Song of Solomon 5:9-10
“What is thy beloved more than another beloved most beautiful among women? What is thy beloved more than another beloved that thou dost so charge us? My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.”
Recently, I have been studying Song of Solomon and realized there were some inconsistencies with the way I interpreted the book. Like most believers, I looked at Solomon as a type of Christ and the Shulamite as a type of the Church. After reading Bill MacDonald's thoughts in his Believer's Bible Commentary, I looked at what he said about the identity of Solomon and who he is a type of and studied it out for myself. This is what I found.
Three questions to ask
1. How many main characters are there in SoS, two or three?
2. If there are three, what is the relation of the third to the other two?
3. Is Solomon a type of Christ in this book?
1. Many Bible teachers from the earliest days have seen only two characters in SoS. But in my recent studies, I have taken the rare view that there are three characters in this book: Solomon himself, the Shulamite, and the third, her beloved– a shepherd-lover.
2. The Shulamite uses the phrase “thou whom my soul loveth” five times in SoS, and the term “beloved” is used 33 times in SoS and almost all of them come from the mouth of the Shulamite. In SoS 1:7, uses the phrase “thou whom my soul loveth” for the first time and it is set in context to a pastoral scene. It is consistent throughout the book that Shulamite describes her “beloved” with rural, countryside, pastoral descriptions. So whoever Shulamite loves, he must be a shepherd, and hence the term shepherd-lover. The Shulamite describes her beloved with rural terminology, consistent with her and the shepherd-lover’s background but not with Solomon’s. When Solomon is in view on the other hand consistently uses terms associated with kingdoms and royalty. In 1:9 he calls Shulamite a steed in Pharoah’s chariots; In 3:7-11 Solomon’s bed is described as being so large that it takes sixty guards to encompass it. Verses 9&10 talk about Solomon building a chariot, out of wood from Lebanon (very nice wood) and pillars of silver and gold and overlaid with purple (royal color). Verse 11 records Solomon’s espousal, which implies that he was already married when this book was written (See also SoS 6:8). So based on these and other examples, there seems to be two distinct men pining for the affections of Shulamite. It is crucial to know who the Shulamite prefers for Solomon being a type of Christ depends on this. If the Shulamite does not choose Solomon, then it makes for a depressing story if Solomon is indeed a type of Christ in SoS.
3. Is Solomon a type of Christ in SoS? I would say no, he is not. SoS 3:11, 6:8 both allude to Solomon already being married and with several wives. This fact can not be overlooked or spiritualized when interpreting SoS. The theme of SoS being fidelity, and Solomon not being faithful from the beginning of the book, it is evident that in this aspect, he is not a type of Christ. In 8:7 somebody, I am not sure if it is Solomon or Shulamite, makes a statement about how love cannot be bought. Regardless of who makes the statement, it makes for a strong case that Solomon was using his wealth to woo Shulamite. None of this nullifies him from being a type in other passages such as the first ten or eleven chapters of 1 Kings, or in the Psalms. The interpretation of SoS at its simplest is that a humble maiden rejects the advances of the stately Solomon, out of faithfulness to the shepherd who she is most likely espoused to. That is the interpretation, but clearly, definitely, we can make application to Christ and the Church. In my humble opinion, and I do want to try to be humble about this, I think it is safer and more sensible to see the shepherd-lover as a type of Christ, and Solomon as a type of the world.
I would like to end on a devotional note, and encourage each of you to read through SoS and come to your own conclusions about this book. At the beginning of the message, I read from 5:9-10. Let us consider that section a little more carefully now. Recently, we have heard messages from Myles and Ali on sharing our faith and giving an answer for what we believe. Here The daughters of Jerusalem are asking the Shulamite why her beloved is more than another beloved, what makes him so special. Observe her response. Her beloved is white and ruddy. The beloved’s whiteness is a sharp contrast to the Shulamite’s own blackness which she describes herself as in the first chapter. She is black from too much time outside BTW, not a racial thing. White speaks of purity. So just we are black with sin, the Lord, our beloved, is white with purity. Next, her beloved is ruddy. The hebrew word used here for ruddy has its roots in the same word used for man, transliterated as aw-dawm, where we get the name “Adam”. It also reminds me of manliness and virility, as Esau and King David are described as ruddy and they are known for their masculinity. But in particular it reminds me of the first man, Adam. In type, it not only speaks of man, but also of vitality of life, for the Adam came from the dust of the earth, which was of a reddish color. The picture I am painting and I hope that you are beginning to see is that Christ, the second Adam, is the author of life, where the first Adam was a living soul, the second Adam is a life giving Spirit and all vitality of life rests in Him.