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
This title may seem odd in a study of Solomon’s song. It goes without saying that the discussion of true love, and the attraction two people have when in love, is inherent in this song. In the midst of this song, however, a phrase jumped out at me. Perhaps it is because the subject of true love and marriage is emphasized that this phrase stood out. In the midst of what men have called the “wedding procession,” it is stated that, “... the valiant of Israel. They all hold swords, being expert in war: every man hath his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night” (Song of Sol. 3:7-8).
In context, we see the imagery of a king and his “mighty men” (think: “Secret service”) who serve the king and protect him. They are set to protect a bride. They are trained for war, their swords were ready, and they stand to protect the king against “fear in the night.”
As I read this passage and thought about what was being said, my mind went to Psalm 23:4-5. Here, David said that the “rod and staff” of God comforted him. He said he could walk through “the valley of the shadow of death” and “fear no evil” so long as he knew God was there and with him. Please understand, I am not writing this as if to say these passages contradict or that Solomon trusted his army more than God’s. My thoughts go to a contrast between two images.
An army with swords, shields, and the like is impressive. Even today, the U.S.military is impressive with its guns, helicopters, jets, tanks, bombs, and the like. Much damage can be done with these weapons. Also, many lives have been saved by the work of our military. No doubt, Solomon’s military was an impressive sight as well (I Kings 4:26, 10:16-17, 22; II Chron. 9:25, etc.). Yet, when we contrast Solomon’s (or America’s) military with the power of God to protect and save, it is nothing (Ps. 20:7; Isa. 31:1, 3)!
Psalm 91 records David’s psalm about the might of God. He said that he trusted in God and His might and thus was not afraid. The Hebrew writer encouraged this same kind of bravery for his readers. He said, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Heb. 13:5-6).
While we recognize that men’s weapons have a place on this earth, let us never forget that God wields the greatest power! He is stronger than all, and He will protect when all of man’s weapons fail! If you are not sure of this, then talk to the three Hebrews who walked in the midst of the fire (Den. 3). Talk to Daniel himself, who spent the night in the lion’s den unharmed by the beasts (Dan. 6). Study the lives of other Old Testament heroes who “escaped the edge of the sword” by faith (Heb. 11:34). Listen to the encouragement of the apostle who told us we are “more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Rom. 8:37). Are you a Christian (Acts 11:26, 22:16)? If not, why not? You stand exposed and in peril every day from Satan (I Pet. 5:8). This is your chance for true protection from Satan’s onslaught (Eph. 6:13-18) and preparation for a better life to come (Jn. 10:10). Don’t delay in becoming a Christian, though (Heb. 3:7-8, 15; II Cor. 6:2; Acts 16:30-34)!
No doubt, it was a comfort for those gathered at the wedding to see a sword on the thigh of soldiers in Solomon’s Song, but greater than this is the comfort of the Christian who knows he is on God’s side and his soul is safe (Matt. 10:28, 16:26; Mk. 16:16)!
- 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
(Note: If you have not read part 1 of this article, please read it first. It will help you to understand the applications I am making in this article. - JMJ)
After completing the article this morning, my mind continued to think about Solomon’s writing. As is common for me, my mind doesn’t seem to “shut off” easily! (ha) After writing about the Shulammite woman and her requesting that her love not be stirred up or awakened “til he please” (Song of Sol. 2:7, 3:4, 8:4), I began thinking about another application. As I stated in an earlier article, I am not convinced that Song of Solomon is a type/antiype of Christ, nor a “Messianic” song. I do think, however, that there are several places where applications can be made to Christ and the church when we consider the fact that God used the husband and wife relationship to describe this spiritual relationship (Eph. 5:22-33). I am always willing to study with anyone on this if you believe Solomon definitely had Christ in mind in this song.
Having said this, please go back and reread what the Shulammite said. I believe this is one of those verses where an application to Christ and the church can be made. The text in Solomon’s Song said she didn’t want her passions stirred until the time was right and proper. It is not that the passion itself was wrong, but it could be expressed in the wrong way if the time (before marriage) was not right. This statement caused me to think more about “timing” and how God has His timetable for things. Is it not fascinating to consider that an eternal being is concerned with time and has a “timetable” of His own?
I know God doesn’t count time as we do (II Pet. 3:8), but I also know things have happened at the “right time” with God! Think about the birth of Christ. Jesus Christ came to this world “in the fulness of time” (Gal. 4:4). He did not get here too early or too late. It is the same with the church, Christ’s bride. The church came into existence in the “last days” (Isa. 2:2-4). In other words, at the right time, when the right king was in power (Dan. 2:44-45), and when things had come to fruition as God wanted (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-21)! In the case of God and His plan for Christ and the church, no one was going to “stir up” anything to change God’s plan. When the time was right, it happened perfectly!
We could include the fact that when God works providentially, then He is working things out at the right time. This was true with people like Joseph, Ruth, Naaman’s maid, Daniel, Hannah, Abraham, Esther, and a host of others. It is also true today. God has ways in which His will is going to come about. When this happens, it happens at the right time, regardless of whether or not it was our time!
When we think about the end of the world, remember Christ will return for His bride (the church). When He does, it will be at the right time. No man knows when this will be, but again, this eternal being, our Father, has said Jesus will come “as a thief in the night” (I Thess. 5:2; II Pet. 3:10), and when He does, He will return for His bride, and this world will end (Rev. 19:6-21). It is on God’s timetable and not man’s. No one will “stir up” God’s passions and make Him send Christ too early or too late!
Some try to guess as to when the Lord will return. It seems some have made predictions about His return almost since the time He left (Acts 1:9-11; I Thess. 4:13-5:11; II Pet. 3; Acts 5:36-37; Matt. 24:4-5; etc.)! Does anyone remember the bulletin boards and bumper stickers that were out some years ago that said, “If the Lord doesn’t come soon, He will owe an apology to Sodom and Gomorrah!”?
Let’s stop whittling on God’s end of the stick and realize that God won’t be “stirred up” but will make sure things are done right on time as He has always done. Let us, in the meantime, prepare for the Lord’s return by being saved (Jn. 8:24; Lk. 13:3; Rom. 10:10; Mk. 16:16) and remaining faithful to Him as a faithful bride would (Rev. 2:10; I Cor. 15:58). Let us spend time on earth growing (II Pet. 3:18) and maturing in the Lord that we will be ready for Him when He arrives. Let us prepare to hear those words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs