look what I have to offer!” As followers of Jesus, you need to purposefully resist what our culture is telling you. A woman’s body should be a carefully protected garden.


“When the day breathes” refers to the time of day after the hottest part of the day has passed and the refreshing breezes of the evening arrive. Everything and everyone can breathe a bit more easily and it’s as if the day itself is breathing in relief from the intense heat. This phrase is often translated “in the cool of the day,” but be aware that it refers to the evening, not the morning.

11: “become indistinguishable”

This phrase says, “and the shadows disappear or are chased away.” At first glance this sounds like morning, when the sun makes the shadows smaller and smaller till by noon they are very small. But no. What is disappearing, or being chased away, is not the presence of shadows, but the ability to perceive shadows as distinguishable shapes. This is referring to the time of evening when shadows grow long and become nothing more than a mass of indistinguishable darkness. Support for this interpretation comes from such noted scholars as BDB, the Cambridge Bible, Ellicott, Barnes, and Jamieson-Fausset-Brown. However, the common translations available today are split on the matter.

In my opinion, the symbolism of this phrase points in the opposite direction of the phrase just preceding it. Because of the lack of light and the dark shadows, the symbolism seems to point to things like discouragement, doubt, or even danger.

12: “I will go”

The Hebrew has a picturesque way of communicating this, it says: “I will get me to the mountain of myrrh.” It seems to carry the connotation that I will get myself there no matter what; one way or another I will be sure to get there.”


Mountains here are a symbol of strength, protection and refuge. Knowing where to go during difficult times is very important; God and your spouse should be the key places you retreat to in such times.


Myrrh, like other aromatic oils, was something that revived the spirit.


Hills were similar to mountains and had a similar meaning.


Incense is one of several things that revive the spirit. Because of the sacrifice of incense it also served as a picture of other things with more of a spiritual emphasis, but that side of things is not part of the picture here.


The desert was consistently portrayed as the place of hardship and death.


A column of smoke is what was produced when someone burned incense. The other Hebrew memory of a column of smoke is how God lead them out of Egypt. They are actually related because prayer is one of the key ways in which we receive God’s guidance.


Myrrh, and other ointments were used for healing and reviving both the spirit and the body.


Both myrrh and frankincense can revive the spirit and the body, but when used as an incense offering, as they are here, they serve to highlight our connection to God.

21: “all the spices”

This is not implying that one could take any spice he had purchased from the merchants and add it to the incense oil; it is word pictures, and each picture stands for something deeper. Spices, like the oils, revive with their strong odors; they make you feel very much alive, alert, and engaged. So this is not about sacrificial regulations, but rather a layering of words that mean “reviving.”


Merchants sell things people want or they go out of business. In those days it caused a stir when merchants arrived from faraway places because they brought things that could not be obtained easily otherwise.


Who is speaking here? It could be the Shulammite, it could be Solomon, or it could be their daughters. But it does not matter; the important thing is that she has come through difficult times and the support of her husband has been a big help. I have decided to place this question on the lips of her husband because they are the key participants in this “conversation” and because the next sentence has her addressing him directly.



“Sleep” refers to peace and unity, be it with those who have preceded one in death, (“He slept with his fathers”), or with a wife, (“He slept with his wife and she bore him a son”). The word “sleep” represents much more than snoring. It is an emphasis on peaceful unio; e.g. the man and wife had peaceful union between them. In their minds, one could only sleep if there was peace and unity. If they said, “Sleep did not come to my eyes,” they really meant, I did not feel at peace.

Here again I am assuming this entire section is a memory of the way things were before they were married. “Slept” is in the past tense but we are not told how far in the past. My rewording is based on my prior assumption that this song must be about a married couple.


Knocking was not as polite and harmless back then as it is now; it was far more demanding and harsh. Here’s why. First a visitor would stand a short distance from the house, maybe 30 feet or so, and call to the family to grant him permission to come in and join them. This calling would arouse the family dogs or the children, and so the father of the family, or mother if dad was gone, would be notified and would come out and usher the guest in. That was the polite way of doing it with an emphasis on ushering the guest in, or coming in together. However, if no one responded to the first several calls the guest would come closer and closer until he was at the door. By now he is wondering why no one will come out to usher him in. So he begins to pound on the door. The Hebrew word we think of as “knock” really means to “pound, or beat violently.” This pounding is pictured as being done with the fist or with a heavy stick. At its root is the idea of doing something in a “hard or harsh” way.

Re: the imagery: This one seems difficult for us to swallow because the idea of “demanding” anything in a marriage relationship or dating relationship sounds inappropriate to us. But for people of that time this imagery would not have had any negative connotation regarding his actions. Rather she would have been seen as being in the wrong for not ushering him in right away.

The larger picture being painted here seems to be that she had some misgivings and insecurities, probably based on the huge socio-economic gap between them. A poor person would never marry the son of a king, much less the heir to the throne. These insecurities were strong enough to make her hold back strongly. However, Solomon was insistent and persistent. He kept pressing the issue despite how society would see their relationship.


Here “open” is an obvious reference to taking down one’s guard and allowing access.

27: “my flawless one”

The word used here means “complete” or also “blameless, innocent, undefiled, wholesome, or perfect” with an emphasis on moral integrity. It could also mean beautiful, but based on integrity and uprightness, not physical or sexual attraction.


The head is the most exalted, the most noble part of the human body. Therefore, it is seen as a symbol of rulers, leaders, chiefs, or the one worthy of the most honor and respect, for instance, Christ is the head of the church.


Dew is the symbol of the blessing of God (like rain) which refreshes and revives. It is the opposite of, and the relief from, the parching of the sun’s hot rays. So great is its invigorating effect that it is sometimes a symbol of youthful vigor. It comes silently, yet is a powerful force for good, which makes it also an emblem of brotherly love and harmony.

30: “hair”

God seems to focus on the little things of life more than we do.

31: “heavy dewdrops”

This word means “drops,” “a breach” and “ruin or destruction”. According to Strong, the best way to put these together is to say, “dripping to pieces.” Therefore, it is not a simple, ordinary dew; it is an extremely heavy dew which threatens to destroy things (if that were possible). Remember, these are word pictures so resist the urge to analyze them.

Re: the imagery: This has the same figurative meaning as dew.

32: “night”

It is an interesting paradox that Solomon put the words “dewdrops” and “night” together into one phrase. He is actually communicating: “The blessings of the difficulties.” We struggle to put those ideas together that way, but God does see blessings in difficulties and wants us to learn to see them too. There is so much we can learn from the tough times. They are not our enemies. God will not let them ruin us, rather He will use them to shape us. On the other side of the coin, times of ease are dangerous to us too, but their danger is deceptively concealed.