SONG OF SOLOMON
Tonight, we will be taking look at what some call the romance book of the Bible. While the contents of the book may make some blush, it is pretty tame compared to what we are exposed to in our society today. However, we learn from the early writers of Origen and Jerome that the Jews forbade it from being read until a person was at least 30 years old. Indeed this is an account of the intense love between a man and women who loves each other and it expresses their thoughts about each other and how they long for each other. It expresses the kind of love that every engaged and married couple should have for each other.
The Hebrew name for the book is “The Song of Songs,” meaning that it is the best of all songs, presumably the best of out of the 1005 songs the Solomon wrote (1 Kgs. 4:32). This book is not quoted anywhere in the N.T.
There are three main divisions in this book:
Though this is a short book (only 117 verses), it has a large number of uncommon words. It contains 470 different Hebrew words (which is unusually high for this size of book). Of those words, 47 are unique to the book itself, 51 words occur in other parts of the Old Testament five times or less, 45 words occur between six and ten times, and an additional 27 words occur between eleven and twenty times. This leaves about 300 common words in the Song of Solomon. What compounds this problem is that there are only eighteen verses which include words that are all familiar to Hebrew experts.
Lloyd Carr notes concerning this point:
In other words, more than one third of the words in the Song occur so infrequently that there is little context from which accurate meanings can be deduced, and two thirds of the verses of the Song have uncommon words.
Hence, many of the proposals made in the various translations and commentaries are, at best, educated guesses; particularly in the case of those words which are unique to the Song, they may well be incorrect (Carr, The Song of Solomon, IVP, p. 41).
This is why the Song of Solomon is considered to be one the most difficult books for translators because they rely heavily on how certain words are used, the less frequently they are used the more difficult it becomes to give render the Hebrew word with a English word with the same meaning.
While this is a love song, it is a poetic love song and it is considered to be a superb Hebrew poetic composition by scholars. However, since this song has sudden transition from speaker to speaker, and from place to place without explaining when this happens, makes it difficult to figure out who is talking and where they are at times. There is way to tell when the speaker changes and who is talking and the NKJV and I sure probably some of the new versions make it easier to keep up because the translators have inserted who is speaking, which helps take some of the confusion away.
Some of the speakers you will see in this song, is the Bride sometimes called the Beloved or the Shulammite, The king also called her Beloved, and a chorus of palace ladies called, Daughters of Jerusalem and there are a few other people that are referred to as well.
Most scholars to believe that Solomon is the author, though there are some critics that say otherwise. One thing that some find difficult to accept is how Solomon, who had 700 wives and 300 concubines, could have had such a love interest in one woman. While this might sound like a valid argument, there is a valid reason Solomon could have found this great love with one woman.
The Song itself teaches us that when Solomon had found this great love that it was earlier on in his life because:
Song of Solomon 6:8 There are sixty queens And eighty concubines, And virgins without number.
While this was still great numbers of wives and concubines, it was still a great deal away from 1000 he ended up with. We also have to keep in mind that many of the wives and concubines he ended up with were because of political reasons and not because of love. So it is certainly possible that Solomon could have found this one woman that he fell in love with and had this deep connection with. In Solomon’s other writings, he certainly expressed the thought of having such an intense love with your wife.
Proverbs 5:18 Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice with the wife of your youth. 19 As a loving deer and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; And always be enraptured with her love.
Ecclesiastes 9:9 Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun,
Then there is the evidence that he wrote this song.
For those of us that believe that Solomon is the author, the date of the is writing was around 960 B.C., but those who reject him as the author put it around 200 B.C.
Some additional points about this book is:
Since this book is unique in the Bible, people approach in different ways. There are three main ways that some view this work.
1. Some view it as a drama. Origen (250 A.D.) was the first to suggest this view and some commentators think this might be the correct view. They basically look at the book as being a play that is to be sung or acted out. Generally, for a writing to be viewed as a drama, it must have the following elements:
There is several weaknesses to this approach:
“Considerable experience in theatrical productions and direction has persuaded me that the Song, as it now stands, is unactable. It would be virtually impossible to stage effectively without major rewriting, and it lacks the dramatic impact to hold an audience” (Carr, The Song of Solomon, IVP, p. 34).
second more popular way that people approach this book is that it is allegory
or an extended metaphor used to teach deeper spiritual message. For example the
Jews read this book at the Passover and believe it allegorically refers to the
Exodus when God made
In a similar way, Christians see the song referring allegorically to Christ and His church and His great love for the church. After all the church is called the bride of Christ (Mt. 9:15; Jn. 3:29; Eph. 5:23).
There are certainly many allegories found within the Bible along with type and antitypes and I see no real harm with making Song of Solomon take on these kinds of allegories. However, there are several reasons I do not believe this was the intended purpose of this book.
The third approach to this book is the literal didactic moral view. Simply put this means that Song of Solomon was records a literal event, but at the same time teaches moral principles. This is why I believe it was read at the Passover by the Jews because most women would be present at this feast. It would be excellent to teach the husband and wife how they should feel about one another in spite of their individual imperfections.
This is the most logical view in my opinion, and it provides God’s children with some directions about intimacy and marriage. Its purpose is to teach some very important principles about marriage and shows that sexual relations in marriage are not wrong, but what God intended. Only sexual relations outside of marriage are condemned in the Bible.
