Lady in love
- 3:1 In bed one night,1
I looked around for my lover,
But didn’t find him.
- 3:2 I decided to get up and go outside to look around town—
up and down the streets and in the city square.
I had to find my lover.
- 3:3 Night guards found me as they patrolled the city.
I said, “I’m looking for my lover. Have you seen him?”
- 3:4 I left the guards
And right away I found my lover.
I grabbed hold of him and latched on tight. I wouldn’t let him go.
I held him until we got back to my mother’s house,
To the room in which she conceived me.
- 3:5 Ladies of Jerusalem, do me a favor.
Swear by all the gazelles and deer of the field,
That you won’t try to rush love.2
- 3:6 What is that out in the desert, headed our way?
It looks like a big cloud of smoke
Or burning incense3—
Clouds of myrrh and frankincense4
And all the spices money can buy.
- 3:7 Look! My goodness,
It’s King Solomon and his entourage.
They’re carrying him on a mobile throne.5
Sixty Israelite soldiers guard him.
- 3:8 These are seasoned fighters.
Each one wears a sword strapped to his thigh.
These guys look ready to take on any threat,
Or terror in the night.
- 3:9 King Solomon made himself a throne,
a portable recliner, from Lebanon’s timber.6
- 3:10 It has silver posts
And a golden brace7 at the back.
The fabric is royal purple,
And the design is beautiful,
Thanks to you women of Jerusalem.
- 3:11 Go on out, Jerusalem ladies.
See King Solomon. Take it all in.
Don’t miss the crown
his mother placed on his head the day he got married.
He was so happy on that day.
Many Bible scholars guess this is the story of a dream the lady in love had one night.
This is a repeat of her request in 2:7. What she’s asking of the ladies in Jerusalem isn’t all that clear. Some say she’s advising them not to rush into falling in love, but rather to wait until the time is right. Others say she’s giving them a “Do Not Disturb” sign, and telling them not to rattle the pans to wake this lover up and end her wonderful night. That could make more sense to some than the idea that the love-aggressive lady is telling others not to be so aggressive. From the sounds of this poem so far, the lady has been nothing but aggressive.
The poem simply says, more literally, “columns of smoke perfumed with myrrh and frankincense and all scents from merchants.” From a distance, you can see a cloud of smoke, but you can’t smell it—even downwind.
Myrrh and frankincense were two of the most exotic and expensive fragrances available. They were made from sap of small trees and shrubs growing in what are now Saudi Arabia, northern Africa, and India. People would grind up the dried sap and put it in perfumes. They also burned it as a woody fragrance, and a sweet-smelling incense. They burned the incense in religious services. They also burned incense in homes as air fresheners in the days before soap and deodorants.
Scholars describe it as a palanquin, which is a covered litter. It’s built around a large box, then set between two horizontal poles that rest on the shoulders of usually four to six royal bearers. A king’s litter likely would have been decked out in elegant drapes and colorful designs.
Cedar from Lebanon was considered some of the best and most durable wood around. Rot-resistant, shipbuilders preferred it. Solomon imported this wood to build the Jerusalem Temple (1 Kings 5).
This is a guess. The meaning of the Hebrew word is unclear. Many Bibles guess the word means “back.”