Song of Solomon is probably best known for the descriptions of physical beauty contained there. There are four of these descriptions in the song. Three times the Shulammite is complimented (4:1-7, 6:4-9, 7:1-9), and one time, her beloved is praised (5:10-16). These descriptions make some folks uncomfortable. These descriptions have caused some even to suggest that perhaps Solomon’s Song is pornographic. I have also seen the opposite reaction when one chose to depict all that was said about the Shulammite literally. She looked like a monstrosity -- a mixture of goats, sheep, pomegranates, deer or gazelle, a tower, etc., instead of a human woman (See attached).
What is said, though unfamiliar to our “western” ears, is simply a poem praising the beauty of the one he (or she) loves. I will not be able to explain every description in this short article, but please understand, he compares his beloved to the beauties of nature created by God (Gen. 1-2). Just as some suitor might tell his girlfriend, “Your eyes are bluer than the sea,” the Shulammite was told a similar thing in chapter seven, verse four! She is spoken of in majestic terms in verse five. This would be the equivalent of calling a beautiful girl a “fox” or some other description today. Solomon’s song spends time complimenting the Shulammite for her physical beauty. She also compliments her beloved in the text for the beauty she sees in him.
Why say such things, and why describe a woman in this way? Is it not obvious? He loves her and therefore compliments the beauty of the one he loves! She had a low opinion of her beauty (1:5-6), so her beloved (and later husband) showers her with praise.
Husbands, how are you doing at praising your wife for her beauty? Did you praise her before you were married but have since ceased? This man didn’t do it. When we read Song of Solomon 4, 6, and 7, we read him complimenting her before and after the wedding! Husbands, don’t forget this lady is the wife of your youth, and a part of you (Eph. 5:28-29). Pay her compliments! Praise her! Ladies, do this for your husbands as well. Husbands love to be complimented, so act as the Shulammite and do it (Song of Sol. 5:10-16). If you are having marriage problems, or feel like you are drifting apart, maybe part of the problem is a lack of communication. Perhaps you are not communicating your love or your praise to your spouse. This is the point of those four sections in the song. It is not pornographic, nor something meant to stir up evil desires. Instead, it is intended to be sincere praise showered upon two who genuinely love one another.
Just as husbands and wives today need to compliment and praise one another, I find it interesting that Christ does the same for the church. The church, considered Christ’s bride, is honored by being called “glorious” and without a flaw (Eph. 5:27). The picture of Christ and the church is a picture of a husband and wife and the love they share for one another. It is a picture of genuine, sincere love that ought to be true in the lives of all of those who are married.
To those married, may your love deepen and grow through the years. As you mature, may you grow closer together, and may it be that the beauty you saw in the wife of your youth only enhance through the years. True beauty is within. May we thank God for that beauty we see in our spouses.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Our title is a phrase that is unique to the Song of Solomon. Four times in the book, the Shulammite spoke of “him whom my soul loveth” (3:1-4), and once she called him, “thou whom my soul loveth” (1:7). The intensity of her love is apparent. This was no passing infatuation with her, for in this song, she waited patiently for him, and in two sections (chapters 3 and 5), she went looking for him when she dreamed she had lost him. She was not satisfied unless they were together. She sought the one “her soul loveth” diligently in these dreams (perhaps she would consider them nightmares).
She speaks not of a casual acquaintance, close friend, or the like when she speaks of her beloved. This is one her soul loves! When found, she “held him, and would not let him go” (3:4). The intensity of this love is something that ought to be in our marriages. Paul described this love from the man’s point of view when he said a man ought to love his wife as his own body (Eph. 5:28). He continued, “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it” (Eph. 5:29).
Husbands, love your wives as your own bodies! Wives, love your husbands with your soul! Christ loved His church so much that He “gave Himself for her” (Eph. 5:25). Paul made clear the relationship between a husband and wife reflect Christ and the church (Eph. 5:32). His blood purchased the church (Acts 20:28). In response, the church is to love the Lord and submit to Him (Eph. 5:24). As the Shulammite desired her beloved, and as the wife desires her husband (Gen. 3:16), so let Christians desire to serve and follow the Lord. May we truly love Him, for He loved us first (I Jn. 4:19). Yes, love Him from the soul! Love Him for all he has done for us and how He has made it possible to be in Heaven one day (Jn. 14:3).
