Troublesome Topic: How Does She Encourage Him? Song of Solomon ch 2 & ch 8

Song of Solomon 2:15




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the foxes

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for us,

those little foxes

that destroy the vineyards, for our vineyards are in bloom.

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For the sake of our relationship, stop the opportunistic troublemakers, even those troublemakers that seem insignificant, for they are a real threat to our prosperity and happiness, our happiness which seems so imminent.

The Little Foxes that Destroy the Vineyard

Here it’s as if she says to him, “Honey, there is one more thing you can do to calm my insecurities, that is to protect our marriage from those threats which many men miss because they think them too small to be concerned about.” There are many things that can pull a marriage apart. The earlier we can identify them and turn things around the greater chance we have of keeping our relationship healthy. So be on the lookout for small problems, deal with them early, don’t wait until things are really bad before seeking help or doing something about it. Men, this word is for us because we are more likely than our wife to say “It’s not that bad yet, let’s wait and see what happens.” The wife wants to be talking about issues in the relationship all the time; the husband wants to wait until things are really bad before talking about it. If she constantly brings things up that she wants to be different about their marriage, he gets the idea that she will never be satisfied and begins to tune her out. We men want to fix things, but in our marriages, we usually wait till the problems are big before we kick into “fix it” gear. Maybe that is because we figure that once the problems are big it will be easier to identify their causes. Yet the Shulammite is asking Solomon to care about, and focus on the small things, because they do cause great damage in a relationship. It is the husband’s job to watch for various types of dangers and protect against them before they become big problems. That is precisely what the Shulammite is asking Solomon to do, even though it may be contrary to his male tendencies.

Song of Solomon 2:17



Until the day breathes in refreshing coolness

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and the shadows become indistinguishable,

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turn, my Love, and be

like a gazelle or like a young stag

on the rugged mountains.

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When encouraging and refreshing times come, and when discouraging times come,

turn your focus, my Love, away from the difficulties and be swift and agile; be strong and swift

amid insurmountable difficulties.

Song of Solomon 8:14




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my Love,

and be like a gazelle

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or like a young stag

on the spice-laden

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Hurry, O love of my life,

be what I know you are—

be swift, and agile

be strong and swift,

be refreshing and strong.

Be Like a Gazelle

For the man to be swift and agile may mean he is “decisive in decision-making;” he is a man of action, yet flexible when flexibility is needed.

Her calling him to “be” is the kind of support a wife should give, encouraging him to be what she knows he is or can be. Rather than cutting her husband down for what he is not doing, she should tell him she believes in him and supports him because she knows what he is capable of. She should become his loudest cheerleader. Think of the Rocky movies. In all the ones I have seen and remember (I–IV), there is a turning point in Rocky’s willingness to fully invest himself in the training process. That turning point always comes when his wife, Adrian, stuffs her worries and begins to show her support for her man. A wife who replaces criticism and doubts with support and encouragement for her husband will discover a powerful tool. As men, we know when we have failed, we don’t need it shoved in our faces. Instead we need a wife who is supportive, encouraging and willing to go on this journey with us. A man needs to be able to say, “she believes in me;” he should never have to say, “she has no confidence in me.”

A woman’s most basic need is two-fold: to be made to feel secure, and to be cherished above everything else (except God). For that reason most women are not comfortable with a high level of risk. For instance, they are constantly worried about the finances of the home. Husbands are often willing to take much more risk than their wives are comfortable with. So wives naturally put on the brakes at every hint of risk. Men call this nagging. But here is the nugget of truth wives need to understand: the more a wife resists all risk the more her husband will pull the other way; he takes her concern as a lack of trust. However, if a wife can learn to be supportive most of the time and believe in her man and share his dreams, when he crosses a line into the “stupid zone” and she does register her concerns about too much risk, he will be more likely to listen and reconsider. When that balance is achieved the couple is functioning as a strong team. So guys, be careful about taking too much risk, and gals, give your man the freedom to take small risks so that he will listen to you when your concern is justified.

This also speaks to one of the basic ways a man can encourage his wife; he encourages her by being the kind of man she needs him to be. He motivates her and settles her insecurities by being the kind of man she needs, and she encourages him to be that kind of a man by telling him she knows he has it in him, she knows he can succeed.

The next lesson in the topic Marriage Issues is: God Is an Idealist

The next lesson in the topic Solomon’s Life and Writings is: Hard Times

The next lesson in the topic The Roles of Men and Women is: Our Use of Knowledge – Song of Solomon ch 1 & ch 5


1: “Catch”

The imperative used here is plural, though we would expect a singular form since the Shulammite appears to be speaking to Solomon. Some have suggested she is speaking to a group of people, but Solomon is the more natural recipient. Some, such as the editors of the NET Bible, point out that Hebrew sometimes uses a plural imperative where we would expect a singular in order to create even more emphasis and intensity than that of a simple imperative.


Foxes were opportunistic pests that caused trouble.


Anything that is in bloom is ready to burst forth with beauty and later bounty. In this case, “in bloom” seems to point to the imminent bounty of the coming harvest.

4: “coolness”

The Hebrew says, “until the day breathes,” meaning, “until the day becomes cooler, as the evening breezes replace the heat of the day.” Thus this phrase does not refer to morning time, but evening time. Some time ago I thought about this phrase when I went outside in the early morning and noted that it is usually cooler in the early morning than in the evening. But later I learned this is not a comparison of cool and cooler; it is a comparison of hot and cool. In that part of the world the heat builds up during the day and then it is replaced by the refreshing coolness of the evening. It is not a measurement of exact temperature that matters here, but a sense of relief and refreshing that comes as the hottest part of the day passes and one does not suffer as much from the heat. A number of translations render this phrase, “when the day breaks,” but the meaning of the word is entirely related to “breathing, blowing, or uttering;” a large number of scholars acknowledge this.

Re: Imagery: This is obviously a picture of refreshing encouragement.

5: “become indistinguishable”

This phrase is even more difficult than the first one. It 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 that would be a contradiction with the phrase which precedes it. So, what is going on here? It appears that 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. 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.

6: “rugged mountains”

The word used here means “cut or divided,” and in other passages emphasized the pieces that have been cut apart. In English we would not say the “cut mountains,” but rather the “broken up mountains,” or “the rugged mountains.”

The same word is used for mountains or hills with very little distinction. The symbolism is the same whether you translate it mountains or hills.

7: “hurry”

The word used here means to “flee, to run away.” There is an intensity and an urgency about it. In this context it is that urgency that is being referred to. She does not want him to run away from her, but wants him to immediately put into action what she is asking him to do. Therefore, “hurry” seems to fit better than “run away.”


The word means “beautiful.” “Gazelle” is one if its additional meanings because of the grace and beauty of its movements. In this context it is the gazelle’s swiftness and grace that are in view.

Implications for marriage: An attractive wife is one who knows how to be her husband’s biggest cheer leader, one who encourages him to be all he can be, rather than cutting him down at every opportunity. A woman who knows how to encourage rather than criticize will naturally call out the best in her man.

9: "spice-laden"

The name Basemath is inferred here for the sixth time in the Song.

10: "mountains"

It is no coincidence that the Song ends with the symbols for strength and refreshing.  A healthy marriage requires inner strength. A healthy marriage is also refreshing. Unfortunately, we have failed to show the next generation that such is the case because we have failed to follow God’s ways in our own marriages. Now we have an opportunity to show the world what marriage was intended to be. What will we do with this opportunity?