Reading through Song of Solomon we may find ourselves in much the same position as an engineering student reading John Milton. And a frequently blushing engineering student at that. Lovely poetry, Mr. Solomon… But what does it all mean?
Although I would disagree that Song of Solomon is strictly metaphorical (a position that many of the older commentators, from rather more…modest…ages seem to take), there is beautiful metaphor. The bride of Christ, the Church, can be seen pledging their love to Christ, the bridegroom. In 2:17 the bride asks her love to go into the mountain until day breathes. Here he says he will do it.
Strong’s Concordance has the word פּוּחַ (poo’akh phonetically), which means to breathe or blow, to exhale. It can also mean to utter or kindle. Here then we see the resurrection of a new day: it exhales sudden life again. We could see the day kindled, a warm fire risen with the new sun. We could see the new day created: uttered forth into existence like the original creation spoken into being by the breath of God.
Matthew Poole interprets the metaphor here in two possibilities.“1. On the day of the gospel, when all legal shadows shall vanish; or, 2. Of the day of glory, or of the general resurrection, when all manner of shadows and ordinances shall cease.”
Surely he has hit on something wonderful. The long and lonely night with our Lover absent will one day come to an end with the breathing of a new day. How long it can seem when He is absent! How often do our prayers go from straining hearts, drenched in pain we can barely communicate: and we wonder if he hears us? We feel he is far away like a man wandering distant mountains. Sometimes we wonder if he’s coming back. Night can be especially lonely as a single person, even more so when you have a fiancé. There is nobody to hold as the dark minutes tick by, and you can only dream of the one you wish was beside you. The nights will always be long before the wedding. But soon Christ will come for his bride, and she will never have a lonely night again.
Even in His absence His splendor is displayed: He dwells in a mountain of myrrh and a hill of frankincense. It is a lovely place, scented with expensive myrrh (which was distilled and dried from trees in Arabia) and purest frankincense (which burned white and used as incense). It is a place the bride loves to dream about. Perhaps the odor of a coffee shop would be a more applicable analogy for some of us. 😉 How sweet are the scents of Heaven, those hills where our Beloved dwells, which we get the barest whiff of in the times we commune with Him.
As Mr. Poole mentions, these “shadows of the night” can be taken as a legal one. Our standing before a holy God was once a dark, dark subject. We were without hope in the night. The shades of our sin destroyed any chance we had of walking “with Him in the cool of the garden” (Genesis 3:8). It cast the long, chilling shadow of impending doom (like Dicken’s ghost of Christmas future) down to the end of our life, to darken all our days with the horror of eternal death awaiting us. It also cast its shadows on all the details of life, reflected in broken relationships, scarred hearts, ruined children, suffering friends, poverty, hunger. Many of us found the hard way that God’s laws we spurned were intensely practical all along. They were the key, however, we tossed that key into the ocean. But Christ came and breathed out a new day which made the shadows of our sin flee, and brought light streaming into every part of our broken lives. The “day of the gospel” dawned and it is very good news indeed. Legal shadows vanished with the atoning work of Christ, and “there is now no condemnation” (Romans 8:1) to fear. The shadows we still see in this veil of tears look less dark and have no real substance.
The other sense Mr. Poole points out is how we have a beautiful, longing type of hope for the day of Christ’s return. There will be a day when all the shadows we still know will flee, and our joy will be made complete. And that is a good, good thought.
We now have hope in the night! Our joy will be complete! It’s a thought that makes me want to weep for longing, like the woman yearning through the lonely night to see her lover come with the morning. It’s a thought that convinces me this will all end happily. It’s a thought that makes my labor worthwhile. It’s a thought that gets me through another day smiling.