8.1 “Oh, I wish you were my brother.” At that time in Israel, it was not proper for a man to kiss a woman in public even if they were married, but blood relatives were excused this written restriction. Regardless of what men said, the love of Solomon and the Shulammite continually developed and matured. Today, we all face problems which are sent to hinder us from acquiring more knowledge and thereby increasing our commitment and love to the Lord. However, we often discover, eventually, that relational problems are often more complex than many others. This is why we need, with increasing haste day by day, “to catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love” [2.15]
8.2 “You would teach me.” The Shulammite’s mother, through human knowledge and experience had adequately prepared her daughter for marriage, but now that her circumstances have radically altered she requests Solomon, the love of her life, to diligently instruct her more about the yet to be discovered paths which true love is eager with unmeasured longing to comprehensively explore.
In 8.3 the Shulammite repeats what she had previously said in 2.6, “Your left arm would be under my head, and your right arm would embrace me.” Why did she remember these words at this time? They had mutually experienced the joys of their first encounter, but now with a heart full of steadfast love and ever fresh and pleasant memories continually coming to the surface of her consciousness, the bride repeats the same words, indicating that she still feels the same way about him and cannot wait to start all over again.
8.4 “Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right.” [cf. 2.7; 3.5]
Young women of Jerusalem 8.5a
“Who is this sweeping in from the desert, leaning on [the elbow of] her lover?” [cf. 3.6; 6.10]. It is the Shulammite in all three references, communicating as lovers often do with each other. Love was the key to their relationship and intimacy was the final and satisfactory conclusion. Note here, as elsewhere in the song, the physical, often sensual behaviour of the Shulammite was the catalyst which kept their relationship flourishing.
Young woman 8.5b-7
8.5 “I aroused you under the apple tree, where your mother gave you birth, where in great pain she delivered you.” The Shulammite saw herself as a worthy participant in the family line, for example, it may have been here that she was first initiated into the avenue of physical love by Solomon, or Solomon may have been conceived here or it was in this place that his mother gave birth to him.
8.6-7 “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm [or hand]. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave. Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.”
Both “seal” and “love” are the twin keys to understanding and applying these verses to our lives. For example, the word “seal” is mentioned twice, the first “seal” signifies heart acceptance, where there is no more condemnation, and the second “seal” indicates access to the most holy place known to man, and it is here that the glorious truth of inter-relationship between God and man will be repeatedly fulfilled. Then, we will repeatedly say, with never-ending enthusiasm, “I am His and He is mine.” Once Solomon had accepted the Shulammite as his own by placing the seal of his love on her heart, immediately she had access to all that was his, but her heart was solidly fixed on her lover.
Now, this is the gospel story, God, through Jesus, accepted us as His own and at the end of time He will welcome us into His dwelling place where untold blessings await us. To the Ephesians, Paul said, “God identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit ... the Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people” [Eph. 1.13-14 NLT]
8.6-7 “Note here the four references to “love” ... love is as strong as death ... love flashes like fire ... many waters cannot quench love ... if a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.” If we ever needed an incentive to continue to give out the gospel it is to be found in these words, “love is as strong as death.” It is our responsibility to stress the former until the latter is destroyed.
The young woman’s brothers 8.8-9
“We have a little sister too young to have breasts. What will we do for our sister if someone asks to marry her? If she is a virgin, like a wall, we will protect her with a silver tower. But if she is promiscuous, like a swinging door, we will block her door with a cedar bar.”
The Shulammite had a younger sister, not yet at marriageable age, which had been entrusted into the care of her older brother’s. After mishandling their first taste of responsibility and accountability [cf. 1.6], the brothers may have been determined to do their best this time by working closely with their sister until she safely reached, like her big sister, marriageable age. Therefore her first responsibility was to see herself as a “wall” which successfully protected her from the pre-determined efforts and enticements of every alternative thinker. At that time the brother’s gave her adornments as a reward. However, it was also possible for their sister to behave like “a swinging door” and to willingly give unsuitable candidates for marriage free access to her previously untouched and therefore undefiled physical treasures. However, if she started to show this tendency, then they would tightly bar the way of all individuals which would ensure that she remained pure and undefiled until her marriage. Their corporate strength aligned with her free will would result in her on-going security.
Young woman 8.10-12
“I was a virgin, like a wall; now my breasts are like towers. When my lover looks at me, he is delighted with what he sees. Solomon has a vineyard at Baal-hamon, which he leases out to tenant farmers. Each of them pays a thousand pieces of silver for harvesting its fruit. But my vineyard is mine to give, and Solomon need not pay a thousand pieces of silver. But I will give two hundred pieces to those who care for its vines.”
The Shulammite is speaking here and she portrays herself in 8.10 as Solomon’s true vineyard and he continually finds his delight in her. It is possible that 8.11 may refer to Solomon’s harem. While she was there she compares and contrasts herself with the expensive girls in the harem and she declares, from among them all, that she alone is his unique vineyard, and as we have seen in 8.6-7, that love cannot be bought, therefore she will when he comes and calls, give herself unreservedly to her lover free of charge.
Young man 8.13
“O my darling, lingering in the gardens, your companions is fortunate to hear your voice. Let me hear it, too!”
Young woman 8.14
“Come away, my love! Be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices.”
The truth that God continually loves to hear our voice is highlighted here. Single-mindedly, the Shulammite responds to his request by asking him to come quickly and this is also the urgent plea of His world-wide bride. [David McArdle]
Read more articles by David McArdle or search for articles on the same topic or others.