The pure love described in Solomon’s Song needs to be applied in our homes and the church. If we haven’t been doing this, let us start today to reflect that pure and intense love. Christ showed it first to us; therefore, let us respond in kind.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Three times in the book, the Shulammite warns to “stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please” (Song of Sol. 2:7, 3:5, 8:4). Other versions translate this phrase as:
- “do not let love be moved till it is ready” (BBE).
- “never to awaken love before it is ready.” (CEV).
- “you will not awaken love or arouse love before its proper time” (GW).
This thrice-repeated phrase emphasizes the fact that there is a need for patience when those feelings of romantic love are kindled. Our world pushes our children to engage in the physical aspects of love at earlier and earlier ages. Instead of being concerned about the purity of thought and motive in life (Job 31:1; Matt. 5:27-28, 15:18-20; Phil. 4:8-9; I Tim. 5:2), and with no training to understand the difference between lust and love, our world encourages such acts and says the most important thing is to be mentally “ready” and have “protection.”
As I reflect on this passage, I am impressed with this woman. Though speaking of her love in such beautiful ways in this book (and he responds in kind), her attitude is not to look for the nearest bedroom or hotel room (Song of Sol. 4:12). Instead, she asks folks not to try to arouse something that is not ready to be awakened. In a society obsessed with sex, we need to be a people who respect God’s will on the subject and not arouse feelings until the proper time in life, and then express them in marriage to our spouses (Heb. 13:4).
When reading these three passages, let those who respect God’s law on marriage beware as well! What I mean is that there are some who would not do anything to commit fornication, yet they will marry someone when they are not really in love. Some marry out of convenience, perhaps to better their finances, or perhaps to leave an abusive home, or boredom, or simply out of the sense of “duty” (“This is what comes next in life.”). Is this you, dear reader?
Many are miserable because they married, not out of love, but convenience. Not love, but “duty.” Some were just desperate and thought the person who showed them any attention or admiration must be the “one.” If you respect God’s law for marriage (Matt. 5:31-32, 19:9; Rom. 7:2-3), then you recognize that this is the person you must live with for the rest of your days. Marrying for reasons other than love is not a Scriptural reason for divorce. Instead, you must figure out how to live with this person and hopefully learn to love him or her. Yet, this was not the best decision that could have been made! Single people, listen to the words of this smart lady in Solomon’s Song! Don’t arouse feelings when they are not mature yet! Don’t leave one problem for another! These feelings will blossom at the right time, and at that right time, there will be someone blossoming for you.
Lastly, let us make sure we do not mistake lust for love! This is yet another reason not to arouse certain feelings until they are ready. There is a great difference between lust and love, but sadly, some do not recognize the difference until it is too late. Whether they have sinned against God and their bodies by committing fornication (I Cor. 6:18-20) or have committed to a loveless marriage, nothing good will come from this. God is love (I Jn. 4:8), and the best definition of love is found in I Corinthians 13:4-8. Single people, look for someone who will share this with you as a spouse. Married people, live these verses!
Is there any doubt that this wonderful song belongs in the “wisdom literature” of the Old Testament? Much wisdom is revealed here. Let us hear and obey and be blessed (Rom. 15:4).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
In Song of Solomon 2:4, the Shulammite declares that her beloved has placed a banner over her; and this banner is love. In context, we see a woman who was considered beautiful by this future husband, so he brought her before friends and others (1:12, 2:4a). She demurely says she is but the Rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys, or lily among thorns (2:1-2). She sees herself as a sunburnt maiden (1:5-6) but is reassured when her future husband compliments her true beauty (1:8-10, 15-17) and puts his banner of love over her (2:4).
