Keith Hunt - Solomon's Song #2 - Page Two   Restitution of All Things

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Solomon's Song #2

The Wedding Day

Here we really start to get to the truth of the matter in
Solomon's Song. It is time the restoration of this little
understood book of the Bible was proclaimed to the world at
large. The Internet now makes it possible. The book by Mr.Dillow,
an old one (30 years back - 1977) - is the very best. Solomon's
Song is God's instruction book for sex in marriage. God created
sex, He should be able to teach it to us - Keith Hunt.


CHAPTER TWO 

THE WEDDING DAY

(Reflections #1, 2, Song 1:1-14)

WHATS HAPPENING?

     As Shulamith enters the splendid residence of the king, her
feelings are mixed: she is awed by the beautifully bedecked
ladies of the court, but is also joyously anticipating her first
night with Solomon as the bride he has chosen from all the ladies
in his realm.

1:1 SPEAKER: The Song of Songs which is Solomon's

     We are told this is the most beautiful and the best song of
Solomon, who wrote 1,005 songs (I Kings 4:32).

1:2 SHULAMITH: May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth

Shulamith is reflecting on how much she has desired Solomon's
caresses and how she anticipates them on her wedding night.

1:2b SHULAMITH: For your love is better than wine

     The Hebrew word translated "love" is "dodem," which often
refers to sexual love. [1] It speaks of caresses and kisses:
Shulamith is sexually aroused and eagerly looks forward to
feeling Solomon's body against hers.
     In the Hebrew culture every joyful banquet of celebration is
referred to as "wine." So when Shulamith mentions wine, she means
Solomon's love gives her more joy and pleasure than all the
celebrating.

1:3 SHULAMITH: Your oils have a pleasing fragrance

     In Solomon's time, it was the custom to rub the body with
oil after a bath in preparation for a festive occasion. Also, the
Egyptians placed small cones of perfumed ointment on the
foreheads of guests at their feasts; body heat would gradually
melt the ointment, which then trickled down the face onto the
clothing, producing a pleasant aroma. This practice was adopted
by the Hebrews (Ps.133:2).[2] Here Shulamith is reflecting on the
erotic sensation of Solomon's perfumed oils.


1:36 SHULAMTH: Your name is like purified oil

     Purified oil was highly prized. She Is saying she prizes
Solomon as highly, so that the very sound or thought of his name
creates in her heart a longing for him. Also, his name flows
smoothly over the tongue, just like flowing oil.

1:3c SHULAMITH: Therefore the maidens love you

     She views Solomon as the most eligible bachelor in
Jerusalem. Then too, a woman in love tends to imagine that
everyone else loves her beloved because he is so outstanding!

1:4 SHULAMITH: The king has brought me into his chambers

She anticipates the delights of being with her love in his inner
room.

1:4b CHORUS: We will rejoice and be glad; we will extol your love
more than wine. Rightly do they love you.

     At this point the chorus bursts into open song, rejoicing
with Shulamith. They agree with her that Solomon is worthy of
great love. (Remember the chorus is imaginary; here it serves to
bring out the bride's reflections on her wedding day.)

1:5 SHULAMITH: I am black but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem

     Now the chorus is personified as the daughters of Jerusalem
(the court ladies and the concubines of Solomon). Shulamith,
probably feeling them scrutinizing her unfavorably, compares her
gypsy coloring acquired from an open-air life to that of the
lighter complexions of the city maidens. Although she is
different from the ladles in her outward appearance, she is
confident that she is as beautiful as any of them.

1:5b SHULAMITH: Like the tents of Kedar

     This refers to the tents made of valuable black goat hair
that were used by the nomadic people of Kedar. [3] When bathed in
the flood of the evening's golden light, these tents were
strikingly beautiful.

1:5c SHULAMITH: Like the curtains of Solomon

     Solomon's palace was hung with precious tapestries also made
from the beautiful black goat hair. Shulamith intensifies the
description of her beauty by comparing herself to these
tapestries.

1:6 SHULAMITH: Do not stare at me because I am swarthy, for the
sun has burned me

     She explains to those who are staring at her that her dark
complexion has been caused by exposure to the sun.

