SONG OF SONGS
Song of Solomon


The following divisions and commentary on this ancient love story are the opinion of Michael S. Cole, M.D., and are not to be considered as the viewpoint of anyone else associated with the Church of Christ. There are several interpretations of this book of the Old Testament, but it is the opinion of the commentator that the "Shepherd Theory" or "Shepherd Hypothesis" is the most reasonable and most easily understood. It is also the most useful presentation of how we should use this book to teach people of all ages about love and sexuality. Children and adolescents can learn how to choose a mate. Married couples can learn from the Creator of marriage how to keep their love fresh and exciting. Our worldly friends, and unfortunately many Christians, are getting their sex education from vulgar prime time TV shows on a nightly basis. Even the commercials are glorifying Satan's way and denying God's truths about love, marriage, and sexuality that were revealed long ago in the Song of Solomon.


The Song of Solomon was written in a theatrical style. It was originally composed to be performed before an audience. Since it is called a song, we could say it was an ancient musical, perhaps not too different from an opera.

Most believe that the "Song of Songs," or "Song of Solomon," was the best of the 1,005 songs which Solomon wrote. (See I Kings 4:32.) The Song of Songs is an important part of the Word of God. Its study must not be neglected lest we fail to learn the truths which the Creator of sexual love has provided for us. He did not leave us to discover through trial and error how to find lasting happiness in a relationship with the opposite sex.

Because it was arbitrarily divided into chapters and verses as all other books in the Bible, many find a reading of the Song of Solomon to be confusing. Because of this, some conclude there is no plot or storyline. The true value of the book is missed unless we recognize that there are two men and a woman involved in this romantic tale. Those who believe that Solomon was the only suitor fail to appreciate his reputation of surrounding himself with hundreds of beautiful women while trying unsuccessfully to satisfy his aberrant sexual nature.

In the arrangement of this commentary, the book is divided into acts and scenes most consistent with the commentator’s interpretation. The chapter and verse divisions are minimized to allow the reader to follow the drama in a chronological fashion. The Scripture was derived from the King James Version with modifications to eliminate the archaic 17th century pronouns, as well as a few other minor changes that remain consistent with accepted translations.


This is a true story about a fair maiden who developed a sexually pure relationship with a young shepherd. Then one day, unexpectedly, the king noticed her beauty and desired to have her. The king could provide pleasure and luxury, while the shepherd was capable of building an emotional connection. The shepherd cared about the maiden’s heart and soul, while the king cared only about her body. She must make her choice between a common laborer who offers her true love and a wealthy king who can only offer sensuous love.

    CAST OF CHARACTERS
    • Shulamite Maiden
    • Shepherd Boyfriend
    • King Solomon
    • Maidens of Jerusalem
    • Citizens of Jerusalem
    • Queens and Concubines
    • Villagers
    • Wedding Guests




SONG OF SONGS

{1.1} The song of songs, which is Solomon's.

[ACT ONE, SCENE ONE: KING'S CAMP]

The story opens in King Solomon's camp where the Shulamite maiden, who is likely a teenager, has been brought by the king's command into a tent where she is being prepared by Solomon's servants for dining with the king. King Solomon is camping in the area near her village to inspect his vineyards and orchards which he rents to farmers.

[THE SHULAMITE, DAYDREAMING OF THE SHEPHERD]

{1.2-1.4a} Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth. For your love is better than wine. Because of the fragrance of your good ointments your name is as perfume poured out. Therefore do the virgin maidens love you. Take me away and let us run together. The king has brought me into his chambers.

While the girls are grooming the Shulamite, she is daydreaming aloud about her shepherd boyfriend. She expresses her enjoyment of his kisses and how his love for her is more relaxing and more satisfying than wine. The thought of his cologne and of his name is as pleasing as the best perfume to her. His character and personality cause all the village girls to be attracted to him. She wishes he would come to get her. Then they could run away together. It was not her decision to be in the king's tent.

[MAIDENS OF JERUSALEM TO THE KING]

{1.4b} We will be glad and rejoice in you, we will remember your love more than wine. The upright love you.

