In the Song of Songs, the Shulammite wants to find the “one her soul loves.” She asks, in the NIV translation of Song of Songs 1:7 “Why should I be like a veiled woman?” I think I know what this means now — other translations will help — and I’ve gotten some good thoughts from some of you through my comments on my website — and some good thoughts from ancient commentators. But I want to hear from you first. What do you think this means? And how would you apply it?
hmmm…without looking to see the context first – i’m going through something where i feel that i’ve “hidden” who i am in Christ at times and that i’ve recently been set free all over again. So, for me to see this scripture, as it rings true in my life – i don’t want to hide my gifts, integrity or value in Christ as He has created me to be. I often succumb to pressure in hiding my ideas or insight on things when some of these may be from God and need to be shared, leaving the reception to those who either choose to hear or not. 🙂
After reading the context of the scripture…”why should I be like a veiled woman in the flock of your friends?” it seems that maybe she felt that she should hide her relationship and that it was not right to conceal something so great and special. I agree with her…my background often lead to a “private and personal” relationship with Christ, when it is definitely something to be shared in a loving and genuine way.
Hi Dee hope your few days away were what you hoped in the Lord & some more.
It is amazing how easy it is to get caught up in the discovery of what one line may mean. I got out a parallel bible plus a few other books.
My first impression as I first read my bible, she didn’t want to be hidden away under veil. She wanted to be seen & to be there & to be there with ‘whom her soul loves”, to be exactly where he was, she didn’t want to miss him.
My study bible (esv) said the veil had a negative connotation as in Gen38:14,15, she didn’t want to be mistaken as a postitute, which took me by surprise. I just saw the veil as something as a covering she was expected to wear but she just didn’t want to hide from Him. A couple of other versions talk of “wandering like a vagabond” & “a wander” & “turning aside’.
So for me to apply this is not to hide under a veil which can easily come between seeing my Lord in a clear way, as He is & I shouldn’t hide the fact of who is the lover of my soul to anyone else… a challenge to share about My Lord. A veil can allow deception into
I think that the veiled woman does mean a prostitute. If I were to interpret this verse, I think, it would go something like, “Please, please show me where you are! Help me to find that place, so my heart does not wander (go a-whoring) away from you.” I think it’s a recognition of her own heart, her propensity to go astray and her plea to Christ to help her! It’s strong though, because she is asking, “Why” should I be like that? Maybe, she is speaking to her own heart also!
Mary P’s last comment about the “veiled woman” asking why, makes me think of David and the Psalms where he says things like: “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Ps.43 David, here is speaking to his own soul, encouraging himself to trust in God, whom he says – he shall yet praise – saying in effect – God, I know you will come through and I shall yet praise you! I think the veiled woman is taking her request directly to God, showing, I think both her intimacy with him and her own vulnerability.
Such good thoughts!!!
Here is the CEV translation of S. of S. 1:7, a translation I am so often finding illuminating:
I’m not one of those women
who shamelessly follow
How does that support the view of the prostitute?
And the New Living Translation says:
7 Tell me, my love, where are you leading your flock today?
Where will you rest your sheep at noon?
For why should I wander like a prostitute[a]
among your friends and their flocks?
1. Song of Solomon 1:7 Hebrew like a veiled woman.
I was a bit confused because women, like Rebekah, did veil themselves when they met their betrothed — and then removed the veil in the bedchamber — so that supports the interpretation of wanting greater intimacy — but the context seems to be more supportive of the prostitute interpretation. There is definitely a “prone to wander” sense here – the “turneth aside” of the KJV is “wanderer” — and since she has a new awareness of her depravity, her darkness — that fits too.
Does anyone know John Donne’s poem “Batter My Heart Three-Personed God?” I think that fits here. I am prone to wander, so prone to wander — and I think often of Donne’s closing phrase: “Unless You ravish me, I will never be chaste.”
Thoughts, good sisters?
Hi Dee, neat thoughts. I believe I see how a prostitute could groan to be naked and NOT ashamed anymore. A return to innocence, purity, where she seeks God’s approval and not man’s anymore. A place of true freedom and truest of all love. A place of abandon, fierce awakening of a holy kind yearns within her. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God Matthew 5:8.
