24. A Royal Love Story - Song of Solomon

At a first glance the book looks like exchanges between lovers. At a deeper glance, it contains a wealth of wisdom from what is probably one of the last writings of the wisest king. Key players are three lovers – two men and a woman.

Presentation Overview

Read book of Song of Solomon

  • Objectives
  • Introduction
  • The timeline
  • The plot
  • The players
  • The dual referencing
  • The difference
  • The moral
  • Too late!
  • Discussion

Objectives

To:

  • Understand the wealth of wisdom in what was probably one of Solomon’s last writings
  • Learn from His experience on lasting happiness in marriage relationships
  • Realize how the wisest king allowed folly to overtake
  • Contrast it with a simple woman who chose the past of wisdom

Introduction - Interpretation

While there are several theories in terms of both authorship, date and interpretation of this book, based on sources of:

  • bible content and study itself in corroboration with
  • archeological data, maps and
  • studies of writings of various bible scholars,

the following are the best conclusions based on my research and assessment.

.

The Timeline

  • Date of events: 967 BC
  • Same year temple building started
  • Number of women he has – around 140 at this time (ch 6:8-9 – 60 queens and 80 concubines)
  • Around 3-4 years after incident with David with Abishag
  • Strong pointer to Shulamite being Abishag, also considering Adonijah was killed over wanting her hand in marriage

The Timeline

Date written by Solomon: around 931 BC (the year he died)

  • If the King writes of why he was jilted he has come to repentance, which was end of life
  • Also chronologically placed last of his books
  • He highlights the virtues and choice of the woman, wiser than his.
  • Being the last writing of the wisest King, it has a wealth of wisdom hidden in it.

The Plot…

Enticed by the luxuries of the palace and the charms of the king, could she be faithful to her shepherd lover? A dramatic story!! The players follow:

The Shulamite Woman

The star of the story. She:

  • Is torn between king Solomon and her shepherd lover
  • Exercises a choice in an age when women had very little say.

What is the basis of her decision?

The King

  • Used marriage to build pacts with his neighboring kingdoms.
  • Tried to woo and entice this lady with literally all the wealth and comforts in the world
  • He claimed to have loved her above all (the other 140).

Did he regret not marrying and being faithful to this one virtuous woman?

The Beloved

Her true love. Always faithful, patiently waiting. Ready to receive her at all times. Keeps coming back even when she is busy lounging in flirtation and luxury.

Brings her back to her home town, Shunem, as soon as she finally makes her decision.

The Setting

Scenes, references from:

  • Shunem, hometown of lady and shepherd lover
  • Solomon’s vineyards where she was sent to work by her brothers for 1000 shekels of silver.
  • Solomon’s palace where he tried to woo her
  • Romantic locations in between Shunem and palace

Daughters of Jerusalem

Echo the sentiments and mood of the Shulamite woman

The Difference

King Solomon

Beloved

Lusts for her

Loves her

Impatient, gets on with other marriage alliances

Patient, even when she is considering another.

Unfaithful, wants to have the cake and eat it too

Faithful, even when she does not receive him

Fantasizes on pleasure she can give him

Fantasizes the companionship

Shared with a thousand

One and only

The Shunammite’s Decision Criteria

She Chose..

Over

Reference

Commitment – to her/God

Comfort

“Where will you rest your sheep at noon? Why should I wander like a prostitute among your companions.” SoS 1:7

Commitment – to her/ God

Wealth

If a man tried to buy love with everything he owned, his offer would be utterly despised.” SoS 8:7

Chastity

Indulgence

…not to awaken love till the time is right.” SoS 8:4

Contentment

Craving

My lover is content with me” SoS 8:10 vs “60+80+ SoS 6:8

Character

Crown/ Chariots

“Solomon has a vineyard which he has rented…as for my vineyard, I will give it to those who care for its vines” 8:11, “see the crown” 3:11

The Decision

  • She eventually chooses to return to Shunem.
  • King Solomon allows her to go after recognizing her virtue.
  • She marries the shepherd from her home town.

The Moral

  • The wisest King in the world relearns true spiritual wisdom at the end of his life
  • His worldly wisdom had conflicted with spiritual wisdom.
  • He realizes the fruits direct violation of God’s command – foreign wives
  • He regrets his poor choice and recognizes her right choice
  • He humbly acknowledges that in this matter the Shulamite woman is wiser than him
  • He carefully reflects on her values in contrast with his

The Moral (Cont’d)

After his tryst with 1000 women it was:

  • One woman
  • True love
  • The charm of purity and chastity
  • A partner who worshipped God
  • The power and integrity of building the foundations of God’s kingdom together

That deeply impacted his thoughts in his final stage of life.

King Solomon Regrets.. Too Late

He desperately warns his sons not to follow his footsteps but in vain.  The kingdom is ripped apart as God’s judgment – after his death.

Children learn from our examples far more than from our warnings.

The Quester Failed His Quest

In his quest for wisdom, he missed out on true wisdom

In his quest for prosperity, he missed out on true riches

In his quest for lovers, he missed out on true love

Dual Referencing

The dual referencing style of the Bible also allows a deeper interpretation of:

  • the shepherd as Jesus and
  • the woman as the Church in parallel with factual data.
  • The King as the attractions of the world
  • The struggle between choosing the world and Jesus

Discussion

  • What parameters would we consider for a choice of a partner?
  • How can it impact our life for generations?
  • What does the much used phrase “do not awaken love till the time is ripe” warn about? Why
  • In the dual referencing, what do we learn about our relationship with God?

House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, But a prudent wife is from the Lord.” (Proverbs 19:14)

References - People

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