Song of Songs 1-2
Song of Songs 1
The book opens describing the song to be written as the greatest song Solomon ever composed (1).
1. The Shulammite Woman Preparing With the Harem (2-7)
The song opens with the Shulammite woman just outside the bed chamber of Solomon. It would seem possibly that the Shulammite woman is speaking but more likely another girl from Solomon's harem is talking here, as they are preparing for a night with the king. Solomon does not seem to be in the room, but they are all speaking of their desire to be romanced by the king.
The girl speaking is anticipating a night of sexual pleasure and is contrasting his presence in the bed chamber as being better than any other level of intoxication she had ever experienced (2).
The woman awaiting the king goes on and describes his smell, the very magic of his name, and the fact that he is desired by every other unmarried woman in the kingdom. There was no man more desired than Solomon as far as his harem wives and concubines were concerned (3). Finally, the girl expresses her deepest desire to be chosen and whisked away to the king's bed chamber and her sexual anticipation for such a moment (4).
There is little doubt that the women are seeking to convince the Shulammite girl of the great honor to be chosen by the king to be a part of his harem. It might even be that Solomon had paid the harem girls to be convincing and to win the Shulammite woman over. Their incessant attempt to corrupt the young woman's love seems almost unnatural given what should have been the competitive nature among harem wives.
Then it happens; the king comes, chooses one of his wives to be with him on that night, and one of the women speaks up and praises the king for his choice, reminding the king that they would all prefer him to any other pleasure.
It would seem then for sure the Shulammite girl speaks up and says to the king, “How right they (the entire harem) are to adore him" (4).
Her comment catches the attention of the king and now she begins to speak openly and frankly. While she likes his choice, she herself will begin the journey of telling the king that she never wishes to be chosen for a night with him.
She tells the king that she is dark, tanned, and not fair of color like the rest of the king's harem. While beautiful, she has bore the sun. Her dark skin and tan lines exposed through her wardrobe embarrass her, and she tells the king they should embarrass him also.
She goes on to describe how she was the mistreated sister of her brothers who, after her father had died, forced her to work in the vineyard and gave her no time to look after her own beauty (5-6).
The Shulammite girl then begins to reminisce in the presence of the king and let him know that she was more interested in where the shepherd boy who she was really in love with and had given her heart to was. She then told the king that she was just dreaming about being able to rendezvous with him for a lunch at their favorite spot where they would often meet.
The Shulammite then told the king that if she were to be chosen by him to sleep with him for a night, he would make her feel like a prostitute among the harem of women who really did love him (7).
2. The Shulammite Repels the King's Advances (1:9-2:7)
Solomon Charms the Shulammite (8-11)
Solomon then responds, telling her she was chosen to be in his harem because he found her to be outstandingly beautiful, tan lines and all. However, if she did not know her own beauty, his desire for her, and the great honor it was for her to be chosen, then maybe she should consider following the trail back home to the shepherd boy who was a menial servant to Solomon and further given to the infamous work of tending his flocks (8).
Solomon then begins to try to sweep the Shulammite girl off her feet with his poetic description of her beauty. Solomon told her she was like one of his imported mares from Egypt who were known for the exquisite grace and beauty (9). Solomon then begins to describe the jewelry he would lavish on her, continuing to make a comparison to the majestic appearance of the Egyptian horses upon which he would have their heads adorned with lavish jewels, pearls laced long among gold and silver settings (10-11). All the while, the king was seeking to sweep her off her feet by not just saying she was the most beautiful woman in the world but describing her as the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.
The Shulammite Distracts Herself (12-14)
While the king is reclining at a table in the harem room eating with his prospective brides, he focuses all of his attention upon the Shulammite girl, seeking to charm with his flattering words. The Shulammite woman distracts herself. She first considers the powerful perfume which is in a pouch resting between her breasts. She allows the scent of her perfume to remind her of the shepherd boy she is really in love with. The scent between her breast prompted an emotional memory of the aroma of the henna blossoms she would smell in the vineyards of En-gedi. The henna plant was as beautiful to look at as much as the blossoms were to smell. All of the scents were reminding her of her shepherd boy with whom her heart was really in love (12-14). You can feel the young woman fighting to remain true to love and not give in to the flattery of Solomon. She engages her imagination to picture what her heart truly longs for. It is an amazing description of what one should do when in the presence of intense lust and overwhelming seduction; imagine the real, true beauty associated with it.
The King Continues to Charm (15)
The king continues moving his flatteries to her eyes, recognizing her innocence and fidelity by comparing them to doves (15).
The Shulammite Continues to Distract Herself (16-17)
The Shulammite continues to turn the king's charms into thoughts about her shepherd boy love. She reminisces about the grassy meadow in which their love bloomed, the forest where they would take walks and consider the bedroom of nature to be a more comfortable environment for love than the king's bed chamber. She was so captured by her love for the shepherd boy that she admitted she could not put it into words (18-17).
While Solomon sought to convince the Shulammite girl of his love, she was turning her heart and imagination to the young shepherd boy she had been torn away from by Solomon through her brothers.
