Rise Up, My Love (100): For Better and Worse, in Suffering and Joy

Rainbowed Mountains copySong of Solomon 4:6 “Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.” All through the night, while sprightly shadows dance with joy in the moonlight, the bridegroom will delight in the pleasures of his wife. All through the night, until the sun rises in burning glory, driving away the blissful shadows of restful communion and calling all men and women of earth to rise up and work…until then the bridegroom will be like a deer upon the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense.

But, what are the mountain of myrrh and hill of frankincense? Myrrh speaks of grief and mourning; frankincense speaks of joy and praise. Is Solomon truly declaring that he will spend the night making a pilgrimage away from his beloved to seek some special mountain top experience—perhaps Mt. Moriah—as some suggest?

In the context, to suppose King Solomon is speaking of a literal mountain seems ludicrous. Do scholars become so literal in their thinking that they miss the most obvious metaphors? In chapter one, the bride declares her husband to be like a “bundle of myrrh” to “lie betwixt her breasts all night” (1:13). In chapter two, the bridegroom declares his wife to be a “lily among thorns” (2:2), and in verse sixteen we find him “feeding among the lilies,” invited by his wife to be like a young stag upon the mountains “until the day break, and the shadows flee away” (3:17). Can we ignore all this beautifully delicate imagery of union and communion to suppose in chapter four that the husband is leaving his bride to seek myrrh and frankincense on some far distant mountain?

What a great tragedy it would be to misunderstand our Lord’s declaration in this verse. Our King Solomon—the Lord Jesus Christ—after praising the graces he finds in us—makes a declaration of his love and desire for nuptial communion with us throughout the long night ahead! He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He will not travel to a distant Mt. Moriah to worship God alone. He is God! He is the one who comes perfumed with clouds of myrrh and frankincense (3:6), and he has made us to be his mountain of myrrh. We are the mountain of his suffering, grief, and death. We—his people who sing his praises—are his hill of   frankincense, the joy and rejoicing of his heart. He chose us as his bride. His death claimed us as his mountain of suffering and death; his resurrection transformed us into his hill of life and joy. Holding us in his embrace has perfumed us with the incense of heaven! Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Oh blissful thought of heavenly love; oh, precious joy of living hearts and wondrous example of the mystery of love. How should a man love his wife? As Christ loved the church, bearing the weight of her sins on his shoulders as his mountain of suffering and death. Accepting her joy and praise as his hill of rejoicing and life. Taking pleasure in her, body, soul, and spirit…her mountains and hills…her fragrant incense…all through the night, until the shadows flee before the sun and it is time to rise up and work again. A man so occupied at night will be a man refreshed and prepared to meet the battles of the new day!