1. Song of Solomon 8:14 (ESV)
  2. Exposition

Why must her beloved make haste like a gazelle or stag on the mountains of spices?

Song of Solomon 8:14 (ESV)

14 Make haste, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices.

What the young man hears from his bride is a command to flee (Hebrew barah). They are together, so the verb requires them to separate, as they did in Song of Solomon 2:17. But this is not a harsh dismissal. She refers to him as her beloved and the place to which he must flee like a gazelle or a young stag is the mountain of spices which in the Song is a clear reference to her body and the pleasures of lovemaking (Song of Solomon 2:17).

It seems that she has learned that the separations that life necessitates can never really take them away from each other. In this movement of leaving and returning, of yearning and receiving and then yearning again, there is an intimation that love is not a static thing, but a dynamic, changing, ongoing relationship, truly a song that never ends.1

In contrast to Song of Solomon 8:11–12, this is the openhearted and willing response to a lover of a woman who is viewed only as beloved. She invites him to run like a gazelle or a stag over the spice-laden mountains—her breasts—those very places in which he has taken such pleasure before.2

This final poem (Song of Solomon 8:13–14) makes the very important point that love is never satiated, never completely fulfilled. Nowhere this side of heaven do men and women reach the point of ultimate and complete fulfillment in relationship. The Song ends with both the man and the woman expressing a continuing desire to be in one another’s presence.3

True love, as described in this passage, is wonderful. This is God’s design for love. It is a passionate, blazing commitment that a man and woman have towards each other, forever. It is a union of flesh in joyful sexual intimacy, in friendship and companionship. True love is a joyful and free giving of yourself to another. True love grows and develops over time.

True love, however, is under constant threat in this broken sinful world. On the one hand, there is the danger of the world dealing with love as something that can be bought and sold. Indeed, a world where women can literally be bought and sold. Love is threatened by a world that seeks to own it as a commodity, not for the sake of self-giving, but for the sake of self-enrichment. And then there is the greatest enemy itself— death. Death threatens to destroy love; to end it and to empty it of all meaning and joy.

Despite all these threats, true love wins. True love is never quenched, true love prevails, even over death. Of course, this may sound simply like an empty, desperate hope. Love continues to be bought and sold, death eventually comes to all, even to the couple who remain passionately devoted to each other till the end. The true human love in this Song, as passionate, as powerful, and as good as it is, points us to the one true love, the love that God has for his world and his people. It is a love that does truly defeat death through the death and resurrection of Christ. It is the love that is truly given as a free gift that cost the lover dearly. It is the love that ultimately prevails. Any human love, even the love of a married couple, is only a pale reflection of this ultimate love.