A summary of the Song of Solomon

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A Summary of the Song of Solomon

by James D. Price

(Revised January, 1998)
The story begins with the account of the marriage of Solomon and Shulamith. Throughout the narrative Solomon and Shulamith reminisce over previous events of their courtship. A summary of the events of the story, as pieced together from these references is given below.
Solomon, disguised as a shepherd, on a trip through Lebanon with some of his companions, first sighted Shulamith as she tended her vineyard (6:11-12), which duty she had been given by her unkind brothers (1:6). He inquired about her (6:10), but as soon as she saw the men she fled away (6:11-12), not fully aware that she had instantly fallen in love with Solomon the shepherd. They tried to call her back (6:13) but she gave a quick reply and hurried home (6:13b).
Later Solomon, still disguised as a shepherd, met her again and he began to court her when she was away from home: evidently she would go to where he was keeping his sheep to meet him (1:7-8). Their courtship was sometimes conducted under a favorite apple tree (8:5) for which they later had sweet thoughts of reminiscence (2:3, 5, 7, 8). During the frustrating days of their courtship she secretly wanted him to be her brother so she could be with him at home without interference (8:1-2).
Eventually Solomon decided to go to her home to propose marriage, still not having revealed his true identity. She recounted the visit in which she saw him coming and described him to her family. (2:8-10). Solomon asked her to come away with him (2:11-14) but her brothers angrily interfered and reminded her of her vineyard duties (2:15). She protested, but had to reluctantly send him away (2:16-17). Evidently Solomon went away, never to return as a shepherd. That night she had a troubled dream in which she sought her beloved in the city and brought him home with her (3:1-5).

Some time later, Solomon returned to Shulamith's home in his royal robes with a litter (palanquin) specially made for her. From a distance she thought it was the procession of some royal lady (3:6, gender), but as it drew near, it was identified as that of King Solomon himself (3:7-11). The king addressed her (4:1-5) whereupon she recognized him as her lover, and responded favorably (4:6). The king proceeded to formally propose marriage to her (4:7-15) and Shulamith accepted his proposal (4:16). Then Solomon, responding with joy, proclaimed a celebration feast (5:1).

Solomon took Shulamith to Jerusalem for the royal wedding (the book begins here, 1:2-2:7), followed by a banquet and a procession to the bridal chamber. During this time the bride was accompanied by bridal attendants (the daughters of Jerusalem), to whom she made apology for her ruddy complexion, acquired in Lebanon while keeping her vineyard (1:6). During the banquet the bride and groom whispered reminiscences of their courtship (1:7) and make veiled references to their favorite meeting place-- the apple tree (2:3).

A Summary of the Song of Solomon Page - 2

Some time after the marriage Shulamith had another troubled dream (5:2-6:3) in which Solomon comes to her chamber to be with her. He called to her for admission (5:2), but she replied with indifference (5:3). She saw him attempt to enter and her indifference was turned to delight (5:4). However, when she finally got to the door to let him in, she found he had gone away in discouragement (5:5-6). So she frantically sought him in the streets, and not being recognized as queen, she was mistreated by the city watchmen (5:6-7). In her dream she solicited her attendants to help her find him (5:8). They asked what he was like (5:9), and as she related his beauties as "altogether lovely" (5:10-16) she realized that she could find him at the place of their first courtship (6:1-2). Evidently, still in her dream, she returned to the place of first love, and there reunited with her lover, she listened as Solomon mused over the beauty of his bride (6:4-9). As he spoke to her, he reminisced over their first encounter in Lebanon (6:10-13). He then continued to praise her beauty (7:1-9), to which praise Shulamith responded favorably (7:10).

Because of the dream, Shulamith realized the need to renew their early love, and, being homesick, she requested Solomon to take her home to Lebanon for a second honeymoon, to a place which she had specially prepared (7:11-13). Evidently Solomon consented to her request, and she revealed the secret desire of her heart toward him during the frustrating days of their courtship (8:1-2).
They returned to Lebanon and were greeted by her father (?) under their favorite courtship apple tree (8:5). There they renewed their vows of love (8:6-7, 11-12). There she revealed her brothers protective attitude toward her as a girl (8:8-9) and her current attitude toward their behavior (8:10). Shulamith's old companions awaited her visit (8:13) but she and Solomon slipped privately away to their secret place of love (8:13-14).

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