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God’s Word for You

Song of Solomon 2:1-2 A flower of Sharon

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, October 7, 2023

The Wife

2:1 I am a flower of Sharon,
a lily of the valleys.

The Husband

2 As a lily among thorns,
so is my darling among the girls.

The bride speaks and compares herself with some flowers. Then her husband responds and elevates her words to a worthy compliment. First, she says, “I am a flower—an ordinary flower, a wildflower—a lily.” She doesn’t think that she is any more or less special, pretty, attractive, or enticing than any other flower a man might see. She is “just another girl,” even though there might be, as we say, “plenty of other fish in the sea.”

Her husband catches her hint, however. She has left an opening for a compliment, because she called herself “a flower of Sharon.” There were at least three fertile plains known as “Sharon” in ancient Israel. One, the least of the three, is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 5:16, associated with Gilead and Bashan on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee and the upper Jordan, known as “the pasturelands of Sharon.” Another was on the other (that is, the western) side of the Sea of Galilee, called “Sharon” by Eusebius and Jerome. The third would be the most well-known and largest of the three, the coastal plain south of Mount Carmel. This place was a tangle of thorns and overgrowth in Biblical times except where it was cut away or slashed and burned for coastal villages and fields. When Lieutenant Lynch of the U.S. Navy surveyed the waterways of Israel in 1849, he observed: “the vale of Sharon, covered with immense fields of ripened grain [it was May 25th]; the thick, clustering stems bending in the breeze, and their golden surfaces chequered with the shadows of passing clouds. Behind us were the rugged mountains; before us the lovely plain, dotted with villages, and covered as with a whole population gathering the harvest… In the ravine we saw in great profusion the corn poppy, its bright scarlet flowers presenting a gorgeous appearance.”

Which of these three Sharons might be meant? It could be either the Galilean or the coastal Sharon. The woman talks about herself as a country girl, not one of the “daughters of Jerusalem” but in contact with them in some way, as a friend, perhaps. Professor Delitzsch thought that the Galilean Sharon must have been intended, because he consistently refers to the woman as being from Galilee (p. 4, 11, 24, 28, etc.). His main reason is not on account of any locations in the book, but on account of her language. She tends to use Aramaisms, a northern trait in Israel, “like the lower Saxon plattdeutsch” (p. 28). It could be compared to a writer today having one person in a conversation using a northern, Minnesota dialect and another person filling their sentences with southern expressions and language. For example, in Song 1:6, she says noterah instead of notserah for “keep, take care of (the vineyards).” This is a verb we see in the Aramaic parts of the Scriptures, such as Daniel 7:28. If Professor Delitzsch is correct, and we can assume that the bride is meant to be thought of as a Galilean woman, then a deeper and indeed prophetic spirit is added to the Song, since Christ’s apostles were from Galilee and the Christian church had its beginnings there. A flower of (Galilean) Sharon, indeed.

Whichever is correct, her husband tells her: “If you are a lily, then you’re a lily among thorns.” For him, there is no other girl. When a man marries his wife, she eclipses all other women. He leaves his own mother behind (Genesis 2:24), although he never ceases to treat her with respect and love (1 Kings 2:19), and other women are no more than sisters to him. He may look at them out of courtesy if they speak to him or if he must interact with them, but only his wife is truly attractive to him. She is the only tree in the field, the only car in the driveway, the only flower in a field of thorns.

In the night sky, there are many stars. Some are brighter than others. Some are more enchanting to look at; a careful observer knows that they are not all white. Many are really yellow; some are orange, and some are red, and some are even blue. When the moon is in the sky, a few of the stars are obscured by the moon’s light. But when the sun rises—none of the stars can even be seen anymore! This is what a wife is in the eyes of a good husband. She is the sun in his sky, a sun that never sets.

Faithfulness in a marriage reflects the faithfulness we have for Christ. There are many obstacles to faith, many dangers and traps set by the devil that too often return to the sins of unbelief, doubt, and unfaithfulness. Luther warns and encourages: “You, dear brothers, need to hold especially fast to the gospel of grace and you need a large number of laborers in the harvest-field (Matthew 9:38), for you dwell, as Ezekiel did, among scorpions (Ezekiel 2:6) and, together with the bride, as a rose among thorns (Song 2:2), [thorns] who… place all sorts of stumbling blocks in your path, through the seductive semblance of their [temptations]” (LW 43:78).

We give God glory when we look to him alone for all of our needs and even all of our desires. “Whatever good thing you lack, look to me for it [God says] and seek it from me, and whenever you suffer misfortune and distress, come and cling to me. I am the one who will satisfy you and help you out of every need. Only let your heart cling to no one else” (Large Catechism).

In the same way, we give God glory in marriage when husband and wife look to one another for their physical, intimate, emotional, and even social needs and desires, so that they may raise their family in their holy estate, free from jealousy, free from sin, free from the confusion and frustration of unfulfilled physical needs, because they share everything together according to the will of God from the very beginning. Marriage is not merely an outlet to avoid fornication, but the original intent of God for men and women from the very beginning, from before the fall into sin, to give God glory. The person who has no spouse too often frets and yearns and doubts and despairs in misery as if he has never heard of God because he lacks his other half, the half God intended him to have, his better, best half: the one who is to be “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”

Some in our country and some in our world have thrown away marriage as a mere “social institution,” just as they are throwing away the boundaries of the two sexes, of the roles of men and women, and of the best and most natural way, the godly way, of raising children. We do not need to despair because of their sin. The world has been throwing away godly things since the fall, but the godly things are not destroyed. God’s will has not fallen. God’s blessings are still offered to all those who love him.

Consider the Lord Jesus himself, like a lily “among thorns” whether he was surrounded by the unbelievers of Nazareth (Luke 4:28-29), surrounded by the Sanhedrin looking for a way to trap him and kill him (Matthew 26:59), surrounded by the soldiers who flogged him and drew some of the first blood of his passion (John 19:1), or crowned with physical thorns pressing into his skull, surrounding his head and drawing more blood still (John 19:2). His suffering and death paid the terrible price of sacrifice for our sinfulness. Living as we do in the light of his forgiveness, pulling with the easy yoke of his fellowship (Matthew 11:30), our burden is light. We live in thanks, loving our saving God and each spouse loving each other. Pray for one another’s marriages whether you yourself are married or single, divorced or widowed, engaged to be married or sadly abandoned. Your savior knows your burdens as well as your joys, and he will bring you home “to the wedding feast of the Lamb—These are the true words of God!” (Revelation 19:9).

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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