4:13 “An orchard of pomegranates…” The pomegranate was the showiest and most to be desired of all fruits, and the garden showcased a whole orchard of pomegranates. In Israel during Solomon’s day, there were no “apples” as we know them today…none of those huge, crimson delights that are such a perennial favorite across America and Europe. But, in Israel there were pomegranates, and I think it’s fair for us to imagine that the emphasis is on color, beauty, fragrance and fruitfulness, all of which are so powerfully attractive! Is there anything more appealing in the fall than an orchard loaded with rosy fruits beckoning along the roadside? I learned a powerful lesson once. There is a stretch of interstate highway between my family’s home and my parents (who used to live several hundred miles north of us), and many a time I traveled that road. It is a divided highway, and in the median between the lanes, there are scattered here and there trees and shrubs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve traveled that road without noticing any of the trees in particular, until one golden autumn day when I happened to drive by and noticed the most beautiful apple tree, loaded with scarlet apples. I had just had breakfast and was not the least bit hungry, but I had the most amazing urge to stop and pick some apples—just because they were there and looked so appealing! In that instant, I understood how a man might feel when he sees a beautiful woman who is unprotected. I have often admired orchards of fruit along the roadsides in Michigan, but I have never felt such an urge to stop and pick the fruit, because most orchards are fenced or obviously private property. But, the singular apple tree, on public property, sent a different message. The lure of that apple tree was, “I’m beautiful, free, and might be delicious. Come and try me!” Even a busy woman with a full stomach and miles to go found such an offer tempting! Similarly, a beautiful, fruitful woman has a weighty responsibility to keep “properly fenced” and within her boundaries, lest she be a temptation and stumbling block to even busy, contented men who live around her. Have you watched any of Downton Abbey? In season 5, episode 5, Lady Grantham fails to respond properly to flattery and narrowly escapes disaster. Ladies, are you carefully guarding yourself as an “enclosed orchard?” Or, are you carelessly exposing your body by sensuous dress or behaviors that send the message that you are luscious and available? Modesty is God’s mandate for holy women (I Timothy 2:9). We may not be called to wear hijabs the way Muslim women do, but we are deeply wrong if we are being a stumbling block to men by exercising our so-called freedom in Christ to dress however we want (1 Corinthians 8:9)! That is a complete misuse of freedom. God tells us that we are given freedom from the law in order to edify—build up—one another in the faith, not to make it hard for a man to look at us without having lustful thoughts (Romans 14:19; I Corinthians 10:23). And, uncomfortably, the more beautiful the woman, the greater the responsibility to dress modestly lest men be defrauded. “Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates.” The bride was as powerfully attractive as a whole orchard loaded with huge, succulent, crimson fruits. But, remember, she was a “garden enclosed.” May godly wives keep themselves as beautiful and fruitful as an orchard of pomegranates…all for the private delight of their husbands…and their husbands alone. Likewise, in the kingdom of God, may each of us bloom and grow heavy with the fruits of the Spirit for the singular delight of our heavenly husband!