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The Consequences of Prophecy-The Love Triangle & The Girl Next Door

Before Israel split into two kingdoms, due in part to the introduction of a new national center of worship in the Northern Kingdom, there were signs that Israel was already culturally destabilizing internally due to the introduction of strange gods by King Solomon’s foreign wives. Following in his father King David’s melodious footsteps, King Solomon wrote a play centered on the young country girl whom he had watched nurse his dying father. The Shulamite, symbolized by Israel, was tempted by the lavish riches and power of King Solomon and the new multi-cultural, religiously diverse city of Jerusalem his foreign wives had created, but her heart still longed for the True Shepherd who had loved her since her youth. Would Israel be a nation tenderly and faithfully married to the God of its inception or a quickly forgotten people amongst a harem of others, which had bound themselves to idolatry?

While much of the Song of Songs is told from the view of the Shulamite, after King Solomon has taken the throne, she was introduced earlier during King David’s final days. Having trouble taking care of himself and staying warm, even when covered with blankets, the king’s attendants put out a search for a young virgin to take care of him and keep him comfortable to help him sleep. After searching throughout Israel for a beautiful young woman, they found Abishag, the Shunammite (strongly suggested to be synonymous with Shulamite). Abishag took care of King David in his dying days, but they never had sexual relations (ref. 1 Kings 1:1-4).

After the power struggle for the thrown before King David’s death, Solomon came out crowned king, but granted mercy on his older brother Adonijah who had also been positioning himself for power (ref. 1 Kings 1: 5-53). After King Solomon began to establish his administration, Adonijah went to Solomon’s mother Bathsheba to make a request. In Adonijah’s eyes, because the kingdom had been his and all of Israel had looked to him as their king before the Lord gave it to Solomon, it would only be fair that Adonijah be allowed to marry the beautiful Abishag. But King Solomon did not see this as a simple nor reasonable request, explicitly equating marriage to Abishag as asking for the Kingdom itself (1 Kings 2:22). This symbolic insult was so great to Solomon that he revoked the protection he had placed on Adonijah and had him executed (ref. 1 King 2:13-25).

When Song of Songs begins, several years have already passed and the Shulamite (most likely the fought over Abishag) has returned home to the countryside and has just been re-introduced to Solomon, who is there inspecting the tree nut harvest, whom she hadn’t seen since her time in the royal palace looking after his father King David. Looking upon handsome King Solomon she remarks “No wonder the maidens adore you”, and after her initial infatuation, quickly ads “take me away with you- let us hurry! May the King bring me to his chambers” (Songs 1: 1-4).

She has lost the pale skin of her days in the palace walls from Solomon’s memory and has developed a farmer’s tan, which she is initially embarrassed about (ref. Songs 1:5-6), then rapidly remembers her shepherd boyfriend who loves her, burned skin and all, asking the Chorus where he is and where has he pastured his flocks (Songs 1: 7-8). The Chorus explains that while the king is right in front of her, her Love can be found tending to the young goats if she follows the tracks of the flock to the tents of his fellow shepherds.

Because of his royal background, Solomon flirts by describing the Shulamite through the luxuries and fine things available to him such as comparing her to “a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots”, describing her freckles as ornaments and her neck as strung with jewels. Trying to further convince her to go with Solomon, the Chorus declares they will make her ornaments of gold, studded with beads of silver, luxuries her shepherd love could not readily provide.

She begins to compare her Love to King Solomon, explaining that “While the king was at his table, my perfume spread its fragrance”, poetically explaining that while the king at the palace hearing about her beauty, her love had been beside her all along. Their love is not full of palatial extravagances, but described through the natural beauty around them. Their bed chamber is lined with the trees of the forest and the soft grass is their bed (ref. Song 1:12-17). She describes herself as her Love does, in floral terms, as “a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valley”.

She also describes her Love in terms of their countryside scenery. He is “an apricot tree amongst the trees of the forest”, and he “sustains [her] with raisins; [refreshes her] with apples”. When her Love comes back from shepherding, he is like his sheep and goats “leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills”. He is handsome and graceful “like a gazelle or a young stag” (ref. Song 2:1-9). Her love calls for her to stay in the countryside with her since “the flowers have appeared”, “the season of singing has come”, “the cooing of turtledoves is heard in [their] land”, and “the fig tree has ripened and blossoming vines are spreading their fragrance”, it is the season of love they had been waiting for. He longs to see his “dove in the clefts of the rock” only wanting to see her face and hear her sweet voice. Unlike the king, the Shepherd wants to know her rather than just her body (ref. Song 2:10-14).

At this point in Solomon’s reign, he already had “sixty queens and eighty concubines, and maidens without number” (Songs 6:8). He ultimately ruled for forty years and had “seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines” who would eventually lead him astray and turned his heart towards worshipping idols, since his soul was not fully devoted to the Lord His God (ref. 1 Kings 11:3-4). If each new romantic conquest took about two weeks total from courtship, marriage, and honeymoon, before moving onto a new obsession, Solomon’s exclusive focus on her body and pushing to take her to his bedchamber immediately begins to put into question flawed theories that she was his One True Love or even that the role of the Kingly Casanova represents Christ.

“Catch for us the foxes-
the little foxes that ruin the vineyards-
for our vineyards are in bloom.”

The Chorus helps further understand the distinction between Solomon and the Shepherd, poetically describing King Solomon as a fox intent on scaling the vineyard’s walls to revel on the ripening fruit of the young maidens’ maturing bodies. The implication that he is ruining the vineyards, infamously insinuates that Solomon is only after their virginity before making them a forgotten member of his expanding harem (ref. Song 2:15)

But her beloved does not seek to collect notches on his bedpost. He is hers, and she is his. He is kind and thoughtful, making sure his flock has all that they need. Before the sun rises and he has to leave, she asks him to gently nuzzle and kiss her (ref. Song 2:16-17).

As he saw his capital city Jerusalem develop extreme wealth and prestige, Solomon began to compare this new metropolis with the nation his father, initially a shepherd, loved. King Solomon refused to give Abishag, the Shunammite/Shulamite who he considered represented Israel, to his older brother Adonijah, but did not marry her himself, but instead begun to develop a taste for multiple foreign wives and started to indulge in their idolatry during the timing of Song of Songs. This was in direct contrast to the singular love King David had for God, which was mirrored by the Shulamite and her Shepherd Love. The First Act shows that while she and Israel were tempted by Solomon’s advances and the wealth, prestige, and idolatry he then represented, they were still loyal to their First Love.

Prepared by, Kent Simpson, Apostolic Prophet & Eric Sepulveda, PMT Administrator

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