Since the maidens or daughters of Jerusalem (servant girls or ladies of the king's court) do not know the shepherd, they express their extravagant admiration for the king.

[THE SHULAMITE TO THE MAIDENS OF JERUSALEM]

{1.5-1.6} I am black, but lovely, O you daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon. Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun has looked upon me. My mother's sons were angry with me. They made me the keeper of the vineyards, but mine own vineyard have I not kept.

The Shulamite recognizes that her skin, darkened by the sun, is the color of the curtains in the tent. She knew that lighter skin tones were favored for brides, but she had insufficient time to prepare herself. She asks her attendants to not look down upon her for working in the sun. She believes she is still lovely in spite of her brothers forcing her to spend so much time in the sunshine. Her father must be dead since it is her brothers who are interfering with her attending to her own vineyard.

[THE SHULAMITE, SPEAKING OF THE SHEPHERD]

{1.7} Tell me, O you whom my soul loves, where you feed your flock, where you make your flock to rest at noon. For why should I be as one who hides herself by the flocks of your companions?

The Shulamite wonders aloud about where the shepherd can be found at midday. Perhaps she can find an excuse to be there, or should she watch him from a hiding place? The shepherd must be a hard worker if he has his sheep sufficiently fed to rest at noon.

[MAIDENS OF JERUSALEM TO THE SHULAMITE]

{1.8} If you know not, O you fairest among women, go your way forth by the tracks of the flock, and feed your young goats beside the shepherds' tents.

For the moment, the girls think the Shulamite is the fairest in the land. They suggest that she follow the trail left by the sheep of her shepherd boyfriend if she wants to find him. This certainly implies that she is free to leave whenever she chooses--that the king will not force her to marry him.

[ACT ONE, SCENE TWO: KING'S DINING TENT]

Now the scene changes to the king's dining table where the scrubbed and elaborately dressed Shulamite is seated with the king.

[THE KING TO THE SHULAMITE]

{1.9-1.10} I have compared you, O my love, to my mare among Pharaoh's chariots. Your cheeks are lovely with rows of jewels, your neck with chains of gold.

Stallions pulling the chariots of Egypt would be very distracted by the king's mare running loose. The king's first words to the Shulamite imply that he is turned on to her in a fashion similar to a male horse chasing a female horse in heat. He points out the physical beauty of her face and neck and how her loveliness is enhanced with his jewelry.

[MAIDENS OF JERUSALEM TO THE SHULAMITE]

{1.11} We will make you ornaments of gold with studs of silver.

The king having noticed the adornments, the Shulamite's attendants pipe up that they can make her even prettier through their creativity with additional jewelry of gold and silver.

[THE SHULAMITE, DAYDREAMING]

{1.12-1.14} While the king sits at his table, my spikenard perfume sends forth its fragrance. To me, my beloved is a sachet of myrrh that lies all night between my breasts. My beloved is to me as a cluster of henna blooms in the vineyards of Engedi.

Here the Shulamite thinks to herself about the king smelling her perfume and then drifts in thought to the pouch of fragrant myrrh with which she sleeps. It reminds her of her beloved shepherd as well as do the flowers in the vineyards.

[THE KING TO THE SHULAMITE]

{1.15} Behold, you are beautiful, my love. Behold, you are beautiful. Your eyes are like doves.

Again the king can speak only of her physical appearance. Is he capable of seeing her as a person or just a sex object?

[THE SHULAMITE, DAYDREAMING ABOUT HER FUTURE WITH THE SHEPHERD]

{1.16-1.17} Behold, how handsome you are, my beloved, and so desirable. Indeed our couch is luxuriant. The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir.

The Shulamite is unimpressed with the king's flattering words since he appears incapable of bonding emotionally with her before trying to sexually entice her. She continues to think about her beloved shepherd and how emotionally and physically attracted she is to him, but this has occurred only after friendship developed. (Later we see that the shepherd has praised her commitment to remain sexually pure until marriage.) She contemplates the simplicity of the house she would live in with the shepherd compared to the luxury surrounding Solomon. She imagines the joyous feeling of luxury when the shepherd lies with her on their couch after they are married.

