Song of Solomon 2:15 “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines…” The word for “take us” is the Hebrew ‘ehezu, which means literally “to grasp, catch, or apprehend.” It has a two-pronged message: 1.) Don’t let the little foxes go undetected, because they’re doing great damage; 2.) Don’t just drive them away; catch them! Like the criminals they are, take them into custody so they can be dealt with justly.
In the Scripture, foxes are always seen as devious and harmful. In the Old Testament, false prophets were called foxes (Ezekiel 13:4), and David prayed that his enemies would become the foxes’ dinner (Psalm 63:9-10)! In the New Testament, our Lord referred to Herod as “that fox” in Luke 13:32. These are some of the big foxes—wicked men who oppose God’s work and are the persecutors and enemies of his people. But, what are the little foxes? Obviously, in 2:15, Solomon is referring to the literal, young foxes that would sneak into the vineyards, trampling and chewing the vines and feeding on the young grapes. A little spray of blossoms, almost too tiny to be noticed, might easily be destroyed; a tender vine, just beginning to unfurl its first leaves, might be broken off, losing forever its potential for growth and fruitfulness. How easily we see the spiritual application!
What are the little foxes in our lives that gnaw away at the tender grapes of spiritual fruitfulness? Foxes are by nature nocturnal: they do their work under the dark cover of night. Foxes are known for being sly; they are crafty and hard to catch. Foxes are generally loners. Unlike the jackals, which were also common in Palestine, and traveled in packs, the foxes worked alone, “walking on the desolate mountains” (Lamentations 5:18). What are the lone, sly, sins that attack us under the cover of darkness…not the enemies that come in like a flood, but the insidious little sins that are not easily seen? What are these hidden, “little foxes” that work their quiet destruction, wreaking devastation like an undetected cancer in our souls?
“The tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth” (James 3:5). The tongue is a little fox that must be caught and tamed. “But the tongue can no man tame…” (James 3:8). That is why our heavenly husband said, “Take us the foxes,” because with God’s help the implausible does become possible. What about a “little” look? Untold heartache has come from indulging in pornography, destroying the security and sense of worth in women who should have been uniquely treasured by their husbands and fathers, and often leading to fornication and every form of sexual immorality. Make a solemn promise as did Job: “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?” (Job 31:1). What about a “little” fantasy? This may be one of the most destructive of all “little” foxes, undermining our real relationships and replacing them with unrealistic expectations for a perfect Prince Charming or a perfect lover. What are we to do with these strong impulse temptations? Catch these “little foxes” and let our beloved Savior deal with them. “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
How about idle chatter? Little compromises with falsehood and error? Little concessions to the world’s music, or entertainment, or standards of dress? Little compromises in video games, television, or videos. These seemingly insignificant changes will erode away our godly character like a canker rusts away a bucket until it’s so full of holes that the water of the Word drains right out. Sometimes great trees come crashing down in the forest, their hearts eaten out by tiny, unseen insects…like Herod, eaten up from the inside by invisible, burrowing worms! How hideous the thought of hidden little foxes, gnawing away in our souls. If not caught, they will bring us to ruin.
“A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9). A little sin foments until the whole being is no longer pure but is instead corrupt! This reminds us of the most dread disease of our day: cancer. Just a little cancer, if undetected, will spread throughout the whole body, eventually destroying everything. What are the cancerous “little foxes” of our soul? How about a spirit of bitterness? (Hebrews 12:15). It will not only destroy the person, but many people! How about a spirit of impatience…not anything said, just an attitude? How about a critical spirit? How quickly our hearts tend to condemn! What about a discontented spirit? How easily we are turned from gratitude to longing for more!
“A little slumber,” a little indulgence, leads to poverty (Proverbs 6:10). “A little folly” ruins a sterling reputation (Eccesiastes 10:1). Interestingly, what man thinks of as great, God often thinks of as little: he counts the nations as only a drop of water left in a bucket after everything has been poured out, or as a speck of dust too small to bother blowing off the scales before weighing something of value (Isaiah 40:15). However, what man thinks of as little, God thinks of as great: “As if that were a very little thing, thou wast corrupted more than they in all thy ways” (Ezekiel 16:47). To God, there is no “little” sin. To our almighty God, every seemingly tiny, insignificant sin is vitally important. Lovingly, he urges us: “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.”
(*Pictures of foxes from Wiki)