I like the phrases “fierce awakening” and “a place of abandon.” Thank you!
I think of relational idolatry also, and just idolatry in general, when I read, “For why should I wander like a prostitute among your friends and their flocks?”, seeking other things and other people to fill our needs. I think the word wander is interesting also, going from one person or thing to the next trying to fill up her needs.
I am thinking along the same lines Fellowsojourner. Prone to wander– oh!
The following was first in The Friendships of Women, but it was so appropriate to quote in The God of All Comfort — I’d like to share it here.
When I was writing the first edition of The Friendships of Women in my thirties, I saw how vulnerable we are, especially as women, to cling too tightly to a good friend, either driving them away by smothering them, or being devastated when they eventually let us down, as every person will. Our daughter Sally was just ten at the time that I wrote the following:
Sally and her friend Tricia are practically joined at the hip. They zip their sleeping bags together, share their popsicles, and even, when pressed, borrow each other’s underwear and toothbrushes. When they are separated, I sense Sally’s anxiety. They told me they would absolutely die if they didn’t get in the same fifth grade.
Pondering their friendship, I asked, “Do you think you are dependent on each other?”
“What does dependent mean?” Tricia asked.
Searching quickly for a simple synonym, I said, “Do you think you need each other?”
In unison they chimed, “YES!”
Seeing my perturbed pause, Sally questioned, “Is that bad?”
“Well,” I responded, “we should be dependent on Jesus.”
“Can’t I be dependent on Jesus and Tricia?” my daughter asked.
I contemplate this. I, who had recently told my extremely capable
tax-form-filler-outer, smoke-alarm-putter-upper, sliver-remover husband that if anything happened to him, I hoped a total-care nursing home would accept a forty-two-year-old woman with her three children.
Finally I told Sally, who was waiting expectantly: “I think we both have some growing up to do. It’s important to love our friends, to cherish them, and to be committed to them. Girls and women are good at that—and it’s a beautiful side to our friendships. But we need to learn to be dependent, leaning on God, because He’s the only one who will never betray us or die or move away.”
Sally looked at me quizzically. She cannot imagine any of these things ever happening to her and Tricia.
And truly, at that time, I couldn’t imagine any of those things happening with me and Steve. But God was beginning to whisper the truth to me: Depend on Me, Dee—I am the only One who is the Solid Rock. God was already beginning to prepare me for my husband’s early death.
Many widows or divorcees start clinging too tightly to their children when they are bereft of their mate. At first it is natural, and for a time, permissible. My girls and I slept together in my king-sized bed the first nights after Steve’s death, and it assuaged some of our engulfing pain. We spent the first ten days after his burial at our cabin, weeping with each other, reading the thousands of cards that came.
But then, one by one, the girls became strong enough to leave the nest. In January, Beth moved to Kansas City to live with her brother and sister-in-law and study graphic arts. Sally planned to leave as well, in the spring, to begin her masters in clinical psychology at Wheaton College. Only Annie would be left, and I was frankly relieved when she told me she wanted to stay, live with me, and attend a nearby college. Yet by February, she was falling in love, and I sensed God was prying my fingers from her as well.
Monday, February 27
Four months after Steve’s death
Our pastor’s son, David, has offered to help Annie paint her room and they’ve been spending days together stripping the Laura Ashley wallpaper and painting with a “linen” effect. A long process, purposely drawn out, I think, by what Sally is certain is a “brewing romance” for her little sister.
David has asked to talk to me tomorrow. Annie tells me he wants permission to date her. She so wants me to say, “Yes.” I told her I had lots of questions for him first. Help me be wise, Lord.
Help me not to cling to Annie, but also to be wise, for Annie’s so young, so vulnerable in her grief. Show me this young man’s character.
Tuesday, February 28
David came and I sent Annie to the grocery store so we could have privacy.
He answered each of my questions honestly and humbly. I then told him that I liked him and loved his family, but still had one concern. He owned a motorcycle and guns—and Steve wouldn’t have wanted his daughter around either.
Without hesitation, he said, “I’ll sell them.”
