“Awake, north wind! Come, south wind! Blow on my garden and waft its lovely perfume to my lover. Let him come into his garden and eat its choicest fruits.” Young Man: “I am here in my garden, my treasure, my bride! I gather my myrrh with my spices and eat my honeycomb with my honey. I drink my wine with my milk.” Young Women of Jerusalem: “Oh, lover and beloved, eat and drink! Yes, drink deeply of this love!” - Song Of Songs 4:16–5:1
Men are aroused by what they see, while women are more often awakened by what they hear and feel. Masculine arousal is much closer to the surface, and men’s sexual appetites are more rapidly satisfied than those of their loved one. To the extent that these generalizations are true, the possibilities for misunderstanding, disappointment, and frustration abound.
The young man in this poem is entranced with the physical endowments of his wife and is eager to tell her all that he feels about her. The very recital of his appreciation warms her heart and stirs her desire for him.
Men today can learn a lesson at this point. Rather than embarking on lovemaking without preamble, warning, or preparation, the caring husband will take the time to understand his mate and to bring her along with him in intimacy and ecstasy. He does not assume she will move at his speed and be satisfied as he is satisfied. He knows better than to rush her before she is ready and to roll over and go to sleep just as she is getting interested.
In the poem, the young woman is without doubt interested in her lover’s lovemaking. In response to him she exclaims, “Awake, north wind! Come, south wind! Blow on my garden and waft its lovely perfume to my lover. Let him come into his garden and eat its choicest fruits” (4:16). There can be even less doubt that the man will readily respond to the invitation! She is ready, and he is ready, to enjoy mutual fulfillment and satisfaction. “Oh, lover and beloved, eat and drink! Yes, drink deeply of this love!” (5:1).
The language of the poem may not be exactly to our taste (4:1-11, for example). It is unlikely that most modern western women would be excited to hear that their teeth remind their lover of shorn sheep or that their hair is reminiscent of flocks of goats! We need to employ erotic language of our own. But there is no mistaking the ancient lovers’ legitimate eroticism. Neither is there any confusion about the limits of their sexual enjoyment. They regarded each other as the “private garden” reserved exclusively for the other (4:12). No one else was allowed to enjoy the fruits.
Intimacy in marriage is all about unreserved enjoyment, unabashed expression, and unequivocal exclusiveness. In this kind of marital intimacy, lasting, mutual satisfaction is to be found. Without such intimacy, the experience of marriage can be more martial than marital.
For Further Study: Song of Songs 4:1-5:1
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