SONG OF SONGS
A LOVE POEM
The Song of Songs, or as it is sometimes called, The Song of Solomon, is a poem whose theme is the love between man and woman. Many of the pictures in the poetry are pictures from the countryside; we often call this kind of poetry “pastoral poetry” because of its references to things of the pasture. (“I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.” “My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag.”) The lovers in the poem are filled with passion and delight in their love for one another. The whole book seems to be made up of the words of the woman lover, the male lover, and their friends. The NIV translation has indicated the three different speakers in the poem by putting in the margin the names “Beloved,” “Lover,” and “Friends.” The reader of the Song of Songs is soon struck by the open expression of the physical attraction between the beloved and her lover. Some find parts of the poem almost embarrassing for that reason. But we must remember that it is God himself who created the attraction between the sexes. It is his plan that a man and his wife enjoy this attraction for one another as they live as “one flesh.” God made the attraction between husband and wife to be something “very good.” It is only man in his sinful lust that often turns God’s very good thing into something dirty.
ALLEGORICAL OR LITERAL
Both Jews and Christians have interpreted the Song of Songs to be an allegory that pictures the love of God for his people. (An allegory is a story that tells real or imagined things for the purpose of teaching higher things.) According to this idea, Christ would be the lover in the poem, and the Church would be his beloved bride. This may be a valid interpretation, but it must be said that there is nothing in the book itself to indicate that it is an allegory. Of course it may be said that when we read about the love of the man and woman in the poem, we may well be reminded of that love that is above all human love – the love of Christ for his redeemed.
The title at the book’s beginning says: “Solomon’s Song of Songs.” This title may show that Solomon wrote the book, or it may show that the book is about Solomon and his love for his bride, called the Shulammite. Whatever we may say about the authorship and interpretation of the Song of Songs, we will always remember that the Holy Spirit is the divine author and that he included this book in his Holy Scriptures “to teach us” (Rom. 15:4). In this book he teaches us in beautiful poetry about God’s gift of human love at the same time that he reminds us of his greater love for us.
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