by Patsy Rae Dawson
Answers to your questions about the Song of Solomon and more...
God inspired the captivating Song of Solomon to bless the lives of every man and every woman regardless of their age or upbringing by teaching them how to find true love, enjoy a lifelong sexual partner, and build a successful marriage. Lovemaking originated within the mind of God along with beautiful sunsets and undersea wonders, and this beautiful true love triangle demonstrates his love for Christians.
Check out the Answers to These Questions
- Why is the Song of Solomon called a love triangle?
- Is the Song of Solomon appropriate for teenagers to study?
- How does the Song of Solomon contrast sensuous love with true love?
- Does God really believe in sex education?
- Is learning about lovemaking really all that important for Christians?
- How does the Song of Solomon apply to the 21st century?
- God isn't even mentioned in the Song of Solomon, why would he inspire this book?
- Where do the different interpretations of the book come from?
- What is the theme of the Song of Solomon?
- Is the Song of Solomon really a play?
- Can Solomon be justified as a good example of married lovemaking?
- Was King Solomon a sexual addict?
- How does Solomon's use of women reflect the modern concept of "primary and casual sex partners"?
- How does the Song of Solomon view a woman's role in lovemaking?
- What's this about a woman writing the Song of Solomon?
- What evidence is there for taking the two-men position--King Solomon and a literal Shepherd?
- Do you have a chapter online where I can check out your Song of Solomon material?
- What about Jeanne Guyon's allegory in Song of the Bride?
- How do I get permission to use some of your Song of Solomon materials?
- Do you have free lovemaking and marriage materials?
The story tells about a beautiful young vineyard keeper who loves a young shepherd who pastures his sheep close by. However, rich and powerful King Solomon comes to the country to check on his vineyards. When he sees the Shulammite maiden, he is smitten with her beauty and begins to woo her aggressively and brings her to his camp.
Song of Solomon 6:11-12: "I went down to the orchard of nut trees to see the blossoms of the valley, to see whether the vine had budded or the pomegranates had bloomed. Before I was aware, my soul set me over the chariots of my noble people."
The young girl is caught in the middle. Solomon's prestige, wealth, and power tempt her, but her love for the Shepherd continually nags at her. In a dilemma, she agonizes over who to marry--the Shepherd or King Solomon. Thus, the Song of Solomon uses an exciting triangle of personalities to expose the differences between true love and sensuous love.
In addition, the Song of Solomon not only teaches about an emotionally-charged subject--who to marry, but it edifies through emotionally-captivating writing techniques. For example, the story follows the formula for a perfect romance. Writing instructors teach that good romances contain three elements: (1) an innocent girl, (2) a good man who wants to marry her but whom she resists, and (3) a bad man whose charms tempt her. The story unfolds as the girl struggles to choose between the men.
While the Song of Solomon follows this formula for a thrilling romance, it differs in one significant point--the Shulammite was a real girl who really wrestled with whom to marry--rich, powerful King Solomon or the poor shepherd who offered her only his love.
The story also uses three action-type writing techniques to captivate and influence the readers' emotions. First, it is written as a play to be acted out and watched. Second, it contains only dialogue with no narration at all. Third, it is written as poetry. Any one of these techniques by itself adds action and power to a story. Yet all three combine in the Song of Solomon to make it a very moving and enthralling love story that beckons to be read over and over again. In the process, the story arouses its readers' emotions so that they declare, "I want to be like the Shulammite," or "I want to be like the Shepherd." By God inspiring the Song of Solomon to be written in such a stimulating manner, it enables the book to accomplish the very purpose for which it was written.
Guide for Teenagers
The Song of Solomon addresses one of the most difficult times of a teenager's life--the transition from parental love to romantic love. Parents normally give their children lots of physical and verbal love in their younger years. However, as the children mature, they become more independent of that love. Yet everyone needs to be patted, hugged, admired, and kissed. But children reach an age when father and mother's love isn't enough. They begin reaching out toward romantic love.
During this time, teenagers often feel too old for father and mother's love, but they are still too young to marry. It often becomes a very trying time, simply because everyone needs love--even teenagers who act too embarrassed to kiss their parents. Likewise, it becomes an easy time for teenagers to get into trouble by experimenting with sex and choosing the wrong friends.
Thus, the Song of Solomon guides teenagers through perhaps one of the most difficult times of their whole lives by telling the true story of a young teenager and her struggle with whom to marry. No doubt, due to the customs of the time, the Shulammite maiden was between twelve and sixteen and probably closer to thirteen or fourteen. The Orientals considered an unmarried sixteen-year-old girl an old maid.
In addition, the writing techniques of the book, which are designed to impact the emotions, speak directly to teenagers. During courting love, feelings often get in the way, causing young lovers to act according to emotions rather than reasoning. Appealing to the emotions can capture the intellect and make readers think in a different way. An article about writing for teenagers demonstrates the attraction for teenagers that God packed into this book:
The best advice we ever got about writing for YA [young adults--PRD] was to never forget that teens are emotions, emotions, emotions. And those emotions can change so fast. It must be all those hormones going wild. (Jahnna Beecham, Writing for Teens, [Writer's Digest, 4/90], p. 33).
Another writing technique that addresses teenagers is the fact that the story continually gives the Shulammite's thoughts and fears about the approaching marriage to Solomon. Part of being a teenager is continual self-examination and self-criticism as the advice for writing for teenagers shows:
Adolescence is also a time when a person's inner voice is louder than the outer one. Let your reader hear them both. We call it going into their heads. The outside world sees Sarah strolling through the halls of high school, waving cheerfully to friends and taking her seat in class as usual. Meanwhile, the monster critic inside Sarah's head is saying, "You shouldn't have worn that dress--everybody's staring at you." And: "Why did you say that? That was a stupid thing to say." Or: "You're sitting in the front desk. Everyone behind you will see your dandruff." (Beecham, Writing for Teens, p. 33).
That God knows about teenagers and their self-fears is easily seen in Song of Solomon 1:5-6:
"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."
When teenagers study the Song of Solomon, it speaks directly to them and helps them analyze their dates. A girl asks herself, "Is he like Solomon or like the Shepherd? Do I really love him or is this just infatuation?"
A boy wants to know, "Does she have the qualities of a good wife? Do I really love her, or do I just want her body?" In this way, the book helps teenagers successfully cross the bridge from parental love to romantic love to married love.
Sensuous Love vs. True Love
Solomon presents the best opportunity ever to test the value of sensuous love. For instance, Solomon accumulated a vast wealth to spend on his women. Plus, his political prestige gave him access to the most desirable women of his time. If ever a man could succeed at sensuous love, Solomon should be able to. As a result, God's people don't have to wander through life trying to find out if sensuous love holds the promise of blissful happiness or if true love does. The story exposes many of the pitfalls that trap lovers even today and that deny them joy.
By contrasting sensuous love with true love, the Song of Solomon teaches how to choose a lifelong sexual partner that one will not grow tired of. Solomon actively pursued the Shulammite in belief that she possessed the perfect body to satisfy his deepest needs:
Song of Solomon 7:6-8: "How beautiful and how delightful you are, my love, with all your charms! Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I said, 'I will climb the palm tree, I will take hold of its fruit stalks.' Oh, may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the fragrance of your breath like apples!"
