“Catch us the foxes, The little foxes that spoil the vines, For our vines have tender grapes” (Song of Solomon 2:15, NKJV).
It does seem strange that in the middle of a romantic conversation, little foxes should come to mind. However, there was a purpose for the imagery.
The readers of the Song of Solomon would know how destructive little animals could be to valuable vineyards. Perhaps the author remembered how Samson once used foxes in his vengeance to destroy the crops and vineyards of the Philistines (Judg. 15:4, 5).
In the Song of Solomon, the little foxes are symbolic of that which can destroy a tender romance. There are threats that can sever an intimate relationship. The heart must be guarded against the little foxes.
Selfishness is a little fox that spoils love. Discontentment is a little fox that spoils joy. Worry is a little fox that spoils peace. Questioning the word of God was a little fox that destroyed Adam and Eve’s relationship with God.
A practical principle is established that is summarized in the counsel, “Beware of the little foxes.” The little foxes should be caught to protect that which is important.
By way of application to the Church, there is wisdom in the expression. There are little spiritual foxes that come to nibble the gospel grapes. Much damage is done. Consider.
Nibble at the words “the second time” in Hebrews 9:28 and a sensationalized third coming of Christ called the Rapture can be introduced into Christian theology.
Nibble at the word order in Mark 16:16 “He that believeth andis baptized” and there can be a reversal of doing God’s work, God’s way. Baptism can be administered to those who do not believe the gospel.
Nibble at the words in Luke 19:10 and new terms can be introduced such as “pre-Christian,” to replace Biblical words, “saved” and “lost.”
Nibble at the word “cross” (Gk. stauros) in Matthew 27:40 and it can be taught that Jesus died on an upright stake. The larger objective for questioning the symbol of the cross is to convince Christians that God rejects worship that uses images or symbols, including the cross.
Nibble at the word “seed” in Galatians 3:16 and Paul will rise up to remind the Church that the promise of God was to the seed of Abraham, and not of “seeds, as of many but of one,” meaning Christ.
Nibble at the words “as it were” in Luke 22:44 and the agony of Christ in Gethsemane is immediately diminished to some degree.
Concerning the text in Luke 22, the Bible says, “And being in an agony he [Jesus] prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
The word rendered here as “great drops” does not mean drops gently falling on the ground, but rather thick and clammy masses of gore, pressed by inward agony through the skin, and, mixing with the sweat, falling thus to the ground.
It has been doubted by some whether the sacred writer meant to say that there was actually “blood” in this sweat, or only that the sweat was “in the form” of great drops. Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament says the following:
The natural meaning is, doubtless, that the blood was mingled with his sweat; that it fell profusely—falling masses of gore; that it was pressed out by his inward anguish; and that this was caused in some way in view of his approaching death.
His sweat became (ἐγένετο) great drops of blood. Kenneth S. Wuest expands upon this thought in his The New Testament: An Expanded Translation:
“And His perspiration became like great drops of blood [by reason of the fact that His blood burst through the ruptured walls of the capillaries, the latter caused by His agony, coloring the perspiration and enlarging the drops] continually falling down upon the ground.”
This sweating of blood due to extreme sufferings and mental anguish is called hematohidrosis and is well known in history across the centuries.
Aristotle mentioned it (De Cruce Hypomen), as did Voltaire. In his Universal History, Voltaire says of Charles IX of France: “He died in his 35th year. His disorder was of a very remarkable kind; the blood oozed out of all his pores. This malady, of which there have been other instances, was owing to either excessive fear, or violent agitation, or to a feverish and melancholy temperament.”
While it may be inconclusive to some whether or not the literal blood of Jesus fell from His brow while He prayed in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, Luke faithfully recorded what was told to him by someone who was there that terrible night.
And so, we read of Him, “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared” (Heb. 5:7). Is it any wonder the Church sings of the wounded Savior on a wondrous cross?
“When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,Isaac Watts
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.”
J. C. Ryle said in his commentary on Luke, “How can we [explain] the deep agony which our Lord underwent in the garden? What [was the] reason for the intense suffering, both mental and bodily, which He endured? There is only one satisfactory answer. It was the burden of [the] world’s imputed sin, which then began to press upon Him. . . . It was the enormous weight of these [sins] which made Him suffer agony. It was the sense of [the] world’s guilt pressing Him down which made the eternal Son of God sweat great drops of blood.”