We continue with Dillow's book "Solomon on Sex."
THE WEDDING PROCESSION
As if jolted by a sudden noise, Shulamith's daydreaming is
abruptly focused on the gala wedding procession Solomon has sent
to her home on the day of their marriage. Chronologically, this
section comes before Song 1:1. After Shulamith sweetly remembers
the joys of their first night together, she reminisces first of
the days of their courtship and now of the glorious wedding
procession. In Song 4, she once again turns her reflections to
the wedding night.
Solomon has sent a bridal procession to bring his bride from
the foothills of the Lebanon mountains in the north, to the
palace in Jerusalem in the south. As the "scene" opens the
wedding party is nearing Jerusalem; the speakers are evidently
the chorus. They describe the wonders of the procession and thus
make a transition from the dream of separation (3:1-5) to the
events of the wedding night described in the next chapter.
What is this coming up from the wilderness
Like columns of smoke,
It is possible that the Chorus here is supposed to represent
the inhabitants of Jerusalem who marvel at the gorgeous
procession of their king marching toward the city.
Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense
With all the scented powders of the merchant?
As a wedding procession moved along, a censer of
frankincense was swung at the front and back of the procession.
Columns of smoke from the burning incense marked the beginning
and end of the procession line.
Behold, it is the traveling couch of Solomon;
Presumably Solomon followed traditional Hebrew custom and
picked up his bride at her home in Lebanon and then had her
brought back to his palace in Jerusalem. Thus Shulamith is seated
on the "traveling couch" and is being carried to the palace. This
traveling couch was a box litter with poles projecting from the
front and back and was carried on the shoulders of four to six
men. It formed a bed upon which she reclined, and she was brought
to Solomon in a cloud of incense.
Sixty mighty men around it
Of the mighty men of Israel.
All of them are wielders of the sword,
Expert in war,
Each man has his sword at his side,
Guarding against the terrors of the night.
Her way certainly led through the wilderness, and Solomon
took special care to see she was protected against attack.
King Solomon has made for himself a sedan chair
from the timbers of Lebanon.
As the bride approaches, the king is carried out to meet her
on a "sedan chair" especially designed for the occasion. It is a
couch long enough for the rider to recline, covered with a canopy
and resting on pillars at four corners. It is hung around with
curtains to exclude the sun and has a door, sometimes of lattice
work, on each side.1 As the bride approached Solomon's "sedan
chair" she would enter it with him, and both would be carried to
He made its posts of silver,
Its back of gold
And its seat of purple fabric,
With its interior lovingly fitted out
By the daughters of Jerusalem.
The headboard to which the canopy was attached was gold, and
the couch itself was royal purple, the color of kings.
The "daughters of Jerusalem" refer here to the court ladies who
had lined the inside of the canopy with flowers intermingled with
short sentences telling of the power of love.2
Go forth, O daughters of Zion,
And gaze on King Solomon with the crown
With which his mother crowned him
On the day of his wedding,
And on the day of his gladness of heart.
The women of Jerusalem collectively are addressed by the
Chorus and called to behold their king. The crown here is not a
symbol of royalty but of happiness. In ancient times garlands
were worn on festive occasions, especially marriages.3 His mother
wreathed a fresh garland around the head of her youthful son.
"The men have already welcomed the procession from afar, but the
king in his wedding attire has special attractions for the women
- they are here called upon to observe the moment when the happy
pair welcome one another," Delitzsch comments.4
This beautiful little song suggests several points of
practical application to marriage today.
Marriage involves public attestation
This is simply taken for granted here in that it follows
traditional Hebrew custom. In the varied morality of our society,
the question frequently comes up: "What constitutes marriage
I'll never forget an evening that my wife and I spent with a
charming young college couple who had been living together for
over a year. They had just received Christ. They were not
"marred." What were they to do? Did God want them to stop
counting each other as man and wife even though they had been
living together as such for over a year? It was obvious by the
way they related to each other that they were truly committed for
life and were deeply in love. Should they separate now and call
their relationship fornication?
Or consider a couple who have been "living together" for
four years. During two of those years they were legally married
to someone else. They are now divorced but very much in love.
They then become Christians, open the Bible, and it says that
they are not to get a divorce. Are they still married to their
former mates? Should they go back?
These are difficult questions. They are made difficult
because we have strayed so far from God's norms. In the case of
the second couple, if they are legally married to the person they
are living with now, they are prohibited from returning to their
former mates (Deut.24:1-4). What constitutes marriage as far as
the Bible is concerned? Unfortunately, the Bible doesn't state it
as specifically as we like. It more or less assumes certain
(1) A commitment to leave the parents. "For this cause a man
shall leave his motherand father, and cleave to his wife; and
they shall become one flesh." (Gen.2:24). Thus, leave, cleave,
and one flesh mark three prerequisites of marriage. To leave
involves a break of dependency upon the parents and other
in-laws. Too many marriages today are harmed because one mate
continually sides with his or her parents against the other mate.
