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Bible Commentaries

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Song of Solomon 8

Verses 2-4

IV. THE MATURING PROCESS 5:2-8:4

In this last major section of the book, the married love of Solomon and the Shulammite is in view. [Note: Delitzsch, p. 91.] This stage of love is not without its share of problems. However, the king and his bride worked through them, and these chapters provide insight into dealing effectively with basic marriage difficulties.

"Here we are given the beloved’s perspective. Of the 111 lines, 80 in this section are the words of the girl. This is really her book." [Note: Carr, The Song . . ., p. 130.]

Verse 1

Ancient Near Easterners frowned on public displays of intimate affection unless closest blood relatives exchanged them. It was perhaps for this reason that the wife wished that her husband was her brother.

Verses 1-4

D. Increased Intimacy 8:1-4

The Shulammite’s desire for her husband’s love continued to increase throughout their marriage (Song of Solomon 8:1-3).

Verses 2-3

Here the wife pictures herself playfully leading her husband as an older sister or mother would lead a younger brother or son. Solomon and the Shulammite were close friends as well as lovers (cf. Song of Solomon 5:1; Song of Solomon 5:16). As his wife she desired his caresses (Song of Solomon 8:3).

"Pomegranates are not to be thought of as an erotic symbol; they are named as something beautiful and precious." [Note: Delitzsch, p. 139.]

Verse 4

Solomon again urged his wife’s friends not to try to awaken her love for him artificially but to let love take its natural course (cf. Song of Solomon 2:7; Song of Solomon 3:5). Her love was now fully alive and needed no further stimulation.

This section (Song of Solomon 5:2 to Song of Solomon 8:4), that began with estrangement, ends with the lovers entwined in each other’s arms.

Verse 5

The Shulammite reminded her husband (masculine "you" in Hebrew) of the beginning of their love. The apple tree was a symbol of love in ancient poetry because of its beauty, fragrance, and sweet fruit. She had given him a type of new birth by awakening him to love. This may refer to their first meeting; he may have found her sleeping under an apple tree.

Verses 5-7

V. THE CONCLUSION 8:5-7

These verses summarize the theme of the book.

Verses 6-7

She asked to be his most valued possession; she wanted him to be jealous over her in the proper sense (cf. Proverbs 6:34).

"The word ’seal’ (hotam) refers to an engraved stone used for authenticating a document or other possession. This could be suspended by a cord around the neck (over the heart) as in Genesis 38:18. The word hotam can also refer to a ’seal ring’ worn on the hand (in Song of Solomon 5:14 ’hand’ is used to mean ’arm’). The hotam was something highly precious to the owner and could be used symbolically for a person whom one valued [cf. Jeremiah 22:24; Haggai 2:23]. . . . The bride was asking Solomon that he treasure her, that he regard her as a prized seal." [Note: Tanner, "The Message . . .," p. 158.]

She next described the love they shared. It was as powerful as death, as controlling as the grave, as passionate as fire, as irresistible as a river, and priceless. Such love comes from God and is "the . . . flame of the Lord" (Song of Solomon 8:6).

"There are only two relationships described in the Bible where jealousy is a potentially appropriate reaction: the divine-human relationship and the marriage relationship. These are the only two relationships that are considered exclusive." [Note: Longman, p. 211.]

No one can purchase love. It is only available as a gift. This (Song of Solomon 8:6-7) is the only place in the book that reflects on the nature of love itself. [Note: M. Sadgrove, "The Song of Songs as Wisdom Literature," in Studia Biblica 1978, p. 245.]

"With this homily, the bride has delivered the great moral lesson of the book. . . .

"The affirmation that love is strong as death in Song of Solomon 8:6-7 is the climax of the poem and its raison d’être [reason for being]." [Note: Exum, Song of . . ., p. 245.]

"She was prepared to be a loyal and faithful wife, but Solomon ultimately had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines (1 Kings 11:3). No wonder she, not he, delivers the moral lesson of the book. He was totally unqualified to speak on the issue of godly dedicated love. He knew the physical side of it, but apparently he did not know the love she cherished." [Note: Tanner, "The Message . . .," p. 159.]

Verses 8-9

These words by the Shulammite’s older brothers (cf. Song of Solomon 1:6) reveal their desire to prepare her for a proper marriage. Comparing her to a wall may mean that she might use self-restraint and exclude all unwarranted advances against her purity. If she behaved this way, her brothers would honor her by providing her with various adornments. However, if she proved susceptible to these advances, as an open door, they would have to guard her purity for her by keeping undesirable individuals from her.

Verses 8-12

A. The Past 8:8-12

Verses 8-14

VI. THE EPILOGUE 8:8-14

Song of Solomon 8:8-12 flash back to the Shulammite’s life before meeting Solomon and their first encounter. Song of Solomon 8:13-14 reveal their final mature love.

Verse 10

She had proved to be like a wall rather than a door. Consequently she had become a great delight to Solomon.

Verses 11-12

The site of "Baal-hamon" is unknown. Evidently Solomon leased part of his vineyard to the Shulammite’s brothers who put her to work in it (Song of Solomon 1:6). There she met Solomon. Her own vineyard probably refers to her own person (cf. Song of Solomon 1:6). Another view is that the Shulammite is the garden in view in both verses [Note: E.g., Patterson, p. 120.] In this case, Solomon would have let out his vineyard (the Shulammite) to her brothers for them to care for her. Solomon might not have been aware that he was doing this, but this is really what he was doing since she grew up under their care. The Shulammite promised to give all of herself to Solomon freely, whereas he needed to pay wages to those who worked in his literal vineyard.

Verses 13-14

B. The Present 8:13-14

These verses reflect the desire that Solomon and the Shulammite still felt for each other. Solomon seems to have spoken Song of Solomon 8:13 and the Shulammite Song of Solomon 8:14. The mountains probably refer to her breasts (cf. Song of Solomon 2:17; Song of Solomon 8:14).

The narrative closes with a call for the lover to return to his beloved. Many students of the Bible have noted the similarity with how the whole Bible ends: "Come, Lord Jesus" (Revelation 22:20). [Note: E.g., J. Coert Rylaarsdam, The Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, The Song of Solomon, p. 160.]

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 8". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/song-of-solomon-8.html. 2012.