Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned. — Song of Solomon 8:7
Many years ago, in a Newfoundland fishing settlement with less than one hundred people, God called a man named Noah to minister in the little church there. His assistant was a young woman named Rachel. During the course of time, as the two of them worked for the Lord together and prayed about their future, they felt the Lord’s approval for them to be joined in marriage. They became husband and wife, and for more than forty years, they labored together in God’s service.
Love is nourished with kind words and actions, and Noah and Rachel made those behaviors a part of their life together. Noah always addressed Rachel as “Honey,” and in turn, she called him “Lover.” Over the years, they became so close to each other that they could almost read each other’s minds and anticipate each other’s actions. When Honey was sick, Lover tenderly cared for her. Nothing had to be said aloud, it seemed they had a secret language of love that others did not understand.
Noah and Rachel grew old, but their love for each other did not diminish or become commonplace. As the Shulamite maiden stated in today’s focus verse, “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it,” and Noah and Rachel certainly proved that to be true. One morning, the Lord suddenly called Noah to his heavenly reward. For the next eight years, Rachel lived with good, caring friends, but she longed to depart this world. One day she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. When she was given the doctor’s report, she rejoiced and said, “I’m going Home soon to be with Jesus, and I will see Lover again!” Her heart’s desire was granted just a short time later.
Though commitment, selfless devotion, and fidelity in marriage are becoming increasingly rare in our day, these are still God’s plan. Over the years our bodies change and we get old, but the husband and wife who demonstrate and express their love for each other will find their relationship continues to grow. Like a well-tended garden, it will thrive and blossom. No trial or adversity, even those which would seem overwhelming, can destroy love when it is pure and faithful.
This portion of text describes Solomon’s third visit and final proposal to the Shulamite maiden, her refusal of his invitation and declaration of fidelity toward her shepherd, and the eventual reunion between the Shulamite and her beloved.
In chapter 6, the king approached the Shulamite maiden for the third time with complimentary words and expressions of devotion, trying once more to win her affection. When Solomon stated in verse 4, “Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah,” he was referring to a city about thirty-five miles northeast of Jerusalem, in the maiden’s homeland. The city was remarkably beautiful and pleasantly situated; in fact, its name signifies “beautiful” or “delightful.” Her response must have been cool because in verse 5 the king, seemingly disconcerted, requested that the young woman “turn away” her eyes, which may have been flashing with anger or disdain. However, being accustomed to getting what he desired, he renewed his pursuit in verses 6-8, promising the Shulamite maiden a unique position among his many wives and concubines. She refused once more, reflecting back on her unwilling detention by the servants of the king.
In chapter 7, verses 1-5, the palace women attempted to intercede on behalf of the king, proclaiming the Shulamite’s beauty with a description of her form from foot to head. The imagery of a lover caught in the strands of hair of his beloved (verse 5) was a common figure in Eastern poetry of that era. Solomon’s final impassioned approach to the maiden is recorded in verses 6-9. Once again, the Shulamite rejected his advances. In the remainder of chapter 7 and the first four verses of chapter 8, she declared her devotion and fidelity to her beloved shepherd, perhaps in an attempt to tactfully cool the king’s ardor.
Verses 5-14 of chapter 8 provide the closing scene of the Song of Solomon. Verse 5 describes the Shulamite as “leaning upon her beloved,” having been reunited at last with her shepherd. Passing by the spot where their love had first sprung into being, the young man commented that the Shulamite was also born at that spot. Giving birth outdoors was not uncommon at that time. The maiden responded by poetically describing some of the significant characteristics of love.
Verses 8-9 may have been an interruption by the Shulamite’s older brothers. Seemingly regarding their sister as being too immature for marriage, they declared that they would protect and insulate her from unworthy lovers. However, the maiden asserted that her recent experiences were proof of both her faithfulness and maturity.
The book closes with the triumph of true love. The Shulamite proclaimed her delight at being free from Solomon’s vineyard, and summoned her beloved shepherd with words that perhaps were a fragment of a song that she had formerly sung to him.
VIII. The king’s final approach (6:4 — 8:4)
A. His praise (6:4-7)
B. His invitation (6:8-10)
C. The Shulamite’s refusal (6:11-12)
D. The appeal of the daughters of Jerusalem (6:13 — 7:5)
E. The king’s final proposal (7:6-9)
F. The Shulamite declares her devotion to the shepherd (7:10 — 8:4)
IX. Reunion of the Shulamite and the Shepherd (8:5-14)
A. The setting (8:5)
B. The Shulamite’s song (8:6-7)
C. The brothers’ interjection (8:8-9)
D. The Shulamite’s response (8:10-12)
E. The reward of love (8:13-14)
A marriage should be like a garden that is carefully cultivated and thoroughly enjoyed.