Ministry

People Of Color In The Bible-The Blessing of the Shulamite

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I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon. -- Song of Solomon 1:5

The Shulamite woman was a queen. She was royalty. She was Solomon's princess, his special one. The one who made his heart go boom, boom, boom when he came near to her. She was also black. She said her skin looked like the tents of Kedar, which were made out of black goats' hair, like curtains of Solomon. She was definitely a person of color.

But this sun-caressed, black-skinned Shulamite woman can be a woman of any color. Every woman can be a Shulamite woman. Man looks at the outside, but God looks on the inside. The word Shulamite means 'peaceful'. And the most precious quality a woman can have is not skin color, but a peaceful spirit. As 1 Timothy 2:9 says, "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works."

Like so many things in scripture, the Song of Solomon goes beyond what it first appears. In it we see God's love for Israel, His chosen covenant people, whom He calls His wife and His bride many times in the writings of the Old Testament prophets. In the Song of Solomon we also see the love Jesus Christ has for His church whom the New Testament calls the Bride of Christ. He's going to sweep us off of our feet and take us up to heaven for His royal wedding, for an eternal, everlasting love affair with Him.

But the Song of Solomon was written for two main reasons: The first to show us how deep and exciting love can be for husband and wife; the second to teach us love, passion and romance do not have to disappear after the wedding takes place. In fact, longing and fulfillment can still be there even after the children arrive. The beautiful Shulamite queen can become the beautiful Shulamite mother, and her handsome, dashing king can become a noble, regal father. The excitement, freshness and newness of love are there for married couples long, long after the wedding vows have been said.

There is the idea in many people's minds that soon after marriage happens, passion, romance and adventure all stop. That's because in many marriages they do. The fire dims; the thrill disappears. Most former lovers just live with it, wishing things were different, and some look elsewhere for satisfaction.

But romance never has to leave any marriage - if the couple is willing to work at it and the two lovers are willing to see each other the right way. As scripture says to the husband in Proverbs 5:18, "Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. [Let her be as] the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love."

But that's about the husband and father. What about the Shulamite mother? Who is she and what is she like? The answer is: she is many, many things. Because being a mother and raising a family is a position and a responsibility so great only the grace of Almighty God can allow anyone to do it well. It is a ministry that takes many, many talents and gifts. So the Shulamite mother is many things.

First, the Shulamite mother is a woman who treats her husband with love, compassion and passion. There once was a country song that said, Good Lovin' Keeps A Home Together. The Shulamite woman in the Song of Solomon says the same thing. In Chapter 1 verse 13 she says, "A bundle of myrrh is my well beloved unto me; he shall lie all night between my breasts." Now that's keeping a home together!

It's no accident God devoted one chapter, Proverbs 31, plus some New Testament verses, on how to be a godly wife and mother. But He devoted an entire book, the Song of Solomon, to teach a woman how to be a passionate, fulfilling, romantic lover, with both eyes set on pleasing and being pleased by her husband. God wrote an entire book on exploring passion, making love and sharing romance. Indeed, good loving keeps a home together. That country singer was on to something. But God knows that and 3,000 years before that country singer. The Shulamite mother knows keeping her husband's desires and needs fulfilled is a priority for a long-lasting happy marriage and fulfilling relationship. A godly husband and father will respond by giving his wife, her needs and desires the same priority in his life.

Next, the Shulamite mother is sensitive to her husband and family. She knows what they do. She knows their habits. She even knows when anyone in her family is coming or going. Song of Solomon 2:8-9 says, "The voice of my beloved! Behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, showing himself through the lattice."

I'm exceedingly blessed to get a phone call from my wife at work every night at 6:30 asking when I'm coming home. And I better have a good answer. Amen? But that's the voice of love. That's how the Shulamite wife and mother treats her family. She knows their quirks, their shortcomings, where they need help. She knows their strengths, how to bring those out, how to bring out the best in them. She knows how to be an encourager.

The Shulamite mother knows her family's potential. Proverbs 31:23 says, "Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land." The Shulamite mother, however tender and feminine on the outside, is extremely tough inside; independent-minded, fairly intolerant of immaturity, weakness or wishy-washiness, and very demanding that a man be a real man. She must be careful not to let her strength and high standards turn into a critical spirit. And her bridegroom must be careful not to feel threatened, but to take her insights and suggestions as a challenge to reach higher, grow stronger and become a better man for God.