[THE SHULAMITE TO THE KING]

{2.1} I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.

The Shulamite maiden points out to the king that she recognizes that she is a unique and special person. She will not swoon when he speaks seductive words to her.

[THE KING TO THE SHULAMITE]

{2.2} As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the maidens.

As superior in beauty as a flower is to thorn bushes, so the king sees her physical attractiveness compared to other maidens.

[THE SHULAMITE, THINKING OF THE SHEPHERD]

{2.3-2.6} As the apple tree among the trees of the woods, so is my beloved among the sons of men. I sat down under his shade with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. Sustain me with raisins, comfort me with apples, for I am lovesick. His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me.

The Shulamite considers how her beloved shepherd is like an apple tree in the forest. How delighted she would be to sit in the shade of that tree, and how delicious would be the apples that it provided for her. Though the king's dining chamber is decorated with elaborate and colorful banners, the best banner that could hang over her is the shepherd's love. Because of her desire for the shepherd, she prefers the simple foods he can provide to the fancy foods before her on the king's table. She eagerly awaits the marriage embrace that will be hers someday when she is lying in the shepherd's arms.

[ACT ONE, SCENE THREE: SHULAMITE'S LIGHTED TENT]

After dining with the king, the Shulamite maiden is prepared for bed by her attendants. She has wisely chosen to sleep alone.

[THE SHULAMITE TO THE MAIDENS OF JERUSALEM]

{2.7-2.17} I charge you, O you daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and by the does of the field, that you not stir up nor awaken my love till it pleases. The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, he stands behind our wall; he looks forth at the windows, showing himself through the lattice. My beloved spoke, and said to me, "Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth. The time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth her green figs. And the vines with the tender grape give forth a pleasant fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the cliffs, let me see your countenance, let me hear your voice. For sweet is your voice, and your countenance is lovely." Catch us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes. My beloved is mine, and I am his. He feeds his flock among the lilies. Until the day breaks, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag upon the mountains of Bether.

The Shulamite insists that the maidens from Jerusalem not try to force her to love the king, but to give love time to awaken if it is to be. She has witnessed wild animals performing mating rituals and understands that even animals must become acquainted before they mate. She then daydreams aloud about her pleasant thoughts of her beloved shepherd. Oh, how she loves his voice. He reminds her of a wild animal playing on the mountains. He hides, hoping to catch a glimpse of her. Now she recalls his loving words to her. He speaks romantically to her about the weather, the flowers, the birds, the fruit. He invites her to go away with him where they can enjoy each other's company undisturbed. He loves to listen to her talk and to look at the expressions on her face. There is no lustful tone to his speech. The Shulamite knows he will help protect her and her brothers’ vineyards from the destructive foxes. She knows that the shepherd's heart is hers and her heart belongs to him. She remembers how beautiful it was to watch his sheep eat among the wild flowers. She encourages him to be vigorous until the work day ends with the setting of the sun.

[ACT ONE, SCENE FOUR: SHULAMITE'S DARKENED TENT]

Now the tent is dark and the Shulamite sleeps.

[THE SHULAMITE, DREAMING]

{3.1-3.4} By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loves. I sought him, but I did not find him. I will rise now and go about the city in the streets, and in the squares I will seek him whom my soul loves. I sought him, but I did not find him. The watchmen that go about the city found me, and I said to them, "Have you seen him whom my soul loves?" It was but a little while after I left them when I found him whom my soul loves. I held him and would not let him go until I had brought him into my mother's house and into the chamber of her that conceived me.

The Shulamite's dream is about searching for the man she loves in the streets and in the marketplaces. Soon after she asks the security guards if they have seen her beloved, she finds him. She hugs him and doesn't want to let go. She takes him to her mother's house and to her mother's room.

[THE SHULAMITE TO THE MAIDENS OF JERUSALEM]

{3.5} I charge you, O you daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and by the does of the field, that you not stir up nor awaken my love till it pleases.

