Tag Archives: Commentary on Song of Solomon 7:2

Rise Up, My Love (223): What’s the Distinction Between Liquor and Wine?

fresh-rolls-7-27-07Song of Solomon 7:2 The second question—what is the significance of “liquor” rather than wine, and “heap of wheat” rather than bread?—is harder to answer, but here are some thoughts. The word rendered “liquor” is the Hebrew mezeg and is only used this once in the Old Testament, although most Biblical scholars believe it is related to masak which is used eight times and refers to wine that has been mixed with something else…either diluted by adding water or strengthened by adding honey and spices (Carr, Lloyd. The Song of Solomon: An Introduction and Commentary, pp. 157-8). According to John MacArthur, wine was diluted with water both for the Passover meal and for special events such as weddings (see notes on Mark 14:18, Luke 22:17 and John 2:2, MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Study Bible, pp. 1494, 1559, 1578). The meaning of “heap of wheat” is clear enough…but a pile of grain isn’t quite as appealing as a freshly baked loaf of bread such as the priests laid on the altar or Christians enjoy at the communion table.

The liquor was something more or less than wine; the heap of wheat was something less than bread…something with potential but unfinished. Could it be that the Lord takes whatever we have…whether it’s “more” or “less” and feasts upon it? Could it be that he takes our “liquor,” and if it’s diluted, he distills it; if it’s laced with additives, he purifies it? (That’s a sincere question; I don’t know the answer, but I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts. Consider Mark 15:23; when Jesus was crucified, he refused to take the wine mixed with myrrh. See also Psalm 69:2.)

Or, perhaps the liquor is enhanced with good things, like honey and spice—a special anointing by the Spirit with sweetness and flavor—“sugar and spice, and everything nice.” That is what girls are supposed to be made of, isn’t it? Perhaps to our Lord, the wine of his bride is even sweeter than wine, because each individual’s cup of wine is mixed with the unique qualities and gifts the Lord has given that person.

And the heap of wheat? What a fitting description of the soul with his heart on the altar! Winnowed—the chaff blown away by the winds—, heaped together, and decked with flowers. What a beautiful thought—that we are like a grain offering— our lives laid on the altar, open, available, and waiting for the Lord to make us into whatever he chooses.

Wheat must be ground into powder, combined with other ingredients, doused with liquid, beaten and kneaded, poured out, punched down, allowed to rise again, and fired in a hot oven before it’s ready to be enjoyed. But, the Lord will do all that. He will choose how fine to grind our lives, what trials to add, how long to buffet, how long to abase, how long to abound…how long to bake in the heat of life’s trials. He will direct all that, and he will feast on us…now as a grain offering…and someday as a finished “loaf” when we’re complete in him on heaven’s celestial shores.

Think of wisdom’s invitation to the simple from Proverbs 9:5-6, “Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.” Think of the invitation from Isaiah 55 to buy wine without money and to feast freely on the bread of goodness. Isn’t this the invitation Christ offers us? Can we not give him the offering of our body—as imperfect and unfinished as its “mingled wine and wheat” are—to be made into a love feast for him?

Think of our Lord in the garden. There he accepted the cup of agony that we could not bear for ourselves. See him on the cross…the taste of vinegar and gall…the crushing load of not only his own body but the weight of the world’s sin…the death of separation from God while he bore our sin…his body wracked with pain and his soul wracked with sorrow. This was the bitter cup he drank from the hand of God to save us from our sins and win a bride for himself. See him risen from the grave and glowing with his resurrection body.

Picture yourself as part of the body of Christ…his bride, the church. Visualize offering your own body as a living sacrifice…and understand that spiritually your navel is as a “goblet that wanteth not liquor,” and your belly is a “heap of wheat set about with lilies.” Imagine Jesus, who drank the cup of God’s wrath and sorrow for you, drinking from the goblet of your love, filled with the “liquor” of his Spirit, and feasting on the rich grains of wheat laid out in a heap before him. Doesn’t that thrill your soul? Oh, that he might be pleased to drink from our cup and feast on the wheat we’ve garnered from the fields that are “white already to harvest.” Oh, that he might be pleased with our sacrifice and find the taste sweet and pure. Oh, that we might refresh the heart of our Lord with our lives lived as a living sacrifice!