1:6b SHULAMITH: My mother's sons were angry with me; they made me
caretaker of the vineyards

     The phrase "my mother's sons" would have been unusual if her
father were still living; she would have called them "my father's
sons" instead. So apparently her father died while she was still
young, and her strict brothers made her work in the vineyards all
day.
     Though we are not sure where she grew up, a strong
possibility is the mountains of Lebanon (Song 4:8). Solomon's
vineyard at Baal-hamon was not far from the town of Shunem.
Shulamith's name may have been taken from the name of this town,
indicating the possibility that this was her home. Since her name
could also be the feminine form of the proper name, "Solomon"
(indicating she is the "other part of" the king), it is possible
the poet wants the readerto see both ideas in the play on words.

1:6c SHUIAMITH: But I have not taken care of my own vineyard

     As caretaker of a vineyard, she was a real nature girl: she
was not able to primp and take special paths with her appearance
("my own vineyard"). No Maybelline eyes or Jean Nate skin for
her! But notice she was by no means unkempt, or Solomon would
never have paid attention to her in the first place. The point is
that her beauty was natural, not contrived.

1:7 SHULAMITH: Tell me, O you whom my soul loves, Where do you
pasture your flock, Where do you make it lie down at noon?

     Shulamith mentally addresses her love, who is not present.
She refers to him as a shepherd for three possible reasons.
First, being a country girl, she is familiar with shepherds
wending their way through the fields, carefully tending their
flocks.
     Also, when Solomon first saw her on a visit to his vineyard
at Baalhamon he may not have worn his regal robes but dressed
instead in a more casual style for his visit to the country; thus
he could have resembled a shepherd.
     And last, she thinks of him as the shepherd of Israel,
tending to the affairs of his flock, the people of Israel.
(Scripture often describes governing as "tending sheep." The
Messiah, of which Solomon is a type, is later represented in John
10 as the Good Shepherd. See also Ezek.34:12-15.)
     At this point in Shulamith's reflection, Solomon is absent,
occupied with governing his people. In contemplating marriage
Shulamith ponders the nature of her future husband's job (love
him, love his work). Will she be able to locate him when she
needs him after they are married? Will he be able to attend to
her needs as well as the needs of the nation? She gives this
serious consideration.

1:7b SHULAMITH: For why should I be like one who veils herself

     This refers to the practice of a harlot, passing through the
streets heavily veiled, seeking an invitation.

1:7c SHULAMITH: Beside the flocks of your companions?

     She gently warns Solomon that if she has to go out searching
for him she will violate local propriety and might encourage
overtures from other men including some of his companions. The
very thought of appearing immodest or of encouraging the
affections of other men is morally repulsive to her. She loves
only one man, and does not want to even suggest she could have an
interest in another.

1:8 CHORUS: If you do not know, most beautiful among women,
Goforth on the trail of the flock, And pasture your young goats
by the tents of the shepherds

     The chorus advises her that if she is going to marry
Solomon, she must realize he will often be about the affairs of
state and thus be inaccessible to her at these times. If she
can't accept this, she had better not marry him but return home
to live the life of a country girl among the shepherds.

Applications for Today

     The first section of the Song gives us a wealth of practical
information we can use in the Twentieth Century. For example, we
see that Shulamith, before her wedding, has pleasant thoughts of
her future husband, anticipating sexual intercourse with him on
the nuptial evening. She obviously was no afraid of sex nor did
she have any preconceived notions that sex was dirty, sinful, or
hurtful.
     This sets a key note of the Song: sexual love between a man
and his wife is proper and beautiful to the Father. Shulamith
reflects on how aroused she was and how she had looked forward to
making love with her husband on her wedding day. She had a "holy
desire" for her husband.

