The Little Foxes that Spoil the Vineyard

Catch the foxes for us,
the little foxes
that spoil the vineyards,
for our vineyards are in blossom.

Song of Solomon 2:15

Imagine yourself to be a gardener (maybe you don’t have to imagine it). You’ve set out to plant a garden. You’ve scoped out the positioning of your garden. You’ve done the hard labor of tending to the preparation of the soil. You’ve tilled the ground and planted the seeds. You’ve watered your garden regularly and you wait for the garden to blossom. You begin to see the plants growing above the soil and in the process of your patience you eventually reap the reward of your hard work. You see the crop coming in only to awaken one morning and look out from your window to see little foxes in your garden spoiling all the hard work, destroying the fruits of your labor in the midst of your blossoming garden.

Animals can wreak havoc on gardens and vineyards. It’s not just that they come and enter in and eat the fruit. It’s the damage they do to the plants and to the vines. They dig even at the root system and can destroy the entire garden. In our text Solomon captures the visual in relationship to a blossoming love. Solomon captures the anticipation of the bride and the pleas of the bridegroom in 2:8-17. It’s quite a scene…

The voice of my beloved!
Behold, he comes,
leaping over the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
9 My beloved is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Behold, there he stands
behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
looking through the lattice.
10 My beloved speaks and says to me:
“Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
and come away,
11 for behold, the winter is past;
the rain is over and gone.
12 The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree ripens its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
and come away.
14 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.
15 Catch the foxes for us,
the little foxes
that spoil the vineyards,
for our vineyards are in blossom.”
16 My beloved is mine, and I am his;
he grazes among the lilies.
17 Until the day breathes
and the shadows flee,
turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle
or a young stag on cleft mountains.

The Lover of our Soul

The scene is springtime and the vineyard is in bloom. There’s an excitement in the steps of the lover, the bridegroom. He comes leaping over mountains and bounding over hills. Nothing will stand in his way and keep him from his bride. There’s an urgency in his coming. He must have her and bring her away with him to be in his presence. He moves like a gazelle. He’s swift and graceful in his movements towards her.

When he arrives there’s the piercing gaze as the lover peers through the windows and lattice from outside. He’s looking intently to see his bride and to capture her attention. His piercing eyes catch her form and he’s enraptured with her beauty. The sight of her satisfies his heart and moves his voice to call out to her.

There’s an angst and desire as he raises his voice for her to come away with him. Notice the words he uses to call out to her and to describe her. “My love” gives life to the affections of his heart for her. She is his desire. “My beautiful one” describes his perspective of his love. She is holy and blameless is his sight. There is not spot, no wrinkle, or blemish to behold. His desire comes through in the words, “Arise and come away.”

Why all of the anticipation, the urgency? Winter is past. The rain is gone. The flowers are blooming on the earth. It’s Springtime. It’s time for love to blossom in the midst of blossoming fields. Birds are singing again. Animals have come out of hibernation. The trees are sprouting new blooms and there’s a fragrance in the air that breathes new life into all that has been dormant for months. There’s anticipation in the air and in the heart of the bride.

The Anticipation of our Soul

There’s a bit of mystery here as she resides within the vineyard and her lover’s gaze peers through the lattice and his voice carries to her ears calling her out to be seen (verse 14). As I read the passage I can feel her heart beating rapidly and her eyes peering back through the lattice as his voice catches her ears and peeks her interest. She’s not been passive. She’s been waiting for this moment.

She hears him coming, bounding over mountains and hills. Did you catch the exclamation at the beginning of verse 8? “The voice of my beloved!” Her ears are listening for his voice. All other voices are dimmed to background noise. She wants to hear the voice of her beloved calling for her. His is the one voice that matters among many voices that may cry out for her attention.