The Shulamite awakens and reminds the maidens from Jerusalem that they must give her love time to develop, just as the wild animals' attraction for each other needs time to build.

[ACT TWO, SCENE ONE: JERUSALEM]

All those traveling with the king have broken camp and are returning with him to the palace in Jerusalem. The Shulamite is probably sitting beside him while the distance is increasing between her and her shepherd boyfriend. Their entry into the city is quite a parade and draws a crowd.

[CITIZENS OF JERUSALEM]

{3.6-3.11} Who is this who comes out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all the scented powders of the merchant? Behold it is Solomon's carriage, escorted by sixty valiant men around it, of the mighty men of Israel. They all hold swords, being expert in war. Every man has his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night. King Solomon made himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon. He made its pillars of silver, its support of gold, its covering of purple, its interior fitted with love, for the maidens of Jerusalem. Go forth, O you daughters of Zion, and behold King Solomon with the crown with which his mother crowned him in the day of his wedding, and in the day of the gladness of his heart.

Those who are witnessing this majestic exhibition quickly determine this is King Solomon returning. They have probably seen him return to his palace with so many beautiful women that they think nothing of the Shulamite's presence. Being the king, he can have any female in the kingdom. Sixty of the mightiest men in the nation serve as his well-armed bodyguards. The king's chariot has been made of the finest materials. The interior was designed to impress the maidens of Jerusalem. Mothers watching this parade call for their daughters to behold the king and his crown. Solomon's mother, Bathsheba, gave him this crown on the day of his first marriage, when he was filled with gladness. Future marriages no doubt did not bring the same joy to him.

[ACT TWO, SCENE TWO: PALACE]

The king is back at his palace. Though he has opportunity to have a conversation with the Shulamite, he again expresses his desire for her because of her physical appearance.

[THE KING TO THE SHULAMITE]

{4.1-4.5} Behold, you are beautiful, my love. Behold, you are beautiful. Your eyes are like the doves behind your veil. Your hair is as a flock of goats that appear from Mount Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of sheep that are freshly shorn, which came up from the washing; every one of which bears twins, and none is barren among them. Your lips are like a thread of scarlet, and your speech is lovely. Your temples are like a slice of pomegranate within your locks. Your neck is like the tower of David built for an armory, on which there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men. Your two breasts are like two young gazelles that are twins, which feed among the lilies.

The king attempts to win the Shulamite's affection solely by offering flattering words about her anatomy.

[THE SHULAMITE TO THE KING]

{4.6} Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away, I will go my way to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense.

Unimpressed with the king's physical attraction to her before any emotional bond has even begun to develop, the Shulamite excuses herself to meditate in a nearby garden. She will ponder her options until sunset.

[THE KING TO THE SHULAMITE]

{4.7} You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.

Apparently ignoring what the Shulamite said, the king continues to make comment about her outward appearance. By not trying to get to know her as a person, he has not learned that inwardly she is more precious than gold.

[ACT TWO, SCENE THREE: GARDEN]

Away from the king, his flattery and his wealth, the Shulamite takes time to think and pray in the natural beauty of a garden or park. It is surely tempting for her to choose a life of leisure at the palace rather than deal with the hard work that a marriage to the shepherd would mean.

[THE SHULAMITE, REMEMBERING THE SHEPHERD]

{4.8-5.1a} "Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, with me from Lebanon. Look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards. You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride. You have ravished my heart with one look of your eyes, with one chain of your necklace. How sweet is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better is your love than wine! And the fragrance of your perfumes than all spices! Your lips, O my bride, drip as the honeycomb. Honey and milk are under your tongue. And the smell of your garments is like the scent of Lebanon. A garden locked is my sister, my bride; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; henna with spikenard, spikenard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon with all trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes with all the chief spices. You are a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon." Awake, O north wind, and come, you south. Blow upon my garden that its fragrant spices may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat its choice fruits. "I am come into my garden, my sister, my bride. I have gathered my myrrh with my spice. I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey. I have drunk my wine with my milk."

