Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

Song of Songs - Part 3


Song of Songs

Lesson Three


Shulammite to the Shepherd:  2:15


The Shulammite may be speaking poetically about their relationship rather than about literal foxes and vineyards.  Foxes were noted for their destructive tendencies to crop fields.  The Shulammite is asking her beloved to take the initiative in solving the problems that were potentially harmful to their relationship.  “The foxes represent as many obstacles or temptations as have plagued lovers throughout the centuries.  Perhaps it is the fox of mistrust and jealousy, which breaks the bond of love.  Or it may be the fox of selfishness and pride, which refuses to let one acknowledge his fault to another.  Or it may be an unforgiving spirit which will not accept the apology of the other” (Bible Knowledge Commentary pp. 1015-1016).  Even in ideal courtships and marriages most couples will encounter some potentially destructive problems.  Their willingness to solve them together is an evidence of their maturity.  The phrase “catch the foxes” can also be translated “let us catch”.  It is a mutual decision to protect their relationship.  Their relationship is compared with “tender grapes” that can easily be hurt by the activity of little foxes.  It pictures the need for sensitivity and concern because our love for each other is at times fragile, and can be damaged easily by critical words, false suspicions, selfishness, and flirtations.  Such “little foxes” need to be dealt with while dating, as someone noted, “Whatever has proved itself to be a problem during dating will usually magnify itself a hundredfold after marriage”.  It is also very important to continue to catch the foxes that spoil the vines after you are married. 


Shulammite to the daughters of Jerusalem:  2:16


Previously, this group had told her to go out and find her shepherd boy.  Notice the commitment in these verses, My beloved is mine, and I am his.  In a world that desires “independence” this verse speaks of mutual possession.  One is ready to be engaged when they are ready to commit completely to another person.  Compare with 1 Corinthians 7:2-5.  “If you are serious about a person you are dating but are unable to say, “he is mine and I am his”, what should your concerns be?”  (Kercheville p. 14)


Shulammite to her Shepherd:  2:17


The town of “Bether” is located in a mountainous region on the east side of the Jordan.  The word “Bether” comes from a root word which means to “chop up or divide” and thus a separation or division.  The Shulammite uses this mountain to allude to the division between them as well as difficulties they will need to overcome in order to be together.  “It is sad that in so many marriages today, both people are not intent on being strong and quick to cross the craggy mountains that sometimes lie between them” (p. 15).  (Matthew 5:23-24; Ephesians 4:26)  “Many single men appear to be more like ‘bulls in a china shop’ than gazelles! Gazelles speak of gracefulness, beauty, and strength” (Hocking pp. 72-73).


The Shulammite (her dream):  3:1-5


This next section appears to be a dream.  In a dream she seeks him and then suddenly finds him.  “Until I had brought him to my mother’s house, and into the room of her who conceived me”:  This was the most secure place that she knew.  Please note that this is not a desire for a illicit relationship.  This is very romantic and very moral.  In a way the separation between the Shulammite and the shepherd had not been all bad.  There are some benefits of periodic separations between dating couples.  Such a separation can help the people involved to seriously ask themselves if they really love this person.  In her dream she grabs the shepherd and hangs on for dear life!  When a couple embraces each other, there should be an intensity in that hug which other people are not given.  You may give a hug to a friend, but the hug between spouses ought to be special and strong.   “Did you notice that the shepherd is not moping around outside Solomon’s camp upset that the Shulammite is being wooed by the king or is considering a relationship with the king?” (Kercheville p. 15).  As we conclude this section we should ask the question, “Am I living in such a way that enables my mate to dream about me?”



Royal Procession into Jerusalem:  3:9-11

3:6  First Citizen:  3:7-8  Second Citizen  3:9-11 Third Citizen


The author speaks as a narrator in this verse, as if he were a spectator watching the approach of Solomon from a distance.  What at first appeared to be columns of smoke are actually incense.  The fact that this incense was made with all scented powers of the merchant indicates it was a very expensive display.  The traveling couch of Solomon is his carriage or palanquin.   Solomon is borne on a magnificent couch of cedar-wood, with silver posts, a floor of gold, and purple cushions, wearing on his head the crown with which his mother had crowned him (3:10-11).  In this party were 60 mighty men who comprised his personal bodyguard (3:7-8).  “Notice that Solomon is wearing the crown that he would wear on the day he would become engaged to be married (3:11).  What is Solomon trying to accomplish with all the pomp and ceremony of this royal procession?” (p. 16).  If the Shulammite were to agree to marry Solomon at this point in the story what would be her motives for marriage?  Kidwell notes, “The example of  the Shulammite should be a real help to us.  If riches or convenience or escape is at the foundation of our decision for marriage we can expect nothing but unhappiness” (pp. 371-372).  It appears that Solomon is looking forward to another marriage.  The words in this section were probably spoken to every one of the prospective brides of Solomon. 