“The book then was intended as a commentary on Genesis 2:24 and a manual on the blessing and reward of intimate married love once Yahweh had lit the flame and given the capability of enjoyment” (Walter C. Kaiser,Toward an Old Testament Theology, Zondervan, 1978, p. 180).
Also notice Carr said about this:
“A frequent Old Testament term for the sexual union of a man and a woman is the verb ‘know’ (e.g., Gen. 4:1, etc.). It is worthy to note that the most intimate knowledge of another person is not on the basis of intellectual exchange or the discussion of theological ideas, but in the intimate, sexual union of male and female. In this light it should not be considered obscene that at least one book of the Bible be dedicated to the celebration of one of the central realities of our creature hood. The song does celebrate the dignity and purity of human love. This is a fact that has not always been sufficiently stressed. The Song, therefore, is didactic and moral in its purpose. It comes to us in this world of sin, where lust and passion are on every hand, where fierce temptations assail us and try to turn us aside from the God- given standard of marriage. And it reminds us, in particularly
beautiful fashion, how pure and noble true love is.” (Carr, The Song of Solomon, IVP, p. 34).
I have no problem with you viewing the Song of Solomon as being an allegory, but what makes the most sense to me is that is a literal event with moral principles taught about marriage and the love between man and woman.
This song tells us the story of King Solomon wooing and wedding a shepherdess. It gives us a beautiful yet straightforward description of martial love. It gives both men and women great advice on how to treat each other and to love each other. It also teaches the proper place for conjugal love as does the N.T.
1 Corinthians 7:1 Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
The book also teaches the unwed not to rush into intimate realationship:
Song of Solomon 8:4 I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, Do not stir up nor awaken love Until it pleases.
While the world says it is not big deal and that everybody does it, God’s Word teaches us to remain pure until the day we are wed. Since this is a more mature book, I am not going to be teaching it verse by verse as I have done many of the other O.T. books, and I also limiting some of the things I could discuss in detail if I were only speaking to married folks. So, I would suggest that you read this book on your own, learn from it, and let it rekindle that great love you should have for each other.
To help you get more out of your reading, please note the following subjects that are being discussed in each chapter:
Chapter 1 The Bride’s love for the King. Mostly words of her own devotion, with brief replies by the King and Chorus.
Chapter 2 The Bride’s delight in the King’s love. Mostly her own words spoken to herself about the King’s embraces.
Chapter 3: 1-5 The Bride’s dream of her lover’s disappearance, and her joy of finding him again.
Chapter 3: 6-11 The Bridal procession. Greetings, in the palace garden, of the nuptial chariot, and by the palace ladies.
Chapter 4 The King adores his bride. She replies, inviting him to her garden of martial delights.
Chapter 5 Another dream of her lover’s disappearance, following their nuptial union; and her devotion to him.
Chapter 6 The Shulammite is recognized by the king and the 140 beauties of the palace as being the loveliest among them.
Chapter 7 Their mutual devotion, told each to the other in a profusion of spring-song metaphors.
Chapter 8 The love unquenchable, and their union indissoluble; words partly from bride and partly from the chorus.
This is great book for us to read. Not only does it remind us of the love we are to have for our spouse it also teaches us the importance of choosing the right mate because we must understand that marriage is suppose to be for life. If we cannot see ourselves growing old with the person we are going to marry or see them as one that will help us get to heaven, they don’t get married to them.
Before I close out this lesson, I do want to read some of our text that shows how Solomon poured his thoughts out for how he felt about his spouse. It seems when we first start getting to know the woman we are going to marry, we spend a lot more time wooing her and telling her how special she is, but sometimes we lose sight of that as the years pass on and take it for granted that she knows we still feel that way about her. Well, I can promise you, our wives love to be reminded about how much we love them and want to be with them.
While this is not the kind of language we would use today, notice how Solomon expresses his love to his spouse.
Song of Solomon 4:1 Behold, you are fair, my
love! Behold, you are fair! You have dove's eyes behind your veil.
Your hair is like a flock of goats, Going down from
Now that is what the ladies would call being romantic. Guys are certainly wired differently than women and their focus is not so much on words, but they do still like hearing pleasant things about them from their wives. For example notice what Shulammite says about her beloved.
Song of Solomon 5:10 My
beloved is white and ruddy, Chief among ten thousand. 11 His head is like the
finest gold; His locks are wavy, And black as a raven. 12 His eyes are like doves
By the rivers of waters, Washed with milk, And fitly set. 13 His cheeks are like a bed
of spices, Banks of scented herbs. His lips are lilies, Dripping liquid
myrrh. 14 His hands are rods
of gold Set with beryl. His body is carved ivory Inlaid with sapphires. 15 His legs are pillars of
marble Set on bases of fine gold. His countenance is like
Let us learn from this intense love song that as married couples need to keep the passion alive in our marriage. God has given us each other to enjoy the benefits of marriage both physical and spiritual. If you or someone else is in the process of choosing a mate don’t jump into marriage without seriously considering if you want to be with that person for the rest of your life and if that person is going to be one this is going to help you remain faithful to the Lord. So read the book and learn from it.
I used the following resources to help prepare this lesson: Hailey’s handbook and WBVS commentary on Song of Solomon.