The Beauty of Married Love

By Cymbeline Villamin

Religion & spirituality


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5 mins

The Beauty of Married Love

Solomon’s “Song of Songs” in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible tells us exquisitely all about the beautiful qualities of married love— pure, loyal, passionate, strong, mutually exclusive and therefore extremely jealous. The “Song… “ is the world’s first great love poem. It initiates us into the passionate intimacy not only of married lovers but also between God and humanity.

Let him kiss me
with the kisses of his mouth!
More delightful is your love
than wine!
Your name spoken
is a spreading perfume—
This is why the maidens love you
Draw me! (1:2-4)

The kiss here is the union of God’s spirit with ours. The kisses of his mouth are the vital communication of God’s Word (the Holy Scriptures) to us. It will take an eternity to reach the height and fathom the depth of God’s love. As both beloved and lovers, we want to be drawn into this intimacy because it is most pleasurable and fulfilling.

The author was unknown, no it was not Solomon. It was partly about him. The main characters , the lover and the beloved, were a shepherd and a shepherdess, the young Shulammite (woman from Shulam in Esdraelon). We have here a love triangle, with King Solomon as the third party. There were also many lines in the “Song…” that were uttered by the harem women, respectfully called “daughters of Jerusalem” by the Shulammite.

The structure of the “Song…” was that of a dramatic presentation. The characters were the shepherdess, the shepherd (most often referred to or talked about only by the Shulammite), King Solomon, and the women of Solomon’s harem, already numbering a thousand by that time.

Coming from a visit of his territories, Solomon saw the Shulammite and was captivated by her beauty so that he kidnapped her. His soldiers took her by force to go with the entourage on the way home to the kingdom to become part of the harem. Solomon intended her not to be just a concubine but a wife. He planned to marry her before going to bed with her.

Despite the position of power and influence that would be accorded to her if she consented to become one of the king’s wives, the Shulammite was fiercely loyal to her shepherd-lover / beloved. Imprisoned in the harem, she continued to yearn for him, fantasize about him, desire to be reunited with him. She even asked the help of the harem women to find him and tell him where she was so that he would rescue her. The Shulammite earned the admiration of the harem women because of her loyalty and devotion. The harem women became curious as to what was it about this shepherd that the Shulammite could not give him up. She then proceeded to describe his masculine charms:

My lover is radiant and ruddy;
he stands out among thousands.
His head is pure gold;
his locks are palm fronds,
black as the raven.
His eyes are like doves
beside running waters,
His teeth would seem bathed in milk,
and are set like jewels.
His cheeks are like beds of spice
with ripening aromatic herbs.
His lips are red blossoms;
they drip choice myrrh.
His arms are rods of gold
adorned with chrysolites.
His body is a work of ivory
covered with sapphires.
His legs are columns of marble
resting on golden bases.
His stature is like the trees on Lebanon,
imposing as the cedars.
His mouth is sweetness itself;
he is all delight.
Such is my lover, and such my friend,
O daughters of Jerusalem.

Solomon’s lines were exquisitely veiled eroticism. He was burning with desire for the Shalummite as he proceeded to describe her beauty from feet, thighs, navel, and gradually moving towards the upper parts of her body, in vain attempt to woo her and win her affection:

How beautiful are your feet in sandals,
O prince's daughter!
Your rounded thighs are like jewels,
the handiwork of an artist.
Your navel is a round bowl
that should never lack for mixed wine.
Your body is a heap of wheat
encircled with lilies.
Your breasts are like twin fawns,
the young of a gazelle.
Your neck is like a tower of ivory.
Your eyes are like the pools in Heshbon
by the gate of Bath-rabbim.
Your nose is like the tower on Lebanon
that looks toward Damascus.
You head rises like Carmel;
your hair is like draperies of purple;
a king is held captive in its tresses.
How beautiful you are, how pleasing,
my love, my delight!
Your very figure is like a palm tree,
your breasts are like clusters.
I said: I will climb the palm tree,
I will take hold of its branches.
Now let your breasts be like clusters of the vine
and the fragrance of your breath like apples,
And your mouth like an excellent wine-
that flows smoothly for my lover,
spreading over the lips and the teeth.
There was no Internet then, no porn sites; no men’s magazines that revealed female bodies to arouse him more and teach him sexual techniques. But being king, all types of women were available to Solomon. All methods and techniques of making love that guaranteed innumerable and varied pleasures were at his fingertips, brought about by the foreign women he married. Biblical scholars called him extremely passionate; the less kind called him sexually insatiable, and the most blunt called him a sex addict. It took an unsophisticated shepherdess to teach the wisest of men who ever walked the earth, that love must be a one-to-one relationship. In Solomon’s kingdom, it was one-to-many… He had 300 wives and 700 concubines.
In one more desperate strategy to seduce the Shulammite, Solomon was practically telling her, “Look, I have a thousand women available here to me, but I desire only you”:

There are sixty queens and eighty concubines,
And maidens without number;
But my dove, my perfect one, is unique:
She is her mother’s only daughter;
She is the pure child of the one who bore her.
The maidens saw her and called her blessed,
The queens and concubines also, and they praised her, saying,
‘Who is this that grows like the dawn,
As beautiful as the full moon,
As pure as the sun,
As awesome as an army with banners?’

Like a refrain, the Shulammite kept telling the harem women that love must not be forced. In courtship, woman and man must get to know each other well, fall in love with each other before they marry and engage in sex:

I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem,
by the gazelles and hinds of the field,
Do not arouse, do not stir up love
before its own time. (3:5)

The Shulammite was finally set free and reunited with her shepherd-lover. From their reunion came the ecstatic lines of the “Song…”

I belong to my lover
and for me he yearns.

Come, my lover, let us go forth to the fields
and spend the night among the villages.

Let us go early to the vineyards, and see
if the vines are in bloom,
if the buds have opened,
if the pomegranates have blossomed;
There will I give you my love.

The mandrakes give forth fragrance,
and at our doors are all choice fruits;
Both fresh and mellowed fruits, my lover,
I have kept in store for you.

Marriage is not a contract where two parties agree on set terms and conditions, such as when either one of them or both violate the provisions, the contract is rendered void or is dissolved. Marriage is a covenant, a lifetime commitment, something permanent. It is for life and is dissolved only in death. In the Shulammite words:

Set me as a seal on your heart,
as a seal on your arm;
For stern as death is love,
relentless as the nether world is devotion;
its flames are a blazing fire.

Deep waters cannot quench love,
nor floods sweep it away.
Were one to offer all he owns to purchase love,
he would be roundly mocked.

Marriage is both a fortress and a sanctuary. Sex is a beautiful and a most precious gift from God to be enjoyed in mutual trust and giving. It is a foretaste of heaven. If we can experience so much pleasure with a spouse who is not at all perfect, but whom we would never want to give up, as we vowed we would be together for as long as we live, how much more unimaginable pleasure is in store for us to be with our God who is perfect. Sex is just a foretaste of the pleasure on the spiritual realm that awaits humanity. In the autumn of our lives when we begin to shed off the unnecessary and in the winter of our lives when death seems to call, are we not already experiencing the pleasure that goes beyond the physical? For those who are still the spring and summer of life, relish God’s gifts and stay faithful to your spouse. Be fiercely loyal like the Shulammite.



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