Rise Up, My Love (222): How Can We Reciprocate God’s Love for Us?

bread-and-wine-and-candlesSong of Solomon 7:2 “Thy belly is like an heap of wheat set about with lilies.” So many of the sacred lessons I’ve learned from this book came during quiet times of meditation during our chapel’s weekly communion service. These next thoughts came as I pondered our text during one of those communion services. There were two questions on my mind. #1. The Lord gave his body as bread and wine to be broken and poured out for us…not only for our salvation, but for daily spiritual food and drink that we might have a spiritually abundant life of “feasting” on and with him. In return, what exactly (if anything) can we bring to him for the love feast? #2. What is the significance of “liquor” rather than wine, and “heap of wheat” rather than bread? The answer to the first question, is, I think, a resounding and thrilling, “Yes!” challah-bread-and-candle-10-15-16We can offer to our Lord what he has given us—our body, open and available for his delight. As a woman cannot produce offspring by herself, but rather by joyfully receiving her husband’s seed and allowing it to penetrate her being, spark new life, take root in her womb, and grow to fruition…even so can we delight our Lord by receiving with joy his living seed…the Word of God, and allowing it to penetrate our being until it sparks new life, which we allow to incubate within us…receiving our life blood of time, love, and spiritual resources until it comes to birth as a spiritual babe…to be suckled and brought up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” This is much harder than simply coming to the communion table each week and taking in all the Lord has provided for us, but if it is the longing of our heart to delight him as he delights us…this is the way, for he has told us the secret in this verse! To him, our navel is drink indeed, and our belly wheat. That in us which allows for spiritual reproduction is a spiritual feast for Christ. fresh-rolls-11-25-16Do you remember the account from the fourth chapter of John where the disciples leave a very weary Christ by the well and go into town to buy provisions? When they return and urge him to eat, what is his response? “I have meat to eat that ye know not of” (John 4:32). The disciples…always thinking in physical terms…wondered if someone had brought him lunch. But, notice his reply; it had nothing to do with physical food. “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:34-35). What had Jesus feasted on in the disciples’ absence? The joy of one sinner coming to faith in Christ…the refreshment of imparting living water to one fainting heart. What was his aspiration for his disciples? That they see the multitudes of people in need of salvation. Would you like to provide a love feast for your master? Open up your navel to be filled with the wine of the Spirit. Feast on the Bread of Life until your belly is as round and lustrous as a “heap of wheat set about with lilies”…filled with the Word, fragrant, and protected by purity. Allow yourself to become fruitful in producing spiritual offspring for your Lord. In this way, you will become a “love feast” to refresh your bridegroom!

