The Little Foxes and The Tender Grapes


The maiden’s brothers warn of the “little foxes.

Catch us the foxes,
The little foxes that spoil the vines,
For our vines have tender grapes.
Song of Solomon 2:15

a. Catch us the foxes: It is somewhat difficult to understand who says these words, and to whom they are said. The translators of the New King James Version attribute them to the maiden’s brothers; many others believe these words come from the maiden herself and are spoken to her beloved. The plural nature of the statement is clear; the idea is that the foxes will be caught together with another person (the brothers or the beloved), and not by one person working alone.

i. “This verse is a problem. The verb form is imperative, masculine plural, but there is no indication whether the speaker is male or female. All that is clear is that ‘for us’ is plural.” (Carr)

b. The little foxes that spoil the vines: Clearly the maiden speaks poetically here, using the little foxes as emblems of that which would damage the love relationship she shares with her beloved. The idea is that their relationship is like a fruitful vineyard and the little foxes will damage the vineyard unless they are stopped and caught.

i. Glickman lists several “little foxes” that may trouble couples:

· Uncontrolled desire that drives a wedge of guilt and mistrust between the couple.
· Mistrust and jealousy that strains or breaks the bond of love.
· Selfishness and pride that refuses to acknowledge wrong and fault to one another.
· An unforgiving attitude that will not accept an apology.

ii. It is helpful to remember the wording of the verse: catch us the foxes. The job of catching foxes is teamwork. One partner in the relationship can’t expect the other do it all.

iii. Hudson Taylor thought of the “little foxes” that may ruin our relationship with Jesus Christ. “The enemies may be small, but the mischief done great . . . And how numerous the little foxes are! Little compromises with the world; disobedience to the still small voice in little things; little indulgences of the flesh to the neglect of duty; little strokes of policy; doing evil in little things that good may come; and the beauty, and the fruitfulness of the vine are sacrificed!”

c. For our vines have tender grapes: The maiden’s idea is that their relationship is both specially precious (tender grapes are best) and vulnerable, needing protection (tender grapes need to be guarded).

i. “The appeal is made here to outsiders to prevent ‘the foxes,’ those forces that could destroy the purity of their love, from defiling their vineyards, which are blossoming . . . So they plead for protection for the love that blossoms between them that nothing will spoil it.” (Kinlaw)

ii. Thinking allegorically, Spurgeon considered aspects in the life of the believer that were like tender grapes that were in danger of being spoiled by the little foxes. He considered these to be tender grapes in the life of the believer:

· A secret mourning for sin.
· A humble faith in Jesus Christ.
· A genuine change of life.
· A life of secret devotion.
· An eager desire for more grace.
· A simple love to Jesus.

iii. “If you have any sign of spiritual life, if you have any tender grapes upon your branches, the devil and his foxes will be sure to be at you; therefore, endeavor to get as close as ever you can to two persons who are mentioned hard by my text, namely, the King and his spouse. First, keep close to Christ for this is your life; and next, keep close to his Church, for this is your comfort.” (Spurgeon)

Source: online commentary by David Guzik

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