Legacy – “anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor”.
We first think of physical things when we think of a “legacy”, but the Bible often shows how one can leave a spiritual “legacy” as well. Consider Timothy. He was given the legacy of “sincere faith”, by the teachings of his mother and grandmother.
“For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well” (2 Tim. 1:5).
Personally, I love studying the people of the scriptures in the light of what legacy they reflect from the previous generation or are leaving to the next. It is the very basis for propagating the Word of God to each new generation.
“Now this is the commandment, the statutes, and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Deut. 6:1-3).
God points out these things on a regular basis: Judges 2:10 a generation arose that did not know the Lord; 2 Kings 22:8-13 King Josiah learns that there are aspects of the Law that the nation had not been following because the book of the law had been lost (implied because Hilkiah “found” it); Ezra 9 and 10 teach of a generation of the remnant that is allowed to return to Jerusalem who fails to follow the law in regard to marrying among the nations. A reading of the law, and a new commitment to obey it, is done to correct the sin. God is clear about the fact that you “reap what you sow” (2 Cor. 9:6) in all aspects of your life! The story that is told in Song of Solomon is one of a young woman who has enough strength of character and determination to choose between a life with King Solomon and one with her Beloved Shepherd, whom she has known most of her life. I believe that the teachings of her mother gave her this strength of character.
We only meet the Shulamite’s mother in three contexts, and none of them tells us much about the mother. Song of Solomon 1:6, where reference is made to “my mother’s sons”, shows that the Shulamite woman has brothers. We are told that the Shulamite is her mother’s only daughter in Song of Solomon 6:9. Then in Song of Solomon 8:1-5 we learn her mother was caring, that her mother instructed her, and that the mother was a woman of the countryside. That’s it. That is all we know, specifically, about the Shulamite’s mother.
Most of us have heard phrases like “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. And I’m sure that most women have been compared, at one point or another in their lives, to their own mothers, either in regard to looks or behavior. Therefore, it is not a stretch to learn of the Shulamite’s mother by looking at the Shulamite.
The Shulamite’s Healthy Self Image and Confidence
As we are introduced to this young woman, the first thing she says about herself is, “I am black but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon. Do not stare at me because I am swarthy, for the sun has burned me. My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me caretaker of the vineyards, but I have not taken care of my own vineyard.” (Song of Solomon 1:5-6). She admits that she is dark-skinned, unlike the women of Solomon’s court whose skin would have been pampered and not darkened by the sun. She does not say this in shame though – it is simply a fact. She’s been busy working and did not have the freedom to take care of herself the same way those women did.
In Song of Solomon 2:1 the Shulamite refers to herself as “the rose of Sharon” and “the lily of the valley”. She identifies herself with the flower of the plains of Sharon and the simple flowers of the valleys. She is expressing her own uniqueness and recognition of her beauty and value. It is not bragging. She sees herself in comparison to those around her in Solomon’s court and recognizes that she is different. Again, she is not apologizing for being different from the women of the court; she simply owns, or acknowledges, her own beauty.
The Shulamite expresses her confidence in the love of her Beloved many times – see Song of Solomon 2:16; 6:3; 7:10. She expresses concern in Song of Solomon 3:1-4 and 5:1-7 through the telling of her dreams that she is afraid that she is going to lose him only because she is staying too long in Solomon’s court. She never doubts how the Beloved feels about her. Compare this to today and how young women vacillate between flirting and crying in an attempt to get reassurances from their young man about his affections! The Shulamite had no doubts about how the Beloved felt about her. And we see in Song of Solomon 4:16 and 7:10-13 that she had no doubts about her ability to fulfill his dreams and expectations of her when they marry. This young woman has confidence, and I believe that confidence comes from the teaching of her mother. Someone helped her to know her own value; someone helped her to appreciate what her womanliness is worth in a marriage relationship. It falls to logic that this was her mother’s doing, and I believe that it is also logical that her mother taught her this based upon teachings of Scripture.
- God teaches in Genesis 2:18-25 that woman was created to fill the void in Adam’s life. He was missing something without her. This immediately shows her value and necessity.
- Solomon teaches in Proverbs 5:15-22 that a loving relationship between one man and one woman, from their youth, is a beautiful thing that is fulfilling and exhilarating (ravishing in the KJV) when kept as such!
- The mother of King Lemuel teaches, in Proverbs 31:10-31, the value of a woman who recognizes her strengths and knows how to use them to benefit others.
- Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 that the husband and wife both need to realize that their physical relationship is an important part of their marriage and that they are equal partners in it.
The Shulamite, in my opinion, exudes the righteous confidence that is emulated in these scriptures, and others.
The Shulamite is Patient and Sensible
In Song of Solomon 2:7, 3:5, and 8:4 the Shulamite repeats one request to the women of the court, “Do not arouse or awaken my love until it pleases”, meaning: Don’t rush love! With all of the influences going on around her, she keeps her head. She doesn’t allow her emotions or her circumstances to push her into a decision she is going to regret. The women of the court try desperately to show her how life with Solomon will be wonderful (1:11; 6:13; 7:1-5) but she doesn’t allow their “peer pressure” to force her hand. This is a trait that God reiterates in other places: 2 Tim. 2:22; Prov. 1:8-19; Prov. 7:6-23; Prov. 3:7; Titus 2:5.
