The Shulamite and Her Mother
This is the continuing look at The Shulamite and Her Mother from the book of Song of Solomon. You can read Part One here.
The Shulamite Appreciates Hard Work
She is not afraid of hard work, as we see by her labors in the vineyards (Song of Solomon 1:6). She appreciates the efforts her Beloved takes to tend to his sheep well (Song of Solomon 2:16-17; 6:2). The Lord teaches us to appreciate a strong work ethic in places such as Proverb 6:6-11, 2 Thess. 3:10-12, and Psalm 90:17.
The Shulamite is Pure
At the wedding of the Shulamite and her Beloved Shepherd, someone asks and answers a riddle,
“We have a sister, and she has no breasts;
What shall we do for our sister on the day when she is spoken for?
If she is a wall, we will build on her a battlement of silver;
But if she is a door, we will barricade her with planks of cedar.”
(Song of Solomon 8:8-9)
The Shulamite declares that she was a wall and that her breasts “were like towers” in verse 10. She is not bragging about her figure. She is saying that she was not a door, open to any man’s attention and in need of being boarded up and protected by her brothers. Instead, she was a wall and that she was protected against molestation by her own intention. She then says that to her beloved she became as “one who finds peace”. She was no longer in battle array to keep him away. This is something the Beloved loves about her (Song of Solomon 4:12-15). Throughout the story she expresses longing for the time when she will be his completely, but we know by chapter 7:10-13 that she has not yet given it to him – she has “saved up for [him]”. She exemplifies the qualities Paul encourages Titus to teach the older women to teach the younger women to have in Titus 2:2-5.
The Shulamite is Content with the Simplicity of Nature
From the very beginning of the Song of Solomon the story shows the Shulamite being showered with all the riches Solomon has at his disposal. In chapter one verse 9, Solomon begins to woo the Shulamite by telling her just how beautiful he thinks her to be. In the middle of this, while sitting at the king’s own table, her mind wanders to her Beloved and the simple things of their life in the country (Song of Solomon 1:12-14). Solomon continues, but her mind is comparing a simple home to the extravagant tents of the king (Song of Solomon 1:16-17). Trees verses lavish dinners in luxuriant tents!
In chapter 2:3-5 she compares the foods on Solomon’s tables with the preferred fare of what the Beloved provides for her. Her Beloved’s banquet hall is, again, among the trees, and consists of simple things like cakes of raisins and apples. Consider Solomon’s daily provisions given in 1 Kings 4:22-23: 30 kors (a kor is about 10 bushels) of fine flour, 60 kors of meal, 10 fat oxen, 20 pasture-fed oxen, 100 sheep plus deer, gazelles, roebucks, and fattened fowl – that’s just his grain and meat! This country girl would much rather have the simpler foods of her simpler life.
In Song of Solomon 6:4-10 Solomon is wooing her for a third time. He compares her to his army, his flocks of goats, and his 60 queens and 80 concubines. He, of course, tells her that she is the ONLY one that is perfect and unique – among all his women. Her response? Boredom and a desire to go somewhere not dripping with false flattery! She goes to the orchard of nut trees, there she seeks solace among the trees she has access to at the palace. Before she even realizes it, she is so enraptured with looking towards the life she knows back home that she takes off running as though to leave Solomon and all his trappings behind. (Song of Solomon 6:11-12). She is NOT impressed.
This is fully culminated in the climax of the story found in Chapter 7. In verses 1-5 the women of the court tell her how beautiful she is in the most physical of terms, Solomon follows suit with a most lurid invitation in verses 6-9a. The Shulamite shows her decision, and her strength of character by the choice, in verses 9b-13. She says essentially, “My kisses are for my Beloved, I belong to him, and I am ready to go home to him where I can freely enjoy married life with him.” No more question of which life is for her.
”Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Prov.31:30
To see the woman who was “instructed by her mother” we only have to go to Song of Solomon 4:8-15. The Beloved Shepherd describes her as being simple about her array (vs. 9 says “single strand of your necklace), taking care of herself and her clothing (she smells good, vs. 10 and 11), she uses her mouth to speak kind words (compare vs. 11 to Ps. 19:10 and Prov. 31:26), she is pure (vs.12), and she has cared for herself so that she is ever ready to be a benefit, in any way (vs. 13-15)! What a wonderful young woman! This young woman could be sure of her behavior so that she could bring her Beloved to meet her mother with no shame (Song of Solomon 3:4 and 8:2).
My prayer is that every mother would train every daughter to have the confidence and strength of character that the Shulamite shows us. God gives such a beautiful story of how to choose love. The keys to a happy, healthy marriage are two people who are mentally, physically, and spiritually aware of themselves and prepared to bring themselves completely to the relationship for the rest of their lives. I believe this is the knowledge the Shulamite’s mother handed down to her daughter – and I thank the Lord that we can all learn from her as well.
Angela – The Diligent Woman