Good afternoon girls! Sorry I couldn't get blogging yesterday but we had a wedding.
These verses are quite complicated and I've done my best to bring to you what I have learned without reading other people's interpretations, now that I have settled in my heart that I agree with Dr Brian Green about there being three main characters, the Shulamite, the king and the shepherd. The main reason I have come to this conclusion is, and especially after reading today's verses, that there is a difference between the king who sits at his table in his palace with the chambers (1:4) surrounded by all his wealth and grandeur and the beloved shepherd (1:7) who feeds his flock in the fields. The shepherd whom the bride (to-be) loves, is usually mentioned as being in the outdoors, free and surrounded by the splendours of God's creation while the king is indoors in his man-made palace and his riches. It is not that we are putting Solomon down as being wicked, but in comparison to the shepherd, he is quite worldly and desirous of satisfying his own fleshly lusts by making the Shulamite his wife when he already has quite a number of wives and concubines (6:8). As we know, the wives and concubines of Solomon rises in number to hundred's but for the shepherd there is only one true love, the Shulamite shepherdess (6:9).
As we saw on Monday, the Shulamite shepherdess has been taken into the king's palace to be prepared to meet with the king in order to become a new bride to him (very similar to the goings on in Esther's time when she had to be pampered and prepared to spend a night with the king; remember this process took a very long time - months and months). But this young woman has an intense love for her beloved shepherd, who lives and works out in the hills.
Verse 7. The Shulamite seeks her beloved. She is desperate to find him. Are we this focused and desperate when it comes to seeking our beloved, the Lord Jesus Christ? Is He the most important person in our lives, the one we need to be in communion with and have fellowship with?
Verses 8-11. The wording in this verse also tells me that the Shulamite woman is a shepherdess too because it mentions feeding her kids beside the shepherds' tents. The shepherd gives her direction as to where she can go to find him. It seems to be that the shepherd is praising his love as being strong (like a company of horses) and beautiful. It may be that she has been adorned in jewels in preparation for meeting with the king. Christ, our great Shepherd, looks upon us, His redeemed people, and sees only beauty. We have been adorned with His grace and mercy and, even though we see ourselves as black (and sinful), He sees us as His blood-bought children.
Verses 12-14. 'Spikenard', 'myrrh' and 'camphire' are all types of plants used for ointments, perfumes and even medicinal (healing properties). Verse 13 refers to a time when people would hang little bouquets of fresh plants and flowers like these around their neck, so that the sweet smell would be close to their nose so that they could enjoy the fragrance, in much the same way as we do today when we spray ourselves with perfume. Do you have a special perfume that you love because it reminds you of someone or something pleasant? I think this is the meaning here. The Shulamite has a special fondness for myrrh because it reminds her of her well-beloved, and since she cannot have him with her in person, she wears the scent close to her heart to feel some nearness to him. Anyone who would have been in close proximity to this girl would also have smelled the scent. Are we so close to our Saviour that when others are near us, they are aware of His presence too, because He has left a lingering fragrance after our time of fellowship with Him? Notice also that this closeness and fragrance gives her comfort in the long, lonely dark hours of night time.
En-gedi is near the Dead Sea and is an 'oasis in the desert'. This is what our time spent with Christ should be. Life can be hard, barren and dry at times, maybe even overwhelming at times but when we come into Christ's presence, we are revived , refreshed and nourished. He is our oasis in the desert of this life.
Verses 15 & 16. The Shulamite and her shepherd give compliments to each other. Do we praise our Saviour at all times for the blessing that He is to us and for what He means to us?
Verse 17. There are more references to the outdoors here, which emphasizes (in my eyes) the theory that this is a shepherd in the fields and not a king in a palace. The bride mentions the beams and the rafters of their home and this would infer the strength and durability that their lives are built upon. If this was in the palace, surely she would be talking about gold for the ceilings and richness everywhere, but no, it is the trees of creation that she refers to. When God saves us, He builds a home of protection for us. When we go to meet with Him in prayer and bible study, we can close ourselves in with Him and talk together in privacy, knowing that we are safe in His strength and protection.
I hope this study today has been of some benefit to you. It is quite difficult, as I've already said, but if there is something else you would like to add to help clarify things for us, feel free to contact me.