Solomon does not want anyone to miss how the girl withstood his advances. She vividly imagined true love while he offered the pretense of love. She turned his words into visions of what real love looked like. Walking and talking and getting to know each other, not seductive language, would result in a roll in the hay.
Song of Songs 2
2. The Shulammite Repels the King's Advances (1:9-2:7)
The Shulammite Seeks to Convince Solomon that She Is Average (1-2)
The Shulammite girl then explains that she is beautiful but an average-looking woman, a mere blooming crocus or a lily of the valley. There was a beauty about her but not of a distinguishing kind as should have caught the king's attention. Her lily and crocus metaphors are meant to tell the king that she was a common meadow flower and her desire was home where these flowers flourished.
The Shulammite girl is completely uncomfortable in Solomon's palace and was seeking to communicate that she would be more comfortable in the open country surrounding her home and a more rural culture than in the pomp and even fame of his harem palace (1).
Solomon Argues that the Shulammite Is Not Average (2)
Solomon counters the Shulammite's description of her average looks by telling her that he recognizes her to be a special flower among the other women. In fact, when compared to the other women of her region, they all looked like thistles in comparison.
The Shulammite Pines for Her Shepherd Lover (3-6)
The Shulammite girl was likely thinking to herself, imagining her shepherd boy back home. She uses, in her mind, the metaphor of an apple whose blossoms were eye-capturing and were sweet as was the love she felt for her shepherd boy. Compared to other men who had sought to capture her affection, including Solomon, the shepherd boy was different. He gave the Shulammite girl a sense of protection, and she was revived when she was with him—something she had not experienced with Solomon (3).
Her imagination grows further yet as she reminisces places where they would escape to capture some time together.
She remembered the banquet hall in some En-gedi cave where they picnicked (4).
The scene became very clear. While Solomon's harem was always primping themselves for some kind of appraising, the Shulammite girl had been becoming lovesick, thinking about the shepherd boy. She had lost him having been given to Solomon by her brothers, but she was very much remembering him.
In her lovesick state, she requested partially dried grapes which had been pressed together into a sweet and refreshing dessert. She also requested apples both to give her some quick energy, for this lovesick state had made her quite weak (5).
The moment of great weakness came upon her as she was remembering the moment in the En-gedi Grotto when she recalled exactly how he embraced her and how his strength encompassing her made her feel.
This feeling of security Solomon was not providing for her as he pranced about the harem, inspecting his would-be lovers. The Shulammite used all these memories to fortify her resistance against Solomon's advances (6).
The Shulammite Speaks to the Harem (7)
The Shulammite begs the harem around her not to awaken or force love to be aroused. Love had both a time and a focus, and it should never be forced against what God had put within the heart. She asks them to let her love roam free like a deer and allow love to awaken naturally where God was directing it to be devoted.
3. The Shulammite Tells How She Met Her Shepherd Boy (2:8-3:5)
It would seem the harem girls were not convincing the Shulammite that she should be smitten and honored to be among the king's brides. The Shulammite tells the girls how she came to meet the shepherd and why he is so beloved to her.
The young man came to her by overcoming great mountainous odds to get to her, doing so with leaping joy (8).
Their first date was memorable. The young shepherd came to the family home and, as he approached, he was looking through the lattice windows to see if he could catch a glimpse of her. She noticed what he was doing even if no one else in the house did. He was peering into the darkness, trying as hard as he could to see if he could catch even a glimpse of her. He approached her home swiftly and gracefully, eager to see her, but she noticed he took a moment to look for her through the window (9).
For the first time, we hear the young shepherd speak—he asks her on a date; he asks her to get ready and come for a walk with him, for she is the only one who has captured his attention (10).
The Shulammite girl remembers the day; it was spring, the winter rains had passed, the sun was warming the ground, the flowers were blooming, the birds were chirping, and she even remembered the cooing of the doves that day as she left her house to take a walk with him. The figs were forming, the vines were blossoming, and the one she loved wanted her to arise and ready herself for a walk in a paradise kind of day (11-13).
The Shulammite continues to tell how her shepherd boy lover was to her is like one hidden in the rocks. Although he had been at the door of her house seeking a paradise walk, he might as well be in a hidden mountain cliff. She can remember hearing his voice and seeing his face in her imagination, but she could not go with him; she could not take the walk. She had to muster all that was within her on this very first request for a date. She had to say no to his invitation (14).
She had a vineyard to care for and there were jackals everywhere; those jackals were ruining the vines and spoiling blossoming grapes. She had to tend the vines, so she was required to say "no" (15).
She then tells the harem that it was not as bad as they assumed, for while she worked the vineyard, the shepherd boy would be pasturing his flock among the lilies, and they would both be in nature together, thinking and imagining the walk they never took except in each other's hearts and minds.
While they did not go on that walk, at that moment, she knew they were meant for each other. She knew he was hers for he had come calling and she knew how her heart felt about him. There was instant love and an instant sense of security (16).
The Shulammite then returned to the story she had been telling the harem and told the girls that she did tell the shepherd boy to return some evening with the same kind of joyful but quiet fervency. She told him to come leaping over any obstacle and she would for sure go with him on a night walk (17-18).