When Love Is Separated 

Song 3.1-5 Image

Love separated is a nightmare

Song of Solomon 3.1–5

By Don Ruhl

In Song of Solomon 3.1–5, the Shulamite either reminisced or told of a dream she had. This poem resembles the first two in that initially they are not together, but all three poems end with them together. However, this poem differs from the first two in that it records no dialogue between them, as the first two did. All three poems have occurred in a different place.

Notice the contrasts between this poem and the last one: 

2.8–17 Both spoke in images.
3.1–5 She speaks plainly. (But interpretation/application is not plain)

2.8–17 Anticipation and excitement
3.1–5 Increasing tension

2.8–17 He yearned for her.
3.1–5 She yearns for him.

2.8–17 He went to her home, and invited her to come out and join him.
3.1–5 She leaves her home to find him and bring him to her home.

2.8–17 He began things.
3.1–5 She begins things.

2.8–17 He had to seek her.
3.1–5 She has to seek him.

2.8–17 He told her to “rise up” (10, 13).
3.1–5 She rises (2).

2.8–17 He yearned for her.
3.1–5 She yearns for him.

The chiastic tension of this poem [Dorsey with adaptation by Don Ruhl]: 

a Tension introduced (3.1)

b Tension begins (3.2)

c Tension intensifies (3.3a)

d Tension peaks (3.3b)

Resolution begins (3.4a)

b´ Resolution intensifies (3.4b)

a´ Resolution peaks (3.5)

Song of Solomon 3.1 – Love’s Separation 

By night on my bed I sought the one I love; 
I sought him, but I did not find him. 
(Song 3.1) 

What is the significance of a husband and wife sleeping together? Is it merely sexual? We can answer by considering why a couple desires to live together. They want to be together all the time. Therefore, when separated, they experience pain.

Song of Solomon 3.2, 3 – Love’s Search 

“I will rise now,” I said, 
“And go about the city; 
In the streets and in the squares 
I will seek the one I love.” 
I sought him, but I did not find him. 
The watchmen who go about the city found me; 
I said, 
“Have you seen the one I love?” 
(Song 3.2, 3) 

Why was he gone, and why did she not know where he was? The Song does not reveal those things, and they are not important for understanding her strong desire to have him by her side. The Bible wants us to see her emptiness, even as we saw his in chapter 2. When you are in love, does it matter why your spouse is gone? You just miss him or her. The separation might be for a legitimate reason, but that does not lessen the pain.

Where did she go to find him? He was not even in the house. Why did she talk to the watchmen? Is it not their duty to know what is going on in the city?

The Bible does not provide an answer from the watchmen, perhaps because she was in a hurry and did not give them time to answer.

Notice her question. She did not ask where he was by name. She did not ask where the king was. She asked where the one was whom she loved. She is unashamed of her love for him. She expected them to know of whom she spoke, for when couples love one another as Solomon and the Shulamite did, it is known.

Song of Solomon 3.4 – Love’s Prize 

Scarcely had I passed by them, 
When I found the one I love. 
I held him and would not let him go, 
Until I had brought him to the house of my mother, 
And into the chamber of her who conceived me. 
(Song 3.4) 

Evidently the watchmen could not help her.

What do we feel after reuniting with the one we love?

Why was she so determined to hold on to him?

What is the significance of bringing him to the house of her mother? What prompted her? How did this poem begin in 3.1? Their separation made her heart grow fonder.

Song of Solomon 3.5 – Love’s Pleasure 

I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, 
By the gazelles or by the does of the field, 
Do not stir up nor awaken love 
Until it pleases. 
(Song 3.5) 

This appeared at 2.7 also.

She did not want their time together disturbed.

“Love can be a mighty force in the lives of men and women. Unanswered and unsatisfied it can cause untold pain and great grief to the human heart. But love requited gives unspeakable joy. The Shulamite in her dream experiences both in some degree—both love unsatisfied and love fulfilled. Hence this refrain (cf. 2:7) is not an anticlimax to the reunion of the two lovers in the dream. Rather, it indicates recognition of the fact that because these are the effects which love can have, it must be handled with the utmost care and should not be aroused before its proper time” (Sierd Woudstra, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Chicago: Moody Press, Ninth printing, 1973, p. 599).

What shall we do with this section of the Song of Solomon? 

Do not forget why you married. You sought to be together. What happened? See Ecclesiastes 9.9

Consider what happens in this brief poem:

  • She missed him.
  • She sought him.
  • She found him.
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