Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

Song of Songs - Part 4


Song of Songs

Part 4


The Shepherd or Solomon:  5:1a


This is a continuation from chapter 4, where the Shulammite extends an invitation to her lover (4:16).  Here is a man who totally enjoys his bride.  Possessing her was more delightful than gathering myrrh in a garden, as sweet as eating honey (honey was once of far greater importance than it is today since the introduction of sugar), and as enjoyable as drinking the best milk and wine.  In 5:1b a chorus appears to encourage the couple to enjoy completely and fully all the blessings of their marriage. Unfortunately, many couples do not avail themselves of all that marriage has to offer.  Why don’t more couples enjoy marriage to its fullest potential?


The Shulammite (her second dream):  5:2a


“I was asleep, but my heart was awake” (5:2).  I was asleep but I was constantly aware of my beloved from whom I am separated.  “Love brings its joys, but those joys are seldom unalloyed for long.  With all our joys, come fears.  Often they surface in our dreams” (Gaebelein p. 1232).  “For my head is drenched with dew, my locks with the damp of the night” (5:2b).  Here the shepherd responds to her.  He had been outside; dew in Israel was often heavy.  Here is how one writer paraphrased this section:  “I was sleep but I was constantly aware of my beloved from whom I am separated.  All at once he was at the gate!  I heard his voice—he knocked—he called to me:  ‘Open blood of my blood, love of my heart, my alert soft one, my purest one.  I have been long in coming to you over many mountains.  I have come—all through the night I have hastened to your side—my head is wet with dew.  Let me in’.  I turned on my bed—I hardly knew what was happening.  So very foolishly I thought only to myself—‘I cannot go to him—I have undressed and bathed for bed—I cannot go out in the courtyard to the gate I will soil my feet.’ I looked toward the door—had already entered the courtyard and was even now at the door of our house.  His hand appeared through the hole near the door and attempted to unlock the door.  When I saw his dear hand my heart almost stopped.  I hardly knew what I was doing—I jumped out of bed and threw a mantle over myself—I thought, ‘I must meet him with perfume’, I dipped my hands in myrrh, I hurried to the door, I could not move the lock or hold the handles of the door so full were my fingers with myrrh.  When I did at least get the doors open, my beloved was gone!  I was beside myself.  Perhaps he came in another way, I looked in every room of these courts he was nowhere to be found.  I could yet hear his voice and his dear words of love, I called him, I called him again, and there was no answer.  I must find him.  I will find him.  I ran out the open door, across the courtyard and out into the streets of the city.  I had no sooner entered the streets than the watchman was all around me.  One of them struck me.  It was a heavy blow; I can yet feel the pain.  One of the sentinels jerked my veil from me.  I do not blame them; I must have appeared as a wanton woman wandering the streets at that hour.  Was it only a dream, it was so real, was he really here?”(Kidwell p. 396). 


“There is a realism in the Song that merits our respect.  The course of true love seldom runs smoothly for long (1 Corinthians 13:4ff; Colossians 3:19).  For every moment of ecstasy, there seems to be the moment of hurt and pain.  The openness that husbands and wives experience with each other makes possible both.  Not even love can guarantee perfect performance in personal relationships.  Time and humility help” (Gaebelein p. 1232). 


Daughters of Jerusalem:  5:9


This question could have been delivered in a mocking tone.  The request of the hurting Shulammite evokes a question from the daughters of Jerusalem.  They want to know what is so remarkable about the man she loves, how does he differ from other men?  When dating, couples need to step back and seriously ask themselves, “Why do I love this person?”  Married couples need to do the same so that we do not take each other for granted. 


The Shulammite:  5:10-16


“Did you notice that the Shulammite makes no mention of the kind of work he did and yet she referred to him as ‘chief among ten thousand’.  In our society we tend to place a lot of weight on what a man does for a living.  Why is that an incorrect evaluation of a man?” (Kercheville p. 24).  The term “chief among ten thousand” refers to the one who carries the banner in war.  “His head is like gold” (5:11).  Not that his head is the color of gold, but was as valuable as gold.  “His abdomen is carved ivory” (5:14):  Note, this shows that his man is accustomed to hard work (this shepherd was not out weight lifting).  While this section describes physical appearance, it also describes character:  1.  A pure mind, like refined gold (Philippians 4:8).  2.  Honesty and loyalty (5:12).  3.  A pleasant face, a happy, optimistic and cheerful disposition (5:13).  3.  Kind speech (5:13).  “Many a bride wishes she were married to Barnabas, i.e., ‘the son of encouragement’” (Kidwell p. 405).  4.  Beautiful hands, strong and helpful.  5.  Strong legs by which and on which we stand (Joshua 1:6-8; 1 Corinthians 16:13). 


