|My "garden enclosed" at our former home.|
TO CHEW ON: "A garden enclosed (locked or barred)
Is my sister, my spouse
A spring shut up
A fountain sealed." Song of Solomon 4:12
The garden is another theme Solomon picks up in this love poem.
Gardens are woven throughout the Bible. Mostly they are places you want to be—peaceful, refreshing, nourishing, their fruitfulness symbolic of the Creator's favour.
Some Bible gardens are:
The garden home
Man's first home was a garden - Genesis 2:8.
The contentious garden
Lust for Naboth's garden had Ahab and Jezebel eventually murdering its owner so they could have it - 1 Kings 21:2
The status garden
King Solomon was a great planter of showy gardens - Ecclesiastes 2:4
The soothing garden
King Xerxes went to his garden to cool his temper after discovering Haman's treachery - Esther 7:7.
The fruitful garden
God's promises to Israel were often made in terms of the garden. He promised to turn their desert back into a garden - Isaiah 51:3. He told those who pursued Him with fasting and passion "You shall be like a watered garden..." Isaiah 58:11. And through Jeremiah He promised that the remnant that returned from exile would be like a "well watered garden" - Jeremiah 31:12.
The garden of betrayal
Jesus and His disciples went to a garden (Gethsemane) after their Passover meal together. This is where Judas, His betrayer, found Him - John 18:1.
And our focus verse alerts us to another type of garden. It is
The exclusive garden
We notice, perhaps curiously, that the garden in our focus verse is enclosed, locked or barred. Why is that?
The writer of my Bible's notes explains "She (the Shulamite) is not a garden enclosed locking him out, but a private protected garden for royal use into which she invites her beloved to enter. The Shulamite, along with all her choice products is now his" — Donald Pickerill, notes on Song of Solomon, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 864.
This exclusivity speaks to us on two levels. It is essential for marriage. It is also true of us in our relationship with God, our spiritual husband.
Want to wreck your life's garden? A guaranteed way is to fool around on your spouse, or cheat on God.
PRAYER: Dear God, these garden pictures hold so much attraction. Help me to protect the garden of my marriage and the garden of my relationship to You with complete fidelity. Amen.
MORE: Gardening books
Throughout my life I have enjoyed gardening. My bookshelf has a healthy section of gardening books. Some favorites are a series by a British writer, Dr. D. G.Hessayon (The Complete Garden Expert and The Flowering Shrub Expert). These books have been especially useful to me because the climate in Britain is similar to the climate where I live.
Another beautiful gardening book is Almost Eden written by fellow Canadian Kim Burgsma. I almost owned it a few Christmases ago, but ended giving away the copy I meant to keep. The book is full of gorgeous photos, information, and thoughtful reflection about gardens. Here's a bit about the book from Kim's website:
"Almost Eden captures the absolute wonder of the earth and teaches us how we can create a little bit of this wonder in our own backyards. Readers will discover how their gardens can be in tune with God’s original plan of earthly stewardship and be creative and well designed.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.