Song of Solomon 4:2 “Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them.” Teeth speak of maturity…the ability to chew and digest spiritual meat…to meditate on thoughts of the imagination, understanding, and memory. An infant has no teeth and must be fed on the “sincere milk of the Word” (I Peter 2:2)…but the bride has come of age.
“Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep.” Sheep graze; they can often discern what is good for them and choose the tender grass, just as the mature believer can discern that which is good and pure, and has learned to “think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
A flock of sheep that are “even shorn, which came up from the washing” have recently been clipped and washed. Shearing and washing removes all the dirty, ragged outer growth, leaving the sheep in fresh, white wool, soft and lovely again. “Wash you, make you clean…though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:16,18). Our hearts can be like wool that has been freshly sheared and scrubbed and is as white as snow!
In the Old Testament, wool was symbolic of the natural man, and the priests were not to wear wool in the temple service (Exodus 28). The thought of sheared sheep brings to mind the spiritual analogy of trimming away all natural zeal and the weight of self-life. The ragged coat of the sheep grew in response to the harsh cold of winter, but their thick coats gathered dirt and burrs and became a haven for lice and insect infestation. How human! Often, in the cold of adversity, we grow protective walls of “self” to keep us from the pain of the world’s buffeting, but those walls weigh us down and become embedded with the barbs of sin and callous indifference. How we need the spring of revival in our souls, when all the ragged wool is sheared away, leaving our hearts tender, vulnerable, and clean once again!
“Whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them.” This refers to the beautiful symmetry of his beloved teeth: straight, as perfectly symmetrical as identical twins, with not a single one missing…like a lovely set of matching pearls half hidden in the mouth: even, sparkling, moist, and white. Are our spiritual teeth so lovely for the Lord? Are they straight and strong? Are we able to chew through the toughest “meat” of the Word and digest it properly? Are our spiritual “teeth” symmetrical? Are we balanced in our understanding of doctrine? Are we able to judge righteously and truly? Are any of our spiritual teeth black? Have we allowed any of our teeth to rot away by indulging in too many sugarcoated bits of vain philosophy…or have we broken any of our teeth on the bones of cleverly devised fables? Are any of our teeth barren…gone… missing altogether because we gradually allowed a blind spot of decay to destroy an entire tooth of discernment?
If our spiritual teeth are crooked, in disrepair, or missing, we should go straight to the Master Dentist and get some repair work done! Have you ever needed braces? I didn’t as a girl, but in my forties, my teeth began to shift, and so I had to wear braces for over a year…and a retainer at night ever afterward! Braces are definitely no fun. Every few weeks, the orthodontist shifts the position of the teeth, and each new tightening puts constant pressure on the teeth to change their position. Doesn’t our dear Lord do that for us…work with us over time to make us change position until we are straight and upright? Isaiah 40:4, “the crooked shall be made straight.” And, then, if we want to keep straight, we always have to keep putting on the retainer of God’s Word…through every trial of night!
But, what a pleasure to have straight teeth! I am so thankful for the privilege of going through the pain to straighten out my teeth. Aren’t you thankful for dentists who care for our teeth…who drill out the cavities in rotting teeth and make crowns for broken teeth? Yes, it hurts, and yes, it costs, but what a blessing to have good teeth! So it is spiritually. We must get those braces of doctrine on to straighten out our teeth! We must stop indulging in a poor spiritual diet that will rot away our teeth of discernment. We need to stop chewing on the bones of the world’s thinking that will chip and break our teeth so that we have no “bite” left to defend ourselves from the spiritual foes who would devour us. And, we should pray that our spiritual dentist will make our teeth beautiful for him, so that when he beholds us, he will say, “Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep!” With strong, lovely teeth, we will be able to chew on spiritual things and exclaim, “My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord” (Psalm 104:34).
(Picture from the website of Dr. Blum, dentist, found by googling “white-teeth-smile”)