Yet Solomon never understood the secret of true love--emotional bonding--even though the Shulammite told him. In contrast, during the wedding procession, the Shepherd told how he won the Shulammite:
Song of Solomon 8:5: "...Beneath the apple tree I awakened you; there your mother was in labor with you, there she was in labor and gave you birth."
"Awakened" is the same word used in the theme of the book in Song of Solomon 2:7, 3:5, and 8:4 and means "(through the idea of opening the eyes); to wake" (Strong, p. 86).
The Shepherd didn't force himself upon the rose of Sharon by asking her to prove her love to him with premarital sex. Instead, he awoke her affections under the apple tree in her yard, when he visited her home. There he spent time talking with her, getting acquainted with her, understanding her, and being considerate and kind to her. In this way, he took the time to develop the emotional bond that cements a lasting relationship and awakens a woman's sexual desires for a man.
On the other hand, Solomon didn't spend time at all getting to know the maiden. He just praised her physical beauty and tried to get her in bed as soon as possible. Marriage would only legalize his lecherous lust.
Wise men today follow the Shepherd's secret for winning a woman's love. Fact of feminine nature: a woman's love must be awakened, and she will gladly endure all kinds of hardships if she enjoys emotional bonding with her beloved. Therefore, if a courting man or a married man wants his sweetheart to love him more, he must spend time with her, go places with her, talk to her, get to know her, and let her get to know him better. Above all, he must show consideration for her needs. A woman needs to feel deep in her heart that her beloved's banner over her is love.
Way ahead of modern times, God was the first to promote sex education for the world. But God left the mechanics of birth control up to mankind's ingenuity while he focused on the most important part in the eyes of most men and women--sexual pleasure. God's great love and concern for the sexual happiness of both men and women show in his provisions for sex education. For at each stage of mankind's sexual development, from puberty through the golden years, God provides the necessary information to liberate men and women for total sexual enjoyment.
God Promotes Sex Education Through Solomon
God gave this knowledge about the sexual relationship to the whole world over three thousand years ago through Solomon. In Solomon's youth, God said, “Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you” (1 Kings 3:12). Solomon's wisdom was “like the sand that is on the seashore” and “surpassed the wisdom of all the sons of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt” and “his fame was known in all the surrounding nations” (1 Kings 4:29-30). Then “men came from all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom,” including the queen of Sheba (1 Kings 4:34; 10:1). In this way, God's great practical wisdom, including his sexual truths, spread over the known world.
For example, in Proverbs 7, Solomon addressed the special problems a man faces in his youth at the height of his sexual urges when he begins to notice the female body. In like manner, the Song of Solomon provides excellent instruction for navigating the courting years. Then in Proverbs 5, Solomon cautioned a man about the strong temptations a man may face as his body slows down through age--a time that mankind calls “the midlife crisis.” Solomon revealed how an older wife ravishes her husband in a way that a much younger woman can't compete. At each stage of mankind's sexual development--from puberty through the temptation to midlife affairs, God provides the keys for a long life filled with sexual enjoyment.
However, God does not force anyone to reap his great sexual benefits--not even King Solomon. In his later years, Solomon turned his back on God's wisdom and allowed a lack of sexual control to ruin his own life. Solomon's ruin began as he ignored God's warning not to marry foreign women. Eventually, Solomon “held fast” to seven hundred wives (free women) and princesses (royalty) and three hundred concubines (slaves) “in love” (1 Kings 11:1-8). “Held fast” is the same word translated as “cleave” in Gen. 2:24 where God says, “A man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife.” It means “to stick like glue.” “Love” is a common word found throughout Proverbs and means “to love sexually or otherwise.”
With access to the most desirable women in the known world from peasants to royalty to slaves, Solomon's sexual urges raged out of control. As God had forewarned, these foreign women turned Solomon's heart away from serving God fully as he built temples of idolatry for his wives. This included a temple for the practice of prostitution in the name of the goddess Ashtoreth where bands of men and women served her with immoral rites. By the time he was old, Solomon presented a picture of sexual, moral, and spiritual depravity. And God was so angry with Solomon that he told him, “I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant.”
Poetic Language Aids in Teaching Children
The Shulammite beckoned to the Shepherd and explained why she enjoyed a successful outcome to her dilemma of who to choose--King Solomon or the Shepherd:
Song of Solomon 8:2: "I would lead you and bring you into the house of my mother, who used to instruct me;..."
The beautiful poetic language of the book permits parents to use it to teach their children about sexual love at each stage of their development. For example, parents can teach the drama of the story to very young children. They can tell them a true story about a young farmer's daughter who loved a poor shepherd. Then one day a rich and powerful king came and took her to his palace. He wanted to marry her but she still loved the Shepherd. And on the story goes catching the interest of young children and teaching them the basics of true love.
As the children mature, the poetic form allows the parents to insert more and more details. When the children ask intimate questions about lovemaking, the parents can use the Song of Solomon to supply the answers. This helps the parents protect their children from bad choices when they begin reaching out to romantic love. In addition, the Song of Solomon protects students against sex education classes that leave love out of the sexual embrace by placing the emphasis on the body.
Thus, God wondrously designed the Song of Solomon for parents to use with their children regardless of their age. Sex education classes in the schools can't begin to compare with such a truly marvelous book!
Free booklet online: What They Don't Tell You About Safe Sex compares current teaching in sex-education classes with medical and psychological facts. Since sex-education classes leave God out, the subjects are approached without reference to scripture in a way that students can present to their classes.
I Thess. 4:3-4: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, . . . ”
“Know” means “know, find; 1. perceive (with the eyes); 2. perceive by any of the senses; 3. perceive, notice, discern, discover; 4. see (i.e. to turn the eyes, the mind, the attention to (anything), pay attention, observe, see about anything, inspect, examine, look at, behold; 5. experience; 6. see i.e. have an interview with, visit” (Thayer, p. 172).
“Possess” means “acquire, get or procure a thing for oneself, possess, i.e. to marry a wife” (Thayer, p. 363).
“Vessel” means “1. vessel; 2. implement, household utensils, domestic gear” (Thayer, p. 577). God expects more of His followers than a casual acquaintance with the sexual relationship. They must perceive, discover, turn their attention to, pay attention, observe, inspect, examine, experience, interview, etc. how to use their sexual natures--quite a bit more than leaving the happiness of the sexual relationship to nature or chance!
Since “vessel” inherently refers to a tool used for work, it accurately describes the human body--a highly technical and sophisticated machine that the mind and the spirit use to serve God (Acts 9:15, II Tim. 2:21, and I Pet. 3:7). Tools, whether cars, sewing machines, computers, eyes, arms, or legs, require proper treatment for success. So God's command for the Christian to “know how to possess his own vessel” makes sense. The sexual organs function as skillful instruments that God gives to husbands and wives to use for their mutual benefit and blessing. As a result, righteous lovemaking becomes the servant of the Christian rather than the Christian becoming the servant of lustful passion.
A person cannot just brag, “Look at me! I never commit fornication or think impure thoughts!” While that's good, God expects more than half truths from people who supposedly walk in the light. People who obey God know how to possess their vessels in sanctification and honor so that they are able to enjoy loving their spouse both emotionally and physically. Ignorance fails as a legitimate excuse for improper sexual conduct or thinking.