She’s living in anticipation of his coming. The very next refrain is this: “Behold, he comes…” To hear his voice is the necessity of her soul. To see him is the anticipation of her heart! To talk on the phone with your beloved is necessary, but there is nothing like the thrill of being in their presence. The way that he comes to her is thrilling to her heart. He comes leaping and bounding over mountains and hills. There is nothing that will stop him. There is no obstacle that can keep him from getting to her and from being with her. This creates in her heart a sense of his love for her. She is desired and that desire drives her lover to overcome all that stands in his way of getting to her. There is nothing that will separate them and keep them apart.

At the sound of his voice you can sense that her heart leaps for joy that he has arrived. It’s time to go and be with him…to be in his presence. Winter is past and Spring has come. There’s new life in the air. The harshness of the bitter cold has given way to the warmth of Spring. The deadness of the earth has yielded to the freshness of new life blooming all around. The shadows and darkness of the bitter Winter has given way to the light and Sun of Spring and Summer.

The Warning

But then the cry of the lover’s voice comes with this admonition, “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.” Oh those little foxes that seek to spoil the fruits of love! What are the little foxes that can spoil a love relationship? Allow me to name just a few of them for us.

  • Apathy – the lack of anticipation in the relationship.
  • Complacency – letting the relationship go by neglect.
  • Distraction – seeking satisfaction in other people, places, or things.
  • Wandering Affections – other loves and lovers that would divide, divert, and capture our affections.

Certainly there’s application here to be made to our own marriage relationships. However, I believe the real depths of application must be made to our relationship with Jesus. After all, He is the lover of our souls and there are foxes that seek to spoil the fruits of that love. The little foxes go by many of the same names.

  • Apathy – does my heart respond with anticipation at the sound of my Savior’s voice? Or is its response a mere shrug of the shoulders…an indifference to His voice? Does the Word of God arouse my heart to rise up and meet my Savior?
  • Complacency – I liken complacency to a spiritual neglect due to a hum drum satisfaction that has cast its shadow over the relationship. There’s no anticipation, no angst of excitement in the heart. There’s no longer any effort being put forth to meet the Savior. He’s there and we know it, but there’s a “so what?” attitude cast over the heart.
  • Distraction – there’s a busyness in life that chokes out our lover’s voice and spoils the moments we would meet with Him. If we do meet with Him we enter in a rush…not a rush to meet with Him, but a rush to move on to whatever is next in our day. If we meet with Him we meet in an anticipation…not an anticipation to be in His presence, but rather for whatever is on our agenda after we get this meeting out of the way.
  • Wandering Affections – pretty soon those distractions can capture our heart’s affections. They become idols that we have to have. We can’t live without them. The heart begins to demand them. Pretty soon we believe that we deserve them and that the lover of our soul must provide them. He becomes an ends to another means, rather than the end itself. This is how idolatry is born in our hearts.

These little foxes come out when the vineyard of our relationship with the Lord is blossoming. These little foxes are always lurking in the shadows of that vineyard, waiting for their opportunity to steal away the fruit of the relationship and not just the fruit, but to destroy the root system, if possible.

Where are you today in your relationship with the Lord? Is it springtime? I hope it’s Spring! I hope that your heart and mine are living with the anticipation of our lover’s coming…of His piercing gaze peering through the window and lattice of our soul and of His clarion cry to rise up and meet Him. We need that kind of anticipation towards the lover of our soul. Would to God that I would always live in that season.

Oh but those little foxes! I’ve named a few of them here, but there are many others that go by other names…anxiety, fear, worry, depression, anger, bitterness. This list could go on. These little foxes can spoil the vineyard, so we must be diligent to recognize them and catch them. We must set our traps and dispose of them before they spoil the vineyard of our love for Christ.

What little foxes are you most susceptible to today? Which one (or one’s) is wreaking havoc in your relationship with the Lord? Would you pray to the Vinedresser (John 15) today and ask for His help to tend to your soul? Would you identify the little foxes and game plan for their capture and removal? Would you repent of whatever neglect there may be and turn your ear and eye towards the lover of your soul and seek Him once again? He’s there…peering through the lattice of your heart…calling for you to rise up and meet Him. Spring time awaits!!

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