Finally! Here in verse 8 Solomon sends back an answer to the Shulamite in verse 7 about how she can find him. I hope it arrived faster than it took for me to return here. :-) Now the only question remaining is, “Will she venture out?“
I want to share a few things I see in his response.
- It is a ‘how’ path, not a ‘where’ path.
Do you notice there is no exact location given where the Shulamite is to meet him? Instead he tells her ‘how’ to get there. There is delightfully as much wisdom in his answer as there was in her question; for again if the note was intercepted, the reader would not understand the parable, nor take the steps to understand. But his woman would! She had the heart of a disciple, and would walk in the dark to find him, if she had to. I believe this was a rare quality among the many women that Solomon was in relationship to, who didn’t love him wholeheartedly like she did. Likewise there is a difference between an interest in the Lord Jesus for His power and His riches, and an interest in His heart and His body. In coming to earth He gave up the first two, and “as a lamb to the slaughter” had the second two broken on the Cross. This is the same path for those who seek to follow and be with Him in heaven.¹
- She is ‘covert’ on the path.
Remember in the last post how the Shulamite wanted to see the King so badly, perhaps on the verge even, of venturing out veiled and alone by the shepherd camp where she would be seen as a harlot? It is interesting that Solomon’s return instruction about this is for her to graze her goats there. In the Hebrew it is young females specifically, which is unusual. Since it’s the only place in the bible that uses this specific phrase, it suggests to me a coded reference for her friends, the “virgin daughters of Jerusalem” who the Shulamite is seen influencing all through the Song. I sense protection here; Solomon not wanting her to ‘blow her cover’ (so to speak) too early for the world to handle who she is to him and vice-versa. There is more that needs to be said about this.:)
- There is ministry to others on the path.
Whether the Shulamite was a literal shepherd is not important, but spiritually it is implied that she had some people in her life to influence and nurture, and she was to bring them along on the journey to Solomon. She was to also tend them openly and alongside other shepherds. There is a certain relational richness to me in this image. The Bride is to be a loving nurturer of others on her journey of intimacy with Christ ², and share this in a humble, symbiotic relationship with others who are doing the same.
- There is submission to others on the path.
Last, but actually first, the Shulamite is to humbly follow the footsteps (Hebrew: heels, rear of the army, etc.) of other sheep on her way to Solomon. Likewise, in foreknowledge of our journey toward spiritual maturity and reproduction, God places ‘markers’ on the path for us – gifts of people – who follow the voice of the Shepherd. Learn from them. Some we have here for only a short while but they will play a critical role in our growth. And be mindful to honor them, for no one ever stops being a son or daughter, or a brother or sister, when having a family of one’s own. ³
Open your eyes. Relationships born of God are the building blocks and the stepping stones to heaven.
Hurry, it’s almost noontime. It’s time to venture out! :)
If anyone would be be My disciple, let him give up all other desires,
and take up his cross and come after Me. Mark 8:34
Thomas said unto him, ‘Lord, If we don’t know where You are going, how
can we know the way?’ Jesus said unto him, ‘I am the way.’ John 14:5-6
Don’t drag your feet, but be followers of them who, in committed faith and
patient endurance, are walking in their heritage… Heb.6:12 (bbe) also 1 Cor. 11:1
Likewise, younger ones [in Christ], subject yourselves to the elder ones.
Yes, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility:
for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble. 1 Pet.5:5
Peter, [broken] do you love Me?… feed my sheep John 21:15
¹ Isa. 53:7 cf. Rom. 8:36; Matt. 16:24, 10:17-28 / ² 1 Cor. 11:1, John 21:15 / ³ 1 Cor. 4:7-16