The godly person says, “I don't commit fornication or think unclean thoughts and I enjoy and use sexual love as God intends.” Anything less falls short of pleasing God or representing full knowledge of the truth about the sexual union.
Free booklet online: Why God's People Make the Best Lovers. Learn the eight reasons God designed for sexual love, the least important of which is procreation. Read about surveys that prove that the better Christian a person is, the better lover he will be.
Ideally, the Song of Solomon should be everyone's own love story as everyone must choose between sensuous love and true love. As Ecclesiastes says, people are the same from generation to generation (Eccl. 1:4, 10). The tools they use to subdue the earth change, but the people remain the same.
When parents teach the Song of Solomon to their children, they should be able to say, “When Mommy and Daddy fell in love, we did . . . just like the Shulammite and the Shepherd. Someday you'll fall in love, too. You'll know if he or she is the right person just like the Shulammite and the Shepherd did.” In this way, the Song of Solomon becomes everyone's own love story that they pass down from generation to generation.
The Song of Solomon shows that God cares about the daily lives of his people. He wants his people to be happy and to enjoy wonderful love lives. Ideally, if a couple learns the Song of Solomon in their youth, then they can lay the proper foundation in courtship for a joyful marriage. The story gives some of the best advice available for courting couples. It teaches a girl how to choose a husband and a boy how to choose a wife so that they might live happily forevermore.
Newlyweds, in whose eyes love still shines, enjoy beautiful marriages when they study God's plan for them. But their happiness doesn't begin to compare with that of couples who learn their role before marriage and who lay the proper foundation in courtship. The ones who learn what God expects of them before marriage start off with fewer problems. When problems do appear, they know how to handle them instead of just reacting to them.
However, it's not too late for the ones already married. The Song of Solomon teaches how to lay the foundation for a happy marriage at every stage--courting, newlywed, and silver or golden anniversaries. At whatever stage a couple happens to be, they can examine their relationship. Did they build their marriage upon a foundation of true love rather than sensuous love? If not, they can still lay that foundation in their marriage. It's not too late to enjoy the happiness of the Shulammite and the Shepherd and to thrill to the marital love that God designed. Thus, the Song of Solomon beautifully demonstrates God's love and care for all those who wish to serve him.
While God's name is not mentioned in the Song of Solomon, God gave his approval to the union of the Shulammite and the Shepherd:
Song of Solomon 5:1: "...Eat, friends, drink and imbibe deeply, O lovers."
“Imbibe deeply” means “to become tipsy, in a qualified sense, to satiate with a stimulating drink or (figuratively, influence:-be filled with) drink (abundantly), (be, make) drunk (-en), be merry” (Strong, p. 116).
God, who inspired the recording of this true story, puts his stamp of approval on the proposal of the Shepherd rather than the sensuous proposal of Solomon. Since the Shulammite and the Shepherd have built their relationship on a firm foundation of true love and emotional involvement, God tells them to drink and become drunk on married love. In a marriage built on mutual respect for each other's role in life and inherent abilities, blessings abound from God.
God created marriage and the marriage bed along with the sexual desires of a husband and a wife. He cares about who a person marries, just as he cared about who the Shulammite married. The Song of Solomon teaches how to pick the right marriage partner and how to build a foundation of true love. Wanting his people to be happy, God tells the Shulammite and the Shepherd, “Get married and get drunk on married love!”
In spite of God giving his blessing, the Shulammite has not yet accepted the Shepherd as her husband-to-be at this point in the story. She's still in Solomon's palace, and she continues to wrestle with her confusion about whom to marry.
In spite of God's great love in providing the Song of Solomon, it is probably one of the most neglected books in the Bible. The depreciation of the book began with an ancient second-century theologian named Origen who held a low view of marriage and the sexual relationship. Pat E. Harrell explains Origin's attitude toward sexual love in his book Divorce and Remarriage in the Early Church:
Christianity, as Origen reminded Celsus, actually transformed a man's conduct. He describes this as meaning: . . . from the time they adopt it, (they) have become in some way meeker, and more religious and more consistent, so that certain among them, from desire of exceeding chastity, and from a wish to worship God with greater purity, abstain even from the permitted indulgences of (lawful) love. (Pat E. Harrell, Divorce and Remarriage in the Early Church [Austin, TX: R. B. Sweet Company, Inc., 1967], pp. 205-206 quoting Against Celsus, I, p. 26.)
Origen harbored such a strong distaste for physical love that he actively discouraged sexual intercourse between husbands and wives. This abhorrence of anything sexual led him to campaign against keeping the Song of Solomon in the collection of inspired writings that were being assembled into one volume at that time. He refused to believe that God inspired a book which recommended married lovemaking.
However, the authenticity of the book proved so strong that competent scholars rejected Origen's proposal to leave the book out. As the only alternative left for him, Origen resorted to covering up all references to the sexual relationship. Thus, Origen mutilated God's word by devising an allegory of Christ and the church. Since most of the religious leaders of Catholicism at that time shared Origen's views of extreme prudery, they embraced his allegory. (Albert Reville, The Song of Songs, p. 6 as quoted by Homer Hailey, “Syllabus on the Song of Solomon,” Florida College class notes, p. 2 and The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. V [Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1939], p. 2832.) Vol. II: God's People Make the Best Lovers devotes a whole chapter to tracing the evil effects of their condemnation of married lovemaking.
Then in 533 AD the Catholic church denounced all literal interpretations of the book. As a result, the allegorical theory “reigned supreme” for the next thousand years among Christian interpreters. (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol.V, p. 2832.) During this time, the Roman church subtly substituted the Virgin Mary for the church. (Reville, The Song of Songs, pp. 8-9.) In the ninth century, the Jews invented a similar theory. They claimed that the story taught about Jehovah God and the Israelites. (Reville, The Song of Songs, p. 6.) In 1544 Sebastian Castellio dared to revive the literal interpretation of the book. However, the allegorical view remained dominant until the 19th century. (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. V, p. 2832.) Sadly, many godly people today are still woefully ignorant of the book's beautiful story of courting love and its practical uses.
Just reading the story through for the first time, often makes a literal interpretation seem impossible. However, the problem doesn't rest with the Song of Solomon, but with a lack of knowledge of Hebrew expressions and Jewish customs. By defining words and looking up unfamiliar customs, the story quickly unfolds into a logical sequence of events, and the mystery disappears. The book ends with a traditional wedding ceremony complete with a riddle about the little sister who was too young for boys.
Song of Solomon 2:7 3:5, and 8:4: "I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the hinds of the field, that you will not arouse or awaken my love, until she [it--NAS footnote] pleases."
"Arouse" and "awaken" come from the same root word which means "(through the idea of opening the eyes), to wake" (Strong. p. 86).
The expression "by the gazelles or by the hinds of the field" refers to the male and female deer or antelope and exemplifies intelligent mating. Even the animals understand enough about love not to force themselves upon each other. All animals go through a courting period of getting acquainted before they mate. Male animals perform fancy rituals of showing off their beautiful colors, dancing, fighting to impress their chosen females, etc. Mating takes place only after the females' emotions become sufficiently aroused.
