When Following Jesus Earns You a Black Eye


The Song of Solomon is a beautiful, poetic work celebrating the romantic journey of the King of Israel and the woman who has his heart—and it’s more than that. The wisdom of this book is not limited to human marriage because, as Paul makes clear in Ephesians, marriage is not an end in and of itself, but a witness to something beyond the veil—a living testimony to the mystery of Christ and his Church.[1] So when we read the words of this song, we can rest assured that they are not exclusive to romantic human love, but are full of truth for every person in the body of Christ who has Jesus as their King, as the head of his Church.

In the fifth chapter of the book, we discover the lead female role suffering in the face of disappointment and mistreatment. Her beloved King had disappeared, and as she went out to follow him, she was found by the watchmen of the city—the people charged with the task of safeguarding her—and beaten by their hands. It is one thing to happen upon a criminal in a back alley and receive a black eye in the dark; it’s another to leave a well-lit street bludgeoned by those whose sole task is to oversee your safety. Mistreatment is often unexpected, and the pain of betrayal stings long after bruises have healed. In light of all this undeserved suffering, the town’s people ask her a question; her answer hinges on how she sees her beloved in the face of suffering—as does ours. What knowledge of Jesus can we confidently carry with us into seasons of back alleys and bruisings?

First, we must understand what led her to the streets to begin with:

“My beloved had turned and gone. My soul failed me when he spoke. I sought him, but found him not; I called him, but he gave no answer. The watchmen found me as they went about in the city; they beat me, they bruised me, they took away my veil, those watchmen of the walls.”[2]

As human beings with a deep range of emotions, it’s not hard to imagine how it must have felt for her to seek her beloved and not find him; to call to him and hear but his silence in reply. The anticipation of seeing her King ended abruptly by his disappearance, and it must have been a dramatic emotional shift. Following that sudden disappointment, she is accosted in town and physically beaten. Now, watch how she responds to the onlookers who just witnessed all this take place.

“I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you tell him I am sick with love.” [3]

Following her beloved King, through means familiar (city streets) and unconventional (the middle of the night) got her beaten and humiliated—yet, she doesn't curse him. She doesn't blame him. She doesn't quit and go home disillusioned or disappointed. Instead, she asks the town’s people to help her look for him because she is so madly in love!

The witnesses then ask what it is about this King that would cause a bruised and defeated woman to pursue him so relentlessly.

What is your beloved more than another beloved, O most beautiful among women? What is your beloved more than another beloved, that you thus adjure us?”[4]

Don't let her use of imagery and simile distract from the beauty of her praise about the King. When the woman described a radiant and ruddy man, distinguished among ten thousand, it produced such a powerful response from the onlookers that they were compelled to join in her search of him.

“Where has your beloved gone, O most beautiful among women? Where has your beloved turned, that we may seek him with you?”[5]

They respond to her praise by wanting to seek him too. Didn’t know the song of Solomon was useful for evangelism, did you? Our public and verbal affection for Jesus is incredibly attractive to those around us.

Following Jesus may be dangerous and very costly. At times it may feel like He left us or let us down, but knowing the character of the Lord helps us persevere in times of extreme disappointment. When we are badly beaten on our journey of following our beloved King, we can learn the lesson from the woman who’s lovesick longing for her Lord overrode the accusations of the enemy in the face of apparent disappointment. She didn't give in to the false narrative written by her pain in the King’s apparent absence. Instead—as the curtains of this book are drawn closed—we see this same woman, as hopeful as ever, beckoning her beloved to return quickly. Her words sound excitingly similar to the final words of the book of Revelation when the Lord declares He is coming soon and John, the beloved disciple, replies with, “Amen, come Lord Jesus!”[6]

This sort of lovesick longing for the Lord is exactly the sort of motivation that would compel a person to the ends of the earth until the end of this age and keep them there bearing witness of His radiance until His return. In other words, missing Jesus usually results in doing whatever it takes to see Him again.

“The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’[7]


Jordan Scott lives in a Muslim-majority country with his wife and two children, where he serves as Director of Community Development and the Emmaus Intensive. He can be reached by email at jordan@faimission.org.


[1] Ephesians 5:32
[2] Song of Solomon 5:6-7
[3] Song of Solomon 5:8
[4] Song of Solomon 5:9
[5] Song of Solomon 6:1
[6] Revelation 22:20
[7] Revelation 22:17