Song of Solomon Chapter 3
A Troubled Night
The Shulamite (in a dream)
SS 3:1 By night on my bed I sought the one I love; I sought him, but I did not find him.
“By night on my bed I sought Him whom my soul loves: I sought Him, but I found Him not.” Song of Solomon 3:1
The blessings are gone, and she is unable to find her way in the spiritual darkness that has settled upon her. All at once, the methods that she once used to receive a spiritual blessing, along with the way the Lord used her in ministry, no longer worked. She was not able to feel, or sense the presence of the Lord, yet she discovered that she had never been so desirous for the Lord to reveal Himself to her as she was now. Her reaction to the withdrawal of His presence and blessing was panic.
SS 3:2 “I will rise now,” I said, “And go about the city; In the streets and in the squares, I will seek the one I love. ”I sought him, but I did not find him.
SS 3:3 The watchmen who go about the city found me; I said, “Have you seen the one I love?”
Shulamite now returns to expressing her feelings of separation and anticipation as she looked forward to the wedding and the consummation of their marriage. These, of course, are quite normal emotions. Here, and again in 5:2-7, Shulamite dreams. And in dreams, what occurs seems rational during the dream and often irrational upon waking up. What we see in the dream is surreal, and thus as we attempt to interpret the dream passages, we need to be mindful that we are reading poetry in the context of a dream where the events need not be rational. Rather, the purpose of the dream is to convey her deepest emotions. As she recounts the dream, by night on my bed I sought him in a dream whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. We again find Shulamite feeling separated, and indeed abandoned, by her lover, just as in 1:7 where he was pictured as a shepherd outside the city in some unknown location feeding his flock. Here, Shulamite is unaware of Solomon’s location, but he is presumably within the city. And so, she determines to rise now, and go about the city in the streets and in the broad ways to seek him whom my soul loves. Thus, within the dream, she walks about the city seeking her lover, but she found him not. What she did find was the watchmen or guards that go about the city (technically, they found her). She asked them, Saw you him whom my soul loves? No response is given; the guards are authority figures that represent boundaries between her and her lover, just as elsewhere she is separated from him by geography (1:7) and a locked door (5:2).
Next, after a little while, Shulamite passed from the guards and found him whom my soul loves. So pleased to find her Solomon/Bridegroom and fearful of losing him, she held him, and would not let go, until she brought him into her mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me. Again, all of this is poetic and within a dream. Shulamite falls asleep thinking ahead to their wedding day and longing to be together with her lover, then dreams about him being lost in the city and her searching for him in the night, none of which is rational but it paints the picture both of their separation (the boundaries of not yet being married) and her longing to be together with him as husband and wife. No wonder, then, that when she finds him, she will not let go. In the dream, she will not let him go until she could sequester him to her mother’s house. While the significance of this imagery is uncertain, Shulamite plainly finds significance in the notion of making love to him in the very bedroom where she was conceived. Likewise, in chapter 8, Shulamite will speak of making love to him where he was conceived. Note additional parallels in the two passages, although the motifs in chapter 8 are presented in a different order (compare 3:4 to second half of 8:5, 3:5 to 8:4, 3:6 to first half of 8:5). There appears to be great significance to a sort of cycle of life being completed. Having again stressed her longing to make love to her beloved, Shulamite gives her charge to the daughters of Jerusalem, in identical terms as she did in 2:7, and the reader should refer to the notes there. In short, Shulamite reiterates her central wisdom for the maidens, namely that they should not awaken passions prematurely, but instead wait for the right person and the right time to do so.
As the separation from Solomon/Bridegroom and her desire to be with him as his wife. But we must remember that God’s restrictions are there for our benefit. We are assured by God that the blessing that awaits us in His timing is better than what we might abscond with today. The courtship period for Shulamite and Solomon, as well as for us, is intended to be its own special blessing and it is the blessing God has for us in that moment. Learning to live by faith requires us to accept that God’s provision to us for the moment is sufficient–this is what it means to be content. To be discontented is to view God’s provision to us for the moment as inadequate. Forfeiting future blessings for immediate flesh gratification is contrary to the Word and wisdom of God, and in fact, is how God defines a profane person. (Hebrews 12:16) Such a person misses out on God’s best.
