Song of Solomon 1
The Song of Songs, which is Solomon's.
Though King Solomon, son of David by Bathsheba, was a man full of wisdom like none other before or after, his heart was turned away from God because of his compromise to intermarry with pagan women (1 Kings 11:1-5). He had 700 wives and princesses and 300 concubines. The wonder of this is that we are to learn from Solomon as to what genuine love is all about. Well, in Ecclesiastes, also by Solomon, we are given wisdom as to the purpose and essence of life. Solomon shares in that book that he tried all kinds of sin to find what his heart was longing for, and all things failed except doing faithfully and obediently the will of God and enjoying Him. We get Holy Spirit inspired truth from a man who did it all wrong, but who learned the hard way the true purpose of life. Song of Solomon must be understood in a similar light. Solomon really botched the essence of faithfulness in marriage to one spouse, but that does not mean that he didn’t understand what true love was all about. He did have wisdom, and the Holy Spirit inspired this book. Thus, we must place our confidence in this Scripture as being the truth as to how God views authentic and Biblical romance, love, sex, and marriage.
2"May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is better than wine.
3"Your oils have a pleasing fragrance,
Your name is like purified oil;
Therefore the maidens love you.
The romance is between King Solomon and a young Shulammite girl. The book begins right away without holding back as to where things are headed. The message is going to be love, romance, and intimacy. We are given a song which details what both lovers were thinking as they progressed through their romance and marriage. Here we see what the girl was thinking after she had observed Solomon from a distance. She didn’t go and share her feelings with him, but she patiently waited to see what he would do. It is clear that she adored him and had romantic feelings toward him, desiring to kiss him. This is not referring to a customary greeting but a romantic kiss, thus she speaks of kisses with the mouth. Wine was a delicacy, something pure, tasty, and delightful. Even better than wine, however, would be if he loved her. She noticed that Solomon was well kept, having put on some attractive fragrances. Women appreciate when men take care of themselves in this way. Furthermore, Solomon had a high reputation and great respect. All the young maidens adored him. One gets the feeling that many were wishing for his love and affection, thinking that this man would be wonderful to be with. Clearly, Solomon was held in high respect.
4"Draw me after you and let us run together!
Again, we see how much she wants to be loved by Solomon. She is not interested in a one night stand, but she wants to be drawn after him. She wants his affection, romance, and interest. She is waiting for him to take the initiative. Her hope is that she can be joined with him, and they can experience life together. Sex isn’t the direct objective of this woman; actually, neither is romance. First and foremost, her delight is in the person of Solomon and just being with him. Romance will naturally happen, as will sex after the marriage union, if each person truly and fully delights in the other person. People get married for all kinds of reasons, but central to Biblical love and marriage is truly adoring one another, being attracted in every way.
The king has brought me into his chambers "
"We will rejoice in you and be glad;
We will extol your love more than wine.
Rightly do they love you."
The king approaches the young woman and invites her into the palace. He is obviously interested in her, and he has made this clear to her. He is not manipulating her or playing with her emotions. He has invited her into his chambers (household not bedroom) because he wants to get to know this woman. The woman possesses a similar feeling to those in Solomon’s household that he is a great source of joy and love. She thinks that it makes perfect sense that those in his household love him. He is simply to be admired and adored.
5"I am black but lovely,
O daughters of Jerusalem,
Like the tents of Kedar,
Like the curtains of Solomon.
6"Do not stare at me because I am swarthy,
For the sun has burned me.
My mother's sons were angry with me;
They made me caretaker of the vineyards,
But I have not taken care of my own vineyard.
This woman is concerned about her appearance. Though it is evident that Solomon is interested in her, still she is self-conscious. She admits that she is lovely to look at but her skin has been burned and darkened by the sun. Its color is like the tents of Kedar and the curtains of Solomon, which evidently were a darker color. She doesn’t want people, especially Solomon, to stare at her defects but to enjoy her pleasant aspects. This was not a perfect woman from a physical standpoint, at least in her own estimation, yet she was very beautiful in Solomon’s eyes. Her brothers had made her work outdoors in the vineyards doing hard labor, and this is why her skin has been scorched. She hasn’t taken care of her own appearances because she has been forced to labor so hard.
Likely, this conversation is without Solomon present. She addresses the daughters of Jerusalem, other women in the city. As she gets to know Solomon and begins to see more and more how wonderful he is, she begins to reflect on her own inadequacies. It is this that she shares with the other women.
7"Tell me, O you whom my soul loves,
Where do you pasture your flock,
Where do you make it lie down at noon?
For why should I be like one who veils herself
Beside the flocks of your companions?"
