Imitating the Shulammite in Exclusive Devotion
“PLACE me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; because love is as strong as death is, insistence on exclusive devotion is as unyielding as Sheol is. Its blazings are the blazings of a fire, the flame of Jah.” Thus a simple Shulammite country girl, with whom King Solomon had fallen in love, expressed her feelings for her lover, a shepherd youth.—Cant. 8:6.*
She was a dusky maiden, due to working in the fields in the sun. In the line of duty she had come across King Solomon’s encampment. He at once became enamored of her, for she was indeed the “most beautiful one among women,” according to the court ladies. Solomon tried to overawe her with the dazzling splendor of his encampment and of his palace in Jerusalem. He also flattered her with pretty speeches, but all in vain. She remained steadfast, faithful to her shepherd lover. In doing so she was truly wise, for she meant everything to her lover; but to King Solomon she was neither his first nor his only love; eventually she would have become just one of a thousand!—Cant. 1:8.
This Song of Songs, or Superlative Song, is part of the inspired Word of God written for our comfort, hope and instruction. In it are pictured the love of Jesus for his body of followers, which love surpasses that of the love of a man for a woman, and the love of his body of followers, his bride, for him and their exclusive devotion to him as the Bridegroom. However, Jesus lovingly died not only for his bride of 144,000 members who will share his throne but also for all his other sheep, all those of mankind who will gain everlasting life upon earth. These latter ones are represented on earth today by a great crowd that have come from all nations and hail Jehovah as God and Christ as King, even as the bride of Christ is represented on earth by a mere remnant. For all of these the Shulammite also set a noteworthy example of exclusive devotion.
By pondering over what Jesus has done for us, by noting his expressions of endearment in God’s Word, as well as his promises regarding the future, our love for him will grow. That love will cause us to give him exclusive devotion, which, in turn, will protect us from materialistic persons who would awaken in us a love or desire for selfish things. And just as the Shulammite was very discreet, so must we be. Yes, far from stumbling others, our conduct should recommend the truth to those on the outside.
To misguided friends who feel sorry for us because of our taking our religion so seriously as to give our Lord exclusive devotion, we want to say as did the Shulammite, ‘Do not try to awaken such love in us.’ While they consider our course foolish, we know that in fact it is a wise one, even as was that of the Shulammite. Not only did our Lord show the greatest possible measure of love for us by dying for us, but he holds out to us endless happiness with him in his new world. (John 15:13) The Solomon-like materialistic world is concerned, not about our welfare, but only in serving its own ends. How foolish to listen to it!
Her shepherd lover praised the Shulammite for her scarlet lips and agreeable speaking. By our preaching the good news of God’s kingdom our Shepherd Lover will also find our lips and speaking to be praiseworthy. Truly the account of the love that the Shulammite and her lover had for each other is part of the inspired things recorded for our comfort, hope and instruction.
For details see The Watchtower, December 1, 1957.