Rise Up, My Love (221): A Heap of Wheat and Sweet Communion

monet-haystacks-dorsay-museumSong of Solomon 7:2 “Thy belly is like an heap of wheat set about with lilies.” We can’t leave this beautiful text yet, because there’s still a lot left to glean! During the fall harvest festival, piles of wheat decorated with flowers were often placed in parallel rows on the eastern threshing floors. At this time of harvest, the wheat was fully ripe and glowed with a golden sheen, and to these middle-easterners, a body the color of wheat was believed to be the most beautiful.* (Lloyd Carr. The Song of Solomon: An Introduction and Commentary, p. 554).sheaf-of-wheat-holland-miIt is easy to imagine Solomon thinking back to the beauty of an abundant harvest festival…noticing in his wife’s belly the same golden sheen and soft roundness that reminded him of “a heap of wheat set about by lilies.” Lilies—trumpets fragranced with an almost intoxicating scent— but the snow-white symbol of purity. “Set about with lilies” can mean “to be decorated with,” but it can also mean “to be guarded by.” white-lily-chateau-de-chenonceau-05-15-16Her belly, the overlay of her womb, was enhanced by an almost irresistible aroma but also guarded by her purity. The secret passageway to her womb was “set about with lilies”— wondrous, but kept only for him. And here, we are brought once again to the tabernacle door where we sense the glow of the Shekinah glory within. bread-and-wine-juiceHer navel like wine…her belly like wheat…wine and bread…the two staples of a feast…the two elements of communion. How often in marriage I have sensed the holiness of the marital sex and recognized it as the physical counterpart to spiritual communion. Truly the marriage bed is holy (Hebrews 13:4), and marriage is intended as the physical testimony in this world to the spiritual realities that exist in the marriage between Christ and his bride, the Church (Ephesians 5:21-32).  Is anything blocking your fellowship, or are you celebrating communion with joy these days?

Rise Up, My Love (220): Being Well Rounded

la-venus-de-milo-at-the-louvre-parisSong of Solomon 7:2 “Thy navel is like a round goblet, which wanteth not liquor: thy belly is like a heap of wheat set about with lilies.” The imagery of the navel being like a full wine goblet didn’t make a lot of sense to me when I tried to imagine it in physical terms. Navels normally neither look like— nor are thy filled with—any type of liquid! The word for navel is sarr and is used only two other times in the Old Testament. In Ezekiel 16:4 it is without a doubt used to mean the place where the umbilical cord is cut…what we call the “belly button” today. But, sarr is also rendered “navel” in Proverbs 3:8, with a much more figurative meaning. field-of-yellow-rapeseed-in-franceThe entire context from verses seven to ten adds light to its use in the Song: “Be not wise in thine own eyes; fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase; so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” Verses 7 and 8 admonish us to humble ourselves, fear the Lord, and depart from evil with the promise of (if I understand correctly) a fruitful womb (“health to thy navel”), good health and strength (“marrow to thy bones”).

Verses 9 and 10 admonish us to honor the Lord with the first fruits of our labor, and in return we are promised an abundance of good food (wheat in the barn) and drink (wine). There is also another verse in Proverbs that sheds light on the imagery of “a round goblet that wanteth not liquor”: “The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul, but the belly of the wicked shall want” (Proverbs 13:25). In this verse, we are taught that those who a righteous before God will have fully satisfied souls, but that the wicked shall go hungry. Seen in the light of these verses, a beautiful spiritual image appears. field-of-rapeseed-near-mont-saint-michel-france-05-14-16The navel—source of life and birth— like a full wine goblet represents a spiritually fruitful womb overflowing with grace…”bursting out with new wine”…a spirit that is filled with the wine of joy and abundance of spiritual fruit…the promise fulfilled from Psalm 126:5-6, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” The bride had walked through the veil of tears to find her Lord and gather fruit for him. Here she is—again in his presence—her sheaves with her and exuberant in the delight of his praise. The belly—center of her being, receptor of his love, womb for their children— like a “heap of wheat”… is like a barn “filled with plenty.” The bride, having learned to live out the admonitions in the Proverbs, has become fully fruitful. Hers is not the belly of the wicked that “shall want,” but her belly is “a round goblet that wanteth not liquor!”

(PS—As a comfort to all of us, the “wife” is the Church universal—men and women—and the “fruitful womb” is also spiritual, referring not to the birth of many physical children, but to the birth and nurturing of spiritual children. If you have never had nor will ever have physical children, remember that what our Lord really values is our spiritual fruitfulness. Do you love the Lord? Proclaim the joyous news of redemption through Christ. Feed His lambs. Love like He loves. Care for the widows and orphans. Help the poor and needy. Reach out to the lonely foreigners looking for refuge. You will be one whose “navel is like a round goblet, which wanteth not liquor: thy belly is like a heap of wheat set about with lilies.”