The Shulamite mother is a helpmate to her husband and a wise partner in the family business. Proverbs 31:16 says, She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hand she planteth a vineyard. This pays off for her family because Proverbs 31:21 says, "She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household [are] clothed with scarlet." And even if it's not as expensive as scarlet, the Shulamite mother's family will be looking good in whatever they have on. The Shulamite mother will make sure of that.

The Shulamite mother is also a helper in the gospel. She knows Jesus Christ has given her a part and responsibility for the Word of God within her home as well as to the world outside it. She wants saved children and a godly home. And she wants to see the gospel go to the ends of the earth. As Paul said in Philippians 4:3, "And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and [with] other my fellow laborers, whose names [are] in the book of life." And Proverbs 31:20 says of her, "She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy." And this, of course, is not only for the mothers, but for young ladies who are going to be mothers, wives and God-fearing, godly women when they grow up.

It takes great strength to accomplish all of this, so the Shulamite mother is a mother of backbone, not easily intimidated. Song of Solomon 3:1-4 says, "By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. The watchmen that go about the city found me: [to whom I said,] Saw ye him whom my soul loveth? [It was] but a little that [while that] I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me."

When the one she loved was not by her side, the Shulamite rose, looking for him and nothing was going to stop her. Even when she met the armed watchmen guarding the city she wasn't intimidated. She didn't run away. Instead, she was bold and asked them, "Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?" That is the way of the Shulamite mother. She's on a mission to do the best for those whom her soul loveth. And she keeps on going until she gets what she wants for herself and her family.

The Shulamite mother refuses to take second place. She knows her place in the life of her husband and her family by what the Bible teaches. Many times in the life of a family - in the business of life - work, friends and hobbies become distractions. The Shulamite mother does not allow these things to become obsessions in her family's life. She questions them if she sees that happening.

The man of God does not take this as annoying, irritating, as tying him down, getting in the way or interfering with his fun. He knows his Shulamite woman is looking out for the family, that she is actually helping, warning, avoiding danger and loss. Her love is a benefit, not a restriction. It's being made free.

The Shulamite mother knows her worth. Song 2:1-2, "I am the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valleys." This is the Shulamite woman speaking, by the way, not the man (these two names are often misattributed as referring to our Lord Jesus). As her husband says of her in verse 2, "Like a lily among the thorns, so is my darling among the maidens." A maiden is a female, so the lily is a woman. And the rose and the lily are the same person. So it is the Shulamite woman who is Rose of Sharon, not her husband. The Shulamite woman is the Lily of the Valley, not the man.

The godly husband and father realizes his wife is a beautiful rose, an astoundingly lovely and rare lily. He knows there are thorns in the world, women that would do him wrong, pull him down and lead him the wrong way. But among those thorns there is a lily, his lily - his wife and the mother of his children. To him she is special. She stands out. To him she is "my heart, my wife, my love and my life." The Shulamite mother knows this about herself. She knows her value and her contribution in the life of her husband and family through the grace of Jesus Christ in her.

Because that's so valuable, she chooses her friends carefully. She knows the Bible says, "Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers." That does not just apply to marriage, but applies to every close, important relationship in life. The Shulamite mother knows choosing friends who are not committed believers - relying on them for advice in moral and other spiritual matters - can pull her down spiritually. That decision can hurt her marriage and family and she's not willing to see that happen. So she chooses wise Christian counsel, starting with the Word of God itself and the Holy Spirit Himself. She chooses her friends by looking at the Word of God first, then at them, and following their counsel only if they measure up.

The Shulamite mother pursues spiritual growth. She wants to move from milk to meat in her spiritual life. As 1 Corinthians 13:11, "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." She understands for a godly woman, just as for a godly man, God raises His bar of expectations over time. As Jesus said, "of him to whom much is given, much more is required." Not just "to whom much is given, much is required", but "to whom much is given, much MORE is required."

With spiritual growth comes increased responsibility. She knows God looks at her the same way she looks at her children. As her children grow, she doesn't have to tell them again and again and again to do things. She only has to tell them "again and again." But at least there should be some progress. Amen?

She knows the more she grows, the less God should have to scream at her to get things done. As she grows, a talk should be enough. Then, as she grows more, a whisper. So she listens for God's voice, knowing the mere fact God cared enough to whisper is reason enough to act. She knows her responsibility as a Christian and does what she ought to even without chastised by the Lord first.

