Solomon’s lover is not a resident of the Palace in Jerusalem. She seems to be a farm girl charged with the responsibility of looking after her brothers’ crops. Unlike the girls in the palace, she is an outdoor girl who has been darkened by the sun. You can tell her status just by looking at her. Yet, she has reached the age where men look at her differently. This may explain Chapter 1, verses 6-7, “My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept! Tell me, you whom my soul loves, where you pasture your flock, where you make it lie down at noon; for why should I be like one who veils herself beside the flocks of your companions?” Garrett says, “She does not explain why her brothers were angry at her. It is certainly possible that this is a determination by her brothers to keep her chaste.” He refers to the later mention of her having “small breasts” in chapter 8. Garrett also looks at verse 12 of chapter 8, which implies “her sexuality is the issue here.” He then concludes, “At the least, one can say that the brothers represent authority figures who intrude into the lives of young lovers and prevent them from coming together.”[1]

Solomon is not writing this song as the rich son of the King of Israel. He’s just another shepherd boy experiencing his first love. He speaks for the girl in this verse of his song. This young lady wants to work on her own life. While she is charged with contributing to the prosperity of her brothers, she longs to begin her own life and cultivate and care for her own interests. She wants to start her own life. She looks forward to having her own family and raising her own fruit. Yet, the family doesn’t seem to want to let her go yet, but her heart is set on this guy, and she isn’t interested in anyone else. It reminds me of Katie from Trisha Yearwood’s song, “She’s in Love with the Boy.” There is no mention of Katie’s brothers, but her father doesn’t like the boy. “Her daddy says, “He ain’t worth a lick. When it comes to brains, he got the short end of the stick. But Katie’s young and man, she just don’t care. She’d follow Tommy anywhere. She’s in love with the boy. And even if they have to run away, She’s gonna marry that boy someday.”

Doesn’t this all sound like another rendition of the “Romeo and Juliet” saga? Shakespeare got that story from Arthur Broke, who got it from Matteo Bandello. It comes from an ancient Greek tragedy. It seems that nearly every culture has its story of young lovers who cannot bear to be apart even though their love is anathema for one reason or another. Solomon captures this story in the Song of Solomon. Since Solomon is such a young man in this song, it must be long before he is named King David’s heir. He was just the youngest of many half-brothers and sisters of the king. It is a saga of star-crossed lovers who will defy all the social conventions to be with one another. Others disapprove of their love for one reason or another, but nothing will stop them from pursuing each other. Their unwavering devotion to one another is often used to picture God’s unwavering love for sinners. I think that Jesus may have had this kind of devotion in mind when he talks about the shepherd who leaves 99 sheep in the field to go after the one who went astray. He doesn’t give up until he finds the lost sheep. The Shepherd theme that Solomon uses in his song is not lost in the New Testament. Ryken observes, “This is a reminder that Jesus is the kind of shepherd who goes out to look for lost sheep and bring them back home. This is the meaning of the ‘Parable of the Found Sheep’ (Luke 15:3–7). The Good Shepherd leaves ninety-nine sheep out in the open country to go and find one lost sheep. Psalm 23 records the testimony of that sheep once he has been found: ‘He restoreth my soul.’”[2]

[1] Garrett, Duane. 2004. Song of Songs, Lamentations. Vol. 23B. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas, TX: Word, Incorporated.

[2] Ryken, Philip Graham. 1999. Discovering God in Stories from the Bible. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.