Song of Solomon Part 8
THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY
Song of Solomon
"An Hour of Testing"
Last time we ended with the Shulamite testifying of the greatness of her beloved shepherd to the court women. She perfectly pictures how the church should witness of her Great Shepherd, the Lord Jesus! But now the Shulamite is about to experience the greatest testing of her life.
Solomon seems to have been moved to jealousy over her love for the shepherd. Without warning, he appears and begins to court her aggressively. First, he tries flattery. We are going to see first how his flattery resounds, then how it is rebuffed, and then how it is resumed.
We must continually remind ourselves that Solomon is not a type of Christ in this Song. The coarse flatteries he uses are those of a seducer, not a savior. His boast about the number of women he has already conquered is not the kind of boast that we would want to attribute to our Lord Jesus.
6:4-7 “O my love, you are as beautiful as Tirzah, Lovely as Jerusalem, Awesome as an army with banners! 5 Turn your eyes away from me, for they have overcome me. Your hair is like a flock of goats going down from Gilead. 6 Your teeth are like a flock of sheep which have come up from the washing; every one bears twins, and none is barren among them. 7 Like a piece of pomegranate are your temples behind your veil.”
Some of the things Solomon says are not inappropriate. They are, in fact, similar to what the shepherd said to her. No surprise there! The tempter is rarely original. Most of what he promises us in the hour of temptation are simply cheap imitations of what the Lord offers His children.
Satan is more a copier than a creator. On top of that, he repeats himself so that his words become stale and boring. C.S. Lewis says in the Screwtape Letters that pleasure is God’s invention, and that all the tempter has to offer is a wretched and inferior substitute.
Solomon describes the Shulamite as imperial in her beauty. He tells her that she had vanquished him, devastated him, conquered him, and marched all over him! Thus, the flattery resounds.
But all this flattery is aimed at breaking her down. In the Proverbs, Solomon wrote about flattery and could well have aimed his words at himself. “A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin” (Prov.26:28). And again, “A man who flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his steps” (Prov. 29:25).
Why is flattery wrong? Because flattery is praise designed to deceive you into doing what the flatterer wants you to do. It is a form of lying, but it is harder to detect and resist. Men love praise, so they are easily seduced by flattery. It is poison in a spoonful of honey.
Next, Solomon assures her that she is first!
6:8 “There are sixty queens and eighty concubines, and virgins without number.” The margin of The Companion Bible renders this phrase, “I have threescore queens.” So we could put it this way, “Sixty queens had Solomon, eighty concubines, maidens without number.” This is a revolting and arrogant thing for him to say. He almost wears a proud sneer. “I’ve got plenty of others, young lady. You clearly don’t realize who you’re talking to!”
He is essentially telling her that, even though he’s got plenty of women waiting in the wings, she can be first! And Solomon has counted on his way to talk to her. He stopped at the number 140. And you, he tells her, can be number 141!
The arrogance of the devil is all over this man. The devil would love to add the church to his own “harem” of the bound. Solomon is sounding like a man at an auction, putting in his bid for the Shulamite.
And she can not only be first by count, she can also be first by contrast.
6:9 “My dove, my perfect one, is the only one, the only one of her mother, the favorite of the one who bore her.”
Here again we see Solomon copying the words of the shepherd to the Shulamite. He had said to her, “Open to me…my dove, my undefiled…” (5:2). Solomon stole the same language to hopefully endear him to her. He is trying to make her feel special, above all others, unparalleled.
Satan does the same thing with God’s children, as well as with the lost. He promises love, success, peace, and fulfillment, just like Jesus does. His temptations are custom designed to make us feel like his offer is just for us, unique, because we are first! But it is all a lie by the chief of liars! His temptations always lead to ruin.
Then Solomon tells her she is first by confession.
6:9b “The daughters saw her and called her blessed, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her.” He makes it sound as if even the court women have gotten over their jealousy of her innate beauty. The Shulamite is truly above them all, and they say so!
Solomon, still looking at the Shulamite, says, “You are first!” First by count, first by contrast, first by confession, and first too by conquest.
6:10 “Who is she who looks forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, awesome as an army with banners?” The moon, sun, and an army with banners were all things greater than Solomon.
Amazingly, Solomon, the great conqueror of women, the intellectual genius, the King of Israel, and the greatest man on earth at that time, admits to having been conquered himself by the Shulamite! There was something about her he could not win over. For once, he had lost the game.
