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Catch The Foxes

Song of Solomon 2:15 - Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, while our vineyards are in blossom.

Read all of Song of Solomon.

Spring is the time of year when everything bursts into bloom--including love. The cold, bitter winds and bare branches disappear. The warm, light breezes and colorful blossoms arrive. Budding life and love are everywhere. It's great to be alive! How welcome is that walk in the park or through the woods--especially when you're walking with that special person!

Hey, wait a minute! What does all this "love in the springtime" talk have to do with the Bible? And what about the title above? It sure doesn't sound too biblical! Well, the Bible does have a lot to say about love between the sexes--including "budding romances". In fact, the entire book of Song of Solomon is about love and romance. As for the title above, you can see from our text that it is taken straight from the Bible. We'll see below that the phrase "catching foxes" is a figurative expression for something important about a love relationship. Incidentally, the phrase doesn't have anything to do with chasing the opposite sex! But before we get down to "catching foxes", let's talk a little about the Song of Solomon in general.

Some growing Christians have never even read Song of Solomon, let alone been able to understand the book. And those Christians who have read and studied the book know that all Bible scholars and commentators are not agreed on exactly how the Song should be interpreted. Some say that there are just two lovers in the story, while others say that three lovers are involved. The three-lover (or triangular) view was first put forward in the late 1700's and is thus relatively recent in church history. In this view, the true love affair is not between King Solomon and the Shulammite maiden, but rather between the young woman and her shepherd boyfriend. The Shulammite (maybe from the area of Shunem in the north of Israel) and the shepherd are just simple country folk who have fallen in love and are planning on marriage. But along comes the "villain" of the "melodrama", King Solomon. When he catches a glimpse of the beautiful maiden, he lusts after her and abducts her for his already large (6:8) royal harem. But, in spite of all his wooing and wealth, Solomon can not persuade the Shulammite maiden to give in to him. She remains true to her shepherd fiance and continues to talk and dream only of him. In the meantime, her shepherd lover comes to Jerusalem to see what he can do to get his fiancee released from Solomon's clutches. Finally, Solomon grants the Shulammite woman her freedom. She and her shepherd then travel home to the country together, happily looking forward to their marriage.

In the traditional two-lover view of the Song, we have the historical account of King Solomon's true love for the Shulammite peasant girl. Solomon had observed this beautiful woman while on a trip in the northern territories of his kingdom--maybe during a visit to certain crown property or vineyards. The Shulammite woman was working nearby in her own family's vineyard (1:6) when Solomon spied her. She had no idea that she was soon to become a "Cinderella". Rather than use his powers as king to abduct the maiden for his harem, Solomon decided to disguise himself as a shepherd and win her heart by slowly building a love relationship with her. The plan worked! Soon Solomon revealed his identity to her and shortly thereafter the couple was married. King Solomon, of course, spared no expense for the wedding. The marriage procession with all its splendor is described at the end of chapter 3; the wedding takes place within chapter 4; the marriage is consummated at the beginning of chapter 5. In the context of the royal palace and in the public eye, the love relationship between Solomon and his bride continues to deepen and mature throughout the rest of the Song. This does not mean, however, that the story closes with a few "lived happily ever after" lines. No, this is not some fairy tale, but a real life story--even though it is written in poetic form. In chapter 5, for example, there is a little misunderstanding between the lovers. And at the end of chapter 7 and the beginning of chapter 8, the Shulammite woman appears to be a little up tight with all the demands of public life in the royal palace. She would much rather have had Solomon all to herself back in the simple village where she had been raised. Oh, to be free from all the social proprieties and taboos against the public display of affection, and be able to kiss her husband in public--like a brother (8:1). But in spite of these ripples, the love between husband and wife continued to grow. Their love triumphed over the misunderstandings. They did not let the little frustrations gnaw away at their relationship. If only we worked at our love relationships in the same way--our love for the Lord, our love for that special person God has given or is giving us, our love for one another! This is precisely where the work of "catching little foxes" becomes important.

The statement about foxes comes near the end of what appears, in the Song, to be a spring walk in the hills with all the beauty of nature bursting out everywhere (2:10-13). The lovers then resolve to work at their relationship and not let anything come in to spoil its beauty. They liken potential problem areas in their blossoming romance to little foxes. As little foxes can ruin the vineyards by gnawing at the tender shoots, so the little problems that inevitably show up in a growing love relationship can ruin that relationship. These "little foxes" must be caught and stopped before they do further damage.

"Little foxes" always seem to come around just when we're getting it all together in our love relationships--when the "vineyards are in blossom". Take our love relationship with the Lord, for example. Just when everything seems to be going well, the "little fox" of neglect shows up--neglect of daily reading of God's Word or neglect of regular prayer time. And what about our relationship with that particular person of the opposite sex that the Lord has picked out for us? How often the "little foxes" of cutting words cause needless breakdowns in relationships that could otherwise be so beautiful. And then there are the "little foxes" of petty jealousies and mini-misunderstandings that tear down our "love for one another" relationships. How sad! Without some definite "catching" action on our part, the little foxes will continue to eat away until they are big foxes!

Regardless of which view is taken of Song of Solomon, many such applications can be made from the story. Even if the phrase "catch the foxes" is to be interpreted differently (one interpretation holds that these are the words of the Shulammite brothers who are telling their sister to stop her daydreaming and literally get back to the family vineyard to protect the vines from the foxes), the story is still loaded with lessons for us. This is because it is a love story. In any love relationship presented in the Bible there are many valuable lessons which are applicable to our own love relationships. Probably the greatest lesson that we can learn from Song of Solomon is that sex is O.K. Sex is not a "no-no" or only a necessary means to propagate the human race! No, physical love between husband and wife is a wonderful God-given gift. As long as it is within the bounds that God has set up (and the Bible clearly gives us the boundary markers), sex is beautiful. Some of the ancient rabbis would not permit a Hebrew boy to read the Song until he was 30 years old, so that the boy's thought life would be guarded from possible "unhealthy tangents". But in reality, Song of Solomon presents a healthy view of sex and teaches the sanctity of love and marriage.

Because the Song portrays the deep and wonderful love between man and woman, it obviously becomes a beautiful illustration of the love relationship between Christ and His people. God has ordained that the love relationship between a man and his bride should reflect the love relationship between Christ and His bride, the Church (Ephesians 5:31-32). What a tremendous testimony for the Lord your marriage will be if you determine from the start that it is going to reflect that wonderful mystery of our Lord's love for us! This will involve a lot of hard work because a lot of "foxes" will have to be caught. Don't let the "little foxes" spoil the message God wants to convey through your marriage.

Sly little foxes are not always easy to catch, but the job is not impossible. The problem areas that are bound to come in every growing love relationship are not always easy to "catch", but with diligent effort and divine assistance the task is not insurmountable.
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