Chapter 5

The Formal Banquet


4         “He has brought me to his banquet hall,

          And his banner over me is love.

5         “Sustain me with raisin cakes,

          Refresh me with apples,

          Because I am lovesick.

6         “Let his left hand be under my head

          And his right hand embrace me.”

7         “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,

          By the gazelles or by the hinds of the field,

          That you do not arouse or awaken my love

          Until she pleases.”


            The action moves to a banqueting hall. The phrase literally means “house of wine.” It refers to a place where formal social gatherings are conducted.

AppleApple

            Love between these two people has been building. The banner she is referring to is the battle standard used in battle to relay instructions about troop movements. During the noise of battle, you cannot rely on anyone’s voice being loud enough and messengers between flanks can be slow or even killed in the action. Our young woman is saying that Solomon has his signal flag up and is broadcasting to everyone that he is in love with this young woman. Perhaps you have seen this when a couple walks into a room and you know they are in love. Every move they make and the way they gaze at each other tells everyone how they feel about each other.

            She is so excited that she feels herself becoming faint. She needs something sweet to sustain herself so she can get through the evening. Her feelings are so strong that she is almost becoming ill from being in love.

            And she begins to fantasize. Solomon is laying next to her. His left arm is under her head and with his right arm is pressing her tight against his body. . . .

            HOLD IT! STOP RIGHT THERE!

            Fantasies are nice but we must restrain our thoughts. These two love birds are not married yet and fantasies about sex are not appropriate at this stage in the relationship (Matthew 5:28). The young woman gets a grip on herself, and temporarily steps out of her role. Turning to the audience, she warns the young women there not to arouse or awaken love until the proper time. We tend to rush things too quickly and if we allow ourselves to fantasize about inappropriate behavior, it will not be long before we start acting out our fantasies (Proverbs 23:7). Gazelles and does are sleek, graceful creatures who, when startled, will quickly disappear. By bring up these animals, the young woman is warning that in a rush for love, we can easily lose the very thing we are pursuing.

GazelleGazelle
Hind (Female Deer)Hind (Female Deer)

            True, lasting love needs time to develop. It cannot be forced and hurried along. Moving into sexual relations before love has come to fruit and before a solid commitment is made will spoil the very love these two people want to have for each other. How much trust can a couple have for each other, if they know that sexual passion overrides their reason? If they cannot restrain themselves even for the relatively short period before marriage, how will either of them know for certain that the other can restrain himself from sexual temptation after the marriage?


Questions:


1) What signs indicate that two people are in love?

2) Why are fantasies about future sexual relations dangerous during courtship?

3) What is causing the strong desire in the woman?

4) Why is there concern about frightening off love?