We have to think here of the Shulamite as a picture of the church. As the Shulamite reminded Solomon of things he could not personally conquer, Satan sees in God’s people likewise that which he cannot conquer!
Jesus placed His hand of anointing and power on the church at Pentecost. He promised that all the gates of hell would not prevail against His church. As Solomon had to admit that he had been conquered by the Shulamite, so Satan must admit that he has been conquered by the true, blood-bought church of Jesus Christ!
Next, we see the Shulamite rebuff the unseemly advances of Solomon.
6:11 “I went down to the grove of walnut trees to see the fruits of the valley, to see whether the vine had budded and the pomegranates had bloomed. Before I realized it, my strong desires had taken me to the chariot of a noble man.”
The Shulamite rejected Solomon’s advances instantly and fully. She was not interested. And that is the best way to deal with temptation. If we toy with it, flirt with it, ponder it, or entertain it in our minds, then down we go.
As verses 11 and 12 reveal, she simply turned around and walked away. What the Shulamite said to Solomon was this: “I was attending my own business, going about my duties of inspecting the orchards and the vineyards. Suddenly, I found myself surrounded by the chariots of the nobility.”
“I was not out sightseeing, hoping for a glimpse of Solomon. Such a thought was far from my mind! I am innocent of any curiosity about the presence in the country of a royal entourage.”
“I was simply going about my own business when, all of a sudden, I was swept up by some of your servants, and my liberty was taken away from me.”
In other words, I’ve never desired to meet you. I did not end up here by my own doings. I’m not interested, and have never been interested. Your servants are the ones that stole me away against my will.
This is the Shulamite’s way of telling Solomon that she wants nothing to do with him. Her rebuff of his advances couldn’t be clearer. Again, we as the church can learn from her single-minded devotion to the shepherd. She did not flirt with sin. She did not have one foot in the world and the other in the kingdom.
Solomon, the seducer, responds to her, “Return, return to us, O maid of Shulamite! Come back, come back, that we may see you again.”
This is the first time that Solomon calls her “the Shulamite.” It is also the first time the name is mentioned in the entire song. It is generally believed that Shulem is the same as Shunem, a village just north of Jezreel and is mentioned several times in the O.T.
Calling to her following her rebuff was yet another appeal of the seducer to draw her into unfaithfulness. Like Solomon, Satan does not give up easily. He repeatedly attacked Jesus in the Wilderness until finally leaving “till an opportune time” (Luke 4:13).
Starting in Chapter 7, Solomon resumes his temptations, hoping for “an opportune moment” to win the battle. He now drops all pretense and comes at her with unblushing boldness. If he could not win now, he had lost for good. He begins with a bold, sensual description of the Shulamite:
7:1-5 “How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O prince’s daughter! The curves of your thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a skillful workman. 2 Your navel is a rounded goblet; it lacks no blended beverage. Your waist is a heap of wheat set about with lilies.”
3 “Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle. 4 Your neck is like an ivory tower, your eyes like the pools in Heshbon by the gate of Bath Rabbim. Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon which looks toward Damascus.”
5 Your head crowns you like Mount Carmel, and the hair of your head is like purple; a king is held captive by your tresses.”
This is full on, pedal to the metal attack! Her feet, thighs, navel, waist, breasts, neck, eyes, nose, head, and hair are all praised. It’s like a machine gun of flattering words that are coarse and crude.
But notice, not one word about her character; not a whisper about the great woman she is on the inside. His whole focus is physical and lust-driven. He cares nothing for her as a person, only for what she looks like. And believe me, that kind of focus will not last into old age!
Next, we see Solomon’s outright burning desire for the Shulamite. He senses he will not have her, so words more desperate gush out:
7:6-7 “Oh, how beautiful you are! How pleasing, my love, how full of delights. 7 You are slender like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters of fruit.”
The mask is off as Solomon is exposed as a passion-driven man, burning with the torturous fire of inner lust. He goes on to say:
7:8-9 “I said, “I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of its branches. Let now your breasts be like clusters of the vine, the fragrance of your breath like apples, 9 And the roof of your mouth like the best wine.”
Notice the “I wills.” I will go up, I will take hold. I will get what I want is the sense of it. He had made up his mind to seize her by force.
Here is laid out for us the stark difference between love and lust. Love can wait. Lust can’t. Love does not insist on its own way. Lust always does. Love thinks of the other. Lust thinks only of itself.
Next time, we will see the SHULAMITE’S FIDELITY to the shepherd in spite of this fierce, concentrated attack.