Song of Solomon 4:11 “…and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon.” The Hebrew word rendered “garments” is the word salma and means “outer garment,” which was often used as a cloak by day and a cover while sleeping at night. Her inner garments—those closest to her body—would have carried the unique fragrance of her anointed skin, but her outer garments smelled of Lebanon. This is still true today, physically and spiritually. Often, after my children used to play outside, the youngest (who was 6 when I wrote this but is now 23!) would come in, find me, and give me a kiss before resuming his play indoors. Yesterday (back in 1997) there was a spring blizzard that dumped more snow than we’d had on any day for the entire season. When Joel came in, his cheeks were pink and cool, and bits of ice were still clinging to his socks and pants. His coat was covered with snow, as were his hat and mittens, and his boots left a trail of ice behind him. (Sometimes the bootlaces get so frozen together that he needs help getting them untied.) The air around him was perceptibly cooler than the room temperature, and so I exclaimed, “How did this little blizzard get inside?”
The week before, when it was a record setting 56° outside (record setting for February in Michigan!), and green shoots from all the spring bulbs were emerging from the garden, he came in smelling like a summer breeze, and I exclaimed, “Oh, Joel, you’ve brought springtime into the house with you!” Yet, when I bent down to kiss him, I smelled the laundry detergent in his clothes and the scent of his skin…not where he’d been, but more of his own essence!
So it is spiritually. Our outer garments speak of our manifest life and appearances…where we’ve been and what we’ve been doing. Our inner garments carry the fragrance of our person and character. The scent of our outer garments discloses the nature of our walk with the Lord; the aroma of our inner garments tells of the anointing of the Holy Spirit in our life. All the world can see our outer garments and external walk; only those who are close enough to “smell” us can detect the nature of our spiritual life. In verse ten, Solomon praised the superlative aroma of his bride’s inner anointing, and now in verse eleven, he delights in the fragrance of her “outer garments”—her external life—as well.
“The smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon.” What is the smell of Lebanon? What does our Lord mean? Doubtless, he meant many things, but I can think of a few. Lebanon was renowned for its aromatic cedars; the smell of Lebanon would be the delightful spiciness of cedar trees. Cedar trees spoke of Christ in the Old Testament, so the smell of Lebanon would be the aroma of Christ. The forests of Lebanon were also in a foreign country, although the magnificent trees were harvested for use in the temple; the smell of Lebanon would signify those laboring among the unsaved to prepare others who will some day join them as pillars in the Lord’s temple.
“The smell of Lebanon.” Have you ever been in your loved one’s embrace so long that you picked up the scent of their cologne? The bride had been so long in her beloved’s embrace that she carried the aroma of Christ—our enduring cedar. The bride had been to Lebanon; she’d followed him faithfully, and in her garments lingered a heavenly fragrance from her travels…for the believer—the spiritual perfume of one devoted to the company and labor of our Lord.
“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Revelation 19:7-8). The outer garments we are given are pure and white, to be seen by all—a life of good works, granted to us by our Lord and perfumed by his presence—to attract the eye and heart of all mankind, so that others, too, will want to be his bride! “And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9). Oh, Lord, may our garments smell of Lebanon!