On counting the cost

     Shulamith was wise enough to comprehend a principle: before
you say "I do," be sure to count the cost. In contemplating
marriage to King Solomon, she probably had an imaginary
conversation with herself which in modem vernacular went
something like this:
     "Wow! Me married to Klng Solomon! Wait till the other Shunem
girls hear. 'Queen Shulamlth' has a nice ring to it!"
     "No, you wait a minute. This marriage you're about to jump
into is not an all-expense-paid vacation in Jerusalem! Solomon is
a king, not just one of the shepherds. He's the shepherd of all
Israel."
     "You mean he won't spend all his time gazing into my eyes
and composing love poems about me?"
     "You got it. He'll often be gone for hours, sometimes for
days. And who will look after you? You think those palace
pretties will take you under their wings?"
     "I get it. I'll be the queen, and it'll be my job to take
care of them." 
     "And everyone will be watching you, waiting to pounce on
your mistakes. The lovely ladies will be quick to help you see
where you might 'improve'."
     "Here in the mountains I can find comfort walking through
the forests, but I guess there won't be any cedars of Lebanon in
the palace, will there? Maybe I could learn to like the sound of
wind sighing through the marble columns...."
     "Your simple country life will be over, girl! From the
moment you finish the wedding banquet your life will take a new
turn, and you can never go back. You can bet your bottom shekel
it won't be easy."
     "Yeah, maybe I'd make a better wife to Gazer the goat
herder." 
     "But on the other hand Solomon treats you like a queen. You
know you're more than a political marriage to him. He's
thoughtful, gentle, kind, considerate, strong, wise, tender-
hearted - and he loves you." 
     "Gee, I almost forgot!"
     "Solomon knows you'll miss the mountains, and that you won't
be exactly at ease in the palace at first. But remember, he
promised you trips to the country. And he even hinted he's
planning a special place for you in the palace."
     "Well, it's pretty obvious I have to make a choice: the life
I'm used to or Solomon. I can't have both. Which one am I
committed to?"
     "Try asking which one you can't live without. Then commit
yourself completely to your choice. Just be sure to check the
loose ends before you tie the knot!"
     "Thanks - I needed that."

     Because she understands fully before marriage the life to
which she is committing herself, Shulamith is able to make a
decision of the will. She does not let her emotions blind her. So
when the hard times come, she is prepared. She knows exactly what
kind of life to expect because she has counted the cost.
     Love always involves a sober evaluation of the cost of
commitment to a relationship that may not always be easy. After
all, it's "for better or worse." Ask yourself, "Can 1 learn to
live with his or her lifestyle and vocation?"
     If he is a salesman and you can't stand to be left alone,
can you find ways to make use of this time? If you want your wife
to be home, but she loves her job at the bank, can you come to an
agreement as to what she should do? If he's a doctor, can you
cheerfully fix him coffee and kiss him good-bye when he gets an
emergency call at 3 a.m.? If he's a minister, will you learn to
smile in your goldfish bowl and thank people for their advice as
to your "proper" or "improper conduct?" If he wants to be a
missionary, to the jungle tribes of Brazil, can you leave your
home, family and country to follow him where God leads?
     Hudson Taylor, ninteenth-century missionary to China,
realized his fiancee wasn't willing to go to China where God had
called him. It was either follow his emotions, marry the girl,
and not go to China, or follow God's leading and go to China
without her. He chose the Lord. God honored his choice by giving
him a rich harvest on the mission field and by blessing him with
a wife who supported him and greatly helped his ministry.
     Christ put it this way, "For which of you when he wants to
build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to
see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid
a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin
to ridicule him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not
able to finish!'" (Luke 14:28-30). The tower to which He was
referring was very likely a vineyard tower. Shulamith, caretaker
of a vineyard, knew how to count the cost - and she did.
     But suppose you weigh all the factors concerning your future
mate's occupation, decide you can live with it and commit
yourself to him or her. Then after you're married he or she
changes his mind and decides to pursue another career. You didn't
expect it. You're mentally not prepared. And you can't see how
you'll ever be happy with the new job. What course do you follow?
     Here is where love's tire hits the road. A wife in this
situation can either nag and complain until her husband gives in,
or go along with him in dutiful resignation ("Oh, Millie Martyr
doesn't mind!"), or thank God for the situation and commit it to
Him.
     A husband can either announce to his wife what he is going
to do, dictator-style, or capitulate to her because he can't
stand to see her cry (or hear her nag), or commit the decision to
the Lord and then, taking into consideration his wife's feelings,
choose what he believes to be the best course.

