Song of Songs 1:5-11 - Erotic Poetry in the Bible

(New English Translation- Song of Songs chapter 1 - italics are NET suggestions)

The Beloved to the Maidens:

1:5 I am dark but lovely, O maidens of Jerusalem,

dark like the tents of Qedar,

lovely like the tent curtains of Salmah.

1:6 Do not stare at me because I am dark,

for the sun has burned my skin.

My brothers were angry with me;

they made me the keeper of the vineyards.

Alas, my own vineyard I could not keep!
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After deflecting the compliments of the maidens toward Solomon, Beloved, puts her attention on these city girls. Solomon’s first wife was an Egyptian princess (1 Kings 3:1). According to 1 Kings 11:1 his “love” extended to women of many nations, Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and perhaps Sheba. Perhaps he liked variety, and surely the selcted came from upper class if not royalty, but Beloved feels the need to assert her skin color and difficult family history and she comes out swinging. “Yes I am dark, but my darkness is lovely, so quit staring!” Presumably their staring was the derisive kind and she wouldn’t have it.

She had paid some dues to achieve that dark skin and would wear it with pride. Perhaps this woman is the inspiration for the woman found in Proverbs 31, especially v. 16, who buys land and plants her own vineyard for additional income. She didn’t find a silver spoon in her mouth but she is unashamed of who she is or what she went through.

A secure woman has a force in her that beautifies every feature that God and life have given her. It is something more powerful than hair coloring, clothing, body mass index, or age. Self-confidence can turn charcoal into diamonds. Not only does it enhance but it makes a woman a treasure to hold onto for a lifetime for her husband. There is something sticky about security.
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The Beloved to Her Lover:

1:7 Tell me, O you whom my heart loves,

where do you pasture your sheep?

Where do you rest your sheep during the midday heat?

Tell me lest I wander around

beside the flocks of your companions!
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Beloved addresses Solomon in dramatic terms, “you whom my heart loves.” She has worked in the vineyards and she demonstrates her comfort in the man’s world by heading out into his territory. She gains access to him that all the city girls won’t. She is ready to wander to find him, but would prefer him sooner than later. She has no interest in hanging out with the guys. She only wants his company.
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The Lover to His Beloved:

1:8 If you do not know, O most beautiful of women,

simply follow the tracks of my flock,

and pasture your little lambs

beside the tents of the shepherds.
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Finally, Solomon speaks, and he’s flirting. First he responds to her dramatically. A compliment like that can get a man tremendous good will in his marriage. The epic starts out with her pleading to be brought into his bedroom chamber (1:4), but he’s busy so she seeks him at work. He is happy to be interrupted and plays with her. Notice this example of nonsexual foreplay. He is playing hide and seek with his Beloved. He interrupts his work schedule to accommodate his wife.

He seems to invite her to leave her work with his guys so she can join him without any cares. He is a smart man. If a man works from sun to sun but a woman’s work is never done, the wise man will find a way to give her a break, and reward her diligence. He serves her in compliment and in siesta. Now he pours on the compliments.
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The Lover to His Beloved:

1:9 O my beloved, you are like a mare

among Pharaoh’s stallions.

1:10 Your cheeks are beautiful with ornaments;

your neck is lovely with strings of jewels.

1:11 We will make for you gold ornaments

studded with silver.
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??? Perhaps a modern horse lover can appreciate this metaphor, in fact don’t cowboys in westerns refer to beautiful young women as fillies? So there might be modern cultures that still compliment their women by comparing them to horses. Nevertheless, even this non-cowboy can perceive a couple things.

Stallions are full of testosterone. Pharaoh’s stallions are the strongest, bravest, fiercest stallions and were world-renowned. One of Solomon’s businesses was buying horses in Egypt and reselling them on the international market. He was an international arms broker (1 Kings 10:26-29). He knew something about quality horses. He owned 12,000 horses and knew something about horse breeding. I’m sure a lone mare in a field of Pharaoh’s stallions generated a great deal of interest from those stallions. Therefore, he’s telling her she’s the only thing worth looking at, which is a fine way to affirm your wife’s beauty.

He proceeds to notice the jewelry she wears. Attention husbands, jewelry for women is not like wearing a watch for guys. The jewelry has been selected to complement her outfit. It is a component in her self-presentation. He generates so much good will by noticing her choices and pointing out what a great job she did in the selections she made. If you told your wife that she is the only thing to look at in the room and complimented her selection of jewelry and specifically noted how her jewelry enhanced her beauty she would swoon. Additionally, you would enhance her security, which makes her even more attractive to you.

The icing on his compliments is the promise to give her even more jewelry. Jewelry is part of a woman’s beauty toolbox. Buying her more jewelry is equivalent to her buying you really nice tools. As you know, the better the tool, the easier and more distinct the project. Telling her wearing jewelry is overdoing it is like her telling you cutting wood with a saw is overdone because you are strong enough to break it with your head. That may be true, and a nice compliment, but it's nicer with a saw. Therefore, go forth and buy your wife some nice tools!
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