One day when I was a little girl, I asked my parents why they chose my name and what it meant. My mom told me she had found the name in a book, and the meaning given for it was “princess.” I subsequently spent my entire growing up years believing that my name meant “princess,” and feeling pretty darn special because of it.
Until the fateful day when I googled it. Either the book was wrong or my mom was lying to me, but my name does NOT mean princess. Here is the actual definition for the name Sharon:
It is of Hebrew origin, and its meaning is “a fertile plain”. Biblical place name: refers to flat land at the foot of Mount Carmel.
In other words, my name refers to a giant pile of dirt. Not princess.
This point is driven home all the more when we read it within its context in Song of Solomon. It reads:
“I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.” (2:1)
All this time I thought that this verse was a compliment, an old-timey way of saying that someone was beautiful. But in reality, it is quite the opposite. It is a way of describing someone as being common or average. They are but an ordinary flower of the plain, a lily just like all the others in the valley.
To the left you can see what the Rose of Sharon flower looks like. There is nothing stand out about it. It isn’t ugly, but it isn’t particularly special. No one ever gives someone Roses of Sharon for an anniversary or birthday. It’s not that type of flower.
Given this information, my namesake seems somewhat fitting. How many times have I felt like a common lily among orchids, roses, and tulips! That is the message our culture frequently conveys–if you are not tall, thin, cute, busty, and well-dressed, then you are plain-Jane average and no one will give you a second glance. You’re nothing but a Rose of Sharon.
I’ve also felt this way in the wake of broken relationships. Following a number of break-ups, my exes moved on to date other girls almost right away. And when this happened, I felt like little more than a notch in their belts. I was just one girl among many. I wasn’t special at all–just one lily among thousands just like me.
Song of Solomon therefore provides us with a tremendous insight into the female mind. It comforts the female heart with the knowledge that when you feel that way, you are not alone! It is a very common mindset for women, and perhaps one of the primary ways that Satan attacks us. After all, God created us to reflect His beauty, so what better way to undermine the glory of God than to cast seeds of doubt about the truth of our beauty? No, you are not alone in feeling this way.
But what is even more wonderful about this passage is the lover’s response to his beloved. When she belittles her beauty, claiming that she is nothing but a plain lily of the valley, her lover replies, “Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens.”
Guys, you better be taking notes, because that is the perfect response! In contrast with her self-perception he speaks truth into her heart, telling her that she’s a lily among thorns, a flower so beautiful and rare that she puts all other flowers to shame. They look like weeds in comparison.
Even though this is an ancient love story using language that is foreign to our modern sensibilities, there is truth in these verses for all of us. First this story reminds us to settle for nothing less than the courtship it describes. Don’t allow a guy to treat you like a lily of the valley, using your body or your attention like he might use any other girl. Wait for the man who sees you as the lily among thorns that you are. And it’s not enough for him to say it–he must demonstrate it with his actions. Does he treat you in a way that sets you apart? Does he guard your purity and speak about you in a way that is honoring? Does he hold you in high esteem as the precious treasure that you are?
But more importantly, this verse must be read within a larger context. Throughout the history of the Church, Song of Solomon has been interpreted as an allegory for God’s love for us. God pursues us and ravishes us in what can only be described as the greatest love story ever told. And given that fact, we must remember that when the lover defends the beauty and honor of his beloved, God does the same for us.
Ladies, not one of us is common. Not one of us is ordinary or plain. God did not create ordinary or plain, because He only created those things which reflect His character, a character that is beautiful, magnificent, awe-inspiring, and good.
He also created each one of us to be different–each one of us has something unique to offer the world, which is why he designed each one of us so personally and intimately–He had a specific purpose in mind. That said, you are never a lily among many, because there isn’t a single lily in all of creation that is like you.
So the next time you feel like an average Rose of Sharon, or a common lily of the valley, stop and listen to the words that God is whispering into your heart: “Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens.” You are His darling.