Modest indeed

     Shulamith, knowing her husband will be away a great deal, is
concemed about what might happen should she have to search for
him. Only "one who veiled herself," a harlot, went out looking
for a man; respectable ladies stayed home and were sought after
by men. Shulamith is afraid if she has to look for Solomon, her
action might be misconstrued and will invite advances from other
men. Not that they would mistake her for a harlot - everyone
would recognize the queen, but they might realize she is alone
and lonely and be quick to take advantage of the situation.
     Shulamith wants to avoid every appearance of evil, and women
today would do well to follow her example. In Shulamith's day the
identifying mark of a lady of the night was her heavy veil. Today
men can still recognize a lady who is hustling by the way she
dresses. She may not go out actively looking for men, and she may
not be able to admit even to herself she is trying to provoke a
reaction by her manner of dress, but men still get the message. A
neckline too low, a hemline too high, or an over-all line a half
size too small are all noted by the male half of the population.
     In a recent letter to a newspaper column a shoe salesman
complained about what women wear - and don't wear - when they go
shopping. He cited a young girl going braless, in a see-through
blouse. And, he said, her father was with her.
     Even though dressing suggestively is becoming increasingly
common in our society, it is still suggestive. Men are still
aroused most strongly through visual intake, so women who provide
a lot for them to take in should not be surprised if men make
advances. If that's what you want, that's how you'll dress. If
you don't, you won't.

Attaching special value to our "imperfections"

     Most of us have something about us we don't like. Often
these things are insignificant from the standpoint of eternal
values, but their emotional impact can be devastating. Sometimes
these "imperfections" are not really imperfections, but simply
things which society considers to be "abnomral" or unacceptable.
     In Shulamith's society, for example, it was apparently not
in fashion with the court ladies to have a rough, dark complexion
tanned by the summer sun. Her response to this potential source
of social ostracism is instructive; she placed special value upon
it. To her, it symbolized true wealth. She makes her imperfection
analogous to something the society in which she lives values
highly, expensive curtains and beautiful black leather tents,
made of goatskin. Thus, that which is considered socially
unacceptable, she asserts is really of great value. It all
depends on one's point of view.
     There is a sense in which real imperfections, viewed in
divine perspective, can be a source of true wealth. Paul found
this to be true of his "thorn." Some have suggested this was a
disfiguring eye disease. But whatever it was, it caused him to
learn dependence upon the Lord, and Paul rejoiced in it (2 Cor.
12:7-30).
     Not long ago, I met a father whose son had a deformed hand
and foot. Some of the toes were joined together at birth - a
source of constant embarrassment to the boy. Naturally, his
friends were careful to point out this particular "imperfection"
whenever they got an opportunity.
     This father had a valuable way of dealing with this problem.
He helped the boy see this imperfection as something allowed by
God for loving purposes to help fashion him into a Christ-like
person (Rom.8:28-29). Thus, this particular imperfection was part
of a special plan by a loving God and hence became a symbol to
the young man of God's special care and ownership. It symbolized
the true wealth God desired to work into his life.
     From a slightly different perspective, an adopted little
Indian girl was called "princess" by her grandfather. In a day of
unfortunate racial prejudice, this little girl is being brought
up to regard her darker complexion as a sign she is a "princess"
- one of special rank and position.

     While working on the campus during the late sixties, I
observed a new dress fashion among black students. Taught for
years by white society that black is "imperfect," that kinky hair
is ugly, black females (and males) developed an intense
inferiority complex about their racial heritage. They finally
countered this in the same way Shulamith did - by ascribing
special value to the very things white society rejected. They
began to dress like their queenly African ancestors and stopped
straightening their hair. That kinky hair and black skin became
symbols of their ancestry, of which they had every right to be
proud.
     Has it ever occurred to you that some of the things you feel
the most uncomfortable about in your personality, heritage, body,
or intelligence, are really indicators of special purposes God
desires to work into your life? Can you view them as special
signs of His love?

