The woman in the Song of Solomon is actually a huge topic to attempt to write on because she has so much more than just history to dig into. The Shulamite is a woman that is the first beautiful secret in history. She is the first woman to have a poetic sonnet preserved for posterity written to and about her. And she represents the church.
While the Song is beautiful on its own for how it gives us a picture of ancient love and longing. It’s even more important for us because as Paul points out in Ephesians 5:32 “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” This is marriage, and anyone who has been married can tell you it’s about much more than love and sex, fidelity and compatibility. When we look into the Song we see a picture of the passion that Christ has for us, and a holy picture of the passion of a man and woman in marriage.
I am very dark, but lovely (1:5a)
This woman is beautiful, yet average. She loves herself, yet loathes herself. Like any woman you have ever known she has this list of things in the back of her mind that springs to the front any time you compliment her. She says thanks, and thinks “maybe, but…”
And for the Shulammite it was “sure the king is looking sideways at me, but I’m so dark. He deserves someone fair, someone less like me.” We immediately think, “Oh what a lie,” but the truth is, he probably did. When we can evaluate it clearly we can see that his status was far above hers. This makes us uncomfortable because of our current social norms of equality, but for a picture of a God’s love for His people it is exceedingly helpful. These are the moments when I don’t wonder at why God chose this period in history for His scripture to be written.
We can blessedly see these faults that she had, the things that made her an undesirable object of kingly affection, and watch as he not only overlooks them, but calls them beautiful! Only a compassionate, and soft heart could do that. These things do not make sense in our minds. They are the things of fairy tales. And here we bask in the sun of a freeing picture. A picture of the love God has for us. This is our love story.
I adjure you… (2:5)
She is beautiful… and wise. She offers a warning throughout the Song to other young women who would travel this path after her.
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
by the gazelles or the does of the field,
that you not stir up or awaken love
until it pleases. 2:5 (ESV)
She has learned, on a bed of tortured dreaming, what it is to awaken a love that is not full grown. And she knows that this love that is meant for her and her prince alone is something she would never share with another. She offers this warning two times. The second comes as a woman who knows the fullness of a marriage and union that is shared by only the two who have earned it after a long struggle against passion.
Picture of a Journey
The Song is not only a picture of a building romance, but a lifetime love. The struggles it gives us a glimpse into are pictures of discovery of each other. The learning they go through together we are graciously invited by God to experience with Him. How beautiful that we can discover Him. How glorious of a journey that we get to experience this with others.
Love Through Life
Love is a gift that we give to each other, but only because God has given it to us first. Her story covers more than just her story.
- Human romance. The Shulamite is a complicated example of the love we are able to have in a committed, deep, human relationship.
- She is also a beautiful illustration of the passion Christ has for us as his bride, the church.
- When see the love Christ has for our fellow believers we cannot help but become more loveing toward them.
If we keep all that in mind her example not only helps us to love our husbands better, or our passionate God, but also helps us to love our fellow members of the body. Let us be examples of the love of God to the world around us as she is.