The Song of Solomon
Aug 4, 2010 1168
The Song of Solomon
—Smuts van Rooyen
The first time I read the book, Song of Solomon, I wondered, what is the sense of this Bible book? But as I have studied this Song of Songs, it has become a great blessing to me. I have discovered it to be perhaps the strongest affirmation of ‘Christ Our Righteousness’ in the Old Testament.
The song is a love story of a girl who was in terrible shape because her family had rejected her. There had been some kind of squabble in the family; her brothers didn’t like her, and they forced her to do the work that they were supposed to do. Evidently, each child had been assigned a section of the father’s vineyard, and she had been given a section to take care of too.
But the brothers made her work in their sections of the vineyard, pruning, training, cleaning. As she slaved away day-by-day in that vineyard, she came to really hate the place. The sun shone down on her, and her fair complexion became dark and leathery (1:5-6). She imagined she was no longer beautiful. She lost all confidence in herself and became shy and retiring. This is how the book, Song of Solomon, begins.
So as this girl was working away one day, a shepherd tending his sheep brought his flock close to her vineyard. He walked over to the fence and began to speak to her, and she responded shyly. The next day when she went to the vineyard, she worked close to the fence and the shepherd came over again. Over a period of time, this shy, darkly-tanned, rejected girl, who had lost all confidence in herself, fell in love with this lowly shepherd.
But one day he didn’t show up. She was crushed. Her time with the shepherd each day was the one bright spot in her life. So she dropped everything and rushed frantically into the town. She spoke with the daughters of Jerusalem. ‘Oh, please, please tell me where it is that I can find my beloved. Where can I find that shepherd that came over to speak to me?’
And these daughters of Jerusalem replied, ‘Your dad has a few goats; take the young kids and let them graze near to where the shepherds have their tents. Take them there to feed and the chances are you’ll meet your shepherd who came to the vineyard everyday to speak to you.’
So she does this. She herds the kids and goes out to where the shepherds are camping and starts to inquire about her particular shepherd. She finds him, but when she finds him, he is not dressed in his shepherd garb. To her utter amazement, she discovers that this lowly shepherd is none other than King Solomon himself.
Evidently King Solomon wanted somebody who would love him for what he was, and not for his position. He figured out that maybe he could find a wife who could love him for what he was if he masqueraded as a shepherd.
Can you imagine her shock? She has fallen in love with King Solomon, and King Solomon has fallen in love with her. He is so thrilled that she would love him for what he is that he arranges—would you believe it—their wedding!
So now, here is a lowly vinedresser about to marry King Solomon. He brings her into his glittering banquet hall where all the royal guests he has invited—kings, princes, ambassadors and dignitaries— are sitting at long tables with white table-cloths, on which are beautiful golden dishes. A really high-class affair for a poor little vinedresser! As she comes in, she is awfully self-conscious, but she’s by the side of her lover. She knows she’s not worthy of any of this, and she’s shy because of what she is. She doesn’t think she’s beautiful—she doesn’t have anything she thinks he would really like.
She sits down at the table. She looks around and then looks above her at King Solomon’s family banner suspended from the ceiling. Embroidered on it is the family emblem, the family motto, and the family name. She suddenly realises that the banner hanging over her means that his name is now hers. Everything he is, she will be regarded as being, because she is joined to him. In the eyes of all the people there, she is no longer the vinedresser’s daughter. She is the Queen. She is Mrs. Solomon. She says of her husband: ‘He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love’ (2:4).
King Solomon loves his new bride so very much that she is constantly on his heart. He calls to her one day in spring, and he tenderly says, ‘Come on, sweetheart, spring is here; let’s spend the day together’. ‘Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me’ (2:10-13).
Friends, just as nature responds to spring, just as nature responds to the sun, so Jesus comes to us and he wants us to respond in the same wholehearted, beautiful manner. The forsythia doesn’t gripe about responding to the sunshine, nor do the roses or the dogwood. When the sun shines, they respond beautifully, wholeheartedly. And when Jesus approaches us, he likes us to respond as nature responds to spring.
