Song Of Solomon 1

Introduction

‘The Song Of Solomon’ or ‘The Song Of Songs’ as it is sometimes known, is truly a love poem at its best, which describes so beautifully the wonderful love relationship between a man and a woman, Genesis 2:21-23.

It also appears to imply that Solomon in his later years, gave up the practice of polygamy and found his one true love, Ecclesiastes 7:2. As with all Old Testament books, there are many lessons we can learn from this beautiful book, Romans 15:4 / Ephesians 5:25-33.

Author

It’s widely accepted that King Solomon wrote the book, in fact, we only have to read Song Of Solomon 1:1, to see that Solomon himself claims to be the author of it. Song of Solomon would have been one of the 1005 songs which he wrote in his lifetime, 1 Kings 4:32.

Date

If Solomon did write the book, then he would have written it sometime during his reign as king of Israel, probably near the end of his forty-year reign. We know that he died in 931 B.C., so that means it was obviously written before then.

The Characters

Shulamite Woman

King Solomon

Daughters of Jerusalem

The Watchmen

Citizens of Jerusalem

Queens and Concubines

Villagers

Wedding Guests

Although there are a few characters mentioned within the book, the two main characters are as follows.

1. King Solomon.

Solomon meets a Shulammite woman under an apple tree in the country, Song Of Solomon 8:5, and falls immediately in love with her. He’s never met anyone like her before, and so he treats her with great respect, Song Of Solomon 8:10.

2. The Shulammite Woman.

She is a Shulammite woman, Song Of Solomon 6:13, who was beautiful not only physically, Song Of Solomon 2:1 / Song Of Solomon 1:5, but also inwardly, Song Of Solomon 8:2 / Song Of Solomon 8:10.

She was also a woman who worked hard under any conditions, Song Of Solomon 1:6, and knows to handle sheep, Song Of Solomon 1:7 / Song Of Solomon 2:16.

Jewish Tradition

One of the customs of the week of Passover is the reading in the synagogue of the biblical poem ‘The Song of Songs.’ ‘The Song of Songs,’ or ‘The Song of Solomon,’ is associated with Passover because it is a love poem set in the Palestinian spring, which comes in late February or early March and generally lasts until mid-April.

Interpretations

When it comes to interpreting the book, there are several views held by many people. I don’t want to go through each one, but here are four of the most popular.

1. Some have interpreted the book as an allegory.

In the Jewish Targum, the book is described as an allegory with the congregation of Israel being the bride and Solomon a representation of God.

2. Some have interpreted the book as an allegory but pointing to something else.

They see the Shulammite as the church and Solomon as God. However, the problem with this allegory is seen when we remind ourselves of the sinfulness of Solomon, Song Of Solomon 6:8-9 / Deuteronomy 17:17.

3. Some have interpreted the book as an allegory, which represents the Shulammite woman as wisdom personified.

The problem with this interpretation is seen in the fact that the humble Shulammite actually asks to be taught wisdom by Solomon, Song Of Solomon 8:2.

4. Some have interpreted the book as literal.

As someone once pointed out, the title of the book isn’t ‘The Song of Solomon’ to praise the church, the wicked behaviour of Solomon, the chaste behaviour of a woman, or wisdom.’ The Song is rather Solomon’s expression of deep and devoted love for a woman.

This fourth and final interpretation is the one we will continue to keep in mind as we go through this study. I believe this to be an inspired true story, 2 Timothy 3:16, of Solomon and his newfound love for the Shulammite woman and her love for him.

Outline

The bride expresses her deep desire to be with her lover and sings praises about him. Song Of Solomon 1:1-2:7

The affection between the bride and her lover becomes more intimate, and she pours out more praise on the one she loves was very elaborate and exquisite analogies from nature. Song Of Solomon 2:8-3:5

King Solomon gives his praise, as does the bride, and the engagement takes place. Song Of Solomon 3:6-5:1

The bridegroom goes away for a period of time, and during his absence the bride longs for his return and continues to give him praises. Song Of Solomon 5:2-6:9

This section contains some very descriptive verses describing the beauty of the bride. Song Of Solomon 6:10-8:4

The conclusion deals with the durable eternal bond of consummated love. Song Of Solomon 8:5-14

The Text

‘Solomon’s Song of Songs.’ Song Of Solomon 1:1

In the very first verse of the book, we find that Solomon declares himself to be the author of the book.

As was noted earlier, this song would have been one of 1005 songs written by Solomon, 1 Kings 4:32.

This also tells us that it wasn’t written or spoken in a language in ordinary form but written as poetry.

Setting The Scene

‘Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—for your love is more delightful than wine. Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the young women love you! Take me away with you—let us hurry! Let the king bring me into his chambers. We rejoice and delight in you; we will praise your love more than wine. How right they are to adore you!’ Song Of Solomon 1:2-4

The song begins by depicting a group of women sitting together and talking about their desire for one man.

