The below verses are attributed to the Beloved.
SOS 1:12 While the king was at his table, My perfume gave forth its fragrance. vs 13 My beloved is to me a pouch of myrrh Which lies all night between my breasts. vs 14 My beloved it to me a cluster of henna blossoms in the vineyards of Engedi.
Verse 12 is pretty self explanatory. Except I wonder if her perfume was among the gifts that the Lover has given her.
Verse 13 we have gone over. Not surprisingly, the Main Shock Jock (MSJ), Mark Driscoll, made reference to how a man finds comfort between the breasts of a woman. I'm not arguing that this bit of information about men liking women's breasts is not true. But I am saying, point blank, that is not what this specific verse is about. There is a verse in the Bible that is better suited at expressing that bit of info about men than SOS 1:13.
Proverbs 5:18 Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice in the wife of your youth. vs 19 As a loving hind and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated (intoxicated) always with her love.
In SOS 1:13, rather, it is the Beloved who is referring to her own breasts and referring to her Lover as being like a pouch of myrrh she keeps near her heart. But we've been over that in my June 30th post and I don't care to belabor that point.
Now, as for verse 14...
SOS 1:14 My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms In the vineyards of Engedi.
Sigh. The first mistake Driscoll makes here is not rightly defining the word Engedi. He said it was a desert region.
Well, I hate to nitpick, but Driscoll bases his entire teaching of verse 14 on Engedi BEING a desert. He goes into how a wife is supposed to be an oasis for her husband in this dried-out-desert-existence they call a life.
To begin with, my Holman Master Study Bible's (HMSB) encyclopedia states that the literal meaning of Engedi is "fountain of a kid" and that the Engedi is "a fertile region of the W. shore of the Dead Sea, named from a warm spring which still issues out of the cliff at this point: called also Hazazon-tamar (division or row of palm trees)."
So he gets the part about Engedi wrong which points out blaringly that he does not have the heart of a teacher. As an aside to this, I've heard others say that Driscoll would make an excellent evangelist because he gets people saved. I heard someone else say that once people are saved in his ministry that they should move onto somewhere else to receive teaching because he "ignores sound Biblical exegesis". Not even sure I know what exegesis is. But I do know a true teacher of the word who actually has the God-given heart of a teacher would not make such a mistake and then base a whole teaching on it. A mistake in passing is one thing. Misdirecting an entire teaching because of not looking deep enough to make sure the basic facts are straight is something all together different.
Back to SOS 1:14.
Just for sake of argument, let's say my Bible's encyclopedia is wrong and that Engedi really IS a desert. What MSJ says about the marriage bedroom being an oasis in a desert really isn't a bad teaching. Even the part about men working hard to support their families and that they need for their wives to be a cluster of henna blossoms when they come home. It's very sweet, really. A good picture. Problem is, as I mentioned in my last post, he takes verse 14, the words and feelings of the female, steals them from her and hands them over to the male... Then later throws her a crumb and says something about the bedroom needing to be an oasis for both after he'd gone on and on about the man's needs.
Now I can see one thing. How many men want to look at themselves as henna blossoms? That is not a view of themselves that most men want to think about. But the Beloved also refers to him as myrrh which is also a plant. Is there something about henna that is good for a woman, a part of it that is specifically and exclusively for a woman as opposed to men?
My MHSB encyclopedia has this to say about henna. It "is a tall shrub of much beauty and fragrance, native of Egypt and far eastern countries. Women in the Oriental countries used a yellowish-red dye made of its powdered leaves for coloring their fingernails and toenails, and sometimes the soles of their feet."
Well, what do you know? The henna plant is used for beautifying. This thought does not go against the teaching that God beautifies us. Remember Ezekiel 16?
Vs 13 Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your dress was of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour, honey, and oil; so you were exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. Vs 14 Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you," declares the Lord, God.
Nor does it go against Ephesians 5:25-29:
Vs 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; vs 26 that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, vs 27 that He might present to Himself the Church in all her glory having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. vs 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; vs 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church.
Nor does it go against the context of Chapter One of SOS. It is the Beloved who's life is a desert. She is the one forced to work out in the heat of the sun by angry brothers. It is the Beloved who was sun burnt and perhaps blistered. If she had been left out there in the sun and not brought into the palace, she probably would have prematurely wrinkled.
Solomon grew up in the palace. He could sit on a purple cushion while servants fanned him with peacock feathers and fed him grapes one at a time. His life was no desert. He was rich and had everything to give and little to gain except the pleasure of being able to give to the sun burnt little Shulimite brought in from the vineyards.
(Side note. Notice that the way Solomon in SOS and God in Ezekiel beautify their brides is not by rebuking, shaming, or otherwise putting them down or in their places. They beautified them by giving and giving and giving some more. I only bring it up because I have seen men take Ephesians 5:26 as an open invitation by God for an open season on their wives and pick at them to try to "sanctify" them. Jesus sanctified us, first by dieing on the cross. Then by giving and giving and giving some more.)
So we see in verse 13 that the Lover is a healing balm and in verse 14 that He is beautifying to the Beloved. But Driscoll stole away the female's expression of feelings and needs and how the Lover meets them and handed it over to the male. This is the work of a thief, or at the very least, a preacher who thinks it's all about him and the male point of view.
No wonder men don't want to look at this book too closely. It is a hard message for a man to take. No wonder some want to just focus on the "good bits" and skim over the rest of it. It's a tall order being the Lover of this story. You have to be rich, be very giving, and stop being so self-centered. What earthly man can fill this order? Not many.
These first couple of chapters of SOS are about a prince who decides to pour out all his best on an oppressed maiden. Turning this book exclusively into a marriage manual all about how husbands and wives should treat each other confuses the text. Sure, good things can be gleaned from it for marriage even for today. But if that's all it is about, then these preachers need to see ALL of what SOS is saying and apply all the parts properly, giving the female her parts and the male his and stop mixing them up and changing them around to better suit the male point of view (pov).
Why? Because SOS is not JUST about the male pov. Neither is it about the female pov that men approve of and want to see (more on this in a later post). It is also about the wounded female heart that many men don't want to see and gloss over as though such a thing doesn't exist. Or if a woman's heart really is wounded, it is somehow the woman's own fault and she just needs to shape up, all the while serving the man with a sweet disposition.
Yes, I've heard messages from preachers about bitter women. I've heard the rebukes and criticisms, and blaming that these senseless preachers freely pour out on already wounded hearts. I've heard about the merciless shaming of pastor's wives who "let themselves go". What do these men know about a woman's heart? Nothing.
They know nothing because they do not care. The heart of a woman is of little value to them. They care about the outward rather than the inward. If the outward is not seemly enough, then let the ridicule fly. If the outward attitude is not sweet, then run her off and call her Jezebel since she is of no use to the man and not worth his trouble.
Thank God, He knows everything about women. Thank God, He cares deeply about every wound. Thank God, He sees past the sometimes prickly self-defenses of a wounded woman and seeks after her heart. He poured Himself out generously to heal and comfort every woman cursed and spoken against by self-righteous preachers, supposed brothers, false shepherds who attack the ewes to garner favor with the rams.
God heals and comforts without adding shame. He is the LORD our Healer. He is the LORD our Provider. And you can find those aspects of God in SOS.