The Fragrance of the Bride is the Aroma of Christ 

There is a theme interwoven through the book of Song of Songs that flows with romance and intimacy. It’s a theme which has its scene set through the poetic imagery of gardens and vineyards, all for the expression and maturing of love. It can be at times a little difficult to understand due to the sheer volume of references, however, when grasped gives a beautiful sense of the fragrance of the bride and how that primarily attracts her beloved whilst also affecting others around.

Simply put, the garden is a spiritual representation of the bride which God cultivates by sowing His word to bring her into full maturity, resulting in a wonderful array of beauty. This in turn releases a pleasing aroma that He can fully enjoy. Is there not great satisfaction in planting a sunflower seed, or any others, and carefully nurturing it unto you finally see it blossom? Then the joy continues when the plant itself eventually becomes a seed bearer able to produce multiples of its own kind. Seeds sown on good soil, hear the word, receive it and produce a crop – thirtyfold, sixtyfold or a hundredfold (Mark 4:20).

“And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so.” (Genesis 1:11)

On the third day, He spoke into the earth and out came vegetation yielding seed of its own kind. Before God created any living creatures on/above the earth or in the water, He established the blueprint of what it looked like to be fruitful and multiply – the very first blessing and command He gave to both animals and humans was this. What then does it mean to be fruitful? The answer is in Galatians 5, which I’ll unpack shortly.

Through sin, we have become people who have become corrupted and therefore producers of our own kind. Praise God that through Christ we are a new creation having “..been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:23)

Song of Songs 4:13-14 gives us a list of 9 different spices. Interestingly and by no means accidently, there are 9 fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. Perhaps Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, drew from Song of Songs to give us this list. Remarkably, when you stack up these two lists together in the same order, they complement each other wonderfully. Let’s do that now briefly:

Love – Pomegranate

In Judaism, the pomegranate is considered a fruit of love and fertility. In SOS 7:12, the bride gives her love when the pomegranates are in bloom.

Joy – Henna

The word Henna used is ‘Kopher’ in Hebrew, which also means to be ransomed. Isaiah 35:10 says “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away”. Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads, like the helmet of salvation, because of the joy of their salvation, through the ransomed blood of the Lamb.

Peace – Spikenard

SOS 1:12 says “While the king was on his couch, my nard gave forth its fragrance.” Whilst she was not with her beloved (the shepherd), instead she had been brought into the chambers of another, yet her mind remained on him and begins to speak of her delight in Him in following verses. In any environment or confrontation, we as the bride have perfect peace when our mind stays on our beloved (Isaiah 26:3).

Patience – Saffron

One the world’s most expensive spice, simply because it takes so long and requires a lot of patience. The bride is patient in having done the will of God, she may receive the promise of the coming Bridegroom and the riches of His glory (Hebrews 10:36).

Kindness – Calamus

One of the few ingredients of the holy anointing oil and used in expensive perfumes. It isn’t mentioned much outside of these versus, and the original spice itself is unclear. Perhaps even there lies the answer in that the kindness of another can often be neglected, even disputed. Regardless, kindness to friend or foe must always be an ingredient present. The bride always has the teaching of kindness on her tongue (Proverbs 31:26).

Goodness – Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a spice with an abundance of good health benefits, which also tastes nice. Psalm 34:8 says “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is Good!”. When we receive the goodness of God, it is health for our soul. Goodness overcomes evil (Roman 12:21), like cinnamon, it overpowers every other flavour.

Faithfulness – Frankincense

Frankincense is a precious and very expensive resin which is extracted by cutting the trunk of the tree and collecting the oozing sap which then hardens. The fragrance of frankincense is only released in fire. Like faith, when facing suffering, we can either allow these trials to harden our hearts like the resin or we cast it upon the burning of our hearts and allow it to release a pleasing fragrance to the Lord.

Gentleness – Myrrh

Jesus’ description of Himself is that He is gentle and lowly in heart (meek), therefore we should yoke ourselves to Him and learn from Him (Matthew 11:29). A gentle tongue is a tree of life (Proverbs 15:4). A gentle and quiet spirit is very previous in God’s sight (1 Peter 3:4). Myrrh is extracted much like frankincense in that the tree is cut multiple times; the resin that comes out is bitter to taste, yet when activated by fire releases a pleasing fragrance. The trails of life can either make us bitter or better, depending on how to use it. Gentleness is only truly tested when repeatedly wounded we still speak with grace on our lips.

Myrrh is one of the chief fragrances of the bridegroom because of the gentleness of His heart of which the bride is invited to partake in. He even comes from the suffering of the night for the bride with liquid dripping myrrh to anoint her with the same fragrance. He says, “Come away with me my love, but do so with a gentle heart”.

Self-Control – Aloes

Aloes was used for embalming, therefore a preservative. Nicodemus bought aloes, along with myrrh, for the burial of Jesus. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control”. We have three attributes here: first is power from the Holy Spirit, then it’s bookended by the first (love) and last (self-control) fruits of the Spirit. Gently reminding us that these fragrances and fruits can only be fruitful, released and multiplied by living by the Spirit. When we become fruitful in these areas, much like the fruit of the tree, the seed of that fruit becomes multiplied, ready to enlarge the garden of the Lord, the bride; then through her God can spread the fragrance of Christ.

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life..” 2 Corinthians 2:14-16

One final verse I’d like to share is Song of Songs 4:16:

“Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon my garden, let its spices flow. Let me beloved come to his garden, and eat its choicest fruits.” Song of Songs 4:16

When two winds collide, the only way to go is up! As the winds converge upon each other as the bride so deeply desires, the fragrant spices of her garden flow upwards towards the mountains infusing them with spices and marking the place where her beloved will come quickly, leaping like a gazelle or young stag (Song of Songs 8:14).