Song Of Solomon 8

Introduction

‘If only you were to me like a brother, who was nursed at my mother’s breasts! Then, if I found you outside, I would kiss you, and no one would despise me. I would lead you and bring you to my mother’s house—she who has taught me. I would give you spiced wine to drink, the nectar of my pomegranates. His left arm is under my head and his right arm embraces me. Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.’  Song Of Solomon 8:1-4

After making love together, Song of Songs 7:10-13, the Shulammite woman longs to spend more time with Solomon as a sister and brother do early in life.

Now that they’re in the countryside, Song of Songs 7:10, away from all the busy life of the king and queen, they want to spend some time together and kiss each other with no one to despise her.

Notice that the Shulammite woman is expressing a desire to be taught wisdom rather than personifying it. This tells us the theory about the Shulammite woman being ‘wisdom personified’, which can’t be a correct interpretation.

Brothers of early Hebrew families would play the part of teachers toward younger sisters. In other words, the Shulammite woman desires to be taught Solomon’s wisdom as a brother would teach his sister. She desires to know better how to be a just and perfect wife and godly woman, Proverbs 31:10-31.

Once again she expresses a desire to bring him to her mother’s house, Song of Songs 3:4. Here the implication is that in this secure place she would make love with her husband.

She’s saying that her mother taught her some things in regard to lovemaking, but she’s interested in learning some ideas from her husband.

The wine mentioned here is the freshly squeezed juice of the pomegranate, Psalm 104:15. The rejoicing isn’t in drunkenness but rather in the blessings of such grand taste and availability. Both Solomon and the Shulammite woman enjoy a long embrace in each other’s arms.

Notice she says, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires’. This exact phrase was used back in Song of Songs 2:6-7, where the Shulammite woman is comforted by Solomon after being chosen above all other women available to the king.

She was comforted back then and she is being comforted here too. She charges the daughters of Jerusalem, not to disturb their moment of love. She’s in the arms of her beloved and there’s no other place she would rather be.

‘Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved? Under the apple tree I roused you; there your mother conceived you, there she who was in labour gave you birth. Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned.’ Song Of Solomon 8:5-7

It appears that the Shulammite woman finally has Solomon in her homeland and the two are alone. They are seen by the villagers who exclaim, ‘Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved? These villagers see Solomon and the Shulammite from far away, but they don’t recognise them.

Meanwhile, Solomon and the Shulammite woman remind each other of the time and place where their love was first born, this isn’t referring to the place of her physical birth but the birthplace of their love, Song of Songs 2:3, under the very apple tree that they are now at.

The apple tree is seen as the sweetheart tree and their love was awakened in romance, just as Solomon was born in romance, 2 Samuel 12:24. His parents were as deeply in love as she and Solomon.

She wants to be like a seal over Solomon’s heart. In those days a person didn’t sign documents with an ink pen. Each person had a personal seal, usually a small cylinder of stone with etchings on it. The stone was rolled over soft clay to make an impression and indicated that it was from the person.

Seals were valuable possessions and if someone else acquired it, it was possible for them to forge documents in their name. To keep a seal safe, it was typical to bind it close to the body, such as strapping it to the chest or tying it around the upper arm.

By comparing herself to a seal, she’s saying that she wants to be Solomon’s valued personal possession, someone he treasured, Ephesians 5:29, and doesn’t want to lose.

A binding above the heart shows an emotional bond between them. The binding of the arm shows a strong relationship that isn’t easily broken, in other words, the Shulammite woman requests that Solomon take her as a possession that is inseparably connected to his very being, that is his heart and arm.

Such a position within his heart is compared to the possession of death as the grave and jealousy, as it captures and holds hostage one who has intense feelings for another.

The intensity of love is looked upon as ‘blazing fire’, in other words, she would be held so tightly in Solomon’s heart as to become one with him.

If we learn anything from these verses, it’s simply this, there should be a strong bond between a husband and wife, this is what a marriage is supposed to look like, the two have become one, Matthew 19:4-6 / Ephesians 5:28-31.

The intense fire of love that burns within the hearts of two married people can’t possibly be quenched by the greatest of floods, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

This is a picture of a married couple who are simply inseparable, Matthew 19:6.

‘We have a little sister, and her breasts are not yet grown. What shall we do for our sister on the day she is spoken for? If she is a wall, we will build towers of silver on her. If she is a door, we will enclose her with panels of cedar.’ Song Of Solomon 8:8-9

The Shulammite woman asks a question on behalf of her brothers and in light of her current state of love and marriage. She reminisces back to the day when she was but a little girl with no breasts. During this time, no one worried about who would court her or pursue her love.

However, through the process of time, that little no breasted girl blossoms into a woman and young men begin to pursue her interest. What shall her brothers do in such a time?

It’s interesting to note that it was a girl’s brothers who took precedence over the father and mother when it came to her marriage, Genesis 24:50-67 / Genesis 34:1-14.

