In the beautiful poetry of the Song of Solomon is written one of the most touching and descriptive love stories of all time. The lovely Shulamite maiden was wooed and royally pursued by none other than the greatly rich and wise King of Israel, Solomon himself, who had all that his heart could desire. He declared of himself:
“So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired. I kept not from them. I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labor: and this was my portion of all my labor” (Ecc.2:9-10).
He had gold laid up as dust. He had over $40 million in gold alone, not counting his throne and other vessels of gold. Besides, he had vast wealth of silver, precious stones, ivory, lands, cattle, sheep, and on and on. His fame and glory were so vast that 1Kings 10 records that the Queen of Sheba (modern Ethiopia) came to Jerusalem with a very great train to see and hear of Solomon’s great wealth and wisdom for herself. She also brought him gifts of camels bearing spices, gifts of gold and precious stones, and of rare and precious almug trees whose wood was used to make musical instruments.
When she saw all the glory and splendor of Solomon’s kingdom, she was in awe. When she heard his great wisdom and observed that all of his servants were happy, she declared:
“It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceeded the same which I heard” (1Kings 10:6-7).
The Bible writer recorded: “So King Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom. And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart” (1Kings 10:23-24).
In addition to all of his incalculable wealth, Solomon had a total of 1,000 wives and concubines! Yet with all of this, he set his heart on having the Shulamite maiden too! He promised to make her “his Queen of Queens” if she would just be his.
The Country Girl
She was just a little farm girl in the country who lived with her mother and brothers. Apparently, her father was not in the picture, so they dearly loved her and protected her and nurtured her as she grew into a beautiful young maiden. She worked in the fields watching over and caring for the family’s vineyards. One day while she was out in the fields, a great caravan of camels came passing by. It was the procession of none other than Solomon the great King who was visiting the northern part of his kingdom. It was a chance meeting as she was tending the vineyard at that moment, and when he saw the beauty of the fair Shulamite with her smooth sun-tanned skin and raven black hair that fell in ringlets around her face, framing her shimmering dark eyes and perfect white teeth, he desired to have her for his own. And being the King, he took her away, far away from the rolling fields of green grass and wildflowers, far away from the golden meadows of fruit trees and fig trees and the aromatic vineyards that she called home; far away from the picturesque hillsides and mountains where village shepherds herded their flocks — and far away from the tender voice of her beloved shepherd with whom she had exchanged vows of love and betrothal as they stood together under the apple tree that grew by her birthplace and childhood home. Far away to Jerusalem, the Golden City, and all of the splendor of the palace and the glories of the kingdom that had caused the Queen of Sheba to stand in awe — she who was accustomed to royal splendor!
“I Am My Beloved’s”
But all of this could not for one moment satisfy the longing in her heart to be back home with her shepherd boy of whom she said: “I have found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go…” (SS.3:4). Nothing Solomon could do or promise could dissuade her from wanting to return to her home and her sweetheart. He bedecked her with gold and find jewels and royal garments. He instructed the ladies of the royal court to make her happy and to convince her of his love for her and of his charm and his intentions to make her his Queen of Queens. But all she did was tell the ladies of the court about her beloved shepherd boy. She went on and on about his handsome beauty and his pleasant ways, about his strength, his tenderness, his doe-like eyes and beautiful hair: “My beloved is the fairest among ten thousand” (5:10).
She told them how she had dreamt of him during their separation in her stay at the Palace, how she heard his voice in her sleep and his knock at her door, but when she went to answer it, he was gone. She called out to him, but there was no answer as she ran out into the night and into the city streets to find him. She beseeched them as they listened to her words of love and yearning for her beloved: “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, tell him that I am sick of love (love sick)!” Have you ever been lovesick—so in love you couldn’t bear being away from the one you were in love with? Sometimes you couldn’t eat or sleep.
When they heard these words of unshakable love and faithfulness to her beloved shepherd, they asked: “What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O fairest among women?” In other words: “What is so special about this man that makes you pine so for him (when Solomon the king wants to make you his queen!)” (5:8-9).
She described his handsome looks and perfect physique. And she said: “His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem” (v.16).
During her stay at the palace, her beloved shepherd, who had followed Solomon’s procession back to Jerusalem, came to see her. He told her of his longing for her and how much he still loved her. When she heard his words of love, she vowed to him that she would be faithful to his love and she would return to him: “Until the daybreak and the shadows flee, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh and of the hill of frankincense.” He responded: “Thou art fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.” His meaning: “You are truly pure and faithful.” (4:6-7).
Meanwhile Solomon’s flattery of her intensified and became more enticing, and the ladies of the court were pressing her, trying to stir up feelings in her for Solomon. But she would not succumb to Solomon’s flattery and charm; nor was her head turned by all of the wealth and extravagance he showered upon her. Her heart and pledge of love belonged to another, and she would not betray him for all the splendor and majesty that could be hers if she sold her love to Solomon’s seduction. Finally, when Solomon realized that nothing was going to change her mind, or rather, her heart, he relented and allowed her to return home to her beloved shepherd.
When they had almost reached her family home, they came to the place where she and her shepherd boy had first exchanged their vows to each other. Her beloved shepherd was waiting. There under the same apple tree they renewed them, and this record is some of the most timeless words of love ever written, still used in many modern marriage ceremonies:
“Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy as cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which have a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be condemned” (8:6-7).
As they drew closer to her house, her brothers beheld her coming from afar, and they questioned amongst themselves what they should do concerning her experience with King Solomon. Had she kept her virtue? If so, they would give her their blessing and her hand in marriage to her beloved. But if she had not, then according to law, they would have to punish her, which under the law could even mean the death penalty. And so they referred back to what they had decided long before:
“We have a little sister, and she has no breasts: What shall we do for her in the day when she shall be spoken for?” (This refers to the time before she became a woman. The brothers had agreed to do everything they could to keep her virtuous until the time that she was old enough to marry, so that she would be worthy to be spoken for to be the wife of the man who desired her.)
“If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver: and if she be a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar” (8:8-9). The brothers’ thoughts:
“If she had been a wall — has kept her virginity — has maintained her purity and faithfulness, if she has not opened herself up to others to lose her virtue, even in the face of enticing allurements and temptations, they would reward her greatly and would protect her until the day she would be married.”
“But if she is a door and had opened herself up to temptation, and not maintained her virtue, and had lost her purity, they would enclose her with boards of cedar. They would shut her up to live an isolated, joyless life.
So they asked their sweet little sister whom they had loved and protected until the day Solomon took her away: “Are you a wall – or are you a door?” And she answered them passionately like only a teenage girl can:
“I am a wall!” (I did not succumb to the King’s desires!) “Therefore, I have found favor in the eyes of my beloved. Solomon has many gardens and vineyards to eat and drink from. My vineyard, which is mine, is before me” (vv.10-12). Then the Shulamite called out to her beloved shepherd: “Cause me to hear thy voice. Make haste, my beloved, and be like a young hart upon the mountains of spices” (vv.13-14).
May the Holy Spirit speak to our hearts today through both this soul-searching message and “Are You A Brick or A Stone?” He is asking us if we are compromisers, sell-outs to worldliness, “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (2Tim.3:5). Are we committing spiritual adultery by becoming friends of this world? (James 4:4). Do we spend time pursuing the pleasures of the flesh rather than the pleasures of His Presence? Ask yourself: Am I a wall or a door?
He is calling to us today: “I am the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valleys…. Arise, my love, and come away…” (SS.2:1,13).
May our hearts passionately reply, “Draw me, and I will run after Thee!” (SS.1:4).