The Shulamite remembers a conversation with the shepherd when he invited her to go with him to the mountaintops. He loved to be in her presence. The sparkle in her eyes and her selection of adornments enchanted him. We are reminded here that attending to one’s appearance and body odor contributes to one’s attractiveness and enhances the development of true love. The Shulamite had decided, in advance of any temptations, that she would keep her virginity “locked,” “shut up,” and “sealed” until her sexual nature could be expressed with a husband as God intended. The mention of “your plants” by the shepherd perhaps refers to the variety of unique children she could someday bear for him. The shepherd and Shulamite virgin were offering the very best that they could provide for each other.

[GOD'S BLESSING]

{5.1b} Eat, O friends. Drink, yes, drink abundantly, O lovers.

It is unclear who would have sung this line in the play. It clearly encourages the Shulamite and her boyfriend, who became friends before they were lovers, to enjoy their sexually pure relationship, their conversation, and each other’s company. In our modern age, many find it difficult to call this couple “lovers” when they have not engaged in sexual activity. As reason dictates, “True love waits.”

[ACT TWO, SCENE FOUR: SHULAMITE'S PALACE BEDCHAMBER]

The Shulamite has returned to the palace where she is having a restless night.

[THE SHULAMITE, DREAMING]

{5.2-5.7} I sleep, but my heart is awake. It is the voice of my beloved that knocks, saying, "Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled. For my head is filled with dew and my locks with the drops of the night." "I have taken off my robe; how can I put it on? I have washed my feet; how can I soil them?" My beloved extended his hand through a hole in the door, and my heart yearned for him. I rose up to open to my beloved. My hands dripped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock. I opened to my beloved, but my beloved had turned away and was gone. My heart failed when he spoke. I sought him, but I could not find him. I called him, but he did not answer me. The watchmen that went about the city found me. They struck me and wounded me. The keepers of the walls took my shawl away from me.

Her dream is similar to the pleasant one the previous night in the camp. Now in the palace, far away from her shepherd, the dream is more like a nightmare. Her beloved comes knocking at her door, but she makes excuses for not responding to him. Her desire for him overcomes her reluctance to get out of bed. When she finally gets to the door, after making herself smell pretty for him, she discovers that he has left. While searching for him in the city, she is hurt by those who should have treated her kindly.

[ACT THREE, SCENE ONE: SHULAMITE'S PALACE ROOM]

The Shulamite awakens without having found her beloved in her dream.

[THE SHULAMITE TO THE MAIDENS OF JERUSALEM]

{5.8} I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you tell him that I am lovesick.

The Shulamite maiden decides to send her attendants to find her beloved shepherd and tell him of her love for him.

[THE MAIDENS OF JERUSALEM TO THE SHULAMITE]

{5.9} What is your beloved more than another beloved, O you fairest among women? What is your beloved more than another beloved, that you so charge us?

The attendants attempt to argue with her about why would she think her beau is any better than any other suitor, i.e., the king.

[THE SHULAMITE TO THE MAIDENS OF JERUSALEM]

{5.10-5.16} My beloved is white and ruddy, chief among ten thousand. His head is as the most fine gold. His locks are bushy and black as a raven. His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and well set. His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers. His lips like lilies, dripping sweet smelling myrrh. His hands are as gold rods set with beryl. His body is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires. His legs are as alabaster columns, set upon pedestals of fine gold. His countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. His mouth is full of sweetness. Yes, he is wholly desirable. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.

The Shulamite can quickly list the good qualities of her shepherd boyfriend. She speaks of what she admires about both his appearance and his character. When you truly love someone, it is inappropriate to point out their imperfections to others. Blessing and cursing cannot both proceed from a mouth “full of sweetness.” The Shulamite desires everything about him. She is willing to accept him as he is, without any attempts to change him. She proclaims that he is her beloved and he is her friend--not Solomon.

[THE MAIDENS OF JERUSALEM TO THE SHULAMITE]

{6.1} To where is your beloved gone, O you fairest among women? To where is your beloved turned aside that we may seek him with you?

