Song of Songs

Introduction to the Song of Songs

Rose of Sharon Song of Songs
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The Song of Songs, sometimes called the Song of Solomon, is one of two books in the Bible that do not mention God.  The other is the book of Esther.

In short, the plot is about the courtship and marriage of a maiden referred to as the Shulammite. Some interpreters think this young woman may have been Abishag, who nursed King David in the last days of his life. Although she slept with David to keep him warm, she remained a virgin.

  After David's death, his son Adonijah wanted Abishag for his wife, which would have implied he had a claim to be king.  Solomon, the true heir to the throne, had Adonijah killed (1 Kings 2:23-25) and took Abishag for himself.

Early in his reign, King Solomon found love a thrilling experience, as reflected in this poem.  Later, however, he ruined the mystique by taking hundreds of wives and concubines.  His despair is a central theme of the book of Ecclesiastes

The Song of Songs is one of the Poetry and Wisdom books of the Bible, a sensuous love poem about the spiritual and sexual love between a husband and wife.  While some of its metaphors and descriptions may seem odd to us today, in ancient times they were considered elegant.

Because of the passionate allusions in this poem, ancient interpreters insisted it contained a deeper, symbolic meaning, such as God's love for Old Testament Israel or Christ's love for the church.

  It's true the reader can find verses in Song of Songs to support those ideas, but modern Bible scholars say the book has a simpler, practical application: how a husband and wife should treat each other.

That makes the Song of Songs remarkably relevant today.  With secular society trying to redefine marriage, God commands that it be between one man and one woman.

  Further, God commands that sex be limited to within marriage.

Sexuality is God's gift to married couples, and the Song of Songs celebrates that gift.  Its undisguised frankness may seem shocking, but God encourages both spiritual and physical tenderness between husband and wife.  As Wisdom literature, the Song is a poignant instruction manual on the type of mutual compassion every couple should strive for in marriage.

Author of the Song of Songs

King Solomon is generally acknowledged as the author, though some scholars say that is uncertain.

Date Written:

Approximately 940-960 B.C.

Written To:

Married couples and singles contemplating marriage.

Landscape of the Song of Songs

Ancient Israel, in the woman's garden and the king's palace.

Themes in the Song of Songs

  • Sex is a godly expression of love within marriage.
  • Husbands and wives should appreciate each other's good points and compliment them.
  • Constant communication is important in maintaining a strong, loving marriage.
  • Love grows deeper over the years when both partners are loyal and committed to the relationship.

Key Characters in the Song of Songs

King Solomon, the Shulammite woman, and her friends.

Key Verses:

Song of Songs 3:4
Scarcely had I passed them when I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go till I had brought him to my mother’s house, to the room of the one who conceived me.

(NIV)

Song of Songs 6:3

I am my lover’s and my lover is mine; he browses among the lilies. (NIV)

Song of Songs 8:7
Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned. (NIV)

Outline of the Song of Songs

  • The bride thinks about Solomon in the palace - Song of Songs 1:1 - 3:5.
  • The bride accepts the betrothal and looks forward to the joys of marriage - Song of Songs 3:6 - 5:1.
  • The bride dreams of losing the groom then finds him - Song of Songs 5:2 - 6:3.
  • The bride and groom praise each other in passionate love - Song of Songs 6:4 - 8:14.

(Sources:  Unger's Bible Handbook, Merrill F. Unger; How to Get Into the Bible, Stephen M. Miller; Life Application Study Bible, NIV, Tyndale Publishing; NIV Study Bible, Zondervan Publishing.