All the virgin daughters of Jerusalem, Song Of Solomon 1:5, including the Shulammite woman, Song Of Solomon 6:13 / Joshua 19:18, are present at this point.

Using their imagination, they’re thinking about what it would be like to kiss Solomon. They long for the touch of his lips on theirs and think it would be sweeter than wine, very enjoyable and intoxicating.

The perfume was used by Solomon to anoint himself and so his name is as refreshing and soothing as the perfume. The very name of Solomon is known far and wide abroad, 1 Kings 10:1-10, and is compared to perfume being poured out. Solomon would have been very attractive to all the virgin daughters of Jerusalem because of his charm and world glory.

The Shulammite woman was taken from her home in Shulem and although no one knows where this place actually is, many believe it is a place called, Shunem, which was a village in the territory of Issachar, north of Jezreel and south of Mount Gilboa, Joshua 19:18.

She was possibly taken against her will and placed first of all in Solomon’s home in the mountains of Lebanon. However, she and the other virgin daughters of Jerusalem are ready and willing for Solomon to take them away and take them into his chambers, but they had to wait, Esther 2:12.

‘Dark am I, yet lovely, daughters of Jerusalem, dark like the tents of Kedar, like the tent curtains of Solomon. Do not stare at me because I am dark, because I am darkened by the sun. My mother’s sons were angry with me and made me take care of the vineyards; my own vineyard I had to neglect.’ Song Of Solomon 1:4-6

Now that the Shulammite and the other daughters of Jerusalem have made their desires known to each other, they continue to sing together. We can picture the scene as they are all assembled in one place, they begin to look at each other and there among them is one who looks different from all the others.

We can almost imagine the daughters of Jerusalem asking themselves, as they look at the Shulammite woman, what is she doing here? Fair skin women were highly prized and were a sign of royal care in the palaces.

She tells the daughters that although she has dark skin, she is still ‘lovely’. We can also imagine the Shulammite woman answering their thoughts by saying, ‘yes, I’m dark’.

She then goes on to compare herself to the ‘tents of Kedar’, that is, like the tents of the Ishmaelites, Genesis 25:13. These tents were known to be made from black or dark coloured goat skins.

She also compares herself to the ‘tent curtains of Solomon’. Solomon’s house was furnished with beautiful and glorious curtains, these would have been woven tapestries which were very beautiful and brought much joy to the king.

She goes on to explain why she looks the way she does, she is ‘dark’ because the sun had scorched her whilst she was working. Because she was working, this tells us that she wasn’t a woman with royal connections but just an everyday common woman.

She then makes a plea to the daughters of Jerusalem and asks them not to ‘stare at her because she is dark’. In other words, she’s pleading with them not to look at her as if she is some kind of foreigner. She wants them to understand that she is ‘dark’ because she’s been working hard in the vineyards, 1 Samuel 16:7 / John 7:24.

She then tells the daughters of Jerusalem that her brothers were ‘angry’ with her and forced her to work in the vineyards. It’s interesting to note that she too must have been angry with her brothers because she doesn’t refer to them as her brothers but as ‘my mother’s sons.’

We’re not told what caused her brother’s anger but clearly, there was some kind of family issue going on behind the scenes, which had never been dealt with, Proverbs 29:2 / Ephesians 4:26-27.

‘Tell me, you whom I love, where you graze your flock and where you rest your sheep at midday. Why should I be like a veiled woman beside the flocks of your friends?’ Song Of Solomon 1:7

Even though Solomon isn’t present at this point in time, the Shulammite woman now starts daydreaming and addresses him in song. She longs to meet Solomon on her own and away from the daughters of Jerusalem. She wants to know where the king is so that she can go to him.

Although he is never described as a shepherd, it is possible that Solomon kept sheep in his younger days before David selected him as his successor and he continued to watch the flock for the peace it gave him.

We do know that Solomon owned herds and flocks, Ecclesiastes 2:7, and he personally got involved in anything he had going, Ecclesiastes 2:10.

The Shulammite woman doesn’t want to be seen aimlessly wandering around like ‘a veiled woman’, that is, like a prostitute looking for business.

In those days prostitutes wore a veil in order to hide their identity and because shepherds were usually on their own, they would be prime targets for business. She’s basically saying that she doesn’t want to leave the wrong impression about her character among those who might see her.

It’s worth noting that she refers to Solomon as the one she ‘loves’. We know that she hasn’t met him personally so far in the story, and we know there hasn’t been any previous relationship between them both.

This tells us that she knows of Solomon but because of what she knows about him, she loves him, Proverbs 22:1 / Ecclesiastes 7:1.

‘If you do not know, most beautiful of women, follow the tracks of the sheep and graze your young goats by the tents of the shepherds.’ Song Of Solomon 1:8

After asking where Solomon can be located, the daughters of Jerusalem answer her by saying if she doesn’t know where he is, then she should go to the sheep and take care of the young goats by the shepherd’s tents.

