Song of Solomon 8 – Final Advice For the Young

The opening verses of this closing chapter of the Song of Songs begin with a seemingly strange statement by the bride that she wishes that she

Vineyard near Hebron.Grapes are one of the most important products of Palestine. The first mention of them is in the life of Noah. It is afterwards frequently mentioned both in the Old and New Testaments. Dried grapes and wine were the most frequent products of vineyards.

Vineyard near Hebron.
Grapes are one of the most important products of Palestine. The first mention of them is in the life of Noah. It is afterwards frequently mentioned both in the Old and New Testaments. Dried grapes and wine were the most frequent products of vineyards.

and the  king had been brother and sister. She simply means by this that she wishes she had been given the privilege of knowing him all of her life, growing together, and even receiving the benefit of instruction from him through the years. In that context, she longs for his embrace, but once again speaks of not stirring up or awakening love until it pleases.

The Shulammite girl is in love with her husband, but she does not regret having kept herself chaste. She thinks once again, more fondly this time, of the protection of her brothers as she grew up. They, who still regard her as a little girl with no breasts, around whom they would build a wall to keep her chaste. – should she instead of being a wall herself  become a door.

The Shulammite states that though she grew into a woman with very large breasts, she also had become a wall – keeping chastity as her companion until love awakened at the proper time – in marriage to her beloved. She now invites the king (who had kept his own vineyard) into the vineyard that is that is theirs to share as man and wife.

Make haste, my beloved,
and be like a gazelle
or a young stag
on the mountains of spices.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
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.  

Song of Solomon 7 – The Bride Gives Her Love

Mount Carmel is not a single mountain peak, but a long range that extends about thirteen miles eastward from the Mediterranean Sea, just south of the modern city of Haifa. Here Elijah confronted 850 pagan prophets with a test of fire (1 Kings 18). Mount Carmel from a distance.

Mount Carmel is not a single mountain peak, but a long range that extends about thirteen miles eastward from the Mediterranean Sea, just south of the modern city of Haifa. Here Elijah confronted 850 pagan prophets with a test of fire (1 Kings 18). Mount Carmel from a distance.

The language of the verses of chapter 7 are pure erotic poetry. There are references to historic Mount Carmel (which lies near the Mediterranean, west of the Sea of Galilee), the richness of the prized purple dye, ivory towers, and the Pools of Heshbon. The king delights in his bride’s loveliness and the loveliness of her nature:

How beautiful and pleasant you are,
O loved one, with all your delights!
Your stature is like a palm tree,
and your breasts are like its clusters.
I say I will climb the palm tree
and lay hold of its fruit.
Oh may your breasts be like clusters of the vine,
and the scent of your breath like apples,
and your mouth like the best wine…

King Sihon refused passage to the Israelites through his land, and he attacked Israel at Jahaz. Israel defeated him, occupying the land between the Arnon and Jabbok Rivers, including the capital city, Heshbon. As they moved north, they defeated King Og of Bashan at Edrei (Deuteronomy 2:30).

King Sihon refused passage to the Israelites through his land, and he attacked Israel at Jahaz. Israel defeated him, occupying the land between the Arnon and Jabbok Rivers, including the capital city, Heshbon. As they moved north, they defeated King Og of Bashan at Edrei (Deuteronomy 2:30).

The unbridled sexual desire has also been stirred in his beloved wife as well, as she invites him to:

Come, my beloved,
let us go out into the fields
and lodge in the villages;
let us go out early to the vineyards
and see whether the vines have budded,
whether the grape blossoms have opened
and the pomegranates are in bloom.
There I will give you my love.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
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.  

Song of Solomon 6 – In the Garden of Love

The ancient city of Shunem, where Elisha had a room, was near this site on the edge of the plain of Esdraelon.

The ancient city of Shunem, where Elisha had a room, was near this site on the edge of the plain of Esdraelon.

Now that the Shulammite bride has become the favored one of Solomon, the daughters of Jerusalem cannot be accommodating enough to her. The term Shulammite is of unknown origin, but it is supposed that it may refer to people from Shunem, in the tribe of Issachar (Joshua 19:17-20). Here, she repeats that I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine; he grazes among the lilies,” – a reminder that Solomon does indeed belong to her?  Solomon returns to speaking of her beauty, saying:

You are beautiful as Tirzah, my love,
lovely as Jerusalem,
awesome as an army with banners

Then, asking the others why they are so preoccupied with her, Solomon asks, pointedly acknowledging their solidarity:

Why should you look upon the Shulammite,
as upon a dance before two armies?

The sins and transgression of Solomon with his many queens, wives, and concubines (for which he may well have repented) were well-known. But the Shulammite’s love for him, and his for her was pure – and she was undefiled and exemplary as a wife.

According to Delitzsch’s comments a hundred years ago, the “Song of Songs” was a drama that consisted of six acts having two scenes each. In this drama, Solomon took her to his harem in Jerusalem, where he was purified in his affection from a sensual lust to pure love. Perhaps.

Tirzah Area, near Tel El Para.

Tirzah Area, near Tel El Para.

J Paul Tanner summed it up better (Tanner, J. Paul, “The History of Interpretation of the Song of Songs”, Bibliotheca Sacra 154: 613 (1997): 23-46):

“She is a pattern of simple devotedness, naive simplicity, unaffected modesty, moral purity, and frank prudence – a lily of the field, more beautifully adorned than he could claim to be in all his glory. We cannot understand the Song of Songs unless we perceive that it presents before us not only Shulamith’s external attractions, but also all the virtues which make her the ideal of all that is gentlest and noblest in woman. Her words and her silence, her doing and suffering, her enjoyment and self-denial, her conduct as betrothed, as a bride, and as a wife, her behavior towards her mother, her younger sister, and her brothers – all this gives the impression of a beautiful soul in a body formed as it were from the dust of flowers.”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
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.  

