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Song of Solomon: True Love

True love separated,
True love searching,
True love surviving,
True love sealed,
The Shulamite taken to JerusalemThe
Shepherd-lover comes for her
Solomon’s flatteryThe Lovers return home
Dream – 3:1-4Dream – 5:2-8
Do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.
Do not stir up nor awaken
love until it pleases.
Do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.

Major characters

(see comments below)

  • The Shulamite
  • The Shepherd-lover
  • Solomon, the King
  • The daughters of Jerusalem, the women of Solomon’s court

Major themes

  • Love
  • Faithfulness

It is best to understand the book first and foremost as a description of historical events, during the time of King Solomon. It describes the nature of true love and provides a valuable description and approval of physical love between a man and a woman.

However, there are still interpretative difficulties that must be considered. Some would see two main characters and some three. Those who see two characters see Solomon and the Shulamite, and a description of their love. The problem with this approach is that Solomon is hardly the best role model for a God-ordained view of marital fidelity.

So, some have proposed a view that sees three main characters: the Shulamite maiden, her Shepherd-lover, and Solomon, who attempts to woo the Shulamite from her Shepherd-lover. (This view is held by John Phillips, Exploring the Song of Solomon, and William MacDonald, Believers Bible Commentary) The challenge that arises at times is determining who is speaking, although it is apparently clearer in Hebrew than English.

Having determined the historical basis for the book, and the interpretation of those historical facts, there is then the typical application.

  • Christ in all the Scriptures

“There are three main characters in this song. There is Solomon, of course, and the Shulamite, a lovely country girl who has caught the king’s roving eye. The third character is the shepherd, the Shulamite’s true beloved to whom she has given her heart and to whom she remains true. The real romance in the Song of Solomon centres around the mutual love of the Shepherd and the Shulamite. The shepherd himself, however, remains largely in the background. He is absent, but the shepherdess loves him, longs for him, looks constantly for his coming. Solomon in all his pomp and power, makes every effort to impress the Shulamite and to draw her affections from her beloved to himself.

“Thus the allegory begins to emerge. The Shulamite represents the Church, the betrothed of Christ, or the individual believer. The shepherd pictures the Lord Jesus who has already won the believer’s heart. He is absent right now although He visits us, makes Himself real to us in our moments of communion, and has promised to come again and receive us to Himself. Solomon depicts the tempter, the enemy of our souls, who uses all the allurements of the world in his efforts to seduce us from our loyalty to Christ… The world is all about us. It is like the sea, lapping against the ship, ever probing for a crack through which it can pour and so submerge the vessel. The answer to this constant pressure of the world upon our souls is Christ! If we keep our hearts singing in His love, our minds filled with thoughts of Him, and our wills enslaved to His, then the world will not get very far.”

from John Phillips, Exploring the Song of Solomon

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