As a country girl, the Shulammite understands the way of animals and the importance of courtship. So she begs the maidens to give her and Solomon time to fall in love with each other before they force her to marry him. By the example of nature, don't force a couple to marry before their love has a chance to develop naturally. The Shulammite knows what it is like to be emotionally involved with a man, for she loves the Shepherd. She also knows that she doesn't want to give up having emotional involvement with the man she marries, even if that man is King Solomon who offers her riches beyond description.
The Shulammite repeats this plea two more times in the book. Thus, it comprises the theme of the Song of Solomon. But where and how did she learn this important lesson about love and marriage? She has already told where she learned it--by observing the courting rituals of the male and female antelope. Nonetheless, how did she come to such a logical conclusion about love at such a young age from just watching the animals? The Shulammite answers that question, too, in Song of Solomon 8:2. There she tells the Shepherd she knows they will enjoy a great marriage because her mother "used to instruct" her. Her mother has talked to her about boys and sex and love and marriage. And because she listened to the advice of her mother, the Shulammite displays great understanding about courtship beyond her years.
Not only is the theme good advice for young people just starting to date, but it is also excellent for older couples who want to put zest back into their marriages. If the emotional bond between a couple is lacking, then the physical relationship will be disappointing for both the husband and the wife. By taking the time to rebuild the emotional bond, an older couple can restore their marriage.
The story takes place over three action-packed days. As a drama or a play, each day represents an act that contains several scenes. Each scene represents a change in location or characters. Each scene is introduced by the dialogue as if watching a stage play and the curtains open to reveal the change in setting. A careful study of the dialogue shows where each scene takes place. For example, the Shulammite introduces the story and the setting for the first day--Solomon's tents:
Song of Solomon 1:4: "Draw me after you and let us run together! The king has brought me into his chambers."
Likewise, the Shulammite tells us of the first night in the countryside:
Song of Solomon 3:1: "On my bed night after night I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him but did not find him."
The second day the citizens of Jerusalem introduce the scene as they watch Solomon traveling back to his palace with the Shulammite:
Song of Solomon 3:6-7: "What is this coming up from the wilderness like columns of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all scented powders of the merchant? Behold, it is the traveling couch of Solomon;..."
Another night passes with the Shulammite in the palace as she again dreams of the Shepherd:
Song of Solomon 5:2: "I was asleep, but my heart was awake. A voice! My beloved was knocking; 'Open to me, my sister, my darling, my dove, my perfect one!...'"
The third day begins in the Shulammite's room in the palace with her asking King Solomon's maidens to find the Shepherd for her and bring him to her. She has made her choice:
Song of Solomon 5:8: "I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, as to what you will tell him for I am lovesick."
The custom for wedding processions was for the groom to take the bride to his home for the ceremony. The peasants show the change of scenery from the palace to the countryside as they exclaim:
Song of Solomon 8:5: "Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved?"
Through the dialogue of the characters of the Song of Solomon, God provides a very visual account of true love triumphing over sensuous love.
In the latter half of the twentieth century, the Song of Solomon began to be studied seriously. But just as its liberating powers were finally being felt in a world in desperate need of sexual teaching, a widespread movement among Christians began trying to justify King Solomon's behavior so that he could be used as a positive role model for married lovemaking. The movement promoted the position that the story speaks of only one man--that Solomon is both the king and the shepherd. This “one-man” position gained popularity in an effort to try to undo the damage done by the extreme prudery of Victorian morals that claimed a false basis in religion. Most teachers of this position simply want to restore married lovemaking to its rightful place of honor and righteousness that God assigned it.
Basically, the two positions of whether the Song of Solomon speaks of one man throughout--King Solomon--or of two men--King Solomon and a real shepherd who both seek to marry the Shulammite, hinge upon who the “shepherd passages” refer to. It is not a disagreement over understanding the original Hebrew language, the customs of the time, or even whether the book is a collection of songs in random order as opposed to a play developed in logical sequence. Obviously, all of these elements depend upon who the “shepherd” is. If the shepherd is Solomon, then the interpretations of the verses will reflect that position. If the shepherd is a second man, then the interpretations will reflect that view.
One weakness of the one-man position is that its promoters must find a way to deal with Solomon who turned into a lecherous old man; and who, obviously, was well on his way toward depravity in the Song of Solomon. People who hold the one-man position must justify their use of Solomon as a model for glorious lovemaking among married couples today. Joseph C. Dillow, perhaps the best known teacher of the one-man position in his book Solomon on Sex, offers the standard attempts to justify Solomon's sexual excesses.
"Solomon's First One Hundred and Forty Wives Were Just Political Marriages"
Because the Song describes Solomon when he was a young man, in the early years of his reign, it is possible the wives he had contracted at this time were taken in political marriages, and that he had not yet degnerated into lustful polygamy. (Joseph C. Dillow, Solomon on Sex [Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1977], p. 10.)
This position claims these women weren't real wives at all--just the result of “political marriages, and Solomon had not yet degenerated into lustful polygamy." Even if this were true, it shows a terrible attitude toward women on Solomon's part--that women can be used as political pawns in marriage without enjoying any of the benefits of marriage--companionship, sexual communion, loyalty and devotion, sharing of goals, etc.
Yet God said in I Kings 11:1-8 that Solomon “held fast” to all of the one thousand wives he ended up with “in love.” “Held fast” is the same word translated “cleave” in Gen. 2:24 where God says, “A man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife.” It means “to stick like glue.” “Love” is a common word found throughout Proverbs and means “to love sexually or otherwise.” According to God, Solomon was sexually involved with all one thousand women, including the first one hundred and forty wives in the Song of Solomon. Likewise, every word out of Solomon's mouth in the book shows his addiction to sex for the sake of sex rather than as a mental and physical union of a man and a woman who love and respect each other.
Part of this argument maintains that the Shulammite was the best of Solomon's wives, and the only one he really loved as he tells her:
Song of Solomon 6:8-9: “There are sixty queens and eighty concubines, and maidens without number; but my dove, my perfect one, is unique: she is her mother's only daughter; she is the pure child of the one who bore her.”
While dismissing Solomon's previous wives as insignificant political wives or as part of a harem inherited from his father, David, Dillow justifies Solomon's words with:
But what is the point of the comparison? He says she is superior to all the queens and concubines in the empire. (Dillow, Solomon on Sex, p. 121.)
Versions of this same line are still used today by adulterers and sexual addicts, i.e. “She doesn't mean anything to me. You're the only one I really love.” “I know I've had all these other women, but you're the one I've been searching for. I'll settle down with you.” “With you it'll be different.” While Solomon denied the importance of these wives in comparison to the Shulammite, God affirmed twice that they did, indeed, mean a lot to him--he loved them all:
I Kings 11:1-2: "Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the sons of Israel, 'You shall not associate with them, neither shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods.' Solomon held fast to these in love."
"Solomon Was a Hypocrite, But Sinful Men Can Still Teach the Truth"
The fact that Solomon may have been a hypocrite doesn't necessarily disqualify him from writing about how he should behave. Solomon also wrote Ecclesiastes and Proverbs. Ecclesiastes, written with the warning that life apart from a relationship with God is like trying to catch the wind, demonstrates Solomon knew from experience the truth about God.