Yet, evidently reassured of herself, she expresses to Solomon that she wants to see him more. In other words, she makes it clear that she would like him to continue pursuing her. She doesn’t lead him on, nor is she intentionally vague about her feelings toward him. It is evident that she wants to go forward with the relationship, telling him that she loves him at a deep soul level. Obviously, the outward physical attraction is there, but she also appreciates his character, personality, and heart. There is nothing of a casual relationship here but one of true love, where marriage is believed to be the likely outcome by both parties. She wants to know where he goes during the day with his flock, and she wishes to be invited to visit him. She doesn’t want to play the seductress and prostitute as other women do to some of Solomon’s friends while they are out with their sheep. She wants true romance, not manipulation by appealing to carnal appetites.
8"If you yourself do not know,
Most beautiful among women,
Go forth on the trail of the flock
And pasture your young goats
By the tents of the shepherds.
He responds by inviting her to come and visit him while he is working. He probably thought she already knew where he shepherded his flock and perhaps even wondered why she didn’t come and visit if she adored him so much. He tells her where to go so she can take her own goats and visit the tents of the shepherds. He has responded to her interest by taking a step forward in furthering the relationship as they spend more time together. He makes it clear to her as well how he feels very early in this relationship. He thinks that she is the most beautiful among women. They are very open about what they think of one another early on in the relationship. Again, they are not playing games, but they are simply deeply attracted to one another, pursuing one another with the understanding that things could end up in marriage.
9"To me, my darling, you are like
My mare among the chariots of Pharaoh.
10"Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments,
Your neck with strings of beads."
11"We will make for you ornaments of gold
With beads of silver."
Here we get further insight into why Solomon is so caught up with this woman. Certainly, her character matters, but Solomon is drawn to her outward appearance which he complements. He doesn’t say too much too fast, but he calls her his darling (i.e. companion- a word indicative of a relationship headed toward marriage) and compares her to a mare among chariots. Now, Pharaoh’s chariots had to be exquisitely decorated and beautiful. Solomon’s horse had to be the best in the kingdom. Though this isn’t an analogy that we would use today in our culture, Solomon’s point was clear: even amongst the beautiful, she was the most beautiful. He complements her cheeks, something we wouldn’t do today either, but it was a high compliment to her without getting too risqué and complimenting her about features he shouldn’t be focusing on yet. That is not to say that he wouldn’t have noticed her beautiful features, but they are not his focus as he is trying to get to know her heart. He continues to tell her, in effect, that she has a beautiful face and that her jewelry looks good on her. Certainly, jewelry is not a forbidden thing in the Bible (Ezekiel 16:11-12), but a preoccupation with it is wrong as is using it to define beauty at the expense of the inner person (1 Peter 3:3-5). She is wearing a lovely necklace also which he notices. It is not extravagant, being merely of strings of beads. He pledges to make for her something even better, jewelry of gold and silver. Solomon knows that women appreciate these kinds of gifts as it reminds them that they are loved and special, worth the expense of silver and gold. Men should learn from Solomon that we need to speak kind words complementing the appearance of our beloved.
12"While the king was at his table,
My perfume gave forth its fragrance.
13"My beloved is to me a pouch of myrrh
Which lies all night between my breasts.
14"My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms
In the vineyards of Engedi."
During a meal at the king’s table, the young woman was aware that her perfume’s fragrance was spreading throughout the room. This was her intention, as men, too, appreciate pleasant fragrances. Her beloved is so important to her that he is like precious myrrh and beautiful henna blossoms. He is a prized possession whom she wants to be with forever.
15"How beautiful you are, my darling,
How beautiful you are!
Your eyes are like doves."
16"How handsome you are, my beloved,
And so pleasant!
Indeed, our couch is luxuriant!
17"The beams of our houses are cedars,
Our rafters, cypresses.
The romance continues on, and Solomon can’t get over how beautiful this woman is. He says it twice, referring again to her as his darling. He is enraptured with her beauty, both inward and outward, but certainly outward. He doesn’t over spiritualize things, but he is simply drawn to this wonderful creation and gift of God, his perfect complement. The exclamation points as he speaks of her beauty are not accidental. He can’t contain himself, for she is so beautiful! He compliments her eyes, again not something too sexual at this point but something women really appreciate because it shows that the man takes notice of the little things and likes what he sees. Nothing escapes the notice of Solomon. He notices fragrances that she wears, jewelry that she chooses, and her delicate features such as cheeks and eyes. It is evident to the young woman that he takes careful note of how she looks and how she adorns herself because he adores her.
She responds to his enthusiasm for her beauty by calling him handsome (the analogous term for beautiful) and her beloved. These are not casual daters but those who are connected at the deepest level, both hoping that it will end in marriage. This man, she says, is pleasant to be around. He doesn’t annoy her or take her for granted. He makes her feel as if she is the most precious and prized possession in all of the kingdom. Their relationship is anchored strong and is utterly wonderful and luxuriant. They are living in luxury, savoring one another, both being confident in the other’s words and motives.