Chapter 7 really begins in 6:13, setting the stage for what is being described. The group is calling for her not to go off with her husband but to return so they can look at her. He seems to intervene against this request. Who are they to be looking at her like the dance of Mahanaim (“two armies,” ESV)? Scholars are uncertain on what this dance is. Most scholars point out that it was a dance that was done by the women after the nation won a military battle. This dancing was entertainment for the men who would watch the women as they moved. He steps in and says this dancing is not for others to see. She is not for everyone else to look at. But it is not that no one is to look at her. Rather, it is her husband that is able to enjoy looking on her body.
The question in 6:13 sets the stage for chapter 7. Women typically do not understand how visual men are and how men like to look at women. The warnings in scripture against lusting are very important to keep in mind. Men are not allowed to look at women like it sounds this crowd wants to look upon her. Jesus taught that lusting is committing adultery in the heart (Matthew 5:28). But the solution to lust is for fulfillment in marriage. This is what the apostle Paul taught in the first five verses of 1 Corinthians 7. Husbands need to know that wives want communication. Wives want to talk and know what is going on in the heart and mind of the husband. Therefore, husbands must be willing to give what their wives need with open and honest communication. In same way, wives need to know that husbands are visual. Communication is not what they need. Husbands want to look at their wives. We have seen this truth throughout the Song as he continues to praise her for her beauty. God made man to desire a woman physically. Therefore, wives must be willing to give what their husbands need by being willing to let him see her body. Notice the verbal affirmation and communication he gives her as she reveals herself to him. This sets the scene for what is happening the seventh chapter.
His Desire For Her (7:1-9a)
He begins by noting how beautiful her feet are in the sandals she wears. This description is unique from his other descriptions of her. Previously he started at her head and moved down her body as he praised her beauty. This time he reverses the order and starts with her feet and moves up her body. The reversal of order suggests that she is showing her body to him in this dance that is reserved for her husband alone. He then moves up to her thighs and hips, noting the curves of her body. He moves us to the center of her body. The navel is like a bowl with wine and the belly is like a heap of wheat encircled with lilies. He then moves to describing her breasts. From there he praises her neck, eyes, and nose. He concludes with her hair as it flows from her head. In verses 6-9 he makes his overture to her. She is appealing to all of his sense and he wants to show her his love in intimacy. The imagery is straightforward as he expresses his desire to be with her.
Her Desire For Him (7:9b-13)
As he is singing her praises and is longing to be with her in love physically, she interrupts him. She has been letting him look at her and he is enjoying looking at her body and giving her verbal affirmation of how beautiful she is to him. She is not put off by this nor should she be. This is what Paul was teaching the Christians in Corinth.
The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Corinthians 7:3–5 NLT)
We are to serve the needs and desires of each other in marriage. This is exactly what we are volunteering for when we get married. We want to make the other person happy. We want to do all we can to bring joy and satisfaction to each other in marriage. We are looking out for the desires of each other. A wonderful truth is being taught in this chapter. There is freedom in marriage. All that is forbidden before marriage is approved by God in marriage. God did not prevent sexual intimacy and pleasure but instructed us that marriage was to be the place for its fulfillment. So she joins in on this description at the end of verse 9. He says that her mouth and her body are like the best wine (7:2,9). She says that the wine goes down smoothly for him, flowing over his lips.
She goes further and tells him that all that she has is strictly for him. “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me” (7:10). This pictures again what Paul spoke about in 1 Corinthians 7. She says that her body is for him to enjoy. This is what Paul is teaching. Each of you are to enjoy each other’s bodies. She does not refuse him. She does not recoil. She willingly and happily accepts what he is saying to. A wife should be excited that your husband’s desire is for you. This is what she says. She is pleased and satisfied that his desire is for her. Why would a wife resent this? What do we think will happen if your husband’s desire is not for you? He is going to be looking for another woman. This is exactly what the Proverbs are warning against. Be exciting to your husband. Let him desire you. Then you will have the confidence and security in the marriage beyond your vow that you took before God because you know he desires you. I have counseled so many marriages where affairs began because they stopped desiring each other. They stopped doing things to be attractive toward each other. They stopped paying attention to each other and trying to do what is pleasing for each other. So they found other people who would pay them attention and do what is pleasing to them. We must protect our marriages by understanding each other’s needs and desires and meeting them. One of the strongest ways wives can protect and affair-proof their marriage is by knowing what your husband needs and being willing to meet those needs. You want your husband to desire you. If he does not desire you, there is a very big problem and your marriage is in danger. The New Testament picture is that a husband and wife give their bodies to one another and love one another as they would love their own bodies (Ephesians 5:22-33; 1 Corinthians 7:2-4).
Not only this, but notice in verses 11-13 she is making it possible for his desires to be met. She says that we need to go somewhere and “there I will give you my love.” So it is not him having to be a beggar to her for intimacy. Nor is she forced by him. He does not control her or force her. She willingly desires to give her love to him. She understands what he needs and willingly gives it to him. She makes a way for them to be able to be together. The location is poetic language to speak of a place where love is in the air and where it is romantic. She is making a way and a time for them to be able to be together. It is important for wives to make time for intimacy together. It is easy to say that there is so much to do and that there is no time. Between the kids and the house there is an easy built in excuse to avoid being with your husband. But this cannot happen. If there is a lot to do, ask your husband to help so that time can be made to be together. Also, if there are things to do, do those things later. It is more important to do what is good for the marriage ahead of making sure the clothes are ironed or the kitchen is cleaned.
Notice that she is going to enhance their time together. Mandrakes were prized for their aphrodisiac properties in ancient near eastern times (7:13). Notice that her words are encouraging their intimacy. She is not guarded. She is not repulsed. She is not shy. She does not look at being with her husband sexually as “a necessary evil” or a commanded duty. She is going to facilitate their coming together. Her response is that her body and her love is all for him. She invites him to be with her and they will enjoy new as well as old fruits of intimacy together. Duane Garrett states, “The woman speaks of ‘new and old’ treasures she has for the man. This would imply that as they grow in love they will both repeat familiar pleasures and find new ones as well” (New American Commentary, 424). Both husband and wife should be looking for ways to bring joy, pleasure, and satisfaction to one another, both new and old ways.
In chapter 6 we talked about how marriages need to continue doing what you both did for each other when you were dating and when you first were married. We noted that it is a common failure for husbands to stop praising their wives and stop showing them love and attention as was done when dating and first married. Chapter 7 shows us that wives cannot stop trying to be physically attractive to their husbands. Just as he is to continue putting forward effort to show love to her, she continues to put forward effort to show love to him. She is not trying to attract other men to her, but she wants to continue to attract her husband. Men are strongly visually attracted to women. We have seen this repeatedly in the Song of Songs. He wants to look at her and see her body. She understands that her body is reserved for her husband alone. She allows him to look at her and willing initiates intimacy with her husband. Let these words be able to be confidently said in our marriages: “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me.” Seek to fulfill the desires of one another in marriage.