The beloved of the Song can’t respond to Dodi’s call because she doesn’t want to get her feet dirty. After a survey of the biblical data concerning feet, Paul Griffiths ( Song of Songs (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible) , 120 ) concludes:

“When the beloved’s lover is read as the Lord, and especially as the Lord most intimately known in the flesh as Jesus, her refusal to dirty her feet in approaching him becomes a clear instance of her (and Israel’s, and the church’s, and our own) tendency to guard her purity from the risk of defilement. She is, she thinks, clean in her bed, safe in her room, thoroughly washed. Her feet, a synecdoche for the person in motion, therefore, she thinks, do not need to take her anywhere: She is where she needs to be. But she is not: her feet, and ours, have only one direction in which they need to move us, and that is toward the Lord’s face and embrace. If our feet get dirty on the way to him, he will cleanse them for us, as he did for the disciples. What she needs to do is to get up and get moving, security in the certainty that the Lord will wash her feet in making love to her.”

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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