The Shulamite Love Story
The Shulamite's Dilemma
Solomon had blessing for his entire life because of his spiritual heritage. The blessing came from the grace of God, and Solomon had to do nothing to earn or keep it. Since he had it made and knew it, he proceeded to try to do all that his heart desired (Ecclesiastes 2:10). He acquired great wealth, built a great temple, had a great harem, and enjoyed all kind of entertainment. Wine, women, dancing, singing, and dining were all part of Solomon's daily lifestyle. He sought entertainment in great plays, musicals, and dancing. Yet, as his capacity for happiness dwindled through neglect of Bible Doctrine, he could not enjoy them.
Solomon in self absorption pursued his Frantic Search for Happiness in Phallic Reversionism.1 He denied himself no sexual pleasure. Now, Solomon, the descendant of David and Bathshebah, was probably a very handsome hunk. David is described as beautiful, or handsome (1 Samuel 17:42), which is very rare for a man; and Bathshebah, who at age 17 or 18 lured David into adultery, was good-looking (2 Samuel 11:2). Thus, Solomon, was probably a very handsome man, albeit a wild child like David. Solomon squandered his inherited good-looks and spiritual heritage on worldly pleasures.
The Song of Solomon has defied the best of Bible scholars throughout history. There are three general trends of interpretation2:
Song of Solomon was written by Solomon and was his greatest song3, which we would classify as a musical. It contained music, singing, and dancing. Solomon is the villain; and the Shulamite Woman is the heroine. In the plot, Solomon marries the Shulamite Woman and adds her to his harem. She is the most beautiful woman that Solomon ever saw (SOS 6:8-9). She was the closest to a Right Woman that he ever found. She had a Shepherd Lover, who was her Right Man. And she was black (SOS 1:5). Now, many of the commentators dance around this issue with all the nuances. Some say she was shady. Others say that she just had a suntan. Others say that she was not an Ethiopian black. No, the Bible does not say that she was an Ethiopian, but it does say she was as a black as the tents of Kedar, which are usually made of black goats hair. She was black (Hebrew word, rj)v*shachor) and she was alluringly beautiful (Hebrew hw@#an* , na'veh).
The Shulamite Woman married King Solomon. She was a young virgin, probably about 16 years old, whom Solomon found when he was out in the country touring his vineyards. Anyway, after the marriage, she could never get over the love for her Right Man, her Shepherd Lover. So she escaped from Solomon's harem in a daring rescue by her brothers (SOS 6:10-13). Solomon turned around and married another princess, a young belly dancer (SOS 7:1-8), and lived unhappily ever after. The Shulamite Woman was united with her Shepherd Lover, her Right Man, and lived happily ever after.
In the real world, the domain of the truth of God, the Shulamite Woman rose to the highest status in the Solomon era. She demonstrated what Solomon denounced. By her life she demonstrated the highest standard of love in this life, the love for Right Man. She demonstrated with her life faithfulness to her Right Man, who, though only a Shepherd boy, in her eyes surpassed the glory of Solomon. By the singular testimony of her life, without noble birth or academic degree, she became the real heroine of her day and made a villain out of Solomon, the camel who in self absorption squandered the Davidic Dynasty.
The Shulamite Woman was breathtakingly beautiful in her peasant's garb out on the farm. She was given the worst job assignment by her brothers of chasing the foxes away from the vineyard. She became the most beautiful woman in Solomon's harem when she was arrayed in royal finery. Yet, she was not corrupted by harem life. She passed the identification test of her Right Man - Phase I, Attraction Phase. She passed Compatibility Testing of Phase II when she was sold into the harem of Solomon and was married by him. And she entered Spiritual Rapport, Phase III when she was delivered from the harem and united with her Right Man.