In Proverbs, Solomon also stresses that ideal marriage consists of one man with one woman. And he emphasizes again the abuses of riches. In actuality Solomon violated just about every precept he wrote about; is he therefore unqualified to write the book of Proverbs? If you teach your children about the wrongness of lying and anger, then catch yourself in a lie or a fit of anger, does that mean your teaching was not sound? In the same way, the fact that a polygamist wrote the Song of Solomon doesn't affect the value of the book as a guide to sexual love in monogamistic marriage. (Dillow, Solomon on Sex, p. 10.)
First, Dillow's remarks are self-contradictory. If the Song of Solomon is really about Solomon and his favorite wife, the book IS NOT "a guide to sexual love in monogamistic marriage." Solomon was not proposing monogamistic marriage to the Shulammite, and if he married her, he did not remain faithful to her for very long before he began adding other wives to his harem. Rather than uplifting its readers and making them want to turn their marriages into ravishing unions, such a story is depressing and makes a person wonder, "What's the use of trying?"
Second, God made it clear in I Kings 11:1-11 that he did not want Solomon marrying foreign women, and that Solomon knew this. When Solomon ignored God's command and married the women anyway and followed after their gods, God was so angry with Solomon that he said:
I Kings 11:11: "So the Lord said to Solomon, 'Because you have done this, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant'"
In contrast, whoever the beloved shepherd was, God put his stamp of approval on him in Song of Solomon 5:1b with, “Eat friends; drink and imbibe deeply, O lovers.” In other words, God heartily approved of the shepherd and the Shulammite getting married and getting drunk on married lovemaking. If Solomon is the shepherd, in one instance God was so angry with his relationship with women that God took the kingdom away from him, and in the next instance God told Solomon to get married and get drunk on married lovemaking with wife number one hundred and forty-one. Who can believe that God condemned Solomon because of his many marriages and then held him up as a model to be imitated in one of those condemned marriages? Dillow may contradict himself in his views on the Song of Solomon, but God does not contradict himself.
"Solomon Would Not Have Portrayed Himself as Losing the Girl"
This position rests totally upon the assumption that Solomon wrote the Song of Solomon sometime in his lifetime. While no one disputes that Solomon is the king portrayed in the book, many scholars doubt that he was the author of the book. For example, the Jewish Hebrew scholar Marcia Falk says:
Although Solomon's name is mentioned in the Hebrew title, this title was bestowed not by the Song's original author or authors but by later compilers, who were likely also responsible for giving the text its semblance of structural unity. . . . About the Song's authorship and origins very little is known. Tradition ascribes the work to King Solomon, but this view is discounted by modern scholars, who generally agree that the Song's authorship cannot be specified. Indeed, there is no consensus even about the date of composition, with proposals ranging from 950 to 200 B.C.E. (Marcia Falk, The Song of Songs [New York, NY: HarperCollins Publications, 1993], p. xiv.)
In addition, the Song of Solomon contains internal evidence that Solomon probably was not the author of it. This evidence is discussed in the answer to a later question.
"Solomon Came to His Senses Later in Life and Told Couples What to Do"
If Solomon wrote this book while practicing polygamy, it would be a powerful argument against the fruitlessness and emptiness of having many wives. It would be a poem emphasizing the beauty of ideal love written by one who had experienced the opposite. He could write from experience that polygamy is not fulfiling as the way to find a maximum marriage. (Dillow, Solomon on Sex, p. 10.)
This argument is probably a testimony to the goodness and sincerity of the person making it rather than true vindication of Solomon. As the answer to the next question reveals, the Song of Solomon exposes King Solomon as a practicing sexual addict. Unfortunately, Solomon didn't come to his senses as he demonstrates what couples should NOT do, if they want to find true sexual happiness.
Forcing Solomon into a mold of respectability to be imitated denies both men and women a powerful example of true love vs. sensuous love. Modern man does not need to make excuses for Solomon's behavior to teach healthy sexual attitudes. The ageless Song of Solomon reveals wonderful truths whether mankind is dealing with extreme prudery or Internet pornography and e-mail affairs. Truly a marvel of God is how he could inspire something so timeless and outstanding as the Song of Solomon.
Interestingly, God uses both Solomon's words of wisdom in his youth that he preserved in Proverbs and his life of depravity in his middle years in the Song of Solomon to teach great sexual truths to benefit mankind. God inspired the beautiful and emotionally captivating Song of Solomon to expose Solomon's sexual folly as a means of teaching his people how to choose a lifelong sexual partner and how to enjoy thrilling sexual lives even into old age. At the time of the Song of Solomon, Solomon had only one hundred and forty of the one thousand wives he would eventually marry (Song of Solomon 6:8-9). The true story reveals that Solomon was already developing warped attitudes toward women and the sexual relationship. Indeed, listening to sexual addicts talk about their attitudes toward women, sex, and marriage that they are struggling to overcome is like listening to Solomon in the Song of Solomon.
The thrilling account takes place over three days as Solomon woos and attempts to marry a young Shulammite maiden he unexpectedly met on an inspection of his vineyards. The drama reveals the inner struggles of the young woman as she agonizes over who to marry--rich, powerful King Solomon who heaps sensuous flattery upon her, or the poor Shepherd whom she loves and who loves her, but who can offer her only a life of poverty. Solomon proposes to the young maiden four times and each time he speaks, he eloquently praises her sexual charms. He never sees her as a person with a brain and a personality, or as a person with needs and desires of her own. Solomon's four proposals demonstrate that he views the Shulammite as only the most ravishing female body he's ever seen and the sight of her stirs up wild and overwhelming sexual urges that cry for release with her.
Solomon's First Proposal
Song of Solomon 1:9-10: "To me, my darling, you are like my mare among the chariots of Pharaoh. Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with strings of beads."
The first words out of Solomon's mouth are to tell the Shulammite she has great sex appeal: “You are like my mare among the chariots of Pharaoh.” This expression borders on lewdness as Solomon tells her at their first meeting how strong he feels sexual desire for her. As a king and owner of many horses and chariots, Solomon knows exactly the power of a mare in heat running among the stallions of Pharaoh. Marcia Falk explains in her book, The Song of Songs, the full significance of Solomon's praise:
A woman is compared to a mare in Pharaoh's chariotry--a puzzling image, for in that context only stallions, never mares, drew chariots. But the Egyptians' enemies set mares loose in war to drive the pharaoh's stallions wild, and this is the crux of the metaphor. The woman is not simply a beautiful creature; she is as alluring as “a mare among stallions.” Seen in this way, the image is striking and perhaps even daunting: the beloved possesses a captivating power over her admirer. (The Song of Songs [San Francisco: HarperCollins Publishers, 1993], p. xxii.)
Solomon's relationship to horses makes this interpretation reasonable. Solomon was not the owner of a single little mare, or even just a few mares. Rather, in I Kings 4:26 Solomon required 40,000 horse stalls for his chariots and for his 12,000 horsemen. Solomon acquired chariots and horses on a national scale and built cities to keep them in (I Kings 9:19). Solomon also imported droves of horses from Egypt (I Kings 10:29; II Chron. 9:28). (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. I, p. 596.) The horses of the Bible are almost exclusively war-horses and the property of kings and not of the common people. (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. III, p. 1423.)
