Song of Songs 1:8-2:1
Song of Songs 1:8 (ESV) If you do not know, O most beautiful among women, follow in the tracks of the flock, and pasture your young goats beside the shepherds’ tents.
The Shulammite woman has just asked where she can find her love during the midday siesta. Words are powerful! We can build up one another with them. We can also destroy a person with them. The Shulammite woman has spoken of the darkness of her skin as a feature that mars her beauty. It is how she felt about her appearance, and she feared it would affect how the king viewed her. We have come to the first of many loving words that come from the lips of the king to reassure her how valued she is. He calls her the most beautiful among women and will say it again and again.
She would probably not win a beauty pageant in our day, for the standards of beauty in a woman have changed over time and are different in different cultures. In West Africa, the more obese the woman the more attractive she is to the men. Here in the Western world men look for the Barbie Doll figure. But each man knows the beauty he first saw in his wife. That is typologically the beauty Christ sees in us, O most beautiful believer. Will you hear Him say that you are beautiful in His eyes?
Husbands, learn a lesson from the wisest man that ever lived. As you hear his sincere words of admiration, think about how you speak to your wife. And then think again how God speaks to us through His Word. He overlooks the flaws knowing they are passing and sees the finished work. He looks with eyes of love and grace, compassion and understanding. He knows our insecurities and weaknesses and so He reassures us with the kisses of His words (Jeremiah 31:3).
She can follow the tracks of the sheep (his business affairs) and pasture her goats by the shepherds' tents (do her daily work near his ministers). In other words, she can hang out in the courts of the palace and watch and wait for him to have time to be with her. The pastoral setting is a much more romantic way to express it.
This is one reason I longed to become a pastor; I wanted to be near the flock because that is where He is. I knew I would have more time with Him, and I wanted that more than wealth or possessions. But you don't have to want to be a minister or missionary. Anyone can find more time with Him regardless of your calling in life by setting aside time in your schedule to be alone with Him in the Word and prayer.
Song of Songs 1:9-10 (ESV) 9 I compare you, my love, to a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots. 10 Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with strings of jewels.
The Egyptians decorated their horses. Pharaoh had the most elaborately decorated ones draw his chariot. They are beautiful creatures. Here in the Southwest we admire their form in art. Solomon was continuing to reassure her of her attractiveness to him with these metaphors.
Song of Songs 1:11 (ESV) We will make for you ornaments of gold, studded with silver.
The choir tells her they will make such adornments to accent her beauty. Can we see these as the gifts of the Spirit expressed in our lives as we mature in Christ? In the making of the temple, Bible readers should know that gold stands for holiness and silver for redemption. Certainly, the more Christlike we are, the more beautiful we are to Him, though His eyes of grace can see the finished product even now. Isn’t that comforting?
Song of Songs 1:12 (ESV) While the king was on his couch, my nard gave forth its fragrance.
Christ means anointed One. Throughout the Bible fragrant oils were used to anoint holy things, temple instruments, priests, and kings. Mary anointed Jesus with nard before the last week (John 12:3). This nard would have also been upon her hands, just as the scent of the woman went to the king on his couch. The Apostle Paul wrote 15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? 2 Corinthians 2:15,16 (NIV) Indeed, who is equal to such a task. The bride of Christ, anointed with the Holy Spirit (“my nard”), is hopelessly in love with Him. He enjoys her fragrance and she enjoys his.
Song of Songs 1:13 (ESV) My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh that lies between my breasts.
"My beloved" - the term will be used 25 times, sometimes by the man and sometimes by the woman. It is a term of endearment. The two belong to one another. Can you hear Jesus call you His beloved? Do you think of Him as "my beloved"?
What a picture and what rich Biblical connections! Women wore a sachet of myrrh on a necklace to cover body odors. Read Psalm 45, a messianic psalm that parallels this song. Verse 8 of that psalm tells us the king's robe smells of myrrh and aloes. The psalm presents the king as the God man. It tells of His queen in gold of Ophir. Because Christ is King of kings, His bride is the queen clothed in holiness (Romans 13:14). It goes on to say that if we will forget our people (culture) and our father's house (family- which is to put Jesus first, Matthew 10:37) the king will desire our beauty.
John 19:39 tells us Nicodemus anointed Jesus’ body with myrrh and aloes. It was with His death that He purchased His queen and made her holy (gold). He could not be nearer or dearer than to be lying between her breasts near her heart.
Song of Songs 1:14 (ESV) My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms in the vineyards of Engedi.
14 Henna was used for cosmetics and perfume. Like the well-watered fragrant henna blossoms, she loved his appearance and fragrance. In this poem the sense of smell is often used. Paul associates it with the message of Jesus, both grace and justice.
Song of Songs 1:15 (ESV) Behold, you are beautiful, my love;behold, you are beautiful;your eyes are doves.
In verse 8 the king already told her she is the most beautiful of women. Now he tells her two more times in this verse. Men, take note! Our wives need to know we are attractive to them. He is saying, Look! I think you are gorgeous. Did you hear me? You are gorgeous beyond compare! They are obviously face to face for his next words are a complement to the windows of her soul, her eyes. I'm not sure what is meant by doves, but it may be the shape and pure white of a dove to which he is referring.
I often think what it would be like to look into the eyes of Jesus, and see His eyes fixed on mine. He'd be looking into the depths of our souls. And yet He would still say, "You are beautiful my love!" That's because He sees the work in us complete, what we will be that day we see Him face to face (1John 3:2; Philippians 1:6).
Do you want to know how to be beautiful in His eyes? Again, Psalm 45 is the key. Forget your people and your father's house, and the king will desire your beauty (verses 10b, 11a). In other words, put Him first above culture and family. He must be our first love.
Song of Songs 1:16-17 (ESV) 16 Behold, you are beautiful, my beloved, truly delightful.Our couch is green; 17 the beams of our house are cedar; our rafters are pine.
She responds in kind. The beauty is His. He is her beloved, and not only is He beautiful, the source of our beauty, but he is truly delightful. His love brings us great delight.
The couch being green, represents the fruitfulness of their time together. The couch is the furniture upon which people reclined to have fellowship as they dined together. It reminds us of Revelation 3:20. It is time spent leisurely enjoying one another. Do you open the door when He knocks and take that time or are you in too big a hurry?
When I read this, I was sitting in a room with a green couch with big pine rafters. It bowled me over. Yes, it is personal to me, and it is just as personal to you. You are loved. Your destiny is eternity in the best possible setting - face to face with Jesus!
Song of Songs 2:1 (ESV) I am a rose of Sharon,a lily of the valleys.
After the king praises her beauty, she has a new sense of herself. No longer does she mention her tanned skin, but instead describes herself with the imagery of white flowers. What we refer to as Lily of the Valley is a plant with flowering stalks of fragrant white bell-shaped flowers. That is quite a change from, "I am dark!" Do you see how the words of love in Scripture can transform the way we think of ourselves? We tend to see all our flaws, but don’t forget Jesus sees past them and couldn’t desire you more.
Jesus used the same imagery to suggest that we need not worry about what to wear because even Solomon was not dressed as beautifully as the flowers of the field (Matthew 6:28,29). Have Jesus' words transformed the way you see yourself? If they haven't yet, my prayer is that the next class will do so. Feel free to read ahead!
How does the king reassure the Shunammite woman? Us?
How do we hear the King’s words of love?
What do gold and silver represent?
What do fragrant oils represent?
Is Jesus your beloved? Are you His beloved?
What does Psalm 45 tell us to do for the king to desire our beauty?
How and why does the Shunammite woman’s opinion of herself change?