“When she describes his head as the finest gold, she is saying that he is made of the very best material.  By describing his cheeks, she simply states how she likes the way he smells.  As a bed of spices there is a lot for her to enjoy.  Most women love the hands of a man, for they speak of the strength of his character.  Women like these hands to be gentle.  Gold is a soft metal, and very pliable.  It is also strong and speaks of value.  Everything a man touches is affected by who he really is inside.  His body is beautiful because it houses a man who loves her deeply and wonderfully.  He walked with dignity and strength of character. Notice how strength, beauty, and value are combined in this section” (Hocking pp. 134-138).




“And he is wholly desirable”:  That is, he is desirable in every way.  Husbands, are we living in such a way, are we treating our wives and children in such a way that our wives could say, “We are desirable in every way?”  Do we have some undesirable habits or qualities that we need to correct as men?  “This is my beloved, and this, my friend”:  “No word touches the heart of a wife so much as the word ‘friend’.  She wants to believe that her husband is her best friend.  She wants his counsel and encouragement.  She needs to know what he thinks about what she says, feels, and does” (Hocking p. 140). 


The Daughters of Jerusalem:  6:1


Upon hearing the Shulammite’s description, have these ladies become interested in the shepherd too?  Having heard such a description these ladies appear anxious to help find him. 


The Shulammite:  6:2-3


The plain fact is that he is away at his work on his farm, feeding his flock, and perhaps gathering a bouquet of flowers for his beloved.  He is away, but not lost.  Love can overcome time and distance.  The Shulammite can still say that she is her beloved's and that he is hers.  Note that the relationship between the shepherd and the Shulammite was exclusive.  Many a marriage has been destroyed by fornication.  To avoid fornication, husbands and wives need to remember that they exclusively belong to their mate.  He possesses her and she possesses him.  Note what the shepherd is doing, he is working as usual.  Women appreciate a man who can continue to go about his duties, even during difficult times.  They are apart, but the shepherd is continuing his responsibilities. 


Solomon’s Third Effort:  6:4-9


“Tizrah”, was a lovely city.  Its name means “pleasantness”.  It was an old Canaanite city famed for its name and location, which would later become the capital of four kings of the Northern Kingdom after the days of Solomon.   Her beauty unnerved him, as one would be intimidated facing a powerful army.   It may also mean that she is inaccessible and she frowns upon her flatterers.  “Turn your eyes away from me, for they have confused me” (6:5).  From this phrase, some feel that Solomon is afraid of the Shulammite, that is, in contrast to all the other harem girls, she sees through him.  Her purity, principles, and character have humiliated the king who had started on a path of compromise and corruption.  “He is greatly injured and corrupted by the manners of a luxurious Oriental court.  But he is not a seared profligate.  The vision of goodness startles him; but there is a better nature in him” (Kidwell p. 411).  “There are sixty queens and eighty concubines, and maidens without number; but my dove, my perfect one, is unique”:  Solomon already had married 140 women.  He will marry 860 more (1 Kings 11:3).  “Queens” would be wives of royal birth.  “Maidens” refers to young women of marriageable age.  Consequently, either subordinate members of the harem, or young women not yet, but about to be taken into it are intended.  If Solomon is the only man in this book, then some see here his conversion from polygamy, where he puts aside his harem and settles down with one woman.  Yet history knows of no such conversion, even at the end of his life Solomon is still holding fast to all his foreign wives (1 Kings 11).  Kidwell notes, “It would have been more like a genuine conversion if Solomon had gone back to the love of his youth, and confined his affections to his neglected first wife” (p. 413).   Solomon’s claim that the Shulammite was more beautiful than an entire harem has a hollow ring to it.  I believe there are a couple of lessons that we can learn here:  1.  True love will be satisfied with one woman.  2.  The person who is not filling to invest in genuine love will always be “looking” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).  3.  Take a lesson from Solomon; all the women in the world did not make this man happy.  4.  Do not marry or date someone that you feel is like a Solomon.  That is, someone that you feel has a wandering eye and it is your responsibility to keep them.  5.  Beware of flattering yet worldly statements like the above, “Of all my girl friends, you are the best”.  Or, “all those other women do not mean anything to me, you are the one I love”.   Eventually Solomon will realize that all these women did not make him happy and that he life was empty and meaningless (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11).   6.  What may impress Solomon about the woman, besides her beauty is her character and purity, but for Solomon this lesson might come too late.   Solomon made the mistake of opting for worldly relationships only to find that what truly attracted him was a pure woman, but then it was too late, because a pure woman is looking for a pure man. 


Daughters of Jerusalem:  6:10


These women also admired her beauty and the way she carried herself (6:9).  She appears like the dawn over the eastern hills. She is as fair as the moon, and as bright or clear as the sun.  They also agree with Solomon, she is as awesome as an army with banners.  But notice that verse 10 is a question.  This may be a scornful statement that is these ladies ask, “Who is this that spurns the king, who does she think she is”?


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