Today we will finish the Song of Solomon. We left off yesterday with the consummation of the marriage between Solomon and his bride (see 4:16). Chapter five begins with the consummation having happened (5:1). In verses 2-8, the tone of the poem changes a bit. The lovers were caught up in their love and desire for each other, but now we see the emotional effect sex has on a person. And this is not just a “woman vs. man” thing. There is no such thing as emotionless sex. Because of the fall, we (usually men) may try to convince ourselves that the emotional attachment is separate, but it most certainly is not. And with sex comes a whole host of emotions.
Solomon’s bride dreams or thinks back over the event that just took place (v. 2). He desired her, how could she refuse him, regardless of any trepidation she may have had (vv. 2-3)? She was thrilled by the experience (vv. 4-5). But now, in the aftermath, her emotions respond in ways that make her very unsure of herself and her husband (v. 6). In verse 7, we see the same metaphorical language as in 3:3. Now, instead of finding her desire for true love satisfied (as in 3:4), she feels some disappointment or dissatisfaction after the consummation (the taking away of the veil shows her change of emotions from the excitement of the wedding). Here, instead of gratefulness that they waited until after marriage, she feels emotionally isolated (v. 8).
The choir then responds to her. This may be the rush of emotions battling it out in her own head. The choir asks why she feels the way she does. Is Solomon any different than any other man (v. 9)? And she answers with another expression of love for her husband. He is special (v. 10). She then describes his handsome physical appearance in verses 11-16, ending by speaking of him in superlative terms among men (v, 16).
Chapter 6 begins with the choir. Now they (her own thoughts?) turn to seeking him (6:1). She recaps in her mind what has happened. Verses 2-3 recalls the intimacy they just shared. She then remembers his expression of love for her, both verbal and physical (vv. 4-10). He made her feel special. He expressed to her that he feels about her the way she feels about him. She then returns her thoughts to the intimacy they just shared (vv. 11-12), remembering how much she desired him. Emotions before and after sex are sometimes very different.
In verse 13, the choir speaks again, and then Solomon speaks. However, based on Solomon’s “you”, the choir is now a choir of men (up until now, all the language used of the choir has been in the female gender). This may be the choir of “watchmen” from 3:3 and 5:7, and it is possibly her understanding of the male point of view of love and sex. That the choir calls her a “Shulammite” (same as a “Shunammite”). This is possibly a reference to Abishag the Shunammite (see Kings 1:1-4). Remember, Abishag was sought as a “warm body” for King David, as in, she was meant to have sex with him (which David did not do – 1 Kings 1:4). This can be the woman wondering if that is what she is to Solomon. Some men have a tendency to prioritize sex to the point that it appears to be the most important aspect of their relationship to their wife. But the emotions need to be there, too.
Solomon’s response here is difficult to understand for sure, because the word translated “two armies” may also be a proper noun, representing a city by that name. Or, it may be a derivative of the verb “to lay siege”. I favor this view, because then Solomon’s would be responding to the choir by saying something like: “why would you (men) look at her like you’d look upon a celebration (the word “dance” here is used as a dance in celebration in the Old Testament) of a siege?” As in, like an object for the taking – a sexual conquest and nothing more. Solomon is refuting the idea that he loves her only for the sex. Then Solomon again extols her beauty and expresses his love for her (7:1-9). His physical love is an expression of his emotional love for her.
She accepts his show of affection (v. 10), and expresses the same in return (vv. 11-13). In chapter 8, we see that she now also sees their physical expressions of love as more than just physical love. She embraces their sex life for what it is and should be (8:1-3). She is on an emotional high through their physical love, and is again so very glad that they waited until the proper time to express their love physically (v. 4). She expresses her reliance on him for both physical and emotional affection by “leaning on her beloved” (v. 5). The reference to childbearing is believed by some to be an expression of her desire for the physical love to result in having a family. Verses 6-7 are a beautiful expression of her strong love and desire for her husband, and her request that he return that love. True love is more valuable than riches, and stronger than death.
The poem ends with a call for everyone to wait until the right time for sex (marriage). Verse 8 is the choir speaking of a “little sister” with “no breasts,” as in, one not physically developed. This is a metaphor for someone not emotionally ready for sex. The “day when she is spoken for” is her wedding day. Will she be “a wall” and be rewarded, that is, will she remain a virgin until marriage and gain such physical and emotional treasures? Or will she be “door” and be enclosed, that is, will she have sex before the proper time and have to be kept under watch?
Solomon’s bride responds: she was a wall, and she waited until she was ready (that is, married) before having sex. She uses Solomon’s vineyard as a metaphor. There are those who can “sell” their fruit, that is, there are those who are willing to give up the great treasure of their virginity and who pay the price (v. 11). But her vineyard is her own. Others can do what they may, but she guarded her vineyard (remained a virgin) until she was ready to give herself to someone mind, soul, and body (v. 12). Solomon asked her to choose him out of all other suitors – he proposed to her (v. 13). And she gave herself to him as wife, and gave him a gift of infinite value: her virginity (v. 14). The poem is a call for all to do the same.