Shunem was a well-known place. A woman from Shunem was a key, if passive, player in Solomon's succession to the crown. In later Israelite history, the prophet Elisha was hosted by a "great woman" in Shunem.
So, back to The Shulamite. The common presumption is that this "key, if passive, player in Solomon's succession," Abishag, the greatest beauty in Israel of her day, is the Beloved of Song of Solomon.*
Allegory and LifeAllegorical ideas abound about Song of Solomon showing the Divine/human relationship, and there's undoubtedly something in all of them. However, my purpose here addresses the basic human love story aspect of Song of Solomon. Just as "Love your neighbor as yourself" implies a healthy love of self, so using the allegory of human love to show divine love implies a high ideal of human love.
The Story in Song of SolomonThis is the story of a long-term relationship. It may or may not be told in chronological order, though it seems to be mostly from their youth to their maturity. Note carefully the difference in the groom's descriptions of his bride, the new items and what drops out of the descriptions.
There is at least one dream sequence.
The seasons change as the book progresses. (springtime courtship 2:11-13; summer wedding 4:13-14; late winter/early spring 6:11)
They adore each other, and don't hesitate to say so, to each other and their friends.
Ever know anyone run down their spouse in public?
How about insulting & belittling them, privately or publicly?
Relation-Tips from Solomon's Book
- What's good about the one you love? Tell him/her! not just the complaints - of course there's plenty of those. MyGuy and i both appreciate each other's intelligence. He especially likes the big words i use, which drive other people crazy. i love his integrity, desire to do right always, and the love he has for me. He really likes my Yes.
- Pay attention, put yourself out for your Other. Song of Solomon traces a rift between the couple, which started when she didn't want to be bothered (Song of Solomon 5:3-8). i know things are better for us when we just notice what's going on with each other.
- "Catch the . . . little foxes, before they ruin our vineyard in bloom." The little foxes would be problems that are going to come up - talk about them while the issues are small, before they "grow up." But also, little problems in and of themselves can do a great deal of damage to a relationship. Most issues, the only way around them is THROUGH them.
The Shulemite's UniquenessShe is the only woman in Scripture who talks to us directly. i don't know about you, but i think that makes a reasonable interpretation that what she has to say is very important to we who live so long after her.
Additional links you may find interesting:
Pope John Paul II addresses human love: http://www.ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/jp2tb108.htm
If you visited the Thru the Bible website * listed above,you would have found that Dr.McGee uses the term parabolic poem.
* The Resources page seems to be as deep as i can link here. From this page, click Free Booklets, then "The Best Love" for a free download. There are also MP3s, study guide, and notes & outlines of SoS.