     A wedding day in ancient Israel always included a wedding
banquet. We have just entered into Shulamith's inner thoughts on
the day of her marriage. The poet now directs our attention to
her private conversation with her beloved as they recline at the
banquet table.

AT THE BANQUET TABLE (Reflection #2, Song 1:9-14)

1:9 SOLOMON: To me, my dading, you are like my mare among the
chartots of Pharoah

     Solomon assures his bride that to him she is as beautiful as
his horses. To us this would hardly seem flattering, but it was
music to Shulamith's ears! At that time in the Orient the horse
was not a beast of burden, but the cherished companion of kings.
     Solomon loved horses and particularly Egyptian horses: he
had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen (I Kings 10:26). His mare
must have been the most outstanding of all his horses, so he is
telling Shulamith she is one in a million.
     He calls her "my darling" the Hebrew word is "vaghah." This
word has the two-fold idea of (1) "to guard, to care for" and (2)
"to take delight in having sexual intercourse with." [3] By
calling her this name, Solomon is indicating his desire to make
love with her and is, at the same time, affirming his protective
love and care for her.

1:10,11 SOLOMON: Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck
with strings of beads. We will make for you orna-ments of gold
with beads of silver

     Solomon says the jewelry she is wearing is lovely, but he
will have made for her beads and ornaments even more valuable
than these, made of gold and silver. Notice he is promising that
little gifts and expressions of his love will continue after they
are married.

1:12 SHULAMITH: While the king was at his table, my perfume gave
forth its fragrance

     The table here is a divan, a kind of round table where meals
were eaten in a reclining Fashion. [4] The perfume is nard, a
very expensive fragrance with which Shulamith has anointed
herself. She sees the fragrance wafting from her to the king as
an expression of her love reaching out to him while they were
reclining at dinner.

1:13 SHULAMITH: My beloved is to me a pouch of myrrh which lies
all night between my breasts

     This refers to an Oriental custom in which a woman would
wear a small sack of myrrh, a kind of perfume, around her neck at
night. All the next day a lovely fragrance would linger there.
     She is likening Solomon to that sachet of myrrh: whatever
beauty and charm she has is brought out by him. His love brings
out her beauty (the "fragrance") all day long.

1:14 SHULAMITH: My beloved is to me a duster of henna blossoms in
the vineyard of En-gedi

     A duster of yellow-white henna blossoms was often used as an
ornament. She says that for her to have the privilege of calling
Solomon her beloved is to her an ornament that makes her
beautiful. En-gedi was the location of vine gardens Solomon
planted on the hill terraces west of the Dead Sea. It was an
oasis, in the midst of a desert. Solomon is similarly a
refreshment to Shulamith.

To cherish and protect

     Insight we can draw from this reflection deals with the
relationship of love and protection. When Solomon calls Shulamith
"my darling" he links his desire for her with his protective love
and care.
     Protection and love go hand in hand. A woman needs to feel
protected because protection gives her security, and the more
secure she is, the freer she is to love unreservedly. Very often
the woman who feels secure in her husband's love and protective
concern takes great delight in sex with her husband.

Little things mean a lot

     Solomon indicates he will be giving his beloved a little
"love gift" of silver beads and golden ornaments. Little things
mean a lot to most women, and they don't have to be gold or
silver (though they can be!) Gifts add to the romance of a
relationship. Whoever said romance has to die when the minister
says "I now pronounce you. . ."?
     Gifts might include anything from Arpege to a basket of
fresh fruit. Men, how about some scented soap for her bath,
bubble bath, or bath oil, scented candles for the bedroom, wild
asters you picked on the way home, a mushy card (go on, she'll
love it), two matched cups for the coffee you share, a negligee
you'd like to see her in, or a poem you wrote for her. Use your
imagination! The greatest gifts are those given for no other
reason except to say, "I love you."
     One February 3 my wife came home to find an envelope full of
money and a poem telling her I had saved the money so she could
buy the clock she wanted. She was very appreciative - and
particularly pleased there had been no "event" prompting the
gift. Why, Valentines Day (which I forgot) was eleven days away!

