Handbook of Song of Solomon
SONG OF SOLOMON
Glorification of Wedded Love
A Love Song, set in blossoming Springtime, abounding in metaphors and a profusion of Oriental imagery, exhibiting-Solomon's fondness for Nature, Gardens, Meadows, Vineyards, Orchards and Flocks (l Kings 4:33).
It is called, The Song of Songs, possibly indicating that Solomon considered it the choicest of all the 1005 Songs which he wrote ( l Kings 4:32). Also called, Canticles. Thought to have been written to celebrate marriage to his favorite wife.
As o Poem
It is considered by scholars who are familiar with the structure of Hebrew Poetry to be a superb composition. But its sudden transition from speaker to speaker, and from place to place, with no explanation of its shifting scenes and actors, makes it difficult to understand. In Hebrew the change of speakers is indicated by gender: in some Bibles, by extra space.
It seems clear that the speakers are: a Bride, called the Shulammite (6:13): the King: and a Chorus of Palace Ladies called, Daughters of Jerusalem. Solomon's harem was as yet small, only 60 wives and 80 concubines, with innumerable virgins on the waiting list (6:8). It afterward grew to include 700 wives and 100 concubines (I Kings 11:3, where see note).
A common opinion, and probably the best, is that the Shulammite was Abishag, of Shunem, the fairest maiden in all the land, who attended David in his last days (I Kings 1:1-4), and who, no doubt, became Solomon's wife, for her marriage to another might have endangered his throne (I Kings 2:17, 22).
On its face, the poem is a eulogy of the Joys of Wedded Life. Its essence is to be found in its tender and devoted expressions of the intimate delights of Wedded Love. Even if it is no more than that, it is worthy a place in God's Word; for Marriage was ordained of God (Genesis 2:24). And on proper Mutual Attitudes in the inner
familiarities of Married Life depend, to a very large extent, Human Happiness and Welfare.
However, both Jews and Christians have seen deeper meanings in this poem. Jews read it at Passover as allegorically referring to the Exodus, where God espoused Israel to Himself as His Bride, His Love for Israel being here exemplified in the "Spontaneous Love of a Great King and-an Humble Maid." In Old Testament Israel is called God's Wife (Jeremiah 3:1; Ezekiel 16 and 23).
Christians have, quite commonly, regarded it as a Pre-Nuptial Song of Christ and- the Church; for, in the New Testament, the Church is called the Bride of Christ (Matthew 9:15; 25:1; John 3:29; II Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:23; Revelation 19:7; 21:2; 22:17); indicating that Human Wedlock is a sort of Counterpart and Foretaste
of the Rapturous Relation between Christ and His Church.
How could a Man with 1000 Women have a Love for any one of them that would be Fit to be Typical of Christ's Love for the Church? Well, a number of Old Testament saints were Polygamists, Even though God's Law was against it from the beginning, as Christ so plainly stated, yet in Old Testament times God seemed to have accommodated Himself, in measure, to prevailing customs. Kings generally had Many Wives. It was one of the signs of Royalty. And Solomon's devotion to this lovely girl did seem to be genuine and unmistakable. Then too he was King in the Family which was to produce the Messiah. And it seems not unfitting that his Marriage should, in a sense, prefigure the Messiah's Eternal Marriage to His Bride. The Joys of this Song, we think, will find their Climax in the Hallelujahs of'the Lamb's Marriage Supper (Revelation 19:6-9).
Subjects of the Chapters
To appreciate the meaning, try to identify the speakers, which, in some Passages, is not easy.
Chapter 1. The Bride's Love for the King. Mostly words of her own devotion, with brief replies by King and Chorus.
Chapter 2. The Bride's Delight in the King's Love. Mostly her own words, in soliloquy, about the King's embraces.
Chapter 3:1-5. The Bride's Dream of her Lover's Disappearance, and her Joy at finding him again.
Chapter 3:6-11. The Bridal Procession. Greetings, in the palace garden, of the Nuptial Chariot, by the palace ladies.
Chapter 4. The King Adores his Bride. She replies, inviting him to her garden of marital delights.
Chapter 5. Another Dream of her Lover's Disappearance, following their nuptial union; and her devotion to him.
Chapter 6. The Shulammite the Loveliest among the 140 beauties of the palace, and so recognized by them and the King.
Chapter 7. Their Mutual Devotion, told each to the other, in a profusion of Spring-song metaphors.
Chapter 8. Their Love Unquenchable, and their Union Indissoluble; words partly of Bride, and partly of Chorus.