Finally convinced that this shepherd boyfriend truly is someone special, the attendants agree to search for him.

[THE SHULAMITE TO THE MAIDENS OF JERUSALEM]

{6.2-6.3} My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed his flock in the gardens, and to gather lilies. I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine. He feeds his flock among the lilies.

The Shulamite tells the maidens of Jerusalem where they should be able to find the shepherd. She joyously proclaims the choice she has made, and it is not for the king. She now realizes that the king offers a kind of love that appeals only to the senses, but will inevitably fade from its initial excitement.

[ACT THREE, SCENE TWO: PALACE HALL]

The Shulamite is dressed up in the finest that money can buy. While her attendants search for her shepherd, she is introduced to the king's 140 wives.

[THE KING TO THE SHULAMITE]

{6.4-6.9} You are beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, lovely as Jerusalem, awesome as an army with banners. Turn away your eyes from me, for they have confused me. Your hair is as a flock of goats that appear from Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of sheep which go up from the washing; every one of which bears twins, and there is not one barren among them. As a slice of pomegranate are your temples within your locks. There are sixty queens, and eighty concubines, and maidens without number. But my dove, my undefiled, is unique. She is the only one of her mother; she is the choice one of her who bore her. The maidens saw her, and blessed her; also, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her.

Though King Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived (see I Kings 3:12), he ignores wisdom from God and chooses instead to be ruled by his undisciplined sexual nature. Surrounded by beautiful women, Solomon again demonstrates how "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" dominate his thinking. The king is likely just repeating well-rehearsed lines which he has spoken before to other pretty girls. He asks the Shulamite to look away at one point, because the look in her eyes is distracting him from quoting his “romantic” lines. These words are basically the same ones he used the day before with her, suggesting that he has learned that most women will be turned on by these particular flattering statements from him. He probably really believes that he has finally found that unique body who is the perfect match for his body. Amazingly, many of the wives listening to his praise of the Shulamite’s body probably heard him say the exact same thing about them once. The king is clearly incapable of developing a loving relationship with a woman. He can shower her with luxury and flattering words, but he has failed to give any woman the kind of love that can be shared only between a husband and wife who are devoted to glorifying God in their bodies, whose sexual embrace in marriage is pleasing to the One who created our sexual natures. No one who seeks to find the perfect sexual adventure with the perfect sexual partner ever finds the kind of happiness that only occurs in married couples who keep themselves faithful to each other. These truths were taught to the Shulamite by her mother (see chapter 8:2).

[THE QUEENS AND CONCUBINES TO THE KING]

{6.10} Who is she who appears as the dawn, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and awesome as an army with banners?

The 140 wives and concubines recognize the Shulamite’s physical beauty and agree with the king that she would be a suitable addition to his harem.

[THE KING TO THE QUEENS AND CONCUBINES]

{6.11-6.12} I went down to the grove of nut trees to see the new growth of the valley and to see whether the vine had budded and the pomegranates were in bloom. Before I was aware, my soul's desire made me like the chariots of Amminadib, my noble people.

Here the king explains how he found this fair maiden. He tells that when he saw her his heart was excited as it is by racing chariots.

[THE KING, HIS QUEENS AND CONCUBINES TO THE EXITING SHULAMITE]

{6.13a} Come back, come back, O Shulamite. Come back, come back, that we may look upon you.

The Shulamite has heard enough and is sickened by her display as a sex toy. She tries to leave, but everyone implores her to return so that they can admire her beauty some more.

[THE SHULAMITE]

{6.13b} What would you see in the Shulamite? As it were the dance of the company of two armies?

Do they see the Shulamite only as entertainment? Is there no one in the palace who desires to discover her inward beauty and learn of her dreams and of her devotion to God?

[THE QUEENS AND CONCUBINES TO THE SHULAMITE]

{7.1-7.5} How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O prince's daughter! The curves of your thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a skillful workman. Your navel is like a round goblet, which never lacks mixed wine. Your waist is like a heap of wheat encircled about with lilies. Your two breasts are like two young gazelles that are twins. Your neck is as a tower of ivory. Your eyes like the fishpools in Heshbon by the gate of Bathrabbim. Your nose is as the tower of Lebanon which looks toward Damascus. Your head crowns you like Mount Carmel, and the hair of your head is like purple. The king is held captive by your tresses.

