If your Relationship, Passion, or Marriage seems like it’s stranded on the side of the road, then this series will reignite the spark and get your motor running! God has given us a divine manual on romantic relationships in the Song of Solomon, taking us from a couple’s initial attraction through courtship, marriage, honeymoon, conflict, and deepening intimacy. These scriptures are insightful and (at times) explicit, but offer guidance toward the emotionally-satisfying relationships and marriage that God desires for you. I hope you can join us!
In this post, I’d like to introduce the book, Song of Solomon and then begin to explain its poetic language. It’s a moving story, drama, and poem that features the love dialogue between a simple Jewish maiden (the young woman) and her lover (Solomon, the king). They describe in intimate detail their feelings for each other and their longings to be together. Throughout the dialogue, sex and marriage are put in a God-given perspective.
The most explicit statements on sex in the Bible can be found in this book using very sensuous language. God created sex and intimacy, and they are holy and good when enjoyed within marriage. A husband and wife honor God when they love and enjoy each other. The message of passion, sexuality and commitment represented here are greatly needed in our day in where confused and misleading attitudes about love and marriage are commonplace.
God created sex to be enjoyed is described in the context of a loving relationship between husband and wife. Solomon probably wrote this “song” in his youth, before being overtaken by his own obsession with women, sex, and pleasure.
Introduction to the Song of Solomon
Author: Solomon, a son of King David, became king and was chosen by God to build the Temple in Jerusalem. God gave him extraordinary wisdom. Much of Solomon’s reign was characterized by wisdom and reverence for God although, toward the end of his life, he became proud and turned from God. Read about Solomon in 1 Kings 1-11. Solomon wrote and collected more than 3,000 proverbs (see the book of Proverbs) and over 1,000 songs, one of which is this book, Song of Songs.
Solomon frequently visited the various parts of his kingdom. One day, as he was visiting some royal vineyards in the north, his royal entourage came by surprise upon a beautiful peasant woman tending the vines. Embarrassed, she ran from them. But Solomon could not forget her. Later, disguised as a shepherd, he returned to the vineyards and won her love. Then he revealed his true identity and asked her to return to Jerusalem with him. Solomon and his beloved are being married in the palace as this book begins.
The Song of Songs is a series of seven poems describing the first meeting of Solomon and the peasant woman, their engagement, their wedding, their wedding night, and the growth of their marriage after the wedding.
Solomon understood the joys and virtues of married love and wrote this beautiful book. He ultimately had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3) and in so doing violated the law of the Lord (Deut. 17:17). He married many of his princess wives mainly to establish peaceful and profitable relations with their fathers.
Theme. There are many theological overtones to this book, but the major theme is the excitement and enjoyment of God’s gifts of sex, love, and marriage. Unlike some religions that condemn physical pleasures in general and sex in particular, both Jews and Christians see life and its physical pleasures as the gifts of God. This is especially true of marriage and the intimate love of husband and wife. Sex and marriage were taken very seriously in the Jewish culture. Engagement was a binding relationship that could be severed only by divorce, and premarital sin and adultery were dealt with severely. Weddings were joyful occasions that lasted a week, and the union was expected to last a lifetime. The Jews gladly accepted God’s gifts of sex and marriage and were not embarrassed to admit it.
Story. Unlike modern novels, this book doesn’t present an obvious story line, but it seems to have a definite plot which is “discovered” as you read the book carefully. The cast of characters is small: King Solomon; the lovely woman (the “Shulamite,” a feminine form of the name Solomon) who becomes his wife; the Shulamite’s brothers (1:5-6; 8:8-10); and “the daughters of Jerusalem” who function as a background chorus. It is the Shulamite who does most of the speaking in the book.
The Shulamite’s brothers were employed by Solomon to care for his vineyards, but they put their sister to work in them as well (8:11-14). King Solomon, disguised as a shepherd, visited his vineyards, saw the Shulamite, and fell in love with her (1:1-2:7). She pictures their times together as a rich banquet. The next spring, he came to her and proposed marriage, and she accepted, but he had to go away for a time, promising to come back. While he was absent, she dreamed about him (3:1-5). Then he returned and revealed that he was King Solomon. They married and consummated their marriage on their wedding night (3:6-5:1). The remainder of the book describes the celebration of their love as they experienced various adventures together.
This book has a great deal to teach us about God’s gift to men and women of the pleasures of love and sex. But it also presents the divine standards God has set for marriage, illustrating the joyful privileges and serious obligations husbands and wives have toward God and each other (see 1 Cor. 7:1-5; Eph. 5:22-33; 1 Peter 3:1-7). The Jews called the Song of Solomon “the Holy of Holies” of Scripture and wouldn’t allow it to be read by the young and immature.
The Song of Solomon uses many images from nature—gardens, fields, mountains, flocks, birds, flowers, spices, and animals—and the love of the man and woman fits right into this context. All nature is God’s gift to us and should be used for His glory, including human nature and the wonderful gift of sexuality. When a husband and wife have a beautiful and holy relationship, their whole world becomes beautiful and holy. Without dodging reality or defiling God’s gifts, the book deals quite frankly with human sexuality and shows how it can be sanctified and used for God’s glory. It is a book of metaphors and similes that uses many literary devices to show us the wonder and glory of divine and human love.
Interpretation. The Jewish rabbis saw the Song of Solomon as a book extolling human love and the proper use of sex in marriage. They also saw the book as an illustration of God’s love for His people Israel and His desire to share a deeper love with His people. Christian interpreters take the same approach, seeing in Song of Solomon the love relationship between Christ and His church.
Christ “Greater than Solomon.” Whatever Solomon was, had, or did, Jesus far surpassed him, for He is indeed “greater than Solomon” (Matt. 12:42). Solomon was known for his great wisdom (1 Kings 4:29), but Jesus Christ is the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24), and in Him all of God’s wisdom dwells. Solomon was also known for his wealth (1 Kings 10:14-29), but in Jesus Christ there are “unsearchable riches” (Eph. 3:8; see Phil. 4:19). Solomon disobeyed God and married many wives, but Jesus obeyed the Father and died on the cross that He might have a spotless bride for all eternity (Eph. 5:25-27; Rev. 21:2-9). The relationship described between Solomon and the Shulamite pictures to us the love between Christ and His bride, and when Jesus returns and takes His people to heaven, the bride will become His wife. Solomon built a temple that was ultimately destroyed, but Jesus is building His temple, the church (Matt. 16:18), and it will glorify Him forever (Eph. 2:20-22).
I hope you can join us for this great series! Darrell
The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty.
Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) – Old Testament – The Bible Exposition Commentary – Wisdom and Poetry.
Life Application Bible Study Notes