We enter into a difficulty at Song of Solomon 3:6-11: are there two major characters (Shulamite woman and Solomon, her lover) or three (Shulamite, her shepherd lover, and Solomon)? I have for a long time fallen prey to the view that there are three characters and that by the time the Song is over, we see the woman remaining faithful to her lover when Solomon woos her. This passage strains that view, as other passages strain the two-character view.
Solomon is arriving — whether in reality or fantasy — in all his glory either to consummate his marriage with the Shulamite woman or he is drawing near to woo her or the woman draws attention to the opulence of Solomon’s wedding as a model celebration for her own delight in her shepherd-lover. Or, does the woman paint her shepherd-lover as “her own kind of Solomon”?
Is the male who speaks at the beginning of the next section, at 4:1, Solomon or the lover? If the former, we have a two-character Song? If the latter, which I prefer, we have a three-character Song.
So, I stand here: either Solomon’s wedding is held up as a consummate display of delight in lover (either in reality or fantasy of her own shepher-lover) or Solomon comes to woo the woman from her shepherd-husband-lover. If the latter, she he will say “No!” to Solomon and expose the hideous sinfulness of the Solomonic lifestyle. But that will come later.
Solomon’s wedding or his approach — the approach of the man who wishes to take captive a woman already married, the approach of power and of bravado and of sin — is seen in these items:
1. Extravagance and magnificence: his retinue arises like columns of smoke.
2. Might: sixty warriors surround his litter (3:7-8).
3. Opulence and fashion: his bed is made from the wood of Lebanon (3:9) with posts of silver, upholstery of gold, a seat of purple cloth, its interrior with precious stones (3:10).
4. Marvelous: she summons the women to gaze upon Solomon’s glory (3:10-11).