Every time Solomon speaks directly to the Shulammite in the Song of Solomon, he praises her sexual charms. His metaphor of comparing her to a mare and himself to the war-horses pulling the chariots of Pharaoh is appropriate. No doubt, as the owner of 40,000 stalls, Solomon had observed the actions of horses. His choice of metaphor amplifies the truth of God's description of a sex-crazed nation: “They committed adultery and trooped to the harlot's house. They were well-fed lusty horses, each one neighing after his neighbor's wife” (Jer. 5:7-8).
As such a captivating creature, Solomon assures the Shulammite that nothing about her goes unnoticed. The earrings and necklaces that the daughters of Jerusalem adorned her with only make her more desirable. Solomon tells her that he fully appreciates her charms.
Solomon's Second Proposal
Song of Solomon 4:1: "How beautiful you are, my darling, how beautiful you are! Your eyes are like doves behind your veil; your hair is like a flock of goats that have descended from Mount Gilead,..."
The word "darling" includes the idea of "to take delight in having sexual intercourse with." (Franz Delitzch, The Song of Songs and Ecclesiates [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, n.d.].) Solomon's description of the Shulammite from the top of her head to her breasts reveals a sensuous infatuation with her beauty--his most important ingredient for a wife.
Solomon's Third Proposal
Song of Solomon 6:4: "You are as beautiful as Tirzah, my darling, as lovely as Jerusalem, as awesome as an army with banners."
As always, Solomon focuses on the Shulammite's body and dress instead of her character and personality. Tirzah and Jerusalem, two of the royal cities, attracted crowds of people just as beautiful cities today appeal to tourists. Solomon knows the people will make special trips to view his latest wife who is as awesome as an army with banners. And just as people stop to watch an army parade by with flying flags, the people will stop to gaze upon the Shulammite when Solomon leads her around the city. Solomon wants to marry the Shulammite so he can display her as a trophy that will make everyone jealous of him.
Solomon's Fourth Proposal
Song of Solomon 7:6: "How beautiful and how delightful you are, my love, with all your charms! Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. 'I said, "I will climb the palm tree, I will take hold of its fruit stalks." Oh, may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the fragrance of your breath like apples, And your mouth like the best wine!' "
Solomon's refers to the Oriental method of fertilizing palm trees. Since the male and female flowers were born on separate trees, someone had to climb the female trees and tie some of the pollen-bearing male flowers among their blossoms. (Joseph P. Dillow, Solomon on Sex [Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1977], p. 136.) Thus, Solomon very graphically says, “I told myself, `I've just got to go to bed with you!' ”
As playboys today care only about getting well-developed bosoms and bodies into bed, so does Solomon. He thinks the perfect body will solve his problems. Surely, her beautiful body, breasts, and sweet breath will make the sexual embrace that much more ravishing. In essence, Solomon tells the Shulammite, “Baby, you've got a beautiful body, and we will enjoy a wonderful time in bed!” Fortunately, the Shulammite finally sees through Solomon's shallow flattery and resists him as the continuing story unfolds.
This same characteristic of Solomon, of a purely physical relationship without a proper emotional foundation, is the common thread that runs through all sexual addiction. Dr. Patrick J. Carnes pioneered the modern study of sexual addiction and wrote the groundbreaking book Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction. He uses such words as “isolation,” “abandonment,” “loneliness,” “cut off from reality,” “self-preoccupation,” “pain,” “anxiety,” “lack of emotional balance,” “alienation,” “anger,” “distrust,” and “despair” to describe both male and female sexual addicts. The almost total lack of a proper emotional relationship with the spouse is at the core of the sexual addiction. (Patrick J. Carnes, Ph.D., Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction [Center City, MN: Hazelden Educational Materials, 1992].)
The most important characteristic that God emphasizes about the sexual relationship is the emotional union between the husband and wife. That mental union is paramount for each to experience supreme sexual pleasure. And as psychiatrists are now discovering, properly cultivating and preserving that mental union helps protect both men and women from degenerating into sexual compulsions, addictions, and perversions. Men and women can protect themselves from sexual addiction by rejecting the Victorian concept that sex is a purely physical act and by understanding the emotional nature of lovemaking for both men and women.
If men and women can learn the difference between sensuous love and true love in their youth as their sexuality is budding, they can avoid a lifetime of sexual misery. However, if they started the road to sexual addiction by the choices they made in their youth, as most sexual addicts do, they can study Solomon's example as adults and find insight and motivation to work free of their compulsions.
Solomon is the perfect man for studying sexual addiction. He enjoyed access to it all! If sexual addiction's promise of supreme pleasure and fulfillment were true, Solomon would have found it with all of his wealth to spend on his addiction. No pornographic movies or magazines or Internet connections for him--Solomon heaped his lusts upon the real bodies of the most desirable women of his time from peasants to royalty to slaves. He had for his amusement all the known sexual techniques of his time that his foreign wives brought with them as part of their idolatrous worship. If ever a man could have found true sexual happiness and fulfillment in variety, techniques, and glorification of the body, Solomon was that man.
A study of the Song of Solomon shows a poignant contrast between true love that builds an emotional bond with the lover and liberates both their bodies for a truly rapturous sexual union; and sensuous love that looks only at the physical body and traps its participants in a lifelong compelling search for the perfect combination of bodies. At whatever age a person studies the Song of Solomon, it powerfully teaches how to lay the foundation for true love and sexual satisfaction that lasts a lifetime. Ideally, that foundation should be lain in one's youth. But regardless of a person's age and past sexual history, no one is too old to learn the secret of true love and find supreme sexual pleasure.
Free booklet online: Adultery & Sexual Addiction: A Plan for Healing the Soul and the Marriage. This material presents God's three-part plan for overcoming sexual addiction and the damage done by adultery.
Internet Porn Targets Both Males and Females
Someone described the teen years as "Emotions! Emotions! Emotions!" Adolescents, by nature, are impressionable and confused. They've entered a point in their development where they question who they are and what they want. Easy access to porn creates a mine field that many young people do not make it safely across. They secretly view it on computers and Internet-surfing cell phones with text messaging codes to warn when a parent is close by.
From my thirty years of experience sharing God's beautiful sexual truths, I believe that young people, who succomb to porn and hookup relationships, are creating more sexual hangups for themselves than their grandparents suffered from under the influence of Victorian morals.
Young Boys Susceptible to Internet Porn
When taught frank sexual material, high-school boys often ask, "Why didn't someone tell us these things when we were in junior high before we developed these bad habits that require lots of work to overcome?" This question is often asked of Oscar Miles, who frequently teaches at teen retreats. His surveys of boys in his sessions, whose parents are Christians, show:
9-10th graders (age 14-16)
- 20% Never viewed Internet porn
- 33% Viewed on accident
- 47% Viewed on purpose
- 20% Still viewing occasionally or somewhat regularly
- 13% Admitted viewing homosexual porn on the Internet
11-12th graders (age 16-19)
- 100% Viewed Internet porn ON PURPOSE
- 67% Still viewing occasionally or somewhat regularly
- 22% Viewing it "somewhat regularly"
- 22% Admitted to viewing homosexual porn
- 11% Admitted to having interest in homosexual porn
He recommends parents go to www.wisechoice.net/porn-statistics to read "Warning over children who abuse" by Nick Triggle to see what Christians are facing with their young people. The damage done by instant Internet porn is much worse than any of us can imagine.