I know Steve would have been pleased with his immediate response. It took the wind out of me! He sat there, looking at me, wondering what other objections I might bring up. I couldn’t think of any.
After a moment I said, “Well, then, David, if you are willing to do that right away, then you may date her. But, please, David, go slowly. She is tremendously vulnerable right now. Her Dad has only been gone four months.” He nodded vigorously. He’s obviously smitten.
Their romance progressed, and David honored my wishes to move slowly. When he did come and ask for Annie’s hand, I realized how terribly hard it was going to be for me to let her go, even though I was by now convinced of David’s godly character. My soul was anxious, so I had to talk to her. I remember singing “Be Thou My Vision” to her. My vision had to be Jesus—not family. Husbands and children are a great gift, but never were they intended to be “our life.” As Colossians 3 says, “Christ is our life.” Everything else is simply an added blessing. If we make family, career, comfort, or “man’s empty praise,” our life, we miss the life God intended for us.
But when we have a deeply ingrained default mode, as I obviously do with my family, we can’t talk to our soul just once—she needs to be reminded continually. I would sing a verse from “Be Thou My Vision” and my soul would calm. Then she would spasm again, and I’d listen to Sara Groves sing “Hiding Place” on my iPod, asking God to make it be true in me.
I am starting to make friends with a woman who happens to be the associate pastor of my church. God delivered me from perversions with other women as I have been following God for 28 years, so I tread slowly or trying to as my emotions at times rage between fear and lust; having to take every thought captive.
However, I asked myself today if I would be willing to give up this relationship for Christ. I had to say yes, regardless of fear of not being deeply loved by another female friend.
Its scary, but Christ is so worth it, at least that is what the Holy Spirit says within me, and my spirit agrees; for the joy set before I endure the cross and share in His sufferings.
Your stories, empowered me, thank you!
Iliana — I will pray for you to have beautiful healthy friendships with other women. It’s good you have not shut down but are taking these thoughts captive to Christ. I think it is helpful to seek out more than one good friend to avoid the trap of dependency.
Thanks for sharing your heart!
Thank you, Dee. These are comforting words to me. For the past week or so, I’ve have been in such a spiritual battle of the mind. Thoughts that I know must come from corruptible flesh, but things I would never utter. How can that be? But what you said about family and holding tightly rings so true to me. My younger daughter and grandson moved back to my town about 15 months ago. Have I ever loved having them near me. She is a single mom, although she has been divorced for awhile. I know that God has prompted me to release her to Him. I believe that she will marry a young man who has recently fallen in love with Christ. He has been saved a long time, but during the summer, he really awoke to Christ in him. He does not live in this area, so if they do eventually marry, she and my grandson will move away. And I will be okay – after a while. I do want all that Christ has for them. It is good for me to glean from your wisdom and your frank honesty. Thank you for sharing your pain and your gain.
Wow, thank you very much for your prayers, suggestion and comment. It was very encouraging.
Thanks Dee for sharing that – that was alot to think about – good stuff! Christ is our life! Once in a while, I think – how we grieve him. He is the one who is always there, always helping, always loving us, encouraging us, comforting us and how quick we are to turn to other people or things – without saying thank you – without stopping to think of his constant loving care for us! Thanks for reminding us (me) again!
Greetings Dee and commenters, I was reading through Song of Songs seeing it through a relationship between Husband and Wife, and God and Humanity, and I came to this same veiled question. My initial thought was that the woman wants to be special and standout among other women. Agreeing with many of the above posts, she wants to be known intimately with the man.
Looking at this from a God and Humanity relationship, we want to know that not only does God love everyone. but he would have sent his Son to die just for our one life to be saved. He cares about the one sheep as much as the 99. God loves each one so specially. He doesn’t see a crowd of veiled people. But he see’s through our hiding and sins and sees our true faces. He sees each individuals characteristics, faults, weaknesses, and still loves us and invites us into his intimacy!
Thanks for everyone’s insights on “prone to wander” and individual stories about their journeys and races with God. I was blessed to hear everyone’s testimony. After almost 4 years I’m sure God is still working and pursuing you all!