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God’s Word for You

Song of Solomon 2:5-6 Apples and raisins

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, October 14, 2023

5 Strengthen me with raisin cakes,
  refresh me with apples,
  for I am faint with love.
6 His left arm is under my head,
  and his right arm embraces me.

In the verse before, the bride was delighted to be seated under her husband’s banner of love. Now she asks for support, because she is “faint with love.” Although her words could be spoken to anyone, like a melodramatic “Somebody catch me!”, she really only wants her man to be there for her. If he showed up along with anyone else, the “anyone” would be, as we say today, a third wheel.

She uses the usually intensive (piel) form of the verb “lean, rest” which does something unexpected and fascinating to the meaning of the word. Instead of the bride leaning, holding herself up, she asks her husband to “strengthen” her, to prop her up, so that she is not the one doing the work at all, but he is. The same is true of the second verb in the verse, “refresh me.” We see a doctrinal significance to this change or switch in the force of a verb when we compare another word, the simple (qal) verb chatah “he sinned” (Numbers 6:11), with the intensive (piel) change to chitoh “purified of uncleanness” (Numbers 19:19). Here the bride wants her husband to refresh her; she cannot accomplish what she desires, just as we cannot accomplish what we spiritually desire. We must receive our help from Christ: “Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8).

Raisin cakes were sometimes seen as a luxury (Hosea 3:1), but sometimes used because of their wholesome food value on long journeys (1 Samuel 25:18, 30:11). She has already compared her man to an apple tree; naturally she desires to be refreshed by apples. These references to the embraces and caresses of married intimacy have a spiritual application. We long for the affectionate reassurances from God that we are forgiven (Matthew 26:28), that he loves us (John 13:1), that we are his own dear ones (Jeremiah 31:20), and that he has prepared a place for us in heaven (Matthew 25:34).

What does it mean to be “faint with love”? The marital side of our interpretation is the humility and gratefulness any spouse feels when confronted with the shortcomings of other marriages. How many times did I come home to my wife after counseling a troubled couple, unable to share the problems in other marriages with my own bride, but taking her in my arms in our kitchen to say, “I’m so glad God brought us together; I’m so happy to be married to you!” That kind of appreciation is brought to light when set against most any backdrop. Spiritually, we open our mouths in praise: “For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. Come, let us bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker” (Psalm 95:3,6). Our fainting with such devotion is shown by John’s own reaction to seeing the vision of Christ: “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his hand on me and said, ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last’” (Revelation 1:17).

The wife delights that “his left arm is under my head and his right arm embraces me.” This is one of the many parts of the Song that is repeated later on (8:3). There is no special significance that the man’s left arm is the one that is under her head, apart from the man having his (usually stronger) right arm free to caress her (Genesis 26:8) and, when necessary, to “wipe away the tears from her face” (Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 7:17).

Spiritually, the Lord’s attentions such as this remind us of the delights of heaven, when “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4), when the old order of things, the pains and troubles that surge and foam in sin’s wake, will be eased and washed away forever in the resurrection. “For in this life,” Luther writes, “the saints do not have rest according to the flesh, but according to the spirit in a clear conscience” (LW 11:360). Therefore come, Lord Jesus!

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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