An ancient emphasis

     The ancients placed great emphasis on bringing all five
senses to bear on their lovemaking. As Shulamith's reflection
indicates, they had a particular emphasis on scent.
     If you or I walked into Solomon and Shulamith's bedroom, it
might have looked something like this: the wall would be lined
with beautiful linen and satin curtains which were coated with
scented powders to make the room smell erotic. The bedsheets were
dusted with scented powders as was the clothing. Furthermore,
their bodies were anointed with scented lotions. To top it all
off, they probably burned incense, and thus the whole room was
filled with smoke. (In fact, we would probably have choked!)
     While these procedures may seem extreme to Western tastes, a
watered-down version can be fun. Some night, men, send your wife
to a specially-drawn tub of water while you put the kids to bed
and do the dishes. Just let her soak and relax all those tired
muscles. Give her a copy of the Song of Solomon to read while she
relaxes. Put some essence oils in the bath water and a scented
candle in the bathroom. You might even try burning some mild
incense to give the bedroom a romantic atmosphere. I think it's
time we Christian brothers used some sanctified imagination
around our homes.

Preparation for the wedding night

     In the next reflection, Solomon and Shulamith leave the
banquet table and go to the bridal chamber for their first night
together. A newly married couple entering into their first
intercourse experience needs to be aware of certain things. Many
a honeymoon has ended in total disaster simply because there was
not an adequate understanding of sexual matters or because of
unrealistic expectations and psychological fears.
     I would suggest "Sexual Happiness In Marriage" by Herbert J.
Miles, Ph.D. (Zondervan, 1967, cf. pp. 82-101). Dr. Miles is a
sensitive and extremely practical Christian counselor who has an
excellent discussion of sexual technique as related to the
wedding night. Tim LaHaye in "The Act of Marriage" (Zondervan,
1976) has an excellent and detailed discussion of making love the
first fime. He gives numerous practical suggestions for the
wedding night that would be quite helpful to any newly married
couple (or even a couple that has been married several years!).

Fear of inhibition

     A marriage ceremony doesn't automatically remove twenty-one
years of emphasis on modesty from the minds of many new brides.
Miles reports one out of five new brides found it extremely
difficult to undress completely in front of their husbands on the
wedding night - and refused to do so.
     An excellent Christian counselor I know, a person who has
had a very appreciated pre-marital counseling ministry, makes
this suggestion to young couples for the wedding night: when they
get to the motel, they are to draw a deep, relaxing bubble
bath.[5] Let the new bride get into the bath first while the
husband is in the other room. A candle lit in the bathroom, being
the only light, will produce a warm, romantic atmosphere. As they
relax together in the bathtub, they can discuss the day, talk,
and even pray thanking the Lord for the gift of each other. As
they communicate and share, the warn water drains away the
tensions of the day, and the bubbles sufficiently hide the wife's
body so she is not immediately embarrassed
     They should then begin to gently stimulate each other under
the water, hidden by the bubble bath! As the sexual tension and
anticipation mounts, many of the initial inhibitions begin to
melt away and a transfer to the bedroom is more natural. This
particular counselor has had many young brides call him back
several weeks after the wedding and say, "Praise the Lord for
bubble bath! It was an excellent suggestion. Thank you."

     While we have no way of knowing what kind of instruction
Jewish mothers gave their daughters as preparation for their
first night with their new husbands, it seems dear Shulamith has
no serious inhibitions or negative attitudes. In the following
reflections, we find a mature and sensitive young woman who is
sure of herself and has a healthy and positive attitude toward
sexual love.

FOOTNOTES
1. Franz Delitzsch, "The Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes" (Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, n.d), P.20.
2. The New Bible Dictionary, ed. J. D. Douglas (Greed Rapids:
Eerdmans, 1962). P.906.
3. Delitzsch, p.32.
4. Robert Gordis, "The Song of Songs" (New York: The Jewish
Theological Seminary of America, 1954, P.43.
5 Dan Meredith of Christian Family Life, Little Rock, Arkansas.

                          ......................

To be continued with "In The Bridal Chamber"

Entered on this Website June 2007


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