The Shulamite Woman stands out as real. She had a real life with real love. She stood out as the most beautiful reigning queen of Solomon's harem. She could have had the world and all of its glory. She could have reigned with Solomon as Semiramis with Nimrod. She could have been the personification of the goddess of love. She could have been famous in the history of the world. But no history books record her beauty and her might because she chose instead to accept her real calling to be the Right Woman of her Shepherd Lover. She traded worldly fame for real love. She gave up the position of first lady for a real life with real love.
She wasn't a prophet like Isaiah or Jeremiah, but she left behind a Bible verse that exemplifies the highest standard of real love in this life.
When Solomon, who was a Phallic Reversionist on the prowl, saw the Shulamite Woman, he was overcome by her dazzling natural beauty, even though she was black from the sun and dressed in her peasant's garb. Solomon immediately wanted this young beauty for his wife. Of course, he already had 60 wives and 80 concubines (SOS 6:8). So Solomon arranged a business deal with the girl's father. The girl did not have to be asked in such cases. Her father made the decision as to whom she would marry. So a marriage contract was draw up; the father was given a handsome dowry; and the contract was signed. At this time Solomon and the Shulamite Woman were legally married, although the marriage had not been consummated. Later, there would be a wedding ceremony and a honeymoon to consummate the marriage.
So God had created the Shulamite Woman for her Right Man; but she was so beautiful that Solomon secured her for his harem. When a woman inherits natural beauty, she often becomes the object of illicit conquests. Although the Shulamite's relationship with Solomon was legal, it was not compatible with the grace of God. However, the Plan of God is not inferior to man; and although the Shulamite Woman had been separated from her Right Man, it did not upset the Plan of God for her life. God was not taken by surprise here; and His grace Plan had a solution. When the Shulamite Woman entered Solomon's harem, she simply stepped into the next phase of the Right Man - Right Woman relationship - i.e. Compatibility Testing.
The Shulamite Woman in Solomon's harem was in a situation like Sarah, Abraham's wife, when Pharaoh took her into his harem and married her (Genesis 12:19). The Compatibility Testing of being married to the wrong man is a stress test. It is designed to put maximum pressure on the Right Man - Right Woman relationship in order to prove the capacity of the soul for love. This is the same as the stress testing of the roots, or foundation, of the Integrity Envelope in Romans 5:1-5. The Integrity Envelope must be proven before the super fantastic Marriage Intimacy Love can be poured into the cup in the soul. This is such a fantastic blessing in Spiritual Rapport that it warrants stress testing. The soul must pass the stress testing of the Compatibility Phase before God will pour Marriage Intimacy Love into the cup in the soul.
Solomon has the next line as he sings about the Shulamite Woman's love being better than wine. The word for love here is (Hebrew doDdod), which is the term for intimate, sensual (or sexual) love. He is not referring to romantic love. He is talking about sexual love, which he compares to quenching his desire for wine. As the wine intoxicates, so Solomon desires to be intoxicated by sexual arrogance in his desire for the sexual pleasures of the Shulamite Woman. So, in his first line, Solomon already has sex on his mind. Then he follows up with the line about her "oils" having "a pleasing fragrance." In other words, she smells good because of her perfume.
Next, the chorus, the Daughters of Jerusalem, sing about the fragrance of the Shulamite Woman's name being like "oil poured forth" - i.e. like perfume sprinkled out in the palace. The Daughters of Jerusalem are probably professional singers or a chorus composed of girls from the harem who have received musical training. The other references in the book indicate that girls from the harem could have formed the chorus. At any rate, these girls are impressed with the Shulamite Woman. Everyone loved her. She was named harem princess of the year in SOS 6:9 and undoubtedly reigned as harem queen in Solomon's court.
This brief introduction sets the intimate tone for the rest of the musical. The Shulamite Woman is occupied with love for her Shepherd Lover. She wants his kisses, which she got in the Attraction Phase but suffers without in Compatibility Testing. Solomon is preoccupied with having sex with the Shulamite Woman. At this stage, she is still a virgin and the marriage to Solomon has not been consummated. So the Shulamite Woman must face the suffering of having the wrong man craftily trying to seduce her. Whereas, a woman with no virtue might easily succumb, the Shulamite Woman has integrity and is being tested. Then the Daughters of Jerusalem are the typical cheerleaders, who are full of worldliness and human viewpoint. They don't harbor any malice toward the Shulamite, but they are the pawns of worldly thinking and illusions.
