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Getting to Know the Bible: Song of Solomon Overview

Updated: Feb 5, 2023

Peace & Blessings Beloved,

TGBTG for allowing us to see another day. I pray all is well with you and yours, and that your week has been fruitful & blessed thus far.


Today we are going to visit our Getting to Know the Bible Series. In this series, our goal is to come to a comprehensive understanding of each book of the bible. At this point of the series we're going to focus on Song of Solomon. But before we get to Song of Solomon 1, I want to ensure we have a baseline understanding of the book of Song of Solomon. This way we can have a full appreciation for the exquisiteness of the entire book, as well as each individual chapter.


And so, in that spirit, see below for a comprehensive overview of the book of Song of Solomon, as we prepare to behold and discern Songs of Solomon, beginning with Song of Solomon 1 in our next installment of this series.





Book Type: The sixth book of Wisdom; the twenty-second book of the Old Testament.


Author: King Solomon, specifically named seven times either as an author (Song of Solomon 1:1) or as the major character (Song of Solomon 1:5; 3:7, 9, 11; 8:11, 12).


Date of Writing: Solomon wrote the book during his reign as king of Israel, meaning he composed it sometime between 971 and 931 BC. Scholars who hold to Solomon’s authorship tend to agree that the song was written early in his reign.


Audience: The people of Israel.


Theme:

In ancient Israel everything human came to expression in words: reverence, gratitude, anger, sorrow, suffering, trust, friendship, commitment, loyalty, hope, wisdom, moral outrage, repentance. In the Song, it is love that finds words -- inspired words that disclose its exquisite charm and beauty as one of God's choicest gifts. The voice of love in the Song, like that of wisdom in Proverbs 8:1--9:12, is a woman's voice, suggesting that love and wisdom draw men powerfully with the subtlety and mystery of a woman's allurements.

This feminine voice speaks profoundly of love. She portrays its beauty and delights. She claims its exclusiveness (My lover is mine and I am his, 2:16) and insists on the necessity of its pure spontaneity (Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires, 2:7). She also proclaims its overwhelming power -- it rivals that of the fearsome enemy, death; it burns with the intensity of a blazing fire; it is unquenchable even by the ocean depths (8:6-7a). She affirms its preciousness: All that one possesses cannot purchase it, nor (alternatively) should it be exchanged for it (8:7b). She hints, without saying so explicitly, that it is the Lord's gift.


God intends that such love -- grossly distorted and abused by both ancient and modern people -- be a normal part of marital life in his good creation (see Genesis 1:26-31; 2:24). Indeed, in the Song the faithful Israelite could ascertain how to live lovingly within the theocratic arrangement. Such marital love is designed by the Creator-King to come to natural expression within his realm.


Original Language: Hebrew


Genre: Love poetry


Title: The title in the Hebrew text is Solomon's Song of Songs, meaning a song by, for, or about Solomon. The phrase Song of Songs means the greatest of songs.


Purpose of Writing:

The Song of Solomon is a lyric poem written to extol the virtues of love between a husband and his wife. The poem clearly presents marriage as God's design. A man and woman are to live together within the context of marriage, loving each other spiritually, emotionally, and physically.


This book combats two extremes: asceticism (the denial of all pleasure) and hedonism (the pursuit of only pleasure). The marriage profiled in Song of Solomon is a model of care, commitment, and delight.


Summary:

The poetry takes the form of a dialogue between a husband (the king) and his wife (the Shulamite). We can divide the book into three sections: the courtship (1:1-3:5); the wedding (3:6-5:1); and the maturing marriage (5:2-8:14).


The song begins before the wedding, as the bride-to-be longs to be with her betrothed, and she looks forward to his intimate caresses. However, she advises letting love develop naturally, in its own time. The king praises the Shulamite's beauty, overcoming her feelings of insecurity about her appearance. The Shulamite has a dream in which she loses Solomon and searches throughout the city for him. With the help of the city guards, she finds her beloved and clings to him, taking him to a safe place. Upon waking, she repeats her injunction not to force love.


On the wedding night, the husband again praises the beauty of his wife, and in highly symbolic language, the wife invites her spouse to partake of all she has to offer. They make love, and God blesses their union.


As the marriage matures, the husband and wife go through a difficult time, symbolized in another dream. In this second dream, the Shulamite rebuffs her husband, and he leaves. Overcome with guilt, she searches the city for him; but this time, instead of helping her, the guards beat her, symbolic of her pained conscience. Things end happily as the lovers reunite and are reconciled.


As the song ends, both the husband and wife are confident and secure in their love, they sing of the lasting nature of true love, and they yearn to be in each other's presence.


Overview:

Song of Solomon includes eight chapters that can be organized in three major sections. The first section addresses the courtship between the man and woman (Song of Solomon 1:1-3:5). The woman confesses her love (Song of Solomon 1:2-7), while Solomon and the woman speak romantically toward one another (Song of Solomon 1:8-2:7). The woman expresses adoration regarding Solomon (Song of Solomon 2:8-3:5), describing a vivid dream she has regarding their relationship (3:1-5).


