THE SHULAMITE AND HER MOTHER
Legacy – “anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor”.
We first think of physical things when we think of a “legacy”, but the Bible often shows how one can leave a spiritual “legacy” as well. Consider Timothy — he was given the legacy of “sincere faith”, by the teachings of his mother and grandmother:
“For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” 2 Timothy 1:5
Personally, I love studying the people of the scriptures in the light of what legacy they reflect from the previous nation or are leaving to the next generation. It is the very basis for propagating the Word of God to each new generation.
“Now this is the commandment, the statutes, and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.” Deuteronomy 6:1-3
God points out these things on a regular basis:
Judges 2:10 a generation arose that did not know the Lord[/li]
2 Kings 22:8-13 King Josiah learns that there are aspects of the Law that the nation had not been following because the book of the law had been lost (implied because Hilkiah “found” it)
Ezra 9 and 10 teach of a generation of the remnant that is allowed to return to Jerusalem who fails to follow the law in regard to marrying among the nations. A reading of the law and new commitment to obey it is done to correct the sin.
God is clear about the fact that you “reap what you sow” (2 Cor. 9:6) in all aspects of your life!
The story that is told in Song of Solomon is one of a young woman who has enough strength of character and determination to choose between a life with King Solomon and one with her Beloved Shepherd she has known most of her life. I believe that the teachings of her mother gave her this strength of character.
We only meet the Shulamite’s mother in three contexts, and none of them tells us much about the mother. We are told in Song of Solomon 1:6 that the Shulamite has brothers because of the reference to “my mother’s sons”. We are told that the Shulamite is her mother’s only daughter in Song of Solomon 6:9. Then in Song of Solomon 8:1-5 we learn her mother was caring, that her mother instructed her, and that she was a woman of the countryside. That’s it. That is all we know, specifically, about the Shulamite’s mother.
However, most of us have heard phrases like ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. And I’m sure that most women have been compared to their own mothers, either in regard to looks or behavior, at one point or another in their lives. Therefore, it is not a stretch to learn of the Shulamite’s mother by looking at the Shulamite.
The Shulamite’s Healthy Self Image and Confidence
As we are introduced to this young woman, the first thing she says about herself is, “I am black but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon. Do not stare at me because I am swarthy, for the sun has burned me. My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me caretaker of the vineyards, but I have not taken care of my own vineyard.” (Song of Solomon 1:5-6). She admits that she is dark skinned, unlike the women of Solomon’s court whose skin would have been pampered and not colored by the sun. She does not say this in shame though – it is simply a fact. She’s been busy working and not been given the freedom to take care of herself the same way those women do.
In Song of Solomon 2:1 the Shulamite refers to herself as “the rose of Sharon” and “the lily of the valley”. She identifies herself with the flower of the plains of Sharon and the simple flowers of the valleys. She is expressing her own uniqueness and recognition of her beauty and value. It is not bragging. She sees herself in comparison to those around her in Solomon’s court and recognizes that she is different. Again, she is not apologizing for being different from the women of the court, she is avowing her own unique beauty.
The Shulamite expresses her confidence in the love of her Beloved many times – see Song of Solomon 2:16; 6:3; 7:10. She expresses concern in Song of Solomon 3:1-4 and 5:1-7 through the telling of her dreams that she is concerned that she is going to lose him only because she is staying too long in Solomon’s court. She never doubts how the Beloved feels about her. Compare this to today and how young women vacillate between flirting and crying in an attempt to get reassurances from their young man about his affections! The Shulamite had no doubts about how the Beloved felt about her.
Also, we see in Song of Solomon 4:16 and 7:10-13 that she had no doubts about her ability to fulfill his dreams and expectations of her when they marry. This young woman has confidence, and I believe that confidence comes from the teaching of her mother. Someone helped her to know her own value; someone helped her to appreciate what her womanliness is worth in a marriage relationship. It falls to logic that this was her mother’s doing, and I believe that it is also logical that her mother taught her this based upon teachings of Scripture.
- God teaches in Genesis 2:18-25 that Woman was created to fill the void in Adam’s life. He was missing something without her. This immediately shows her value and necessity.
- Solomon teaches in Proverbs 5:15-22 that a loving relationship between one man and one woman, from their youth, is a beautiful thing that is fulfilling and exhilarating (ravishing in the KJV) when kept as such!
- The mother of King Lemuel teaches, in Proverbs 31:10-31, the value of a woman who recognizes her strengths and knows how to use them to benefit others.
- Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 that the husband and wife both need to realize that their physical relationship is an important part of their marriage and that they are equal partners in it.
The Shulamite, in my opinion, exudes the righteous confidence that is emulated in these scriptures, and others.
The Shulamite is Patient and Sensible
In Song of Solomon 2:7, 3:5, and 8:4 the Shulamite repeats one request to the women of the court, “Do not arouse or awaken my love until it pleases”, meaning Don’t Rush Love! With all of the influences going on around her, she keeps her head. She doesn’t allow her emotions or her circumstances to push her into a decision she is going to regret. The women of the court try desperately to show her how life with Solomon will be wonderful (1:11; 6:13; 7:1-5) but she doesn’t allow their “peer pressure” to force her hand. This is a trait that God reiterates in other places: 2 Tim. 2:22; Prov. 1:8-19; Prov. 7:6-23; Prov.3:7; Titus 2:5.
Continued in The Shulamite and Her Mother Part Two
A study of Song of Solomon is included in “To Be a Handmaid of the Lord” Bible Study Guide