Garden, Spring, and Fountain – Song of Songs 4:12

The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s, is one of the most debated, profound, and poetic books of the Bible. Its meaning isn't always obvious, even to students like me who believe it to be a frank and straightforward look at healthy marital love. Gleaning from commentators like G. Lloyd Carr, Marvin H. Pope, Dennis F. Kinlaw, and others, I have learned that the Song contains more eroticism, suggestion, and romance than even my substantial assumptions. This is an example.

Song of Songs 4:12

  • KJV: A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; / A spring shut up, a fountain sealed.
  • NIV: You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; / you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain.
  • NASB: A garden locked is my sister, my bride, / A rock garden locked, a spring sealed up.

    A spring in those days would be sealed to protect it for the rightful owner. Many may know of it. Perhaps some would see it as they walked by. But only the owner could drink from it.

Okay, so this one’s a wee bit obvious.

Approaching the consummation of their marriage in 5:1, she’s yet a virgin. This verse is a rather verbose way of communicating that fact.

Here, as elsewhere in the Song, “the ‘garden’ is used as a euphemism for the female sexual organs, and here a fountain sealed and a garden locked speak of virginity,” writes Carr. This is important to note because their desire has been present since the beginning yet they have kept the marriage bed undefiled by fornication.

This only reinforces the idea that the Song’s depiction of love and sex is completely holy and by-the-book (for that matter, it is the Book).

A spring in those days would be sealed to protect it for the rightful owner. Many may know of it. Perhaps some would see it as they walked by. But only the owner could drink from it. Similar imagery is used in Proverbs 5, where sexual organs and marital sexuality are spoken of in high favor.

Maybe this verse is erotic but hardly unexpectedly so. It does reveal, however, scriptural frankness about sexuality for those that might resist the idea that the Bible could possibly be erotic. It deliberately says the same thing three times, in three different ways, in case someone might refuse to acknowledge the first two. It’s trying to drive the point home.

Sometimes, some people need some occasional repetitive redundancy some of the time. For some, at least.

Originally posted 2015-10-23 08:00:29.

Photo credit: mira66 / Foter / CC BY
About Phil (251 Articles)
Philip Osgood is a Christian husband, father, and writer who considers himself a passable video game player, fiction reader, camping and hiking enthusiast, welder, computer guy, and fitness aficionado, though real experts in each field might just die of laughter to hear him claim it. He has been called snarky, cynical, intelligent, eccentric, creative, logical, and Steve for some reason. Phil and his beautiful wife Clara live in Texas with their children in a house with a dog but no white picket fence. He does own a titanium spork from ThinkGeek, though, so he must be alright.