the ark of the testimony
is in Exodus 25:10
God gave Moses specific instructions for building a tabernacle as they traveled in the wilderness. The tabernacle would be the place where the glory of God would dwell among His people (Exodus 25:8–9). Among hundreds of other descriptive instructions for this tabernacle, God told Moses to build an ark of the testimony, also called the ark of the covenant (Exodus 25:21–22). The words testimony and covenant both refer to the conditional agreement made between God and the children of Israel at Mount Sinai. An ark is, literally, a box or chest. So the ark of the testimony is the “box of the agreement.”
The ark of the testimony was a wooden box, covered in gold inside and out. It had four exterior rings through which poles could be attached for carrying. No one but the high priest could touch the ark (Numbers 4:15). To do so would result in instant death, as happened with a man named Uzzah (2 Samuel 6:1–7). God was beginning to teach His people about His holiness and their unworthiness. He demonstrated to them that His commands were not suggestions to be negotiated. He wanted to teach them to obey Him in all things, whether or not they understood the reason for the rules.
The lid of the ark was also made of gold and formed a seat between two cherubim, called the mercy seat. It was there that God would meet with His people (Exodus 25:22). Inside the ark of the testimony, Moses placed the tablets of the Law that God gave him on the mountain. The ark was placed inside the tabernacle in the most holy place, where only the high priest could go once a year (Exodus 26:34). Through it all, God was painting a picture to help us understand what is required for sinful man to come into the presence of a holy God.
The ark of the testimony got its name from the fact that it would be the housing for God’s testimony to His people. His Law was not only verbal, but written, etched in stone (Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 5:22), so there could be no excuse for disobedience. Hebrews 9:4 tells us that, later, the Israelites added to the stone tablets within the ark of the testimony a jar of manna (Exodus 16:32–33) and Aaron’s rod that budded (Numbers 17:8–10).
The ark of the testimony represented the presence of God with His people, and His power went with them wherever they took the ark (Joshua 3:6; Numbers 10:33–35). The enemies of Israel, the Philistines, stole the ark once (1 Samuel 5:1), hoping its power would help them. They set it in their idol’s temple and waited for the good luck it would bring. But calamity broke out among the Philistines, until they begged their leaders to send the ark back to Israel (1 Samuel 5:4, 6, 9, 11–12). God demonstrated that He was not a good-luck charm whose power could be had by whoever captured His ark. The power was not in the ark of the testimony itself; the ark only represented the presence of God with His people.
Since the death and resurrection of Jesus (Romans 14:9), God no longer uses an ark of the testimony to dwell with His people. We are under a new testament or covenant. At Pentecost, He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell every believer (Acts 2:1–4, 38–39). We become His temple (1 Corinthians 6:19). When we have been born again by faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:3, 16), we take God with us everywhere we go. It did the Philistines no good to harbor the ark, because the ark had no power in itself if God was not on their side. Likewise, we do not need physical items—crosses, images, holy relics—to carry the power of God with us because He already abides in us. That awareness of His presence, called the fear of the Lord (Psalm 19:19; Proverbs 15:33), helps us make decisions that honor Him.
shelach: a missile, weapon, sprout
2 Chronicles 23:10
HEB: הָעָ֜ם וְאִ֣ישׁ ׀ שִׁלְח֣וֹ בְיָד֗וֹ מִכֶּ֨תֶף
NAS: each man with his weapon in his hand,
KJV: every man having his weapon in his hand,
INT: the people each his weapon his hand side2 Chronicles 32:5
HEB: דָּוִ֑יד וַיַּ֥עַשׂ שֶׁ֛לַח לָרֹ֖ב וּמָגִנִּֽים׃
NAS: and made weapons and shields
KJV: and made darts and shields
INT: of David and made weapons great and shields
HEB: וְאַחַ֖ת מַחֲזֶ֥קֶת הַשָּֽׁלַח׃
NAS: and the other holding a weapon.
KJV: [hand] held a weapon.
INT: and the other holding A weapon
HEB: בְּגָדֵ֑ינוּ אִ֖ישׁ שִׁלְח֥וֹ הַמָּֽיִם׃ ס
NAS: each [took] his weapon [even to] the water.
KJV: [saving that] every one put them off for washing.
INT: our clothes the men his weapon the water
HEB: וְ֝חַיָּת֗וֹ מֵעֲבֹ֥ר בַּשָּֽׁלַח׃
NAS: from passing over into Sheol.
KJV: from perishing by the sword.