The Shulamite Appreciates Hard Work
She is not afraid of hard work, as we see by her labors in the vineyards in Song of Solomon 1:6. She appreciates the efforts her Beloved takes to tend to his sheep well (Song of Solomon 2:16-17; 6:2). The Lord teaches us, in Proverbs 6:6-11, 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, and Psalms 90:17, to appreciate a strong work ethic.
The Shulamite is Pure
At the wedding of the Shulamite and her Beloved Shepherd, someone asks and answers a riddle,
“We have a sister, and she has no breasts;
What shall we do for our sister on the day when she is spoken for?
If she is a wall, we will build on her a battlement of silver;
But if she is a door, we will barricade her with planks of cedar.”
(Song of Solomon 8:8-9)
The Shulamite declares that she was a wall and that her breasts “were like towers” in verse 10. She is not bragging about her figure. She is saying that she was not a door, open to any man’s attention and in need of being boarded up and protected by her brothers. Instead, she was a wall and that she was protected against molestation by her own intention. She then says that, to her beloved, she became as “one who finds peace”. She was no longer in battle array to keep him away. This is something the Beloved loves about her (Song of Solomon 4:12-15). Throughout the story she expresses longing for the time when she will be his completely, but we know by chapter 7:10-13 that she has not yet given it to him – she has “saved up for you”. She exemplifies the qualities Paul encourages Titus to teach the older women, in Titus 2:2-5, to teach the younger women to have.
The Shulamite is Content with the Simplicity of Nature
From the very beginning of the Song of Solomon the story shows the Shulamite being showered with all the riches Solomon has at his disposal. In chapter one verse 9, Solomon begins to woo the Shulamite by telling her just how beautiful he thinks her to be. In the middle of this, while sitting at the king’s own table, her mind wanders to her Beloved and the simple things of their life in the country (Song of Solomon 1:12-14). Solomon continues, but her mind is comparing a simple home to the extravagant tents of the king (Song of Solomon 1:16-17)—trees versus lavish dinners in luxuriant tents!
In chapter 2:3-5 the Shulamite compares the foods on Solomon’s tables to the preferred fare of what the Beloved provides for her. Her Beloved’s banquet hall is, again, among the trees, and consists of simple things like cakes of raisins and apples. Consider Solomon’s daily provisions given in 1 Kings 4:22-23: 30 kors (a kor is about 10 bushels) of fine flour, 60 kors of meal, 10 fat oxen, 20 pasture-fed oxen, 100 sheep plus deer, gazelles, roebucks, and fattened fowl – that’s just his grain and meat! This country girl would much rather have the simpler foods of her simpler life.
In Song of Solomon 6:4-10 Solomon is wooing her for a third time. He compares her to his army, his flocks of goats, and his 60 queens and 80 concubines. He, of course, tells her that she is the ONLY one that is perfect and unique – among all his women. Her response? Boredom and a desire to go somewhere less dripping with flattery! She goes to the orchard of nut trees; she seeks solace among the trees to which she has access at the palace. Before she even realizes it, she is so enraptured with looking toward the life she knows back home that she takes off running as though to leave Solomon and all his trappings behind (Song of Solomon 6:11-12). She is NOT impressed.
This is fully culminated in the climax of the story found in Chapter 7. In verses 1-5 the women of the court tell her, in the most physical of terms, how beautiful she is; Solomon follows suit with a most lurid invitation in verses 6-9a. The Shulamite shows her decision, and her strength of character by the choice in verses 9b-13. She says, essentially, “My kisses are for my Beloved, I belong to him, and I am ready to go home to him where I can freely enjoy married life with him.” There is no more question of which life is for her.
”Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised” (Pro. 31:30).
To see the woman who was “instructed by her mother” we only have to go to Song of Solomon 4:8-15. The Beloved Shepherd describes her as being simple about her array (vs. 9 says “single strand of your necklace”), taking care of herself and her clothing (she smells good, vs. 10 and 11), she uses her mouth to speak kind words (compare vs. 11 to Ps. 19:10 and Prov. 31:26), she is pure (vs. 12), and she has cared for herself so that she is ever ready to be a benefit, in any way (vs. 13-15)! What a wonderful young woman! This young woman could be sure of her behavior so that she could bring her beloved to meet her mother with no shame (Song of Solomon 3:4 and 8:2).
My prayer is that every mother would train every daughter to have the confidence and strength of character that the Shulamite displays. God gives such a beautiful story of how to choose love. The keys to a happy, healthy marriage are two people who are mentally, physically, and spiritually aware of themselves and prepared to bring themselves completely to the relationship for the rest of their lives. I believe this is the knowledge the Shulamite’s mother handed down to her daughter – and I thank the Lord that we can all learn from her as well.
The Diligent Woman (www.thediligentwoman.com)