Or a wife continually goes back to her parents and undermines her
husband's authority and trust. This commitment means that, if
necessary, the person must be willing to stand with his mate
against his parents.
(2) A commitment to cleave. The Hebrew word translated "cleave"
has the notion of "to stick like glue." It implies a permanent
and unbreakable relationship. Thus, a basic prerequisite of
marriage is a commitment to one mate for life. Casual promiscuity
prior to marriage does not make one married to that person.
(This "theological" teaching that someone is to stick like glue
to a mate until death does them part, no matter what takes place,
is NOT supported by the Bible or the New Testament. For a full
in-depth study on Divorce and Re-marriage, see my study on this
Website - Keith Hunt)
(3) Sexual intercourse. Becoming one flesh involves a sexual
union. This is what consummates the marriage. Sexual intercourse
apart from the above mentioned commitments does not constitute
(4) A public attestation. Throughout the Bible there is an
emphasis on obedience to the constituted rulers and authorities.
If the rulers require a legal license, the believer is bound to
meet that requirement (Many examples of marriage of God's people
in the Bible, were just witnessed by the immediate families only
- we need to be willing to read the WHOLE Bible and not just
certain verses - Keith Hunt).
Malachi 2:14 speaks of God's hatred of divorce. The prophet
describes it as dealing treacherously with the wife of one's
covenant, or mutual public promise. (This verse in Malachi is
VERY misunderstood, and has given rise to many false teaching
about marriage and divorce and re-marriage. In one section of
Scripture God COMMANDED people to divorce - again ALL the Bible
must be read to understand God's teachings correctly - see my
study on Divorce and Re-marriage - Keith Hunt)
References on obedience to ordained authorities are many (1
Pet. 2:13-25; Rom. 13:1-7). (Yes, but sometimes the situation of
marrying does not involve the so-called "authorities." What if
you were living in an atheist country or a Moslim country or a
country where Christianity was outlawed, and two Christians
wanted to marry each other? You think such countries do not exist
today? Think again - being a Christian in some countries even
today, could cost you your life. Many false ideas come about by
only reading a few verses, and not using natural logic. I have
commented a number of times on this Website about the danger of
"tunnel vision" when studying the Bible - Keith Hunt).
In Song 3:6-11 we find Solomon and Shulamith attesting their
marriage publicly (the only way it's ever done in the Bible).
(Maybe so, but publicly was sometimes between just the immediate
family or families - Keith Hunt).
However, the second factor - to cleave - seems to be the
most important and perhaps the only indispensable prerequisite.
These four points describe a general biblical picture of marriage
for which there may be legitimate exceptions. For example, a
public attestation may not always be possible. A couple could be
legally married and yet violate the first condition of LEAVE. But
ideally, these four factors seem to constitute the prerequisites
of marriage from the biblical viewpoint.
(Yes, within the rest of the Bible and its examples, with no
tunnel vision reading - Keith Hunt).
Public attestation is important
We are all familiar with the type of bridegroom who
stalwartly maintains he will endure the public ceremony because
everyone knows the wedding day is for the bride. It's simply an
unnecessary inconvenience he must go along with.
Solomon's elaborate preparations for the procession display
an interest in the wedding itself. This interest can come across
as saying, "Honey, you're a beautiful bride, and I want everyone
to know how lucky I am."
A modem groom, on the other hand, who demonstrates no
interest in the wedding or its preparation indicates the
attitude, "I want to many you, but ... this is such an awkward
situation, and I don't like weddings and ... I wonder if it's
worth it." The bride can pick up the unfortunate attitude that he
is unwilling to sacrifice for her, even that he is not proud of
A wedding is a time of being set apart, a time for the bride
to be shown off and admired by all. If the groom makes it seem an
ordeal, it's as though the effort of showing off his bride is too
great for him to bear. Grooms-to-be, take an active interest in
the wedding plans. Even ask if there is anything you can do to
lighten the load your bride will be carrying. If she desires it
and it is possible, go with her to pick out the flowers, cake,
etc., as well as china and silver. Make fun outings out of these
(Yes, under modern average situations and countries we live in,
this is a great time for BOTH to share with others in a joyous
day. But remember some situations of marriage in some countries,
for various reasons, may have to be simple and plain, with
possibly only a few as witness to the marriage - Keith Hunt)
1. Rabbi Dr. S. M. Lehrman, "The Song of Songs, The Five
Megilloth," ed. Dr.A.Cohen (The Soncino Press, 1946), p.12,
2. Ibid., p.12.
3. [bid., p.12.
4. Franz Delitzsch, "Commentary on the Song of Songs and
Ecclesiastes" (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, n.d,), p.70.
To be continued with a much longer chapter "The Wedding Night."
Entered in this Website July 2007