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New Order Leaders in Old Order Settings
By Rachelle Hamlin
Fort Fairfield Journal, January 23, 2013
The Shulamite Maid is a mythical person inspired by God to prefigure the Bride of Christ. The Song of Solomon tells how to identify her before, during and after she marries the Lord, Jesus Christ. Some of you, male or female, are Christ's bride even as you read this. Others may be in one of her two other stages, or you may be in the role of companion. There are many roles and many layers in the narrative which is richer than exquisite crown jewels. In it, the Shulamite and King Solomon play the roles of Christ and his Bride.
It begins with the sun-burned Shulamite in the vineyards of her brothers, as she has none of her own. Her brothers (the priests, or ministers) put her there in charge of guarding the latent harvest. Notice that to be suntanned shows only skin-deep connectivity to the sun and she is not too happy with her lot. But she is in love with the King and he has taken notice of her. By Ch. 4, Solomon comes for his bride from afar off. He sees her as a locked garden, or a sealed fountain. In other words, he feels her pain.
Yet, she sees herself as having a spring-fed fountain of running water and she longs to be of service to her King. In Ch. 5, they begin to consummate their union. By Ch. 6, she searches desperately everywhere for him. At this point, her companions begin to seek him with her. Now a married, mature love exists between the two lovers. He is not there, she knows, because he has business elsewhere but she has no doubt that they are one even if apart. Meanwhile, he notices that she has elevated his status among their people.
Now the companions long for him as much as she does. Ch.6, v.13 is significant in this regard due to the Hebrew word, epistrepho. The companions are begging her to convert them... they say "turn us around again and we will look to you." This reveals a mature Shulamite whose inner fountain of living water is available to all the King's people. Her place is at his side, his work is her work, his love interests are her love interests. The companions, who started by seeking him with her, now are finding him with her. For the third time in the narrative, the Bridegroom calls to the maidens of Jerusalem: "Do not rouse or awaken love until it is ready." This prefigures the parable of wise and foolish virgins. The Shulamite has given the price of her life to go in with him. They will need to do the same.
At the end, the King says, "My bride you sit in my garden and my friends are listening to your voice. Let me hear it too." She answers, "Come into the open and show yourself." She knows she is nothing without him. This is a picture of all who are being called into the new order for the church. It precisely shows the attitude of Christ's Shulamite bride. She is no longer captive to her brothers, being burnt by the rays of an external sun. The sun is now within her soul, in her countenance and is the light that reveals Christ to others. She wants all her companions to see Him face to face.
Now this is how the allegory goes, but we need to see what this looks like in the light of day. One form it takes is the intervention. We see interventions on television where families get together and take extraordinary steps together to intervene on behalf of a loved one who is suicidal, alcoholic, or caught in a downward spiral. Love literally forces them to intervene and create a support system with the power to enable a lost soul to return to civil society. This is where in the narrative above, the needy companions one by one say "turn me around again and I will look to you." That attitude in them is what brings about healing.
Rose's was another such true story. Drug addicted after her husband died in a car crash, she lost all connection with reality, ended up in jail, her two sons orphaned. Three companions never gave up on her. They prayed and laid their own lives down to restore Rose's life to her. Midway, she accepted Jesus after she saw an angel hovering over her bed in jail, protecting her. Shulamite prayers had asked Christ to "come out into the open and show yourself." Today she is restored, married and a happy mother of three boys.
None of these things happened in an old order church setting. Old order churches are too busy trying to get a harvest from distant grapevines where they send people to work for them, to pay attention to or expend resources on their companions. Companions are looked on as potential missionaries to go elsewhere and preach or as bench warmers to comfort the egos of the preacher in charge. It gets so bad that recently I have heard preachers say things like "I'm preaching good now!" and urging the congregation to praise them for their preaching as they are preaching. You can be sure that the Shulamite has only one thing on her mind when she is with companions... her bridegroom.
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