But Solomon’s new bride suggests instead that he take a walk. ‘You just be like a deer out there on the mountains. Have a good day, OK?’
But when the night arrives he doesn’t return. Well, surely he will come tomorrow morning. But tomorrow morning comes, and still he doesn’t come. By the time night comes again, she recognizes that her beloved will not force her to love him. She realises the terrible mistake she’s made.
So, in a frenzy of desperation, she runs out and begins to look for her lover. She finds watchmen on the wall, and she cries, ‘You’ve been watching the streets here. Have you seen my beloved?’ And one watchman says, ‘Madam, you’re in luck. I saw him.’And he tells her where he went. And so the girl runs off in search of her beloved. She says, ‘Scarcely had I passed them when I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go’ (3:4).
The third scene is a very interesting one. The peasants of the village where the girl originally lived, stare far down the road at a great cloud of dust coming their way. They look at each other and ask, ‘What’s that? Maybe it’s an army coming! ’ So they send somebody to investigate, to see what it is. They can’t believe the sight! It’s a procession that is approaching! Coming towards them is no less than a pageant from the palace (3:6-10).
For this occasion King Solomon had a special carriage made for him and the Queen, all made of gold and silver with pillows of purple velvet. So here comes this procession, escorted by sixty armed warriors! Inside sits King Solomon and his new bride. And they arrive at her little town. What a sight!
Can you visualise all of the girls she grew up with, standing around, looking in? And there she sits— prim and proper—Mrs. Solomon! And as everybody looks in they become aware of the perfume that pervades the whole interior. She’s covered with Solomon’s perfume; she’s dressed with clothes that he has purchased; she’s riding in his carriage; she is protected by his presence. What’s more, everything King Solomon is, she is regarded as being. They draw back their curtain, the daughters of Jerusalem look in and they see the vinedresser’s daughter. Her immediate response to them is ‘Look at my husband!’
And then the King speaks, and here are his incredible words: ‘All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you’ (4:7). Now wait a minute. King Solomon. What do you mean, ‘There is no flaw in you’? She’s still at heart the vinedresser’s daughter; she hasn’t really changed that much. How can you say, ‘All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you’?
The answer is very simple: she is clothed by his presence. It isn’t a matter of God treating us as forgiven sinners—that would be good enough. But God not only treats us as forgiven sinners, He treats us as if we had never sinned. You see, Jesus never sinned, and the character of Jesus is accepted by God in lieu of my character. And since God accepts it, he regards me as if I had never sinned. That is truly incredible! And God says these words of us, ‘All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you.’
After the marriage the new bride decides to do something special for her husband. This was her supreme gift of love. Do you remember that old vineyard in which she slaved away—where the sun burnt her skin black, and where she lost her confidence and where she hated herself—that symbol of oppression and hatred? Remember that old vineyard? Now that she knows and loves Solomon a change has taken place in her life, and she says, ‘I want to do something really super for my beloved. You know what I’m going to do for him? I’m going to work in that vineyard. I’m going to give that vineyard to him and I’m going to work in it. I’m going to turn out a greater profit in that vineyard than any of the other vineyards King Solomon owns.’
That is true love, isn’t it? And if the vineyard can be taken as representing her hard labour, can we see that, prior to her meeting with King Solomon, the vineyard was an oppressive thing. After her meeting King Solomon, however, her labour in the vineyard became a way of expressing her love to her king.
This glorious story of a young girl, who married a king, is a symbol of your marriage to a King—the King of the Universe. Friends, are you still slaving away in the vineyard back there, or are you now working with joy in your heart in the vineyard over here?
(If you want to study the song for yourself, I’d like to recommend to you the book by Hudson Taylor: Union and Communion. This is a fantastic piece of literature. It can be found on: www.amazon.com).