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Song of Songs 6:10-13
King to Bride
10 Who is the looking forth like the dawn?
fair as the moon,
pure as the sun,
awesome as an army with banners?
Bride in Soliloquy
11 To the garden of nut trees I had gone down
to see the fresh shoots of the ravine,
to see whether the vine had budded or the pomegranates
12 Before I was aware, my soul set me among the chariots
of my people, a prince.
Daughters of Jerusalem to Bride
13 Return, return, O Shulamite;
Return, return, that we may gaze upon you.
King to Daughters of Jerusalem
How you gaze upon Shulamite
as at a dance of Mahanaim.
The Fruits of a Reconciled Couple
- One of the best ways to compliment a spouse is quoting others’ sayings about the spouse. The king is doing just like that, when he says, “The daughters saw her and called her blessed; the queens and concubines praised her.” (6:9) Yet the praise by the daughters of Jerusalem is significant for another reason too. It just happens to be very praise they gave her upon seeing the reconciliation of the king Solomon and his wife, Shulamite.
- The daughters of Jerusalem praise the loveliness of king’s wife in figures of progressively brighter light. “Who is this looking forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, pure as the sun, awesome as an army with banners?” (6:10)
First she appears as distant and dim as the first light of dawn, then as fair as the moon, and finally as pure as the sun with the awesomeness of an army. She seems to be first at a distance but progressively coming closer to them. Then their next words after the bride speaks seem to indicate that she is departing from them because they say, “Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may gaze upon you.” (6:13) It is as if she were in king Solomon’s favorite chariot that first appeared on the horizon, came closer, then passed by them quickly before they could take a good look at her.
- Why such a scene is so significant? It shows all the reconciliation took place between king Solomon and his bride. All of them in Jerusalem know how honorably and thoughtfully king Solomon treats his wife, the bride before their eyes. You see, King Solomon was famous for his many chariots imported from Egypt. When the bride says, “Before I was aware, my soul set me among the chariots of my people,” she evidently really was in a chariot racing by when the daughters of Jerusalem saw her and praised her. Her riding upon king Solomon’s own lead chariot identified with him again and indicated they were back again together. To confirm their reconciliation was nicely done and known to all, the daughters of Jerusalem call her when she races by them, “Return, return, O Shulamite.” What does the name Shulamite mean? In Hebrew, it is simply a feminine form of king “Solomon”, meaning she is like a female king Solomon, a really perfect mate for king Solomon in every conceivable aspect. Indeed, the daughters of Jerusalem see the reconciled couple as a marriage made in Heaven without any envy nor jealousy but praises! In our times, like a couple’s names are matched for their perfect one-ness by their names like, “Don and Donna, or Avin and Alvina or Daniel and Danielle, etc.” So here those ladies in Jerusalem acknowledge that Shulamite and king Solomon are now closely identified with one another and that now they are back again. No wonder, those ladies want to take a good look at this couple again when she passes by them so quickly in the king Solomon’s chariot. King Solomon notices that they loved to gaze upon her intensely as if they were looking upon a festive dancing.
- How about this reconciliation scene from her point of view? How does she remember it? Well, in her typical simplicity she recounts it in a few words. “To the garden of nut trees, I had gone down to see the fresh shoots of the ravine, to see whether the vine had budded or the pomegranates had bloomed. Before I was aware, my soul set me among the chariots of my people, a prince.” (6:11-12) She went down to the garden because she knew that was where king Solomon would be. She here poetically gives the reason for her going as being “to see whether the vine had budded or the pomegranates had bloomed.” She wanted to know if it would be the spring again because their initial relationship had begun in the springtime. Thus, a coming of a new spring would signify the season two of their renewed love! It would indicate that their relationship had gone through a full cycle and reached a new plateau. She went down to the garden to see if their reconciliation might bring that new spring. Of course, she is the one who caused the temporary conflict of wills, now is a bit more concerned about her restored relationship to king Solomon.
- We know what happened when she went there. She was met with praises from her husband. All she recounts to the daughters of Jerusalem is this, “Before I was aware, my soul set me among the chariots of my people, a prince.” Almost before she knew it, they were together again. Naturally, she was not aware of the precise moment. By its very nature, the reception of forgiveness means seeing yourself as the other person sees you. So at the moment, you are forgiven your eyes are off from yourself and on another who forgives you.
- Guilt had turned her eyes inward, but king Solomon brought them outward. So she went down to the garden in self-conscious guilt in the hope of renewal, and surprisingly, she was met with praise that turned her eyes off from herself to him, and once to him, back to herself through his eyes of forgiveness. He still saw the woman he loved on his wedding day and the same night. Once Shulamite had a brief breakdown in her relationship with king Solomon, but her husband’s self-less love and resolve to reconcile to her brought a whole new spring of romance for both of them complete.
- Indeed, in any Christian marriage, a conflict of wills will arise. When it happens, don’t be discouraged or fearful, because its resolution can be achieved by enduring trust in God and each other. In the case of king Solomon and Shulamite, king Solomon intentionally chooses to forgive with a generosity that far exceeds wrong has been done to him. The Apostle Paul once calls such an act of exceedingly generous forgiveness, God’s “grace.” (Romans 5:20) That’s a following the divine example in His gracious act done to Adam and his erring wife in the Garden of Eden after the Fall. (Genesis 3:8-9 & 15) On the other hand, we need to be repentant by our change of mind and its resulting immediate act to a degree far greater than the wrong we have done as Shulamite has shown in this Song of Songs. The outcome of such reconciliation is a marriage that is stronger and more vibrant than before the conflict arose. In many ways, a strong marriage is more or less the result of repeated, healthy conflict resolutions over time. Thus, we need to have courage and discernment to use any conflicts between a married couple as building blocks rather than stumbling ones toward an even more blessed, wonderful, and elegantly intimate marriage relationship.
Questions to Ponder with Prayers
- Are you capable of and able to achieve satisfying resolutions to any conflicts that might arise in your future marriage relationship?
- Do you have a strong urge to “win” in the middle of a conflict of the wills? If so, how will you handle your urge to win?
- Usually what wrongs are difficult for you to forgive or forget?
- To achieve an amicable resolution in your conflict of the wills, in what areas do you need to improve?