Porn for Women Promoted in Mainstream Magazines
Porn now also seduces women. When I started teaching marriage classes, many of the ladies' magazines encouraged women to commit mental adultery by wearing seductive clothing on trips and then fantasizing about the man sitting next to them on the plane. Now, thirty years later, the July 2007 Oprah Magazine contains an article "Eyes Wide Open: What kind of woman watches porn" by Violet Blue, a professional porn reviewer and author of Smart Girl's Guide to Porn. She talked about how both the heterosexual and lesbian porn markets are growing for women:
When researchers at Northwestern University showed gay, lesbian, and straight porn to heterosexual and homosexual women and men, they found that while the men responded more intensely to porn that mirrored their particular gender orientation, the women tended to like it all. (pp. 186-187)
Blue recommended several DVDs for women to watch. Sadly, porn for women has now entered mainstream publications.
Young Men Rival Solomon's Use of Women
At a recent writers' conference, in one of the workshops, the speaker went around the room and asked everyone to tell what they were working on. I told how I was working on the Song of Solomon analyzing that Solomon's 1000 wives divided by his 40-year reign, meant he went through an average of 25 women per year. This translates to only 2 weeks spent on each wife from courtship, to marriage, to consummation. Solomon's 3-day whirlwind romance of the young Shulammite maiden in the Song of Solomon supports this timetable. This also shows why Solomon didn't work at building an emotional bond with the young woman--he viewed her simply as a sexual toy to be used until the next lovely body caught his attention.
While everyone else in the group gasped, the lady next to me spoke up. The CEO of Planned Parenthood, she said, "I can believe it, because young men are going through that many partners now." She added, "We now know that this early sexual activity does damage to the brain that affects the individuals for the rest of their lives
Click here to read all of Our Youth Are in Crisis.
Through inspiring and preserving the Song of Solomon, God approved of the Shulammite and the Shepherd's desire to experience all the joys of an active sexual life within marriage:
Song of Solomon 7:10-12: “I am my beloved's, and his desire is for me. Come, my beloved, let us go out into the country, let us spend the night in the villages. Let us rise early and go to the vineyards; let us see whether the vine has budded and its blossoms have opened, and whether the pomegranates have bloomed. There I will give you my love.”
“Love” means “to boil, i.e. to love; by implication a love-token, lover, friend” (Strong, p. 30).
The maiden begged the Shepherd to hurry and marry her. Describing their honeymoon in the countryside she said, “There I will give you my love.” Not just doing her duty by passively accepting his advances, she promised to initiate a passionate night of boiling emotions through the exciting union of the bodies of true lovers.
All the way through the Song of Solomon, the maiden, not the Shepherd, spoke freely of physical love. She assured the Shepherd that she looked forward to his embrace by stating, “Let his left hand be under my head and his right hand embrace me” (2:6). They both determined to preserve their purity for marriage (4:12-15). The Shepherd let the Shulammite know how much he looked forward to uniting physically with her (4:12-15 and 5:1). Rebuking King Solomon, she told him she would enjoy making love with only the Shepherd (7:9). She promised the Shepherd she would give her love freely to him after marriage (7:12). The Shepherd enjoyed her kisses (1:2 and 8:1), but she assured him she was saving many more delights for him in marriage (7:13). If given a chance, she told him, she would kiss him outdoors (8:1). The Shulammite credited her mother with teaching her how to please a man, and she looked forward to satisfying him (8:2-3). In contrast, the Shepherd limited his sexual statements to rejoicing in her purity (4:12-15).
The Bible does not picture the woman as a timid body lying there for her husband to fulfill his lust on. Rather, God pictures the wife as initiating love and eagerly satisfying her husband's deepest emotional and physical desires and needs. God never portrays the woman as a timid receiver of love, but as an active bestower of love.
In spite of plain Bible teachings, Victorian morals turned many women against their true loving natures. These women fail to rise to their full potential as a giver of affectionate love in the home. They still expect the man to make all the moves. As a result, many a husband feels cheated deep in his heart when his wife fails to love him as God created her to. Hannah Lees, the author of Help Your Husband Stay Alive, explains that an eminent psychiatrist told her that most husbands suffer from a lack of enough “warm love” from their wives. He said this was the most basic unfulfilled need in American men. (Hannah Lees, “What Every Husband Needs,” Reader's Digest [Aug. 1968], p. 142.)
Accurate knowledge of the Song of Solomon and the Shulammite's good sense and expression of her femininity liberates many a woman to enjoy her true loving nature, to the delight of her husband.
The Shulammite's dilemna of whether to marry King Solomon or the poor Shepherd was a well-known event since the townspeople saw Solomon take her to Jerusalem:
Song of Solomon 3:6-7: "What is this coming up from the wilderness like columns of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all scented powders of the merchant? Behold, it is the traveling couch of Solomon..."
Then the peasants watched the Shepherd bring her home:
Song of Solomon 8:5: "Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved?"
Obviously, the people were curious about what happened as their riddle at her wedding indicates:
"We have a little sister, and she has no breasts; what shall we do for our sister on the day when she is spoken for?"
No doubt, the Shulammite quickly became somewhat of a folk hero as she would have repeated her story many times. For this reason and because the story is written as the Shulammite would have told it, the Shulammite may well be the one God used to write it down. In addition, the story does not record the thoughts of anyone other than the Shulammite. Since I Cor. 2:11 says, "For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him?" these thoughts had to come directly from the Shulammite. Likewise, all recorded dialogue took place in the Shulammite's presence--words she heard.
If Solomon wrote the book, he wrote about something he didn't understand at that stage of his life--true love. The story certainly does not cast Solomon in a favorable light with all of his wives and his attitude toward marriage. However, God used Solomon to write wonderful passages about love in the book of Proverbs. But Solomon probably wrote those in his early years when he still looked to God for wisdom. If Solomon or some other man wrote the Song of Solomon, he wrote it as if he were the Shulammite, as if he were a woman. So whether or not a woman actually wrote the book, the book is written as if a woman told it and wrote it.
If the Shulammite wrote the Song of Solomon, she did so through inspiration, through God giving her perfect remembrance of the events as he did the apostles of Christ (John 14:26). This would not violate any of God's teachings concerning the woman's subjection to the man in the spiritual realm or the home. In both the Old and the New Testaments, women prophesied (Acts 2:17; Judg. 4:4). Yet in each case, the women exercised their spiritual gifts in ways that supported their femininity and their roles in life. As a giver of love (Prov. 5:19) and as a teacher of their daughters (Song of Solomon 8:2) and young women (Titus 2:3-5), what more fitting book for God to use a woman to write than the Song of Solomon? But regardless of who wrote the Song of Solomon, God inspired a wonderful true story of love for his people to learn from and to use to teach others. Thank you, God!
Many teachers who take the one-man position or the collection-of-unrelated-songs-with-no-storyline position readily admit difficulty making some of the passages in the Song of Solomon fit their thesis. Often these works present a forced effort to teach certain things about the sexual relationship. While healthy attitudes toward lovemaking are both desirable and commanded by God, the Song of Solomon does not have to be manipulated to achieve that goal. The Bible teaches more about the sexual relationship from both a positive and a negative standpoint than any other area of marriage. The Song of Solomon provides valuable instruction for studying both sensuous love and true love.