Remember in the beginning, the Shulammite woman appeared to be frustrated with the careful and strict treatment of her brothers, Song of Songs 1:6, but here, she appears to realise that they performed their loving duty toward her as her brothers.

The brothers answer the question posed by the Shulammite woman and they answer if she, their little sister, grew up to be like a wall, that is, impenetrable by the forwardness of lustful men, then they shall honour her with towers of silver.

On the other hand, if their little sister becomes like a door that swings upon its hinges, that is, seems willing to open herself to the lustful advances of men, they will board her up with cedar so that she can’t be defiled.

Those who have younger sisters have clearly got a responsibility to care for them, we should encourage them to stay pure and undefiled from sexual immorality.

Those who are in a relationship with a young woman should also understand that not only are that young girl’s father and brothers watching over them but so is God, her heavenly Father, 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.

‘I am a wall, and my breasts are like towers. Thus I have become in his eyes like one bringing contentment. Solomon had a vineyard in Baal Hamon; he let out his vineyard to tenants. Each was to bring for its fruit a thousand shekels of silver. But my own vineyard is mine to give; the thousand shekels are for you, Solomon, and two hundred are for those who tend its fruit.’ Song Of Solomon 8:10-12

To the joy of her brothers, the Shulammite woman declares that she was that impenetrable wall that her brothers wanted to honour, Song of Songs 8:8-9, she didn’t allow herself to be taken in by any lustful men, no one could seduce her.

And although her breasts brought the attention of enemies, like a tower upon a wall she remained pure and undefiled, Song of Songs 6:10.

The phrase ‘I have become in his eyes like one bringing contentment.’ is a joke in Hebrew. The name Solomon means ‘peace’ and she found ‘contentment’ or peace as some translations have it, in Solomon. This is why she is known as ‘Shulammite’, the female version of the Hebrew word for peace, Song of Songs 6:13.

This also tells us a lot about Solomon’s actions towards her, he obviously treated her with the honour that she demanded and in no way was allowed to approach her in lustful ways. He treated her with honour and dignity rather than as an object of one’s lust, as some men treat women today.

The Shulammite woman goes on to compare herself to a true vineyard that Solomon rented out for a ‘thousand shekels of silver’ in Baal Hamon.

Her ‘vineyard’, that is her own person, belongs to Solomon, hence why he receives the full thousand shekels of silver. Even though she didn’t like working in the vineyard, without being there, she would have never met Solomon.

She may have thought her brothers were mean, Song of Songs 1:5-6, but she now sees that they had protected her. She wants Solomon to remember those who ‘tend the vineyard’, that is, her brothers, who so lovingly protected and cared for her.

It’s important to note that she doesn’t necessarily ask Solomon to give these brothers money but rather reminds him to be thankful to them for their careful watch and development of such a sister that has turned out to be a jewel among women, Song of Songs 6:8-9.

‘You who dwell in the gardens with friends in attendance, let me hear your voice! Come away, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or like a young stag on the spice-laden mountains.’ Song Of Solomon 8:13-14

It appears that Solomon has been quietly listening to the Shulammite woman’s requests and his answer appears to meet it with approval. Solomon requests that she would sing him a song of love.

Solomon used to go to the gardens with his sheep to get a few moments of peace. His garden is still his sanctuary, but it’s his wife who brings him peace.

It has been years since their engagement, but he still longs for the sound of her voice, Song of Songs 2:14. If we cast our minds back to the beginning of the book, we remember it began with a song, Song of Songs 1:2-4, and here it ends the book with a song.

Notice that the last words of her song are almost the same words she used back in Song of Songs 2:17, however, there is one significant change.

Back in Song of Songs 2:17, she refers to ‘the rugged hills’, which is a reference to ‘the hills of Bether’, that is, the hills of division. Here, she refers to ‘the spice-laden mountains’, which is a reference to the mountains of Besamim, that is, a mountain of spices.

In other words, she no longer thinks of the possibility of separation, where Solomon liked to hang out, was where she liked to hang out, Song of Songs 4:6.

Conclusion

The Song of Solomon really is a beautiful love story about Solomon and the Shulammite woman.

Although they eagerly desired each other in the beginning, they resisted the temptation of sleeping together, Song of Songs 2:17 / Song of Songs 3:6, until they were married, Song of Songs 5:1.

It’s such a shame that many couples get together and live together, but when they decide to get married, the time of sexual union isn’t as exciting as it could have been, because they have already had a sexual union together.

When couples are going through problems in their marriage, I usually encourage them to read this book together. The husband reads Solomon’s words and the wife reads the Shulammite woman’s words.

This brings a few giggles, but it certainly encourages them to ‘check out’ their partners again and it reminds them of when they first met and fell in love with each other.

When was the last time you told your husband or wife that they are beautiful, not just physically but spiritually too?

‘Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labour: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.’ Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

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