When I was about 12 years old I remember hearing a poem about the little foxes that spoil the vineyard. I didn’t realize at the time that the story came from Song of Solomon.
Song of Solomon is first and foremost a book about love. It is a love song about a young man – we presume Solomon – and his beautiful young bride. It is a celebration of sexual joy within the covenant relationship of marriage. We should be thankful that this book is in the Bible. It reminds us that God’s gifts are good – and greatly to be enjoyed – and never cause for shame.
Thanks be to God!
On another level this book has also been understood as a form of allegory. It presents a picture – underneath the depiction of human love – of Christ’s love and pursuit of the church. The Apostle Paul had no trouble making these sorts of comparisons (see Ephesians 5:22-33) and neither should we. Christ is our husband – spiritually speaking – and it is our duty and delight to submit and to respond to him.
In a sense then, reading Song of Solomon is a remarkably efficient exercise. As we make our way through its several stanzas, we are learning about sex, marriage, spirituality and worship simultaneously.
Chapter 2 provides a perfect example of that efficiency. The young man wishes to take his bride away for an afternoon of uninterrupted love. Spring is in the air, the flowers are in bloom and he proposes a romantic getaway – far removed from the distractions of the palace and all the “little foxes” that can disturb and ruin a time of love.
O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom. (Song 2:14–15 ESV)
On one level this story encourages the married couple to prioritize regular romantic retreat. Every so often, a man and his wife need a weekend away from their little foxes. They need to ship those little foxes off to Camp Grandma and drive far, far away, to a quiet place, to a cranny in a cliff where no one can find them, no one can bother them and they can seek out and explore each other once again.
On another level, this story is a reminder of the need to be on constant watch against the sins of the flesh which unrestrained, would invade and disrupt our personal enjoyment of the Lord. These are the “little foxes” that spoil our spiritual vineyard. These are the “little sins” and “harmless habits” that keep us out of prayer and deplete our passion for worship. The Christian must protect his relationship with God by seeking out and destroying these little foxes.
Charles Spurgeon commenting devotionally on Song of Solomon chapter 2, wrote:
Ask, then, the question, what has driven Christ from thee? He hides his face behind the wall of thy sins. That wall may be built up of little pebbles, as easily as of great stones. The sea is made of drops; the rocks are made of grains: and the sea which divides thee from Christ may be filled with the drops of thy little sins; and the rock which has well nigh wrecked thy barque, may have been made by the daily working of the coral insects of thy little sins. If thou wouldst live with Christ, and walk with Christ, and see Christ, and have fellowship with Christ, take heed of the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes. Jesus invites you to go with him and take them. He will surely, like Samson, take the foxes at once and easily. Go with him to the hunting. (Spurgeon, C. H. 1995. Morning and Evening : Daily readings . Logos Research Systems, Inc.: Oak Harbor, WA)
Spiritual intimacy, like marital intimacy, is a very vulnerable blossom. It is easily spoiled and quickly lost to little foxes.
Like Samson in the field, take the foxes easily and at once.
Go with Jesus in the hunting.
For the sake of your marriage and your walk with the Lord; take heed of little foxes.