While some people assert that those who take the two-man position arbitrarily assign passages to the Shepherd, a verse-by-verse study of the Song of Solomon in Marriage: A Taste of Heaven, Vol. I: God's People Appreciate Marriage reveals internal evidence to prove that the true story speaks of two men--King Solomon and the Shepherd--as the appropriate verses are discussed. Click here to see those facts grouped together for easy review: Evidence that King Solomon Was Not the Shepherd.
(This chapter won 1st place in the Inspirational Writers Alive! state-wide non-fiction book proposal contest at the Texas Christian Writers Conference in Houston in August 2007. It is adapted from chapter 9, "The Woman's Search for True Love" in Marriage: A Taste of Heaven, Vol. I: God's People Appreciate Marriage and the audio album The Song of Solomon: God's Sex Education.)
"Christians make the best lovers? You've got to be kidding!" is the reaction of many people. Yet lovemaking originated within the mind of God. Did he create captivating sunsets and undersea wonders only to mess up when it came to figuring out what sex was all about? Surely not! He used that same astonishing ability to design people for deep intimacy and the ability to speak a beautiful language of love in the arms of the chosen mate. And he preserves the greatest sexual thrills for those who dare to listen and learn his secrets.
But lovemaking is in crisis. Cohabitation has replaced dating and slowly getting to know the other person to build an emotional bond. Supposedly, casual sex and cohabitation allow people to test whether or not they've found an agreeable mate and if they'll enjoy a great sex life.
Marriage is also in crisis thanks to cohabitation. An Alabama Policy Institute (API) study of more than 1,300 married couples compared couples who cohabited with those who did not. The cohabiting couples tended to be "more depressed, more dependent, and more likely to believe their relationship would end" as the other couples. In addition, spouse abuse in the form of intimidating anger, hitting, and throwing objects was more common among the cohabiting couples. According to USA Today, couples live together about two years and then either marry or break up. (Ed Litton, "First-Person: The Truth About Cohabitation," Baptist Press, January 9, 2007.)
The sexual revolution of the latter 20th century failed miserably to liberate its believers. As a result, people of the 21st century head blindly towards greater sexual inhibitions than their grandparents experienced through Victorian morals. Many men cannot respond to a real, live, flesh and blood woman. They require flat paper women, dancing computer graphics, or multiple partners to feed their fetishes and self-pleasuring. Psychologists call this enslavement of their minds sexual addiction.
Perhaps women suffer the most in spite of the feminists preaching on college campuses the ideal of take-it-and-leave-it sex. "Sexually active teenage girls are more than three times as likely to be depressed, and nearly three times as likely to attempt suicide, than girls who are not sexually active…They cannot sleep, they mutilate themselves, and exhibit every symptom of psychic distress." (Danielle Crittenden, "Unprotected," Wall-Street Journal, December 14, 2006.)
While these young women claim the sexual freedom to discover themselves, many perform with frigidity. Their lovemaking with a man requires special manipulations for arousal and sex toys to experience an orgasm. Many numb their minds with alcohol and drugs to override the damage done to the beautiful, loving femininity God bestowed upon them.
Yet three thousand years ago, King Solomon tried the 21st-century's sexual experiment better than any couple can execute it today. He didn't require grants to fund his experiments--he enjoyed such great wealthy that he treated silver like gravel. He didn't need an MP3 player, he frolicked to live bands and singers. No magazine foldouts or computer porn turned him on, with his political power and prestige; he sampled the most beautiful and sexually knowledgeable women of his day, from peasants to king's daughters to slaves.
And guilt? Each time he tired of one woman, Solomon simply married another one to add to his harem. At the time of the Song of Solomon, he sported one hundred and forty wives, and virgins without number awaiting his attention. Eventually, he went through one thousand women, an average of 25 wives per year of his 40-year reign. The ancient historian Josephus says Solomon was 14 when he became king (Josephus, Antiq., VIII, 7). Other historians say he was no older than 18. He quickly married the daughter of the Pharaoh of Egypt.
At the rate of 25 wives per year, Solomon would have been into his sixth-year reign as king unless he was marrying his wives at a faster pace in his youth. This would make Solomon probably be in his early 20s when he proposed marriage to the young Shulammite maiden. Just as sexual addiction today often begins in the teen years when a young man must deal with relentless, hot surges of lust, the readily available young women for Solomon to marry fueled his own downward spiral into total sexual addiction and debauchery.
If ever the 21st-century experiment was going to work, Solomon should have succeeded. He delighted in worldly-wise sex in all its glory--unlimited partners, uninhibited sexual techniques from bringing in wives from all over the world, wild music, beautiful bodies, and hookup attitudes without guilt.
Click here to read all of The Shulammite's dillemma.
Jeanne Guyon's popular book, Song of the Bride, reprinted from the 17th century, is a tragic irony of the Song of Solomon rather than a true commentary. Whitaker House published both her autobiography written in her later years along with her discussion of the Song of Solomon. The publisher's introduction to the Song of Solomon acknowledges that her allegorical view of the book is in many ways “a picture of the growth of her own relationship with God, of her devotion to Him in the midst of the losses, illnesses, trials, and persecutions that she endured throughout her life.” (Song of the Bride, p. 8.)
Indeed, reading her autobiography first makes it obvious that the Song of the Bride is simply Guyon's earlier autobiography of her own spiritual journey.
Guyon Suffered as a Victim of Spouse Abuse
Unfortunately, Guyon's portrayal of her life is an antithesis to the beautiful message of the Song of Solomon, which she misses totally. The Song of Solomon tells the true story of the Shulammite, a young maiden probably 11-16 years old. She was wooed by the powerful, rich King Solomon who admired her beautiful body and wanted to add her to his harem. The Shulammite struggled throughout the story with whether to marry for flattery, money, and power, or marry for true love that respected her as an intelligent and worthwhile person. Again and again, the story reveals her inner struggles as her mother's teaching and upbringing guided her into making a wise decision. God preserved the account to protect all young women and men in their search for true love.
Yet unhappily, Jeanne Guyon, a French Catholic, followed the opposite course, and she never learned the secrets of the Song of Solomon. She, too, was a beautiful young maiden with lots of suitors who offered her money and prestige. Instead of helping her find true love by wisely choosing a mate, at barely 15, her father tricked her into marrying a man 22 years older than she whom she did not know.
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Song of Solomon: God's Sex Education FAQ for Ages 11 to 99 by Patsy Rae Dawson. Copyright © 2010 Patsy Rae Dawson LLC. All rights reserved.
Song of Solomon: God's Sex Education FAQ by Patsy Rae Dawson is available at PatsyRaeDawson.com. It may be copied for noncommercial use only, provided you do the following: 1. Retain all copyright, trademark and propriety notices; 2. Make no modifications to the materials; 3. Do not use the materials in a manner that suggests an association with Patsy Rae Dawson LLC; 4. If you copy only sections of the FAQ, you will follow the first 3 restrictions to retain Patsy Rae Dawson LLC's copyright and keep the sections complete with no modifications and; 5. Do not download quantities of materials to a database, server, or personal computer for reuse for commercial purposes. You may not use this material in any other way without prior written permission. For additional permissions, contact Patsy Rae Dawson LLC at Patsy@PatsyRaeDawson.com.