Song of Songs

It is difficult to know what this book means. And it is hard to know the purpose of it. It has confused Christians for centuries. In the 17th century, leaders met at the famous Westminster Assembly. They said that the book was not clear and that it was a mystery.

So, we must be careful. We must not give an exact explanation. We must not think that we are right, and that other people are wrong. Some people see the Song as a play.

But it is not always easy to explain its details. This is because various actors have parts in the play. And the reader must decide, from the text, which actor is speaking. Sometimes this is easy. At other times, it is hard. We cannot be sure about the identity of each speaker.

The main idea is ‘true love’. True love never changes when things are difficult. It is a love that will have all kinds of tests. But it will remain completely loyal. Human love is a major part of happy and healthy living. And The Song of Solomon shows that kind of love. We see love's joys and love's tests. We also see love's security.

There are other explanations. But they all have problems. One important Bible translation in English is the New International Version. It has a note in the text. It says that some of its own divisions and titles are doubtful. The Song could be a play. And this is the way that I will explain it. But we must all remember something. It is this. Other speakers interrupt at times.

A Description of True Love

Introduction of the Shulammite girl (1:2-2:7).

[Note: Shulammite means that the girl came from a place called Shulam.]

She describes herself (1:5-6). She desires her lover.

[Note: A lover is someone who loves. This is usually about love between a man and a woman.]

Her lover is a shepherd. A shepherd cares for sheep. They both belong to the same part of the country. But she seems to be away from her home. She is probably among the women at Solomon's palace (2:7).

Introduction of the shepherd lover (2:8-3:5). The young man comes with an appeal. He wants the girl to leave the palace (2:10-13). But she seems to ask him for time to think about it (2:17). During the night, she cannot sleep (3:1). Then she is sorry that she did not go with him. The meeting in 3:1-5 could be a dream.

The Test of True Love

The arrival of the wealthy king (3:6-4:16). There is a clear description. Solomon arrives from the desert with a large group of people (3:6-11). Chapter 4:1-15 could be the king's words. He praises the beautiful girl when he sees her. But the Shulammite girl wants the man whom she loves. She wants her lover, the shepherd, to be with her (4:16).

The return of the shepherd lover (5:1-6:3). This could also be a dream (5:2). This time, she does not find him. And there are people who oppose her (5:6-8). Her companions at the palace do not understand. They ask why she is so loyal to the shepherd. They wonder what was so special about him (5:9). Then they see how important he is to her. So they offer to help her to search for him (6:1). They think that this would be in or near Jerusalem. But she explains that he has returned to the country (6:2).

The appeal of the wealthy king (6:4-13). It seems that the king now has an interview with the girl. He tells her that she is more special to him than all the other women (6:8-9). And this makes the other women jealous (6:9b). But the king's feelings do not matter to the girl. Chapter 6:11-12 seems to describe the time when she leaves the palace. Her companions appeal for her to return in 6:13.

The Proof of True Love

The welcome of the shepherd lover (7:1-9). He feels great excitement when he sees her again.

The loyal Shulammite girl (7:10-8:14). Every lover thinks and feels certain things. It has been the same from the beginning of time. And this girl is the same.

  • She wants to be with him every minute of the day (7:11).
  • He makes everything else in life better. Everything seems much more wonderful (7:13).
  • She wishes that she had known him all her life (8:1a).
  • She is very proud of him when they are with other people (8:1b).

She declares her loyal love for the shepherd (8:6-7). Then she speaks about her younger sister. She is not a mature girl. She might follow her older sister to Jerusalem at some time. And the Shulammite girl hopes that her young sister will be like her. She hopes that her love will be loyal and true too (8:8-10).

What is the value of this book for our time?

It has moral value. Campbell Morgan was famous. He was a preacher and a writer. And he spoke about 2:7, 3:5 and 8:4. These verses repeat an appeal that warns people. Love is something so holy that people must not joke about it. Someone who has no respect for the ability to love destroys that very ability. Campbell Morgan thought that this was the evil of all careless sexual relationships. The Song is for any woman who amuses herself with a man's feelings. And it is for any man who has no respect for a woman's feelings. The Song is also for our society today. Our society today allows sex of any sort.

It has social value. This book appeals for a person's love to be loyal. Today, the failure of marriage is very common. And the book has a clear message about this. E. J. Young was a Christian writer. He said that the Song of Solomon ‘comes to us in this world of sin’. Then he spoke about the many things that tempt us in a fierce way. These things would make us neglect God's standards for marriage. And the Song reminds us that true love is holy. And it has high moral principles.

It has value as literature. The Song's words sound strange to western people. But it has great beauty as literature. And everybody can see this. Much of the modern literature about love is evil.

It has value as a symbol (sign). There are dangers in this way of seeing the Song. But it also shows important truths. The Jews have always thought this. Here is one example. They see the Song as a description of the love of their God. Christians see the appeal of Christ's love in it. (Examples are 2:10 and 5:2-8.) The Jews also feel that the Song shows true human love.

It has spiritual value. (The part of life that relates to God.) We could make every detail into a symbol. This could just cause confusion. But there is something that we can see clearly. The Song speaks about our own love for Christ. One example is in 5:2-8. We see the appeal of the one who comes to our door. (Compare Revelation 3:20.) But when he comes, we often have excuses. (Compare Luke 14:16-24.)

We must answer an important question. Do we love him? (Read Jeremiah 2:2; Matthew 24:12; Luke 7:44-47; John 21:15 and Revelation 2:4).