The Shulamite Woman in Compatibility Testing is being hit by two major counterattacks that are designed to test her integrity. Solomon attacks as a paramour from Cosmic Babylon; and the Daughters of Jerusalem are the attack of Political Babylon. How can she keep her integrity? By remaining faithful to her Shepherd Lover. On the one side Solomon is trying to seduce her while the Daughters of Jerusalem are the background music for his plot and agree with his every move. The Daughters of Jerusalem represent the world. The believer is said to have three enemies: The world, the flesh, and the devil. That is pretty close to the case here, where the Daughters of Jerusalem represent the world. The Shulamite Woman faces the temptations of her own fleshly desires. And Solomon is doing the devil's bidding as a pawn in the Cosmic System.
The Shulamite had been brought into Solomon's harem, groomed, and manicured to show all of her beauty. Women brought into the harem spent months undergoing beauty treatments to bring out all their beauty. They were dressed in the finest clothes to accentuate their beauty. They were dressed to please, allure, seduce the desires and illusions of Solomon. The Shulamite woman had an Old Sin Nature. She was sensitive to sexual desire. Solomon was out to seduce her, and she was expected to please him. This was a guaranteed prescription for agonizing stress in the soul - emotional torture.
The Shulamite Woman is single and in love although legally married to Solomon. On the surface that should be a wonderful opportunity for happiness. However, it is also a combination for suffering. The single person is plagued by pressure to assuage sensual desires in violation of the Plan of God. Single people have intimacy problems. Bible Doctrine will handle all these problems by means of the Problem Solving Devices; so there is a divine solution. However, the single person will be tested. When the tests are not passed, garbage accumulates in the subconscious and the soul is frustrated with stress.
So the Shulamite Woman is suffering on three fronts. Without her Shepherd Lover, she must resist the temptations of her own flesh. Solomon, the rich and famous paramour, is pressuring her for sex. And the Daughters of Jerusalem are heaping on the praise, worldly companionship, and human viewpoint. They supply peer pressure and are full of fallacious advice. Women who have never separated from the world often trust the guidance of other women in lieu of making their own application of doctrine and solving their own problems under the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Daughters of Jerusalem had the Shulamite's best interests in mind. They had no intention of hurting her. Yet, in their ignorance of Bible Doctrine, they were ill equipped to be supporting any woman who was in the throes of such stressful pressure testing.
Where should a woman get advice? From the same place a man gets advice - from Bible Doctrine in the soul under the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Now, the believers under the Mosaic Law did not have the Filling of the Spirit as we do in the Church. Thus, the Shulamite had to face the counterattacks of the world without the power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen her soul. Her soul was weak with only her human spirit. Yet, when she believed the truth, contrary to what her worldly female friends were telling her, she was choosing the Plan of God. That was tantamount to using the tandem Problem Solving Devices, Personal Love for God and Impersonal Love for All Mankind. Now, the Shulamite Woman is never portrayed as a great example of the faith, but she is presented as one who chose the grace solution of Right Man and real love for him in lieu of the glory of the world.
This woman suffered the curse of marriage to the wrong man. Not only was he the wrong man, but he was one of the world's most famous sex symbols of his day. He ran the most luxurious harem in history. Solomon was rich and famous and surrounded by beautiful women of every race. He had women from Israel, Africa, Asia, and all over the Middle East. They had every conceivable accouterment of feminine beauty. There were all sizes, shapes, and descriptions. They were all ages - young and old. There were state marriages. There were women who were married for social status alone. There were princesses, reigning queens, and concubines (1 Kings 11:3).