The 140 wives and concubines want to point out what they recognize as the Shulamite maiden’s beautiful physical traits. They see that the king is captivated by her appearance. Long ago these women abandoned any hopes of developing a loving relationship with a man. They made their choice to live in the king’s luxury, and they would not trade it for the devotion and admiration that a common man could provide. They are beyond understanding how a beautiful girl could turn down such promises of prodigal living.

[THE KING TO THE SHULAMITE]

{7.6-7.9a} How beautiful and how delightful you are, O love, with all your charms! Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts like its clusters. I said, "I will climb the palm tree, I will take hold of its branches." Now also your breasts shall be as clusters of the vine. And the smell of your breath like apples. And the roof of your mouth like the best wine.

The king is still trying to charm the Shulamite. Here he gets more sexually explicit and expresses his desire to clutch her breasts. He probably makes an effort to kiss her at this point.

[THE SHULAMITE TO THE KING]

{7.9b-7.10} It goes down sweetly for my beloved, flowing gently through the lips of those who fall asleep. I am my beloved's, and his desire is for me.

Trying to be respectful to the king, but repulsed by his behavior, the virgin Shulamite points out to him that her heart belongs to another. She likes the kind of desire the shepherd has for her because he developed an emotional bond with her before expecting her to desire a physical union. Making love with her shepherd husband will be sweet. Lovemaking within marriage can induce the peaceful sleep that comes to those who don’t worry if their lover will be there in the morning.

[THE SHULAMITE TO THE ENTERING SHEPHERD]

{7.11-8.2} Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field. Let us lodge in the villages. Let us get up early to the vineyards. Let us see if the vine has budded, whether the tender grape blossoms appear and the pomegranates are budding. There will I give you my love. The mandrakes give off a fragrance, and at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for you, O my beloved. O that you were as my brother, who nursed at the breasts of my mother! When I should find you outside, I would kiss you, for which I would not be despised. I would lead you, and bring you into my mother's house, who would instruct me. I would cause you to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate.

The Shulamite, excited that her beloved has come for her, tells him of her desire to depart from the luxuriousness of the palace and return to the countryside with him. She is a country girl who wants to marry someone with values and background similar to hers. She promises to initiate lovemaking with him after they are married. Her mention of mandrakes may refer to fertility and her desire to be the mother of his children. She has stored up sexual delights for him, willing to freely share her sexuality with him after they are married. She promises to kiss him in public since no one would think it improper for her to express her love to him in that manner. She will serve him in his best interest as her mother has taught her.

[THE SHULAMITE TO THE MAIDENS OF JERUSALEM]

{8.3-8.4} His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that you not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.

The Shulamite tells the maidens of Jerusalem how lovely it will be in the arms of her beloved. She warns them to not give in to sexual desire, but rather to first let real love grow, if it is meant to be. To give in to a man’s sexual advances outside marriage discourages him from making wise choices about his sex drive and long-term commitments.

[ACT THREE, SCENE THREE: SHEPHERD'S VILLAGE]

The Shulamite returns to her village with much less pomp than the way she left it. This is probably now her wedding processional.

[VILLAGERS]

{8.5a} Who is this who comes up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?

Everyone in the village knows that the Shulamite left with the king. They must be curious to see that she rejected his marriage proposal and instead has accepted the proposal of a poor shepherd.

[THE SHULAMITE TO THE SHEPHERD]

{8.5b-8.7} I awakened you under the apple tree. There your mother brought you forth; there she brought you forth who bore you. Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm. For love is strong as death. Jealousy is cruel as the grave. Its flames are coals of fire, which has a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it. If a man would give all the wealth of his house for love, it would utterly be scorned.