In other words, if the beautiful Shulammite woman has no idea where Solomon is, then she should just go back to her simple shepherd life.

These words of the daughters of Jerusalem aren’t very kind, possibly because they were jealous of the Shulammite woman’s beauty, they treat her as if she were totally stupid, someone who wasn’t worthy of the king or the king’s attention.

‘I liken you, my darling, to a mare among Pharaoh’s chariot horses. Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings, your neck with strings of jewels. We will make you earrings of gold, studded with silver.’ Song Of Solomon 1:9-11

It’s at this point in the scene that Solomon appears. Up until now, the Shulammite woman has been revealing her thoughts towards Solomon and now Solomon is going to reveal his thoughts about her. We don’t know when they met or how they met, we’re only told that they have this initial intense interest in each other.

It’s possible that she was brought to Solomon as one of his many virgin wives, and it’s possible because she was ‘lovely’ and ‘dark’, Song Of Solomon 1:4-6, she stood out from all the other virgins.

When Solomon sees the Shulammite woman, he sees within her ‘a mare among Pharaoh’s chariot horses.’

I don’t know how a woman would react today if she was described as a mare, but a mare is not only a beautiful horse, it’s also a highly spirited horse. Horses were highly prized as animals of beauty and anyone who owned horses took great pride in them, especially the chariot horses.

Solomon sees her natural beauty and pictures her with ‘earrings’ and ‘jewels around her neck’. After complimenting her, he then tempts her to stay in the palace with gold and silver.

‘While the king was at his table, my perfume spread its fragrance. My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh resting between my breasts. My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms from the vineyards of En Gedi.’ Song Of Solomon 1:12-14

If you’re an ‘old romantic’, you will love what is happening here, as the Shulammite woman now meets Solomon for the first time.

We can picture the love scene being built here, where we have the Shulammite woman and Solomon, both of whom have a deep attraction to one another. All those thoughts of each other they kept deep within themselves and all those feelings they buried deep within each other.

All of those emotions were leading to this moment, the moment when they actually met for the first time. We can imagine two young people who noticed one another from a distance, two young people who have each other on their minds all day long and finally they meet face to face and actually start talking to each other, in the hope that they will begin a relationship together.

Solomon is sitting at his table when the Shulammite woman appears in front of him. She then begins to flirt with Solomon. Figuratively speaking, her presence sends out a fragrance of her love toward him and Solomon picks up on it.

There are many ways to flirt with someone to indicate that you’re interested in someone else, we do this through eye contact or simply by using body language.

Notice that she calls Solomon her ‘beloved’ and compares him to ‘a sachet of myrrh resting between my breasts’. Myrrh is a perfume from India, Africa, and Arabia, and it appears to have been applied between the breasts of women.

The fragrant aroma of myrrh was a constant refreshment to the woman wearing it. Solomon held such a special place within the mind of the Shulammite woman that he reminded her of this myrrh. She thought about Solomon all the time and his name was refreshing to her.

She says that Solomon was like ‘a cluster of henna blossoms from the vineyards of En Gedi.’ She’s looking forward to the time when she can lie as close to her beloved as her perfume sachet does each evening. The En Gedi was a fertile area on the western shore of the Dead Sea.

The area surrounding the En Gedi is desert country, which makes the oasis stand out as even more desirable. In other words, she sees Solomon as standing out among those around him as a blossoming bush in an oasis which stands out against the desert surrounding it.

‘How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves.’ Song Of Solomon 1:15

While Solomon sits at his table and looks at the Shulammite woman, he declares that she is physically beautiful and her eyes are like the eyes of a dove. The eyes of a dove are seen as representing purity and gentleness.

Domesticated doves are often white and known for their peacefulness, so Solomon may be describing her dark pupil in midst of her white eyes, which were full of peace. Everything about her totally impresses the king.

Notice that whilst she called Solomon her ‘beloved’, Song Of Solomon 1:12-14, Solomon now calls her, ‘my darling’, some translations use the words, ‘my love’.

‘How handsome you are, my beloved! Oh, how charming! And our bed is verdant. The beams of our house are cedars; our rafters are firs.’ Song Of Solomon 1:16-17

The Shulammite woman replies to Solomon by telling him that he is ‘handsome’ and ‘charming’. She envisions future days together as a married couple living in the green countryside, reclining on grass which has become a luxuriant couch.

The stately cedars have become the pillars supporting their home, while the branches overhead form the rafters and the roof.

I don’t know about you, but this is such a beautiful story, a story which many people can relate to, especially when they finally meet the person of their dreams.

The Shulammite woman and Solomon both have neutral affections for each other, they sing the right words and suggest the right things.

But more importantly, they treat one another with total respect and take their time in building their relationship together, Song of Solomon 8:4.

Go To Song Of Solomon 2

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