INT: and his life passing Sheol
HEB: לֹ֣א יִ֭שְׁמְעוּ בְּשֶׁ֣לַח יַעֲבֹ֑רוּ וְ֝יִגְוְע֗וּ
KJV: not, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die
INT: not hear the sword shall perish will die
HEB: שְׁלָחַ֙יִךְ֙ פַּרְדֵּ֣ס רִמּוֹנִ֔ים
NAS: Your shoots are an orchard
KJV: Thy plants [are] an orchard
INT: your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates
HEB: יֵֽלֵכ֑וּן וּבְעַ֥ד הַשֶּׁ֛לַח יִפֹּ֖לוּ לֹ֥א
NAS: through the defenses, They do not break ranks.
KJV: and [when] they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded.
INT: march through the defenses burst not
…12My sister, my bride, you are a garden locked up, a spring enclosed, a fountain sealed. 13Your branches are an orchard of pomegranates with the choicest of fruits, with henna and nard, 14with nard and saffron, with calamus and cinnamon, with every kind of frankincense tree, with myrrh and aloes, with all the finest spices.…
I made gardens and parks for myself, where I planted all kinds of fruit trees.
Song of Solomon 1:14
My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms in the vineyards of En-gedi.
Song of Solomon 2:3
Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest is my beloved among the young men. I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste.
Song of Solomon 4:16
Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind. Breathe on my garden and spread the fragrance of its spices. Let my beloved come into his garden and taste its choicest fruits.
Song of Solomon 6:11
I went down to the walnut grove to see the blossoms of the valley, to see if the vines were budding or the pomegranates were in bloom.
Song of Solomon 7:12
Let us go early to the vineyards to see if the vine has budded, if the blossom has opened, if the pomegranates are in bloom--there I will give you my love.
Song of Solomon 7:13
The mandrakes send forth a fragrance, and at our door is every delicacy, new as well as old, that I have treasured up for you, my beloved.
Song of Solomon 6:11
I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, and to see whether the vine flourished, and the pomegranates budded.
Song of Solomon 7:12
Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, andthe pomegranates bud forth: there will I give thee my loves.
Song of Solomon 8:2
I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother's house, who would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate.
Song of Solomon 6:2
My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.
Song of Solomon 4:14
Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices:
Song of Solomon 1:14
My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.
Song of Solomon 1:12
While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.
And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.
Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
Date of Writing: Solomon most likely wrote this song during the early part of his reign. This would place the date of composition around 965 B.C.
Purpose of Writing: The Song of Solomon is a lyric poem written to extol the virtues of love between a husband and his wife. The poem clearly presents marriage as God’s design. A man and woman are to live together within the context of marriage, loving each other spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
This book combats two extremes: asceticism (the denial of all pleasure) and hedonism (the pursuit of only pleasure). The marriage profiled in Song of Solomon is a model of care, commitment, and delight.
Song of Solomon 2:7; 3:5; 8:4 - “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.”
Song of Solomon 5:1 - “Eat, O friends, and drink; drink your fill, O lovers.”
Song of Solomon 8:6-7 - “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned.”
Brief Summary: The poetry takes the form of a dialogue between a husband (the king) and his wife (the Shulamite). We can divide the book into three sections: the courtship (1:1 - 3:5); the wedding (3:6 - 5:1); and the maturing marriage (5:2 - 8:14).
The song begins before the wedding, as the bride-to-be longs to be with her betrothed, and she looks forward to his intimate caresses. However, she advises letting love develop naturally, in its own time. The king praises the Shulamite’s beauty, overcoming her feelings of insecurity about her appearance. The Shulamite has a dream in which she loses Solomon and searches throughout the city for him. With the help of the city guards, she finds her beloved and clings to him, taking him to a safe place. Upon waking, she repeats her injunction not to force love.
On the wedding night, the husband again praises the beauty of his wife, and in highly symbolic language, the wife invites her spouse to partake of all she has to offer. They make love, and God blesses their union.
As the marriage matures, the husband and wife go through a difficult time, symbolized in another dream. In this second dream, the Shulamite rebuffs her husband, and he leaves. Overcome with guilt, she searches the city for him; but this time, instead of helping her, the guards beat her—symbolic of her pained conscience. Things end happily as the lovers reunite and are reconciled.
As the song ends, both the husband and wife are confident and secure in their love, they sing of the lasting nature of true love, and they yearn to be in each other’s presence.