The second section involves the wedding of the two lovers (Song of Solomon 3:6-5:1). The groom arrives in great splendor (Song of Solomon 3:6–11). The wedding takes place and the discussion escalates to the first night of the married couple together (Song of Solomon 4:1-5:1).


The third section focuses on various aspects of married life, addressing three major areas. First, the couple experiences an argument (Song of Solomon 5:2-6:3). Second, the lovers work through their conflict and promptly restore their desires for one another (Song of Solomon 6:4-8:4). The final verses speak of additional areas where the married couple can grow together (Song of Solomon 8:5-14).


Historically, some interpreters have taken a non-literal approach to this book due to its emphasis on romance and sexuality. Jewish scholars have sometimes seen the account as highlighting the love between God and His chosen people. Christians have often suggested an allegorical interpretation to represent the relationship of Christ's love for the church, the bride of Christ.


Though some applications may exist in these attempts, it is not necessary to take such an allegorical approach in order to understand the message of Song of Solomon. A straightforward reading of the text highlights the importance of intimate love between a husband and wife, within the context of a natural, God-designed marriage, as God originally intended.


Foreshadowing:

Some Bible interpreters see in Song of Solomon an exact symbolic representation of Christ and His church. Christ is seen as the king, while the church is represented by the Shulamite. While we believe the book should be understood literally as a depiction of marriage, there are some elements that foreshadow the Church and her relationship with her king, the Lord Jesus. Song of Solomon 2:4 describes the experience of every believer who is sought and bought by the Lord Jesus. We are in a place of great spiritual wealth and are covered by His love. Verse 16 of chapter 2 says, My beloved is mine, and I am his. He feeds his flock among the lilies (NKJV). Here is a picture of not only the security of the believer in Christ (John 10:28-29), but of the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep, believers, and lays down His life for us (John 10:11). Because of Him, we are no longer stained by sin, having had our spots removed by His blood (Song of Solomon 4:7; Ephesians 5:27).


Application:

Our world is confused about marriage. The prevalence of divorce and modern attempts to redefine marriage stand in glaring contrast to Solomon's Song. Marriage, says the biblical poet, is to be celebrated, enjoyed, and revered. This book provides some practical guidelines for strengthening our marriages: 1) Give your spouse the attention he or she needs. Take the time to truly know your spouse. 2) Encouragement and praise, not criticism, are vital to a successful relationship. 3) Enjoy each other. Delight in God's gift of married love. 4) Do whatever is necessary to reassure your commitment to your spouse. God intends for you both to live in a deeply peaceful, secure love.


Key Verses (ESV):


Song of Solomon 2:7: "I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases." Song of Solomon 5:1: "I came to my garden, my sister, my bride, I gathered my myrrh with my spice, I ate my honeycomb with my honey, I drank my wine with my milk. | Eat, friends, drink, and be drunk with love!" Song of Solomon 8:6–7: "Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised."


*Note:

Song of Solomon takes its title from the first verse of the book, which mentions who the song comes from: “The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s (Song of Solomon 1:1). The original Hebrew version of the book took its title from the book’s first two words, shiyr hashiyrim, usually translated as the song of songs. This latter title remained in Greek and Latin Bible translations in later centuries. The repetition of the word song indicates that the writer considered this the greatest of all songs.


Solomon wrote the book during his reign as king of Israel, meaning he composed it sometime between 971 and 931 BC. Scholars who hold to Solomon’s authorship tend to agree that the song was written early in his reign, not merely because of the youthful exuberance of the poetry but because his harem of 140 women, mentioned in 6:8, is relatively low in number compared to the final tally of 1,000 (1 Kings 11:3). Also, the author mentioned place names from both the north and the south of the country, including Lebanon and Egypt, reminding us of the relative peace and good relations among these nations early in Solomon’s reign.


This book remains singular within the Old Testament for at least two reasons: its character as a single poem and its subject matter, particularly the frank discussion of love between a married couple. The Song of Solomon’s willingness to broach the topic of physical love within marriage has made many of its readers throughout history uncomfortable. But as a testament to the beauty of the marriage relationship in its fullness, Song of Solomon stands out with its uniquely detailed vision of this beautiful reality.


May we establish, nurture, and grow a sincere love for the word of God, and study it lovingly & faithfully.

I pray you receive this with the love intended, and apply it to wisdom.


May the joy of the Lord continue to be your strength.


Love you much.


Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Blessed!


-Humble Servant


P.S- If you have not given your life to Jesus Christ, I implore you to take the time to do so right now. Use John 3:16 & Romans 10:9-10 as a foundation for making your confession of faith. And use Ephesians 2:1-10 to provide proper context for your salvation.

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