Solomon (his second effort) 4:1-6a: 


“It is significant that later in 6:4-9 when Solomon make a third attempt to woo the Shulammite he uses almost the same words.  In a dating relationship, though such words are flattering, what should they indicate about the character of the man who is saying them?  Why does not Solomon speak of her character, her personality, and in inward qualities?” (Kercheville p. 18).  “Eyes luminous as doves, hair glossy black, perfectly matched white teeth with none missing, lips scarlet, and cheeks touched with color like a sliced pomegranate make her an object of beauty” (Gaebelein p. 1228).   The modern reader might wonder about the statement, “your neck is like the tower of David built with row of stones, on which are hung a thousand shields”.  This is probably a way of describing a long, graceful neck ornamented with rows of jewelry.  Or, this is a statement that the Shulammite had a queenly bearing and appearance as awesome and majestic as King David’s tower.  “While complimenting her physical appearance is important, why is this damaging to your relationship if you do not also compliment her inward character and the things she does?” (Kercheville p. 18).   “If we were married to a girl whom we could describe in the same way the Shulammite is here described, we would have no problems in marriage.  Is this true?  It is both true and false.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  If we look at our wife with grace, we will find grace.  Only you can say if your wife is physically attractive to you.  She must have been for this was one of the reasons you married her.  How would you grade your choice of women?  What a change takes place when we put on the glasses of love and grace and look at everything about wife in the same way that God looks at us” (Kidwell pp. 379-380).



Shulammite or Solomon:  4:6b


“Gardens were numerous around the cities of Palestine and were commonly used by the Jews as a retreat from the pressures of the day” (Kercheville p. 18).


Solomon:  4:7


“Why should you be suspicious of a person who told you that they could not find any flaw in you?”  (Kercheville p. 18).  If there was truly no flaw in her, then why did Solomon go on and marry 860 more wives and concubines?  Unfortunately, in the context, the “flaws” on deal with physical flaws. 


The Shepherd (remember in the heart of the Shulammite):  4:8-15 


The heights of Lebanon, Amana (a MAH nuh), Senir (SEE nur) and Hermon were dangerous places for the Shulammite to be. “Amana” is the eastern part of the Anti-Lebanon range facing Damascus, “Senir” and “Hermon” are two peaks in the Hermon range, or “Senir” is the Amorite name for Mount Hermon, the tallest peak (9,200 feet) in the range.    The lions and leopards may represent fearful places or circumstances.  “He is saying in effect, ‘come with me from the dangerous position you are in, leave the high dignitaries and the raveneous wild beasts of Solomon’s court’” (Kidwell p. 386).   Notice the contrast:  Solomon had referred to the Shulammite as “my love”, but the shepherd refers to her as “my bride”, and “my sister”.  The term “bride” is derived from a Hebrew root which means “to complete”.  The lover calls his beloved his “sister” four times.  When a man is ready to marry he should be able to say of his bride, “my sister, my bride” and not just “my love”.  Christian men need to remember that their bride is a sister in Christ, “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow-heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).  “You have made my heart beat faster”:  While Solomon seems to have been to staring at her, the shepherd is moved by a single glance from her eyes.  While Solomon wants to adorn her with all sorts of jewelry, the shepherd is enchanted by seeing her with a single necklace.  While Solomon comes with an entire cloud of incense, the shepherd simply loves her simple oils or perfume. While Solomon is attracted to her body, the shepherd simply loves the smell of her garments.  Rather than wanting elaborate perfumes, this shepherd simply loves the natural fragrance of Lebanon that attaches to her clothes.  Lebanon, because of its cedar trees, was known for its fragrances. 




The garden locked up, and the rock garden locked all suggest inaccessibility.  The shepherd praises the Shulammite for her purity.  Gardens were walled to keep out intruders.  Similarly she had kept herself from all others, thus preserving her purity for her husband.  The description of this garden is found in 4:13-15.  She is a garden, yes, a most fragrant garden, an orchard of all sorts of wonderful rich fruits, the best of spices and a fresh water spring.  She is an oasis!  She is closed to all others, but accessible to her husband.  To all others she is a closed garden, to him she is a well of fresh water, like the streams cascading down from Lebanon.  Compare with Proverbs 5:15-20. 




If the shepherd’s words were a proposal of marriage, these words are certainly an acceptance. 


Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church of Christ/503-644-9017