Tell me, you, the one I love:
Where do you pasture your sheep?
Where do you let them rest at noon?
Why should I be like one who veils herself
beside the flocks of your companions?
If you do not know,
most beautiful of women,
follow the tracks of the flock,
and pasture your young goats
near the shepherds’ tents.
(Song of Songs 1:7-8 HCSB)
Solomon appears in these verses as a shepherd-king, and he is exactly what the woman needs. In his absence, she loses her sense of self-worth and beauty. She longs to be with him, and he lets her know where he can be found. Where He is there is rest and security. He provides for her and cares for her (Song 1:8).
The theme, promise, and hope of a Shepherd-King is a rich one that runs through both testaments. It begins when the Lord called the youngest boy of a man named Jesse, his son David (1 Sam 16–17). David was a shepherd who would slay Goliath, become Israel’s greatest King and receive a promise from God that he would have a descendent of whom God said, “I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Sam 7:13). Later David would pen the beautiful Psalm 23, which speaks of the Lord as our Shepherd. Then in Ezekiel 34:22–23 the Lord promised His people, “I will save My flock, and they will no longer be prey for you. I will judge between one sheep and another. I will appoint over them a single shepherd, My servant David, and he will shepherd them, He will tend them himself and will be their shepherd.” Finally, the Old Testament unfolding of this portrait reached its end in Micah 5:2–4, where we read of Messiah, “Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are small among the clans of Judah; One will come from you to be ruler over Israel for Me. His origin is from antiquity, from eternity…. He will stand and shepherd them in the strength of Yahweh, in the majestic name of Yahweh His God. They will live securely, for then His greatness will extend to the ends of the earth.”
Promise becomes fulfillment in Jesus, the Son of David, whom the Bible calls “the Good Shepherd” in John 10:11, “the great Shepherd” in Hebrews 13:20 and “the chief Shepherd” in 1 Peter 5:4. In Revelation 7:17 we discover this Shepherd is “the Lamb who is at the center of throne” who guides his people to springs of living waters.
This glorious future Shepherd-King is anticipated in the Bridegroom-Shepherd-King of the Song of Songs. He is the One who pastures well His sheep and gives them rest. By His presence all fears and insecurities are done away with, for He has promised those who love Him, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Heb 13:5; cf. Deut 31:6). We may draw near to this Shepherd-King and find protection, provisions, security and shade. First Peter 2:21 teaches us to follow in the steps, the tracks (Song 1:8), of the one who is “the Shepherd and Guardian of [our] souls” (1 Pet 2:25). Here in Song of Songs, we find a faithful and loving Shepherd, a Shepherd-King, whom the people can love, trust, draw near to and follow. Here we find a Shepherd-King who points us to Jesus.