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The Bride's Brothers

SOS 1:5-6: The Shulamite To The Daughters Of Jerusalem

I am dark, but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon. Do not look upon me, because I am dark, because the sun has tanned me. My mother's sons were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept.

SOS 2:15: Her Brothers To The Shulamite

Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.

SOS 8:8-9: Her Brothers To Solomon

We have a little sister, and she has no breasts. What shall we do for our sister in the day when she is spoken for? If she is a wall, we will build upon her a battlement of silver; and if she is a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar.

The elder brothers of the Shulamite were the sons of her mother. Probably their father had passed away, and their mother had remarried the Shulamite’s father. And by some intrinsic reasoning, their stepfather had also passed away. My basic reasons are three-fold:

  • The Shulamite’s father was not once mentioned in the Song of Solomon. She stated her home address as the house of her mother (SOS 3:4, 8:2).
  • He was not there to protect her from being bullied by her stepbrothers.
  • He was not present to grant the bridegroom permission to marry the bride.

The Shulamite had her own vineyard. It was probably an inheritance from her dad. But she was not given time to look after it. Her brothers were exploiting and bullying her. They had not been taking good care of their own vineyards. They were bad gardeners or vinedressers.

Their vines were still tender. They were not like those illustrated in Numbers 13:23 whereby a single cluster of grapes was so large that it would take two strong men to carry it on a pole between them! The walls of their vineyards were not built with excellent materials and strong bricks to withstand the matured foxes from tunneling through. These holes on the walls were also not being patched up to prevent the little foxes from coming in to feast on the tender grapes. As the years went by, these walls were broken down as they aged through the wear and tear of the sun, wind, rain and snow.

King Solomon must have seen the poor conditions of these vineyards as he described them in Proverbs 24:30-34:

I went by the field of the lazy man (slothful), and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down. When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest; so shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed man.

These brothers had given up on their vineyards. They were not true shepherds who really loved their sheep and lambs. They were more like the hirelings in John 10:12-13. They were paid to do the jobs. No pain and no strain. Whenever things went wrong, they ran away. In the case of the Shulamite’s brothers, they had abandoned their vineyards. They asked their little sister to do the work for them while they lazed away.

Besides planting and pruning their vines, the Shulamite woman was also given the worst fatiguing job. It was to catch the little foxes. Have you tried catching a clever cat? A cunning fox is about ten times faster and harder! No wonder her skin was dark, totally tanned by over-exposure to the severe heat rays. In Israel, the sun is blazing hot in the afternoons. They would be angry with her if she was not able to catch all the foxes. And they would be angrier still if their tender grapes were spoilt and damaged by the foxes. They were selfish getters, not selfless givers!

This poor girl had no choice but to do whatever they told her to do. When her beloved came to rescue her, they were not very pleased. They wanted to oppose their marriage saying that she was too young; that she had no breasts; and that she could not take care of herself as she was needy of others to take care of her. A bunch of merciless liars!

These brothers need a great awakening! They need to start rebuilding the walls of their ruined lives - replacing, reshaping and restoring all the broken pieces! That's the only way to keep the little foxes away! They need love and encouragement! They need a helping hand, a word of comfort and a word of exhortation! They need to turn away from being slothful to being thoughtful! Thinking of others’ interests besides and above their own.

I have tabulated some causes and cures for these beloved brothers:

Causes Cures
Symptoms of Relapse
  • Slothful, inactive, sluggard, lazy, idle
Signs of Recovery
  • Diligent, active, enthusiastic, hardworking, prudent
Full of excuses
  • A lion in the streets (Prov. 26:13)
  • Will be slain in the streets (Prov 22:13)
  • Too cold or too hot out there (Prov 20:4)
  • Wise in their own conceit (Prov 26:16)
Full of enthusiasm
  • Build their homes upon the rocks (Prov 30:26)
  • Advance by teamwork (Prov 30:27)
  • Prepare food for winter (Prov 30:25)
  • Seek the counsel of others (Prov 15:22)
  • Always sleepy (Prov 6:9-11, 19:15)
  • Always on their beds (Prov 26:14)
  • Know the state of their flocks and herds (Prov 27:23)
  • Able to stand before kings (Prov 22:29)
  • Eat off the labour of others (Prov 12:27)
  • A great waster (Prov 18:9)
  • Always plentiful (Prov 21:5)
  • Have plenty of bread (Prov 28:19)
  • Need others to feed them (Prov 19:24, 26:15)
  • Refuse to work (Prov 21:25)
  • Their fields overgrown with thorns (Prov 24:30-31)
  • Feed others (Prov 31:20)
  • Work willingly (Prov 31:13)
  • A tree of life (Prov 11:30)
  • Under bondage (Prov 12:24)
  • Problematic and troubled (Prov 15:19)
  • Generous and blessed (Prov 22:9)
  • Excellent in well-doing (Prov 31:29)
  • Always lacking and has nothing (Prov 13:4, 20:4)
  • Void of understanding (Prov 24:30)
  • Robbed of blessings (Prov 24:34)
  • No lack of food (Prov 31:11)
  • Full of wisdom (Prov 31:26)
  • Filled with blessings (Prov 31:28)

In the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-20), Jesus shared about some seeds that fell among thorns. The thorns grew up and choked them. They yielded no crops. He also explained to His disciples that this group of people sown among thorns were those who had heard the Word, but the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things had entered in to choke the Word. They therefore became unfruitful in the kingdom of God.

In Hebrews 6:7-12, we have this exhortation:

"When a farmer's land has had many showers upon it and good crops come up, that land has experienced God's blessing upon it. But if it keeps on having crops of thistles and thorns, the land is considered no good and is ready for condemnation and burning off.

Dear friends, even though I am talking like this I really don't believe that what I am saying applies to you. I am confident you are producing the good fruit that comes along with your salvation. For God is not unfair. How can He forget your hard work for Him, or forget the way you used to show your love for Him-- and still do-- by helping His children?

And we are anxious that you keep right on loving others as long as life lasts, so that you will get your full reward. Then, knowing what lies ahead for you, you won't become bored with being a Christian nor become spiritually dull and indifferent, but you will be anxious to follow the example of those who receive all that God has promised them because of their strong faith and patience."

The Lord is now rebuilding the walls of our lives. Those whose lives had been rebuilt will be able to help others rebuild theirs also. Those who have received mercy will be able to show mercy. Those who have touched the grace of God will be gracious. Those who had been comforted by the God of all comfort will be able to comfort others by the comfort that God has comforted them. Those who have tasted the love of God will be able to love others also!

May all the brothers of the Bride arise and shine for Jesus again!

Please also read: Bridal Paradigm