Oh, the beauty of true love! True love looks deeper than the skin. True love looks within the person. It reminds me of the statements made about God. For example, “man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart (I Sam. 16:7). The Holy Spirit said, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13). When we remember that “God is love” (I Jn. 4:8), then we understand even more how God has the ability to look upon the inward person.
What causes two people to live a life together for decades? Love (Eph. 5:22-33)! What is the motivation for a person to stay with another despite disease, disability, dementia, until separated by death? Love! True love causes us to see beyond the flesh, beyond the coif, beyond the “painted up and powdered up” person at work or on a date. True love says I will accept this person regardless of what the outward “package” looks like or what might happen to it through the years! Ladies, there is a reason God wants “the hidden man of the heart” to be revealed to others, and part of the reason is that “the hidden man of the heart” is “of great price” in God’s sight (I Pet. 3:4). Ladies, this what your spouse truly loves and not what the outside looks like!
Long after the world has dismissed someone, the one who truly loves is still there! Matthew 22:39 means much more to us when we realize this passage applies in our homes, among those we have known for years, as well as among the strangers we meet for a few seconds one day and never see again. Love looks deeper than the skin. How “deeply” do you look at a person?
Look again at Song of Solomon 2:4 for a spiritual application. The “banner” over the Shulammite was love because this man loved his future bride. He loved her so deeply that his loved wrapped or covered her! Thus it is with God! His love surrounds us, as well. Think about it -- All of us have sinned and have been stained by it (Rom. 3:23; Isa. 1:18-19). Yet, when God looks upon us, He looks in love (Jn. 3:16). Because He loves us, He made a way by which we can be free from sin (Rom. 5:6-8; Matt. 20:28, 26:28; Acts 2:38).
At the same time, love cannot be forced! The Shulammite and her beloved loved each other freely. Thus it is with God. He loves us freely and wants us to do the same (Matt. 11:18-20; Rev. 22:14; etc.). His banner of love covers us; will we accept it? Will we tell others about this love? Indeed, “the greatest” is love (I Cor. 13:13), and this passage gives us a glimpse as to why!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
The Song of Solomon is often called the “Song of Songs” based upon the first verse of the book. The writing is somewhat enigmatic to us in the Western world because it uses rich, flowery imagery when we tend not to write in this manner much these days. Song of Solomon refers to geography many of us have not seen, and it uses a style of writing where the characters speak in monologue rather than dialog. We read of speeches by the “Chorus,” called the daughters of Jerusalem, the groom (more than likely Solomon, though some disagree with this), and the Shulammite (bride). While the groom and bride never really talk “to” each other in this song, their expressions of love and commitment are crystal clear.
Recognizing some of the difficult parts of the book does not mean this work cannot be understood. It can be understood when we make the time to read carefully, study the text, and apply it to ourselves. When we study, we will see that this song has applications not only between those two lovers but also with married people today. A cursory reading shows us the expression of marital love in this song, and such expressions are beautiful in context (Heb. 13:4). Additionally, folks have compared this text to Christ and the church for similar reasons. While I do not think this was a “Messianic” song, in the sense that the Bible does not contradict, and that all its teachings agree, there is no question we can find truths revealed here that reflect in Christ and His church. This is especially true when we consider the imagery of husband and wife used by Paul (Eph. 5:22-33).
When we read the inspired description “Song of Songs” in verse one, we know this is significant. Solomon wrote 1,005 songs (I Kings 4:32), and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (II Tim. 3:16-17; II Pet. 1:21-22), this song is described in superlative terms to tell us this is the most beautiful of Solomon’s songs.
If for no other reason than this, this book deserves to be read, understood, and applied (Rom. 15:4). This book does not mention “God” specifically, but neither does the book of Esther. This does not mean the song is irreverent, nor does it mean it is uninspired. God’s name is not mentioned, but God’s hand is seen on every page just like in the book of Esther. Furthermore, the groom and bride’s respect for God’s plan for marriage is apparent in this song. When we read this book, let us note the beauty of the language, let us allow our minds to dwell on the love of a husband and a wife and appreciate what God has given to us in this extraordinary book.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs