What the Bible Says
If we plunge right in and read the fervent words of devotion, we’re initially taken aback. But when we know who these people are, the words begin to come to life. So let’s meet the two protagonists in this romance. First, of course, is Solomon, the lover. He is the second son of David and Bathsheba, the king of a nation at its historic peak of power. As a young man he asked God for wisdom, and His wish was granted. And the object of his Song? Let’s go with tradition and give her the name of Shulamith. The root word means “the perfect, the peaceful.” We only know about her what we can gather from the meager scattering of clues in The Song.
We do know that she came from the village of Shunem, located in northeastern Israel, in the territory given to Issachar. She lived and worked among the vineyards there, her skin richly tanned in the manner of those who toil in the sun. We learn that she is Solomon’s beloved.
Solomon has already attained tremendous wealth and power, owning vineyards all over Israel. One day the young king happens to be in the vicinity of the Lebanon Mountains, the setting for one of his vineyards. He is there inspecting the vines when a young lady catches his eye. Against the backdrop of the green grapes and the blue sky she is a vision of loveliness, and Solomon is captivated. He knows he will return to these vines more frequently courting this beautiful girl who outshines all the women of Israel.
Artwork: Sir William Russell-Flint's "Song of Solomon" (1909)