This week, as we finish Ecclesiastes, we will begin reading the Song of Solomon.
Solomon is credited with having written 1,005 songs. Whether or not he wrote this book is just one of the things about the Song of Solomon that is disputed. The bride in the song is a young Shulamite woman (chapter 6:13). Because of this, it is considered by many that she came from the village of Shunem (mentioned in Joshua 19:17-21 and 2 Kings 4:8), located in the land the tribe of Issachar. Tirzah is mentioned as well, and the towns of Shunem and Tirzah were in the northern kingdom.
It is quite obvious to virtually everyone that reads the book that the sexual relationship is the subject of most of the book. But perhaps partly due to embarrassment, and partly due to the view that sex is a most ungodly subject, one does not need to search very hard to find writers that try to make the book into something else.
One viewpoint comes from traditional Targumim (Targum) explanations, which defines the book as an allegory with the congregation of Israel being the bride, and Solomon a representation of God. Another holds that the Shulamite is the church of Jesus Christ, and that Solomon in the story represents God. Neither of these theories make any sense, however, if one considers the great sin of Solomon with women. Apparently, the song was written fairly early in his exploits, as it only lists “sixty queens and eighty concubines, and virgins without number” (Song of Solomon 6:8). This was explicitly forbidden for a king in Deuteronomy 17:15-17. Another theory holds that there are actually three chief characters – Solomon, the Shulamite, and a shepherd boy who is her true love. But this one makes no sense either, because the Scripture clearly states that the Shulamite’s “beloved” is the king himself (Song of Solomon 1:12-14).
Anything, it seems, would be more palatable than a book of Scripture written about the fundamental and healthy relationship of love between a man and a woman. But such should not be the case if one considers it carefully. Who is there that is more qualified than the Creator of life (and yes, of sex itself), to “breathe out” the word on the subject of the most sacred act between a man and a woman? Time and again in the Bible, God has made it known to man (and woman) under what circumstances the sexual relationship is proper, as well as how it is best enjoyed.
Such “misunderstanding” was apparently not always the case. In his commentary, Franz Delitzsch wrote: “because of its apparently erotic, but in truth mysterious contents, it was a Jewish saying, as Origen and Jerome mention, that the Song should not be studied by any one till he was thirty years of age” (Delitzsch, F. J. Commentary on the Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes, Grand Rapids, Mi.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing).
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.