As we mature, we realize God will never leave us or forsake us. He has been with us from the beginning.
Ephesians 1:4 Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
Ephesians 1:4, NLT: “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.” Ephesians 1:4, CSB: “For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him.”
Ps. 22:9 But you are he that took me out of the womb: you did make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts.
Hebrews 13:5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
The Bride is growing up, preparing and making herself ready.
“I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek Him whom my soul loves: I sought Him, but found Him not. The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw you Him whom my soul loves?” Song of Solomon 3:2-3
These “watchmen” are a type of the ministry. Before, she was content with all that she had received through them. Now, she is intensely hungry for the Lord Himself, and begins to look for Him. She said, “I will rise now and go about the city.” She sought Him in all the places where she had been previously blessed. She searched in vain, for she could not find Him.
She found a minister to whom she said, “Saw you Him whom my soul loves?” However, the Lord did not permit this minister to help her, for the Lord was seeking to draw her to Himself. He desired to “sup with her” alone in His chambers, and also to “renew” her according to the potential that He had seen to be within her. Therefore, the only thing that this minister was able to say to her came from His own thoughts: “You are probably backsliding; you need to read your Bible and pray more.” (falling from grace or backsliding is an OT/OC term)
In obedience, she did as she had been told, but nothing happened because the Lord did not permit it to happen (the rain is over and gone). Therefore, she felt all the more as if the Lord had “gone on a vacation,” or had forsaken her. No matter to whom she spoke, or what advice they gave, none of these things worked or helped her in any way. The Lord had, insofar as feelings are concerned, withdrawn Himself from her.
In her distress, she sought all the more for Him. The intensity of this seeking, without seemingly receiving any results or satisfaction, caused her to cry out all the more for the Lord Himself. Now, the very thing that the Lord has been waiting patiently for is beginning to form, deep within her. She is recognizing her need for Him, apart from things. She is desiring Him above all else. The “single eye” that the Lord had seen to be buried within her is beginning to surface and to focus.
To accomplish this, He allowed her to enter into, or experience, a time of spiritual darkness, so to speak.
“By night on my bed I sought Him whom my soul loves…” Song of Solomon 3:1
During this time of seemingly darkness, all that was spiritual seemed to become elusive or obscure. She realized the emptiness of the possession of things alone, and frantically began to search for Him.
“I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek Him whom my soul loves….” Song of Solomon 3:2
During this time of searching, she began to understand how incomplete she had been without Him. By the time she found Him, a transformation had taken place within Her. She saw beyond the limitation of the “things” she once sought after.
SS 3:4 Scarcely had I passed by them, When I found the one I love. I held him and would not let him go, Until I had brought him to the house of my mother, And into the [a]chamber of her who conceived me.
During this time of searching, she began to understand how incomplete she had been without Him. By the time she found Him, a real change had taken place within Her. She was now able to say: “It was but a little that I passed from them (all of the things she once sought after), but I found Him, whom my soul loves: I held Him, and would not let Him go …” Song of Solomon 3:4.
The Shulamite chose the Lord Himself.
The Lord expresses this same spiritual principle to the Laodicean Church. “Because you say, I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable and poor, and blind and naked: I counsel you to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich.” Revelation 3:17‑18a.
The Laodiceans sought after and were satisfied with possessions. Therefore, the Lord spoke to them concerning their true need, “gold tried in the fire.” Gold speaks of the divine nature, His image and likeness being wrought out within our being. We will become like Him, as we spend much time with Him. Now the Lord is ready to take her a step further. In order to make a deep and lasting impression within her concerning Himself, He brought before her a glorious revelation of His person and presence, as He came forth from the wilderness, clothed in all of His manifest glory and sovereign power.
It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found Him…” Song of Solomon 3:4
There had been a time when she was to receive from the Lord through others, but now, the Lord caused their wells to dry up concerning her, as it was time for her to mature.
“I found Him.” He had been there all along, but now she sees (Jesus) in a different way. He is no longer the “shadow” that she had been accustomed to being near in the past. Now, she clearly sees Him. During their renewed time of communion together, the Lord began to teach her concerning her ascent into all that He had for her. After she submits to this process, and it becomes a personal reality within her by being tested, the Lord again says to her, “Rise up and come away,” knowing that now, she understands. She is ready to experience His approbation, or singular attention, and be further changed through her times of personal intimate communion with Him alone. The “shadow” with which she had once been satisfied, has become the Lord Himself.