The Shulamite’s love for the shepherd developed over sufficient time to have an enduring foundation. The Shulamite wants the shepherd to pledge that he will never again hide his love for her, but will wear it for all to see. True love is as dependable and as certain as death. Sensuous love, such as that offered by the king, depends upon sex for “happiness” and cannot be trusted since it lacks an emotional bond of commitment. The shepherd experienced the cruel, burning pain of jealousy when the Shulamite was with the king, and he should avoid this in the future. The Shulamite would never again feel jealous of the women of the King's palace. Floods of water could not put out the Shulamite’s burning desire for the shepherd. This is a God-given and healthy desire in which a woman will give up her own rights to put her husband’s best interests before her own. A man’s wealth cannot buy true love from a woman.

[ACT THREE, SCENE FOUR: WEDDING BANQUET]

This is surely a similar scene to the first one in the play, but the king’s tents have been replaced with a feast among the vineyards and orchards.

[WEDDING GUESTS TO THE SHULAMITE]

{8.8-8.9} We have a little sister, and she has no breasts. What shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for? If she be a wall, we will build upon her a battlement of silver. And if she be a door, we will barricade her with planks of cedar.

Women in the village seek to learn from the Shulamite bride the secret to remaining sexually pure till marriage, hoping they can begin teaching their daughters before they begin to sexually awaken. Some know the answer, but want it confirmed by the Shulamite. If a girl finds that a boy is attracted to her, she will be a wall or a door. If she is a wall, keeping boys' hands off herself, she should be rewarded by her family with encouragement to remain pure. If she is a door, too easily charmed by a boy who will say anything to get into her undergarments, then it is her family’s responsibility to prevent access to her until she emotionally matures and can say, “No.”

[THE SHULAMITE TO THE WEDDING GUESTS]

{8.10-8.12} I was a wall, and my breasts were like towers. Then I became in his eyes as one who finds peace. Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon. He leased out the vineyard to keepers. Every one was to bring for the fruit from there a thousand pieces of silver. My own vineyard is before me. You, O Solomon, may have the thousand, and those that tend its fruit two hundred.

The Shulamite bride tells them that she was a wall over which no one could climb. Her breasts were kept as towers on top of the wall, allowing no man to touch them. She protected her virgin breasts. (See Ezekiel 23:3, 8 to find that any sexual activity outside of marriage is fornication, including fondling of the breasts.) She tells them that the king owns her land, but not her mind and body. All she owes King Solomon is the rent on her property, not sexual favors.

[THE SHEPHERD TO THE SHULAMITE]

{8.13} You who sit in the gardens, the companions are listening for your voice. Let me hear it.

The shepherd is eager for the public ceremony to end, but patiently waits till his new wife is ready for it to be over. Then they can begin their private celebration of their love for each other.

[THE SHULAMITE TO THE SHEPHERD]

{8.14} Make haste, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag upon the mountains of spices.

Time for lovemaking has come. The Shulamite has saved herself for her wedding night. She encourages her new husband to be playful. She has prepared herself to both give and receive pleasure in the arms of her beloved spouse. A lifetime of sexual bliss and fulfillment await them.

[AND THE SHEPHERD AND THE SHULAMITE LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER]
smiley face


Copyright © 1998, by Michael S. Cole, M.D., Fort Smith, Arkansas
Permission is granted to freely copy and distribute with text unchanged, including commentator's name.


Comments may be directed to MColeMD@theColeFamily.com



For a more detailed study of the Song of Songs,
  I highly recommend these books and CD by Patsy Rae Dawson:


Read an article about the making of modern-day Solomons:
Enjoy a musical rendition in Hebrew of this ancient opera:



Safe Sex C.O.N.D.O.M.

Controlling Our Natural Desires by Obeying the Master

It is the will of God that you should be sanctified: that you should
avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to
possess your own vessel in a way that is holy and honorable,
not in passionate lust.
(I Thessalonians 4:3-5)

The sexual relationship originated within the mind of God and is set apart
from what the world experiences when men and women learn to respect
God's wonderful sexual truths. God reserves the greatest pleasures
for those who obey Him and keep sexual activity within marriage.




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