The Shulamite woman with a heart of love for her Right Man was brought into the harem of Solomon, the palace of pulchritude, the house of sensuality, the destination of worldly delights, the domicile of the flesh, the stage of sexual perversion. The maids of the harem took away her peasants clothes, bathed her with the richest of soaps, massaged her with the most exotic of oils, immersed her in the most exquisite beauty treatments, fixed her hair with expertise and combed it with golden combs, clothed her in the finest of fabrics, and sprinkled her with aromatic perfume.
For Solomon she was to be the ultimate trip. For her, she was
being displayed as flesh in a meat market. Solomon was not her Right
Man. She did not love him; and all the efforts of mankind could not
change that. She was in love with her Shepherd Lover, and no one
on earth could ever take his place. So for the next few months of
her life, she suffered agony and stress. She underwent love test
after love test. She faced Solomon's seduction and suffered the consummation
of marriage to the wrong man. What else could she do. She was
his wife. Yet through every chapter in the Solomon saga, she maintained
her real love for her Shepherd Lover. Solomon in all his glory never
distracted her from her true love. He invaded her soul and body,
but her spirit was resolute. She would not give up on love for Right
Man no matter what the test.
Whereas, this is the pattern of the male initiator and the female responder and a beautiful picture of male leadership, in the Right Man - Right Woman relationship either can initiate love (1 Corinthians 7:4).
Principle: When either Right Man or Right Woman initiate love, the other is obligated to respond.
The Teeter Totter analogy illustrates this principle. If either the Right Man or the Right Woman succumb to the pressures of Cosmos Diabolicus, the other partner will suffer and the relationship will suffer. For example, if one of partners is attracted to a paramour, the other will suffer as if he or she were in a similar environment. There will be primary discipline for the partner that violates the integrity of the marriage relationship and secondary discipline for the other partner. The invisible bond of the Right Man - Right Woman relationship begins in childhood and is not just an issue in marriage.
Right Man and Right Woman receive discipline not just for their own failures but for the failures of the other partner as well. This is not a minor issue. The discipline for a partner engaged in adultery will be Intensified Discipline, the second of the three major phases of discipline: Warning Discipline, Intensified Discipline, and the Sin Unto Death. When one of the partners engages in fornication or adultery, the other will have to face Intensified Discipline whether or not that one has fallen to that level of reversionism.
There is no way out of the Right Man - Right Woman relationship except death. Once the Right Man and Right Woman meet in the Attraction Phase, they both must orient to the Plan of God or face the consequences. They will advance through the three phases of the Right Man - Right Woman relationship if either one is willing to submit to the will of God and execute the Plan of God. Advancing to the blessing of Spiritual Rapport requires execution of the Plan of God. Prayer cannot be used as a substitute for obedience to doctrine. Until Spiritual Rapport is attained, the prayers of Right Man - Right Woman will be hindered. The prayer life will suffer due to problems in marriage.
Understanding the Teeter Totter analogy is very important. There is no way to understand the stage of life without it, and there is no way to understand divine discipline without it. The marriage partner (whether or not the marriage has occurred) must be factored into divine discipline in order to understand it. Life cannot be viewed as an individual relationship with God. The marriage partner must also be factored into the picture. When one partner sins, that one will be disciplined for it and the other partner will receive secondary discipline. The one who receives secondary discipline is receiving discipline for offenses committed by the other partner.
On the positive side, the inseparable bond of lovers enables them to help each other. Lovers do not make an issue of weaknesses or feet of clay. Lovers do each other good and not harm. Lovers do not retaliate for a wrong suffered. On the other hand, lovers do not become arrogant. They do not consider it a victory to put down or hurt others. They are not jealous. They do not engage in competition with each other or blame each other. When they sin, they confess their sins to God - not to others. They never have to apologize because God forgives all their sins. Yet, they forgive others and do not hold a wrong against them. Lovers must have impersonal love as well as personal love. Lovers must practice 1 Corinthians 13.