Now, she has found the source of the satisfaction for which she had longed – the Lord Himself. As she communes with the Lord, and as He leads into a new spiritual plateau, there is a further disclosure of “His ways” to her. These unfolding cycles of revelation and spiritual understanding will open to us, as we spend quality time in His presence. The Lord has led her through this period of darkness, in which it was very crucial that she not become discouraged and turn aside. She has been faithful and searched until she found Him.
“…I held Him, and would not let Him go…” Song of Solomon 3:4
She might have been turned aside by others, or become discouraged, but she had caught a glimpse of Him and could no longer be content, until she brought Him into her mother’s house. There, she has become wonderfully satisfied, as His approbation now rests upon her life.
“…Behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it: for you have a little strength, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” Revelation 3: 8
Shulamite to Daughters of Jerusalem
SS 3:5 I [b]charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, By the gazelles or by the does of the field, Do not stir up nor awaken love, Until it pleases.
She would like to take Him to her Mother’s house means get “betrothed”. But don’t stir up love until it’s time. Ec. 3:1-To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:2 A time [a]to be born, And a time to die;
A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; 3 A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; 5 A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace ,And a time to refrain from embracing; 6 A time to gain, And a time to lose;
A time to keep, And a time to throw away; And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; 8 A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.
SCENE V – She Confesses Her Love for the First Time
Son 3:1 -3:5
She’s thinking of her beloved Shepherd at night and rises to go find him. But looks for Him in the “broad ways” but we know straight is the gate and narrow is the way so she doesn’t find Him until in (3:3) she confesses her love for Him for the first time
(3:1) By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.
(3:2) I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.
(3:3) The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?
(3:4) It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.
(3:5) I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.
She would like to take Him to her Mother’s house means get “betrothed”. But don’t stir up love until it’s time.
The Coming of Solomon/Bridegroom
SS 3:6 Who is this coming out of the wilderness, Like pillars of smoke, Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, With all the merchant’s fragrant po
Myrhrr, frankincense- elements of the anointing oil
Frankincense is well-known. Useful for improving one’s spiritual connection, and centering, it has comforting properties that help focus the mind and overcome stress and despair. At one time, frankincense was valued as highly as gold.
Myhrr- There are 11 science-based health benefits and uses of myrrh essential oil.
As per the Biblical story, as recounted in Matthew 2:1-12, an infant (probably about 3 years old) Jesus of Nazareth was visited by Magi bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. … Frankincense was often burned as an incense, while myrrh made its way into medicine and perfume.
SS 3:7 Behold, it is Solomon’s couch, With sixty valiant men around it, Of the valiant of Israel.
Who is this that comes out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant? Behold his bed, which is Solomon’s; threescore valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel.” Song of Solomon 3:6‑7.
Through this experience, she realized her need for Him, and she felt the comfort and the security of being with Him. She saw the portrayal of His love for Her, along with the display of His ability to protect her and bring her through even the most difficult of situations.
Immediately after the excitement and glory of this experience, the Lord made an arrangement where she became as a “Garden enclosed.” Here, she was separated, for a time, from all material influences and outside activities, unto the Lord Himself. During this time of “separation” within the Garden, all that she had come to know about the Lord will be made a “personal reality” within her spiritual experience. Then, in His time and way, that which she became, while within the Garden, will find its full expression and outworking through her life experiences. She is about to experience what the Lord meant when He said,
“Buy of Me gold tried in the fire.” Revelation 3:18.
SS 3:8 They all hold swords, Being expert in war. Every man has his sword on his thigh, Because of fear in the night.
Here we sense that the Shulamite is fearful, the exact opposite of faith, a sign of the immature.
Psalm 45:3 Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one, in your splendor and majesty!
Psalm 91:5 You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
1 Thessalonians 5:6-8 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.
Ephesians 6:16-18 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
Isaiah 27:3 I, the Lord, am its keeper; every moment I water it. Lest anyone punish it, I keep it night and day;
Psalm 149:5-9 Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands, to execute vengeance on the nations and punishments on the peoples, to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron, to execute on them the judgment written! This is honor for all his godly ones. Praise the Lord!