Through God's grace and obedience to His word, she learns to see subtle things that aren't obvious. She realizes the child or husband God has given her may not be everything she wants them to be but she realizes. She may want something other than what God wants. That makes things appear to be wrong with husbands, wives, children or loved ones when they're really not wrong at all. They're just God's gifts, wrapped in a different package than what we expect.

Lastly, the Shulamite mother anticipates problems and spots them early. Song of Solomon 2:15, "Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines [have] tender grapes." She knows the grapes they've grown are tender and easily hurt by wrong things going on. Wise indeed is the husband who listens to the voice of a wise Shulamite mother.

So the Shulamite mother is a woman of many, many talents and gifts. It takes so many, many things to keep a marriage solid and a home happy.

But the greatest talent, the greatest gift the Shulamite mother has is love. She wants to see her family progress and grow so she can be proud of her family, and especially of her husband. And more than anything else she wants to show that love, to express that love, especially that love for him.

Song of Solomon 3:11, Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart." Every Shulamite mother's husband is her King Solomon.

And the Bible says her husband is to look at his queen that same way. Chapter 4:7 "Thou [art] all fair, my love; [there is] no spot in thee." God made all things beautiful, and the most beautiful thing in a husband's eyes must be his wife. She is to be his only love, and his only desire. As Chapter 4:9-10 says, "Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, [my] spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck. How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices!"

If more men opened their eyes to their wives like that, and chose the love of their wife over wine, then this world would be a much better place. Amen?

In this Black History Month, this is God's greatest message to teach us - appreciate all the qualities and gifts our Shulamite mothers have; bring back passion and romantic love into our marriages (or keep it there if it's there). You see, for romantic love the real challenge is within. With Jesus Christ at the center, that fire never has to die. And even if it has died, even if it has gone out, Jesus Christ can bring it back. If Jesus can raise us from being dead in our trespasses and sins, certainly He can make the fires of love, desire and romance burn yet again. You see, in the Bible love is not just a feeling; its a decision. Seeing wives as beautiful or husbands as magnificent is every bit a decision as it is a natural attraction.

If we want to see pomegranates when we look at our wives' bosoms like when Solomon looked at his queen, then we can. And we should. If we want her breasts to satisfy us at all times then they can. And they should. If we want to be always ravished with her love then we can. And we should.

Shulamite women, Shulamite mothers, if you want to see royal chariots and a king when you look at your husbands then you can. And you should. If there are any troubles with any of this at any time, then pray and ask God to change hearts, to fix spirits so Jesus Christ will take over and we see spouses through the Holy Spirit's eyes instead of our own. Pray and ask the Lord to make the Song of Solomon real in lives, in marriages and in families.

Inside every mother, there is a Shulamite woman longing to express herself; longing to be seen, wanted, loved and appreciated; longing to be romanced by her magnificent bridegroom with the same passion and desire there was in the former days. She wants to be looked at by her husband with the same gleam in his eye he used to have. And with Jesus at the center, with God in control, that old fire never has to leave. It never has to burn out or fade away.

That fire can always be there, fueled by desire as intense as life itself, and burn hotter in the end than it did even in the beginning. Because - Shulamite mothers are beautiful. Shulamite mothers are sexy. Shulamite mothers are passionate, caring, and sophisticated. Shulamite mothers are desireable. Shulamite mothers are glamorous. Shulamite mothers have wild fantasies about being swept away by their Mr. Magnificent. Shulamite mothers are naughty, Shulamite mothers are teasing. Shulamite mothers are satisfying. Shulamite mothers are pleasing.

Because as we said earlier, The Song of Solomon is not just about newly married young couples before they have children. The Song of Solomon is what you make it. The Song of Solomon is what I make it. The Song of Solomon is what your marriage and my marriage can be, what your life and my life can be, if we want it to be and we're willing to love each other as God commanded, and to give, to sacrifice, and to work at it.

At whatever stage and age we are; however short or long a time we've been married; however many children we have or do not have, we can live the Song of Solomon in our marriage and in every waking day of our lives. In Jesus Christ every man can be a magnificent prince and a dashing king. In Him every wife, every mother, can be a Shulamite woman, and a lovely, magnificent queen.

God bless the Shulamite mothers.

Robert Ash is co-pastor and youth minister, Euphrates Missionary Baptist Church, Oakland, California.
Copyright 2002 by Robert Ash.

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