This does not mean that the marriage relationship should take precedence over relationship with God. Sanctification of the marriage relationship can only be achieved by relationship with God - not by orienting to people. Man by man's efforts cannot solve man's problems. The human solution is no solution. The divine solution is the only solution.
Now the Shulamite woman in Solomon's harem is keenly aware of her Shepherd Lover even though she is physically separated from. She is not separated from him in her soul, however. She has fragrance of memory for him due to his presence in the Intimacy Room of her soul. So, the Shulamite Woman is on one side of the teeter totter and her Right Man is on the other side. When she undergoes compatibility suffering and faces stress testing, her Right Man will feel the heat even though he has committed no offense.
In compatibility testing either the man or the woman may be the source of deliverance. The one who orients to Bible Doctrine and meets the suffering with the Problem Solving Devices of the Spiritual Life will be the means of sanctification of the marriage relationship. Grace promotion is required to sanctify the marriage relationship. God will grant more grace after compatibility suffering has been handled by means of the divine operating assets of Bible Doctrine.
The Shulamite Woman's predicament is revealed in Song of Solomon 1:4: "The king has brought me into his private bedrooms." The Shulamite Woman has been taken by Solomon back to his private bedrooms, which is Hebrew rd#j# , chedher. This word refers to the back part of a tent which is shut off from the front by a curtain - e.g. the back bedroom.3 Therefore, it refers to the bedrooms or private rooms. This is where Solomon pursued his amorous conquests. After Solomon secured the marriage contract with a woman, he might woo her prior to the consummation of the marriage. He probably did this for the women of highest rank, i.e. the princesses. The concubines may not have received this much respect.
So Solomon, the wrong man, is proceeding to seduce the Shulamite Woman. The Shulamite Woman apparently went along with Solomon's seduction because the marriage was consummated in Chapter 5. At this point, she was legally his wife even though he was not her Right Man. The Daughters of Jerusalem are providing the background music for this scene. They see this as an occasion for happiness and an expression of love. They are enamored by the scene, which shows the confusion of human viewpoint. They are upholding Solomon's deception and Satan's lie. They do not believe in Right Man - Right Woman. They are the pawns of political Babylon.
Everyone, whether rich or poor, educated or uneducated, small or great, has a place in history. Every one has a play that portrays them as hero or heroine in the stage production of the Right Man - Right Woman relationship. Those who never respond to their Right Man or Right Woman never fulfill their purpose in history. God's plan of history does not cheat anyone out of a wonderful life. He even provides the play of life for unbelievers, who can enjoy playing their roles of hero and heroine in the marriage relationship.
The Right Man - Right Woman relationship is the primary plot on the stage of life. All other scenes are secondary. This is not meant to say that anything should take precedence over relationship with God; for that must be first and foremost and is in a class of its own. But the real play for each person's life is the play about the Right Man and Right Woman as hero and heroine. The two are cast as lovers. Their play is a love story. The angels come to watch the play and record it for the theaters in the Eternal State. The woman is commanded to remember this everyday when she fixes her hair because the angels are watching (1 Corinthians 11:10). The angels like long hair (1 Corinthians 11:15) because it symbolizes the woman's submission to her Right Man. There is no way for her to be the heroine of her play unless she does her lines correctly with her Right Man. When she tries to steal some other woman's part, she becomes a villain.
The description of the stage of life with Right Man and Right Woman as hero and heroine is explained in all its glory for the Church Age in 1 Corinthians 11:3-15. This play in everyone's life is so important that Paul advised us to get to maturity before performing the marriage act of the play. This is analogous to learning to act before performing live on stage. The message is that the play of life is a live recording. Everyday angels are watching the drama of life and recording it. The least we can do is become professionals before performing the marriage act live. Who would want to see an amateur production? Who would want to witness actors or actresses who don't know their line or are not groomed for their parts?
Last Revision: September 4, 2002
Author: Larry Wood