Foreshadowings: Some Bible interpreters see in Song of Solomon an exact symbolic representation of Christ and His church. Christ is seen as the king, while the church is represented by the Shulamite. While we believe the book should be understood literally as a depiction of marriage, there are some elements that foreshadow the Church and her relationship with her king, the Lord Jesus. Song of Solomon 2:4 describes the experience of every believer who is sought and bought by the Lord Jesus. We are in a place of great spiritual wealth and are covered by His love. Verse 16 of chapter 2 says, “My beloved is mine, and I am his. He feeds his flock among the lilies” (NKJV). Here is a picture of not only the security of the believer in Christ (John 10:28-29), but of the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep—believers—and lays down His life for us (John 10:11). Because of Him, we are no longer stained by sin, having had our “spots” removed by His blood (Song of Solomon 4:7; Ephesians 5:27).
The Shulammite woman, or Shulammite maiden, is the bride of Solomon who features in the Song of Songs. She is only mentioned once by the title “Shulammite,” in Song of Solomon 6:13. Her exact identity is unknown, although there are a couple of theories.
She is most likely called the Shulammite because she came from an unidentified place called Shulem. Many scholars consider Shulammite to be synonymous with Shunammite (“person from Shunem”). Shunem was a village in the territory of Issachar, north of Jezreel and south of Mount Gilboa. Other scholars link Shulem with Salem, believing Solomon’s bride was from Jerusalem. Still others believe that the title Shulammite (“peaceful”) is simply the bride’s married name, being the feminine form of Solomon (“peaceful”) and only used after her marriage to the king.
One theory on the identity of the Shulammite is that she is the daughter of Egypt’s king, whom Solomon married (1 Kings 3:1), but there is no evidence supporting this theory in the Song of Solomon. Another speculation points to Abishag, a young Shunammite who served King David in his old age (1 Kings 1:1–4, 15; 2:17–22). It is plausible that Abishag is the Shulammite; we know she was from Shunem, which could be the same place as Shulem. Also, as David’s personal servant, Abishag would have been known to David’s son, Solomon. Solomon’s half-brother Adonijah attempted to have Abishag as his own wife, and Solomon prevented the union (1 Kings 2:13–25).
Solomon uses passionate language to describe his bride and their love (Song 4:1–15). Solomon clearly loved the Shulammite—and he admired her character as well as her beauty (Song 6:9). Everything about the Song of Solomon betrays the fact that this bride and groom were passionately in love and that there was mutual respect and friendship, as well (Song 8:6–7). This points to the fact that the Song of Solomon is the story of Solomon’s first marriage, before he sinned by adding many other wives (1 Kings 11:3). Whoever the Shulammite was, she was Solomon’s first and truest love.
As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth: there she brought thee forth that bare thee.
Right off the bat, we can interpret what the apple tree represents - the Beloved - Christ Himself. It is a metaphor for the Lord. In the first reference, we hear the spouse (the Church) speak of her Beloved, and how all other trees (other men) are barren of fruit in comparison to Him. Therefore, she sat down under His shadow (His protection, His refreshment) of her own free will, and did so with joy (with great delight). She tasted and saw that He was good (Psalm 34:8).
The second reference is now the Beloved speaking to His spouse about Himself - again with the imagery of the apple tree. Here, He tells her that He is the one bringing her forth from the wilderness to rest under His branches. "Leaning" upon someone gives the impression that the one leaning is weak, has no strength, tired, thirsty, aching, and can only make their destination through the strength of another.
But notice, even though she's coming out of the wilderness leaning upon the strength of Christ, He tells her He "raised her up under the apple tree". And then He talks about her mother bringing her forth there. Weird. Right? Maybe not.
Here, I believe we see Christ telling us of His Sovereign election. Our mother bore us under the shadow of the apple tree. It doesn't matter if our mother found her shade under the tree. I think that's what was tripping me up, because not everyone's mother is a believer. But this isn't about the mother. It's about the spouse. Through the election of God, the spouse's mother bore her under the apple tree, He raised her up under the apple tree, and when the time came, she sat down under the apple tree of her own choice with great joy.
Sovereign election and free will working in harmony!
The Song of Solomon is a beautiful picture of romantic pursuit between the Beloved and His spouse - the Church. By His grace, He seeks us first, always. And we respond by seeking Him.
