"How the Shulamite Flipped the Fairy Tale and Found Her Happily Ever After"
Once upon a time, there was a little girl who loved fairy tales. She would listen as her grandmother read stories about princesses who were rescued from evil witches by handsome princes. All the princesses lived happily ever after-the end, and the little girl’s grandmother would close the book.
Crowned in a tinsel tiara, the little girl would sprinkle fairy dust everywhere. Then she would slip her feet into Cinderella’s glass slippers and twirl around the room, holding Snow White’s mirror in her hand. “Mirror, mirror on the wall,” she would say, make-believing, “who’s the fairest of them all?”
The little girl grew older, and her feet no longer fit into Cinderella’s glass slippers. She learned fairy tales soon cooled like stardust, little boys didn’t grow up to become princes, and mirrors only reflected her flaws. That’s when her grandmother knew it was time for her to learn about a different kind of princess in a different kind of fairy tale.
Millennia before Cinderella and Snow White, there lived a young Shulamite girl in the city of Jerusalem. King Solomon ruled from Jerusalem with the wisdom of the God of Israel. Great was King Solomon’s kingdom.
And like all little girls who read fairy tales, the young daughters of Jerusalem dreamed of King Solomon riding down the mountain on horseback like lightning rides thunder. Surrounded by his valiant army, he would choose the fairest among them to wear his tiara made of the purest gold.
But that was not the Shulamite’s destiny. For one day, she fell into the hands of her angry brothers. Those she trusted most threw her into the scorching sun to keep the vineyards. Long days pruning the vines cracked her once delicate and graceful hands. The white-hot sun and desert wind blistered her face while those who betrayed her lined their pockets with silver coins.
Still, the Shulamite blossomed like the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valleys. For she fixed her eyes on her Beloved, the Shepherd King whom her soul loved. She asked Him, “Tell me, please! Where do you feed your flock? Where do you lead it to lie down at noon?”
He said, “Follow me!”
He brought her into His banqueting house and dressed her in a gown woven with gold. She delighted in His companionship. At that moment, she realized His name held more value than the finest oil poured out from a bottle. And His love was far better than all the wine from Solomon’s vineyards.
Music filled the hall. With his left hand under her head and his right hand in her hand, they danced. His eyes gazed upon her. She wanted to turn away, but she couldn’t. Washed in His words of love, she caught a reflection of herself in His eyes. They were a different kind of mirror. She saw no spot nor blemish. Soon she learned to love herself the way He loved her.
At day break, the Shulamite’s Beloved went to feed His flock among the lilies. He did not return.
The Shulamite searched the city. She asked the watchmen making their rounds, “Have you seen my Beloved?”
The watchmen struck her face and tore her veil. “Your brothers crept up on Him like foxes that spoil the grapes ripened on the vine. They brought soldiers, eyes fixed and narrow, shoulders wide and brawn. With swords drawn from their thighs, they captured your Beloved.”
She ran to the daughters of Jerusalem, shouting, “I beg of you, young daughters, please help me find my Beloved!”
“Is he not but a lowly shepherd?” they laughed. “Wait here with us instead. For King Solomon is coming! See the dust rising from beneath the horses’ hooves? He holds gold, silver, and purple in his hands.”
For great was his appetite for women, with 700 wives and 300 concubines. And great was his love of worldly treasures.
The Shulamite replied, “Solomon may have his 700 wives, his 300 concubines, and a thousand silver coins from his vineyard. But my own vineyard is before me.”
The Shulamite ran to her Beloved’s garden. The place where streams from Lebanon flowed. Alone in the garden, their secret place, she unrolled the parchment He had placed among the lilies:
I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again
and receive you to Myself;
That where I am,
There you may be also.
The Shulamite clutched the parchment close to her heart and whispered to her Beloved:
“Set me as a seal upon Your heart,
As a seal upon Your arm;
For love is as strong as death,
Jealousy as cruel as the grave,
Its flames are flames of fire,
A most vehement flame.”
She waited there in the garden, remaining faithful to her Beloved, until His return. For He was her Lord and King. He was the flame that lit the oil in her lamp. He was her happily ever after.
His name is Yahweh, Jesus, and he is returning for his bride.
Inspired by the Song of Songs