Today’s reading took me to the Song of Solomon. Over the last 15 years, I have grown to love this book and, in light of that, I thought I would share my thoughts about it.
When I was a young church boy, I knew the Song of Solomon to be the book of the Bible that talks about breasts. Needless to say, I liked when we read it in Sunday school (which I would not suggest). I was always told that it was a story about Christ and the church, but With all the obvious, physically intimate imagery, my young mind couldn’t compute that analysis of the book. When I reached high school at my next church, my youth leader explained that it wasn’t a picture of Christ and the church, but a story about a godly relationship that stood as an example to its original readers, and us today. He taught the book every summer and called the series, “The Summer of Love”. It was immensely helpful in my understanding of God’s plan for marriage, and helped shape my relationship with Jess.
Looking back however, I think I have to say that both approaches to the book are incomplete. If we’re committed to Scripture as a real, historical and divine work written to specific places, we have to believe that a completely allegorical (symbolic) view is wrong. But, If the every story really does whisper the name of Christ, as Sally Lloyd-Jones says in The Jesus Storybook Bible, then we can’t see this book as merely a story of two pure lovers, but as something deeper still.
I would say that Song of Solomon is a story of two lovers who stand as an example of purity and point in many ways to an eternal Bride and Groom who will forever live in unity and perfect love.
With that in mind, here are some of the themes in the Song that echo the relationship between Christ and the church, and give both men and women important insight into the way a relationship is meant to work:
Solomon protects His bride from impurity (2:15)
Solomon kindly leads His bride (5:2-4)
His kindness leads her to repentance for her selfish behavior (chp 5-6)
He receives her without a hint of condemnation (6:4f)
The Shulammite (the bride) finds her value through the eyes of the King, not her appearance or position (1:5f)
Solomon pursues and receives his bride with joy (3:6-11)
Solomon delights in the Shulammite and she in him (Chp 4, 5:10f – also, pretty much the whole song)
These are just a few of the themes that run throughout the book. You can see in them both the temporal (physical, here and now) application, but it is also not difficult to see how this song creates some unique and beautiful imagery in relation to Christ and His love for the church. We should find much joy from reading this book for both reasons. God has given us a gift in the Song, and we would do well to receive it with joy.