What does it say?
That we would read the Song of Solomon at this point in our chronological Bible reading should be no mystery. The Hebrew title translates literally as “the Song of Songs” or “The Best of Songs.” The tradition of Solomon as author is so strong that in English it is called simply the Song of Solomon.
This book is one of the enigmas of the Old Testament and the only Old Testament book not directly quoted in the New. But for both Jews and Christians this book has held a revered place, even though interpretations of its meaning abound. As part of the Magilloth, or Scrolls read on feast days, Orthodox Jews read the Song of Songs on the 8th day of Passover.
Even to this day in many parts of the biblical world, royal or wealthy weddings are celebrated over the course of seven days. Each evening in the banquet setting, the bride and groom celebrate some aspect of their relationship, often accompanied by those in the wedding party. Drama, dance, music, song, poetry and any other creative media are employed in the storytelling (with video and PowerPoint today). There is no attempt to be chronological or exhaustive in telling the stories. Whatever your understanding, most Bible students recognize that this song is divided into a series of seven vignettes or idyls. Think in these terms as you read of Solomon’s love for his Shulamite bride and imagine you are present each of the seven nights of the wedding feast to experience these stories.
What does it mean?
In a most straightforward way this song celebrates the beauty and intimacy of love between two human beings. As the son of David, we have already seen that Solomon in ways foreshadows another son of David, our Lord Jesus Christ. Here, Solomon takes a gentile bride just as Jesus Christ loves his predominantly gentile church, called the bride of Christ.
Be careful not to carry this image of Christ and the church to an extreme and get lost in the details. Suffice it to understand that that type of love displayed in this song is a mere glimpse of Christ’s love for his followers. It can be most confusing to know who is speaking at times – the bride, the groom or the chorus. Again, there is no attempt at a straight chronological time line as Westerners might tell a story.
How will I respond?
What one statement or image in this song impressed my heart today with the greatness of God’s love for his people? With whom can I share this thought today?