Song of Solomon 5:11 “His locks are bushy, and black as a raven.” After contemplating her gestalt of the bridegroom’s head, the bride begins to describe each individual feature, almost as if she’s seeing him in her mind’s eye and admiring every detail of his head from the top down—his hair, his eyes, his cheeks, and his mouth.
“His locks are bushy, and black as a raven.” The word for “bushy” is the Hebrew taltallim, and this is the only time it appears in the entire Old Testament. It is variously interpreted in other translations as “wavy” or “like palm fronds,” and the general consensus is that whatever the exact word may have been in the ancient Hebrew, it was trying to convey the impression of fullness, probably curliness, and abundance. His head was crowned by a beautiful frame of thick, black curls. What a picture of health, vigor, and youth!
When my husband started medical school, we were as poor as “church mice,” and I began cutting his hair as a means of cutting our budget. He had thick black hair, and although he made me keep it fairly short, I always hated to cut it, because just about the time he thought it needed to be trimmed, the waves would be turning into curls, and I loved the beautiful curls around his face. It seemed so healthy—such a picture of vigor!
“His locks are bushy.” This phrase stirs up my memories of the lush growth in southern California. Have you ever been to the San Diego Zoo? It is one of the world’s finest zoos, but I would go there even if there were no fauna, just to enjoy the wonderful abundance of flora! Thousands of varieties of beautiful plants from around the world have been transported to that park, and the plants grow with such abandon that it is a challenge to keep them contained…they always seem on the verge of overflowing their bounds! “Bushy locks” …like Absalom or Samson—handsome and virile. “Bushy locks”…like blessed Joseph, who was described as “a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall” (Genesis 49:22).
One year when my husband and I were attending a medical conference in southern California, we stayed at a resort where mountains of bougainvillea billowed everywhere in the most spectacular show of flaming red. The roadsides of the Kona Highway in Hawaii in February are the same…and even in my own backyard mounds of pink honeysuckle, wild black raspberries and roses threaten to block to driveway if they aren’t cut back early in the season. Abundance. Vigor. Bushiness. Her husband was the picture of health, beauty, and vitality.
“…bushy, and black as a raven.” Not only is the bridegroom’s hair the picture of virility and strength, it is the picture of youth. Black as a raven…pure black, blacker than midnight. So black that no light goes through…but all the light is reflected back in the most dazzling display of color. Have you ever stood in awe of the sheen of purples, greens and blues that reflect back from the magnificent wings of a raven? Black, but beautiful.
This is the black that the bride sees. Her lover is the picture of manhood in his prime. No gray hairs of feebleness appearing, as Hosea described the failing Ephraim (Hosea 7:9). The bride is not marrying an old Solomon; this in not the marriage of a teenager to someone whose youth is spent! This is the marriage of a mature woman… “O thou fairest among women” … to a still young and amorous lover whose locks are “bushy, and black as a raven.”
At the marriage supper of the Lamb, the church will be a mature bride “without spot or wrinkle” and our Lord will be the eternally youthful one. He will not be childlike and immature, but neither will he be old and graying. He will be agelessly in his prime, with never a shadow of decay! “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8). In some beautiful, eternal, divine reality (of which the Song of Solomon only gives us a mysterious preview), all believers will be forever united with God as the body of Christ.