Nehemiah 4:21-22 So we labored at the work, and half of them held the spears from the break of dawn until the stars came out. I also said to the people at that time, “Let every man and his servant pass the night within Jerusalem, that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day.”
SS 3:9 Of the wood of Lebanon. Solomon the King, Made himself a [c]palanquin: (a covered litter for one passenger, consisting of a large box carried on two horizontal poles by four or six bearers.
King Solomon made himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon. The word translated chariot is only used in this place; some render it a bride chamber; others a nuptial bed, such as is carried from place to place; it is used in the Misnah for the nuptial, bed, or open chariot, in which the bride was carried from her father’s house to her husband’s.
SS 3:10 He made its pillars of silver, Its support of gold, Its seat of purple, Its interior paved with love, By the daughters of Jerusalem.
The pillars – of silver – The bedposts were made of silver, or cased with wrought silver plates, like the king’s chairs brought from Hanover, now, in one of the staterooms in Windsor Castle.
The bottom thereof of gold – This may refer to cords made of gold thread, or to the mattress, which was made of cloth ornamented with gold.
The covering – of purple – Most probably the canopy.
The midst – paved with love – The counterpane, a superb piece of embroidery, wrought by some of the noble maids of Jerusalem, and, as a proof of their affection, respect, and love, presented to the bride and bridegroom, on their nuptial day. This is most likely to be the sense of the passage, though some suppose it to refer to the whole court.
Here the Shulamite is describing the room of her nuptial bed.
SS 3:11 Go forth, O daughters of Zion, And see King Solomon with the crown, With which his mother crowned him, On the day of his wedding, The day of the gladness of his heart.
This is the exhortation of the companions of the bride to the females of the city to examine the superb appearance of the Bridegroom, and especially the nuptial crown, which appears to have been made by Bathsheba, who it is supposed might have lived till the time of Solomon’s marriage with the daughter of Pharaoh. It is conjectured that the prophet refers to a nuptial crown, Isaiah 61:10. But a crown, both on the bride and bridegroom, was common among most people on such occasions. The nuptial crown among the Greeks and Romans was only a chaplet or wreath of flowers.
In the day of the gladness of his heart – The day in which all his wishes were crowned, by being united to that female whom beyond all others he loved.
Here the third day is supposed to end.
Some see verses 3:6-11 as symbolic of the born again, realizing the born from above realization..
Salvation, redemption and inheritance is a discovery of what IS already. The term ‘born again’ means in Aramaic: To remember our beginning. The original translation is anothen, born from above. To Know that we were born from above in the beginning.
|1. from above, from a higher place
a. of things which come from heaven or God
2. from the first, from the beginning, from the very first
Closing- Chapter 3
When Shulamite was watching the clock, she was overwhelmed by her feelings of separation from Solomon and her desire to be with him as his wife/betrothed. But we must remember that God’s restrictions are there for our benefit. We are assured by God that the blessing that awaits us in His timing is better than what we might abscond with today. The courtship period for Shulamite and Solomon, as well as for us, is intended to be its own special blessing and it is the blessing God has for us in that moment. Learning to live by faith requires us to accept that God’s provision to us for the moment is sufficient–this is what it means to be content. To be discontented is to view God’s provision to us for the moment as inadequate. Forfeiting future blessings for immediate flesh gratification is contrary to the Word and wisdom of God, and in fact, is how God defines a profane person. (Hebrews 12:16) Such a person misses out on God’s best. Profane- irreverence or disrespect.
Discussion questions C- 3
1. What is the role of the narrator in the passage?
- Why is so much time devoted to the description of Solomon’s caravan?
- Why does the narrator call upon the daughters to watch and greet the caravan?
- Why do you think the narrator mentions Solomon’s mother?
- Solomon/Bridegroom describes his Shulamite’s beauty in detail. What about the circumstances makes his description especially important? How does the Bridegroom describe us?
- What do you think Solomon/Bridegroom means when He says, “there is no spot in you”? Why does our Bridegroom say this to us?