Christ seeks His spouse first - Sovereign election
The spouse's response to Him - free will with joy
This study might be a bit simplistic and general with regards to election and free will, but it really intrigued me. Of course, the Lord knocks on the door of every heart (Revelation 3:20), but it is only His Bride, His Love, His Fair One, who opens the door (Songs 5:6). Yet notice - it is in the knocking, it seems, that we fall in love with Him:
I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.
"My heart waketh". That's a beautiful image. Christ stirs us out of our slumber. He stirs our hearts. Yet when we rise up in love and open the door, He isn't there - He sought us, now it's our turn to seek Him. Songs likens the Lord to a roe or a young stag (Songs 2:17, Songs 8:14). He leaps and skips over the mountains, and we must chase after Him. But He's promised that if we seek Him, we will find Him (Matthew 7:7-8). And when we catch Him, He whispers in our ear, "Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck. How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices!" (Songs 4:9-10).
He chooses us. We choose Him. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). Christ will absolutely pursue all those the Father has given Him (John 6:39), and all those the Father has given Him has been written in the Lamb's Book of Life since before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).
Our salvation is secure, because the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable (Romans 11:29). Therefore, believer, Christ's election made sure that your mother bore you under the shadow of His apple tree. And in love, the Beloved raised you up under the shadow of His apple tree. And when He finally desired to arouse and awaken your love (Songs 5:2, Songs 8:4), you tasted His sweet fruit and sat down under His apple tree - with great delight (Songs 2:3).
Sovereign election and free will. Harmonious, glorious -- victorious!
Song of Solomon 8:14 “Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.” The bride desires for her husband to be like a young stag and make haste…to what location? “The mountains of spices.” This is the last picture painted for us…the last “snapshot” in the bride’s album…the last poetic rose in the bride’s bouquet…the last lilting melody in this song of all songs.
What are the mountains of spices? We are! I blush to consider that we should be given such a beautiful name, but we must remember that the Song of Solomon was a love song written by Solomon (and our greater than Solomon) for his bride, and “mountains of spices” is the name God chose for his bride to use in describing herself at the end of this book, so let’s consider all that it means and aspire to fulfill this high calling.
The words “mountains” and “spices” are used multiple times earlier in the Song, and these references give the clues we need to understand what the bride is saying. First, let’s consider what the spices represent. From 4:12—16 we learn that the bride is like a protected garden, designed by the master gardener, watered by the Word, filled with the fruits of the Spirit, and whose aroma wafts out like heavenly spices. In 5:1 we find the husband enjoying his garden wife and taking pleasure in the spicy fruits found in her.
In Song of Solomon 5:13 we hear the wife likening her beloved’s beard to a soft bed of spices. Oh, to be able to look into the face of God and with the touch of faith feel the very presence of the fragrant Holy Spirit upon him. The lush physical and spiritual imagery intertwines beautifully to portray the exquisite delights of both physical and spiritual communion. The spices are physically the scents and textures of the wife’s body, but spiritually the spices are the tangible evidences of the Holy Spirit’s fruit developed in our lives, fruits which the Son relishes and which also feeds the souls of others (see 5:1). So, the “spices” are the fruits of the Spirit.
What are the “mountains”? Twice earlier, the word “mountain” has appeared in reference to something other than the bride, and twice earlier the term appears in reference to the bride. In 2:8 the husband comes leaping over the mountains to join his wife and calls her out to enjoy, explore, and reign over his kingdom with him. In 4:8 the king invites his wife to climb to the top of the mountains with him and gain a heavenly perspective. In the first instance, the mountains are huge obstacles which the husband overcomes with ease in order to reach out to his beloved; in the second instance, the husband invites his wife to conquer great things with him so that she will share his passionate vision.
What is a mountain? It is something massive, grand, impressive. Mt. Everest is so big it can reach through the clouds and kiss heaven’s feet. Mountains are spectacular: they fill people with awe and a sense of wonder. Mountains are a force to reckon with…to be conquered by or to conquer. Mountains are immovable apart from the work of God in response to faith. Mountains are majestic. Mountains should humble us and cause us to praise this one whose massive hand is so large that the whole world could fit inside, and Mt. Everest wouldn’t even look as big as a hangnail. What a mighty God we serve!!
Yet, this infinitely great Creator calls us his “mountain of myrrh” in Song 4:6, and the bride invites her beloved to enjoy her as “a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether” in Song 2:17. In this last poetic picture, we see the wife calling her husband to come unto her and enjoy her…no longer upon the mountains of “Bether” (separation), but upon the mountains of spices. She has grown from a garden into a mountain…a mountain of spiritual delights.