Song of Solomon 4:15 “A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.” “A fountain of gardens…” Most commentators either skip lightly over this phrase or rewrite it as “a garden fountain,” but the Hebrew interlinear concurs with the King James rendering, “a fountain of gardens” (Green, Vol. 3, 1608). This is particularly curious to the modern mind in light of the grammatical construction of the entire sentence. “A fountain of gardens” is used as a predicate noun linked to the subject “plants:” “Thy plants are…a fountain of gardens.” The fruit of the Spirit, so beautifully developed in the bride, has become a veritable fountain of gardens.
There is a wonderful progression in verses twelve through fifteen which must be understood or else the passage will seem contradictory. Verse twelve describes the inner life and heart of the bride: she is a garden enclosed, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. The well-watered garden of her heart is completely consecrated to her Lord. Verses thirteen and fourteen describe what the Lord grows in this heart garden: the wondrous fruits of the Spirit. Verse fifteen describes the inevitable result of a heart kept and tended by the Holy Spirit “Gardener”: It multiplies and overflows to all around. Notice the progressive contrasts between verses twelve and fifteen: a garden enclosed becomes a fountain of gardens; a spring shut up becomes a well of living waters; and a fountain sealed becomes streams running freely down the sides of the mountains of Lebanon. “A fountain of gardens…” How does “a garden enclosed” become “a fountain of gardens?” One of the aspects of gardening that most impresses me is the principle of “divide or die” in some plants, particularly irises, which have always been a favorite of mine because of their spectacular form and color. Irises grow in clumps of heavy rhizomes, which spread out gradually from the center, but unless the clumps are dug up and divided into several parts every three-four years, the middle starts to die out and only the edges bloom. Twenty years ago, a girlfriend gave me some clumps of irises she had divided from her garden. Since that time, I have moved three times, but there are huge, three-foot purple irises blooming at each home…plus in the gardens of several of my girlfriends. Even where we live now, there are patches of irises blooming down by the lake, in the gardens, and with the ivy climbing our wooden fence. From one clump of irises has come a veritable “fountain of irises.” One garden, carefully planted and tended, will multiply and overflow until it produces enough new plants to start many, many gardens. Do you see the wonderful imagery Solomon had in mind? His bride, his “garden enclosed” became a “fountain of gardens.” Perhaps in the physical realm, “thy plants…are a fountain of gardens” might be symbolic of the children that would be produced by implanting seeds in his “garden” wife. “Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house; thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord” (Psalm 128:3-4).
Spiritually, as our hearts become God’s garden home, and His living seed is implanted in us, it grows up into plants that will multiply and send out spiritual shoots. I wonder, are we willing to go through the painful process of being pulled apart in order to allow multiplication through division? How we resist being broken! And yet, like the gorgeous iris clump, we will die out unless we are reinvigorated through being dug out of our secure garden spot, broken apart, and transplanted! The fruits from our heart’s garden will then provide ample supplies to start new little gardens all over!