“reclining upon his dining-couch.” It was the custom in biblical times to recline while eating, and that is represented here, although a person would not necessarily have to eat while on the couch just as we don’t always eat when at the table. The couch was well suited for relaxing or making love as well.
“my nard.” The Hebrew text translated “nard” is another name for spikenard. Spikenard is an aromatic oil from a plant that grows in Nepal, China, and India, but in biblical times was imported from India. Both the Old Testament and New Testament mention spikenard. This verse portrays a sexy prelude to lovemaking, with the man relaxing on a divan and ostensibly snacking, while the woman is nearby and her perfume is filling the air. Her perfume is quite likely in a little sack hung around her neck and resting between her breasts. The sense of smell has always enhanced sexuality and sensuality, and perfumes of various types have been associated with lovemaking for millennia (cp. Prov. 7:17). It is worth noticing that in the next verse, Song 1:13, the woman portrays her lover being the perfume that rests between her breasts. On that basis, M. Fox postulates that in this verse also her lover is the spikenard between her breasts that is giving off its perfume. While that may be possible, it seems more likely that the woman is wearing perfume that is attracting the lover, who then comes and lies between her breasts.