The "Lily of the Valley"
what does that really mean?
Lily: Hebrew Word: !XwX
Transliterated Word: Shuwshan
The first of three Old Testament mentions is from the
Song of Songs.
Song 2:1 (NIV) I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the
Unfortunately, in type it is wrong. The woman is the
Lily, not the man. So the Lily--if you see the Song as being typological--is
the Church rather than Christ.
1. rose--if applied to Jesus Christ, it,
with the white lily (lowly, 2 Corinthians
8:9), answers to "white and ruddy" (Solomon
5:10). But it is rather the meadow-saffron: the Hebrew
means radically a plant with a pungent bulb, inapplicable to the rose.
So Syriac. It is of a white and violet color. The bride thus speaks of herself as lowly though lovely, in contrast
with the lordly "apple" or citron tree, the bridegroom (Solomon
2:3); so the "lily" is applied to her (Solomon
35:1,2). In North Palestine, between Mount Tabor and Lake Tiberias (1 Chronicles
5:16). Septuagint and Vulgate translate it, "a
plain"; though they err in this, the Hebrew Bible not elsewhere
favoring it, yet the parallelism to valleys shows that, in the proper
name Sharon, there is here a tacit reference to its meaning of lowliness.
Beauty, delicacy, and lowliness, are to be in her, as they were in Him (Matthew
Song 2:1,6-8,16 (NIV) I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of
the valleys... O that his left hand were under my head, and that his right
hand embraced me! I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or
the wild does: do not stir up or awaken love until it is ready! The voice of
my beloved! Look, he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the
hills... My lover is mine and I am his; he browses among the lilies.
Song 5:2-6,6:2-3 (NIV) ...Listen! my beloved is
knocking. "Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one; for
my head is wet with dew, my locks with the drops of the night." I had
put off my garment; how could I put it on again? I had bathed my feet; how
could I soil them? My beloved thrust his hand into the opening, and my
inmost being yearned for him. I arose to open to my beloved, and my hands
dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh, upon the handles of the
bolt. I opened to my beloved... My beloved has gone down to his garden, to
the beds of spices, to pasture his flock in the gardens, and to gather
lilies. I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine; he pastures his flock
among the lilies.
The other place that "Lily" shows up is:
Here again, the "lily" appears to refer to the
object of God's love in the feminine sense. And we get similar imagery of
"dew" and the like.
Hosea 14:4-7 (NIV) "I will heal their disloyalty;
I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. I will be like
the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily, he shall strike root like
the forests of Lebanon.... They shall again live beneath my shadow, they
shall flourish as a garden; they shall blossom like the vine, their
fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon."
So here we have the problem. We are the
the Valley" as the "true Israel" (Rom 2:28-29) of God. The Lily
is feminine--nearly all cultures "get this" and regard it thus. As a
lily, one of the largest and most lovely of flowers in the land of promise, we
are truly clothed with beauty and fragrance.
In the New Testament, Jesus uses the
"lilies" to represent the simplicity, purity, and effortless glory
of the saints.
Luke 12:27 (Wey) "Observe the lilies, how they
grow. They neither labour nor spin. And yet I tell you that not even Solomon
in all his splendor was as beautifully dressed as one of these."
So what are we to make of the popular use? I think it is
mistaken, a religious tradition of hymsters, to regard Jesus as the
Or perhaps not. Our "liliness" if we have
it--our beauty and fragrance--comes from Him or not at all (2Cr 2:14-16). And
again... we are His body, and soon to be "one flesh" with Him in
ways too intimate to imagine now. He has made a covenant with us in advance to
this end. So, in a roundabout sense, the Lily is included in Him and reflects
Eph 5:30-32 (NIV) For we are members of his body.
"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united
to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound
mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church.
Thus to say "Lilly of the Valley" and
"Bright Morning Star" is to depict the Bride and Jesus, or the
figurative body of and actual body of Christ.
It is indeed a "profound mystery".
The "Lily of the Valley" is us, conformed
into His image and like Him.
2Cor 2:14-15 (NIV) But thanks be to God, who always
leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere
the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of
Eph 5:25-27 (NIV) Husbands, love your wives, just
as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy,
cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her
to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other
blemish, but holy and blameless.