There is also insights, not greatly emphasised but present, which warn of dangers that erode Love’s romance. ‘Catch us the foxes, the little foxes, that ruin the vineyards – for our vineyards are in blossom’. (2:15 NRSV) This warning follows immediately after some very poetic and romantic words. The man likens their love to a vineyard in bloom meaning that the fruit will be appearing soon. However, don’t take love for granted. There are little foxes which can get into the vineyard of romance and damage, spoil and destroy the longed for fruit and its juice of joy.
The word for fox is also used for jackal, a very unclean scavenger. What do you imagine the writer is implying by using this term in regards to their love? It seems to be a warning to safeguard what they hold precious, their maturing love. He doesn’t spell out the dangers or give the ‘little foxes’ names. This allows us to reflect upon the comment and investigate what, if any, names we might give to ‘little foxes’ nibbling away at our special relationships.
I’d like to give them some names from the Scriptures emphasising the word ‘little’. Each of the following Biblical quotes have the power to steal the romance from love and simply leave a ‘shell’ of what was the substance of yesteryear. You might add to the litter’s list but I’ve limited mine to three. It is worth reminding ourselves however that little ‘foxes’ grow and have their offspring. Therefore, it is important to recognise and deal with such destroyers of romance, love and grace as soon as possible.
My first named fox/jackal is ‘sluggard’. This term is used 14 times in Proverbs for a person too lazy to attend to what is important and necessary. It is linked with the unkind definition of a fool. How easy it is to feel romantic. How easily it is to be aroused by sight, sound and scent. How hard it is to work at being romantic, making the loved one feel special and attractive. It is this ‘little fox’ of mental and spiritual ‘laziness’ which over time makes the relationship a wasteland.
My second named fox/jackal is ‘tongue’. James in his letter calls it ‘a little member’ but can cause catastrophic fires and instead of blessing it curses’. (chapter 3.) Our Lord says that the mouth speaks what the heart harbours. Romantic words are easily uttered in sweet surroundings. Unfortunately, relationships are not always living in such settings. In the rough and tumble of living we are often thrust together in situations which rub us up the wrong way. Oh, may our love for each other fight off the ‘foxes’ of selfishness and self–righteousness. They want to turn our speech into poison when what is needed is the wine of mercy and grace.
My third named fox/jackal is ‘Leaven’. Within Scripture leaven is a symbol for sin – always! In writing to the Galatians, the apostle Paul warns them against the power even of a little leaven. It swells. It corrupts. It is harmful to personal spirituality and the ability to honour and enjoy the Lord. We are told in the Galatian (5:9) context that it enslaves and thereby robs an infected person of their God designed freedom.
I’d define leaven by another term beginning with ‘L’. It is lust! How can two lovers be on their guard against this seemingly cute, attractive even emotionally arousing ‘little fox’? For once welcomed into the heart this jackal will prowl, pervert and pummel true romance and Love’s sanctity. The ‘leaven of Lust’ is so readily available and so easily digested we need a moral and spiritual sifting and protecting shield. Without Love's commitment to shield us from this little monster jackal otherwise lust will turn Romance into affairs and love into pornography.
What safeguards, what fences, what weapons have we to safeguard God given Romance and the sanctity of love? There is the grace of God who is holy and eternal Love. Dwelling in His light, possible by knowing and doing His word and will, offers a protective barrier. When ‘bitten’ by this or any other ‘little fox’ don’t deny the ‘teeth marks’. Rather admit and repent and remove yourself from their vicinity. Also, everyday in someway or other express gratitude to the person who captured your heart and has kept it ever since. Then you will continue to enjoy Love’s romance and its fruit and wine.
|A 31 devotional to help keep the romance in marriage.|
Available in Christian bookshops and as an e-book, or from author.
© Ray Hawkins 25/1/2015.