Song of Solomon 5 – My Beloved and My Friend

Aside from the allegoric theories, there are different meanings that commentators take away from the passages in chapter 5; and it is admittedly difficult to be sure one draws the right conclusions from it in some places. Clearly, the marriage has been consummated, as the groom states in verse 1. We are not told how long it has been since the wedding, but Solomon has gone to encourage the celebration of his guests. The bride has retired for the night, but the excitement and anticipation of her new marriage has kept her half-awake.

Both frankincense and myrrh are hardened tree sap, used for embalming, beauty treatments, and pain relief.

Both frankincense and myrrh are hardened tree sap, used for embalming, beauty treatments, and pain relief.

Perhaps when he returns to find the door latched, she is indeed half-asleep, but perhaps she is in the middle of another dream. When he calls out terms of endearment to her to open the door, she at first hesitates, not wishing to soil her feet after washing in order to get up. But her heart is thrilled at the sound of her beloved placing his hand on the latch. So she arises and opens the door to find him gone. The passage says that her fingers were dripping with myrrh from the bolt of the latch – likely left by her beloved as a reminder of his presence.

Then in a scene much like the dream of chapter 3, she finds herself off to look for him again. This time, however, the watchmen beat her when they find her. If this is not a dream, it is unknown why they would do that, unless they had mistaken her for a prostitute or a thief. But this time, she “adjures” the daughters of Jerusalem to tell her beloved that she is “sick with love.” Having consummated their marriage, she no longer has need, as his wife, to withhold her love from him; and this is apparently the point she is making after the earlier incident.

The other women ask her why her beloved is more important to her than some other man. She replies with a laundry list of things that she loves about him. Though (just as with all marriages) everything is not always perfect between them, the way that he speaks to her and the way she speaks of him to others both demonstrate their love for each other. Both of these things matter in a marriage. The two have become one flesh, and a part of each other. She closes with the declaration that “this is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
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.  

Song of Solomon 4 – A Garden Fountain

Wedding at Cana

Wedding at Cana

It would be a mistake to pass over the text of these verses without carefully considering the significance of the seven different descriptions of beauty that Solomon uses for his bride. Although once again some of these descriptions seem unflattering to us in many respects, they were indeed very sincere forms of flattery expressions of the physical attraction and desire that the king felt for his beloved bride. The fragrance of the sachet of myrrh between her breasts, referred to in Song of Solomon 1:13 has obviously captured his attention, as he expresses his passion for her in poetic descriptions he has of his beloved:

Your two breasts are like two fawns,
twins of a gazelle,
that graze among the lilies.
Until the day breathes
and the shadows flee,
I will go away to the mountain of myrrh
and the hill of frankincense.
You are altogether beautiful, my love;
there is no flaw in you.

The two lovers then consummate their marriage in delicious wedded bliss with neither guilt nor shame because it is a celebration that has been sanctioned by God for one man and one woman since the beginning of time (Genesis 2:23-25).

…a garden fountain, a well of living water,
and flowing streams from Lebanon.
Awake, O north wind,
and come, O south wind!
Blow upon my garden,
let its spices flow.

And the bride at last invites him into her garden

Let my beloved come to his garden,
and eat its choicest fruits.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
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.  

Song of Solomon 3 – The Bride’s Dream

The third chapter finds the bride in her bed at night with what we must suppose is a dream, filled with erotic thoughts and desires, and anxious inquisitiveness concerning the whereabouts of her beloved. The theory of a separate shepherd boy being the object of her true desires is clearly shown to be wrong, as her beloved has sent watchmen for her in this dream – and she herself has inquired of them as to his whereabouts. What would such watchmen have to do with a shepherd boy? The girl mentions Solomon by name no less that three times here, and what purpose would God have for using the Scripture to celebrate any adulterous desires on her part anyway?

Dream of Solomon

Dream of Solomon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She refers to Solomon as the one “whom my soul loves,” and finding him in that dream, she holds him close, bringing him into her mother’s house. But again in verse 5, she wishes not to “stir up or awaken love until it pleases.” Then, in a very public display of pomp, circumstance, and romantic affection, Solomon has her escorted by sixty of the kingdom’s mighty men onward to their nuptials. It is here that we are reminded of his words about enjoying “life with the wife whom you love” (Ecclesiastes 9:9)

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
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.  

Song of Solomon 2 – My Beloved is Mine

Chapter 2 begins with very familiar words. Most everyone has heard the hymn titled “Jesus, Rose of Sharon.” The name Sharon means “a level plain,” and this one was laid out about 15 miles west of the Mediterranean Sea, bordered by Joppa, Lydda, and Caesarea. Today, the area is filled with citrus farms and small settlements. But as beautiful as the song is, the first two verses of this chapter have nothing to do with Jesus.

The Plains of Sharon.

The Plains of Sharon.

Instead the term, along with the lily of the valley, are used by the bride of this love poem to describe herself. Those who insist on making the “Song of Songs” an allegory about Jesus have, with the best of intentions, contributed to the misunderstanding of these Scriptures. Still, the song is appropriate when applied to Jesus, as is the “The Lily of the Valley,” which contains other more scriptural references to the King, such as from Revelation 22:16.

Solomon then counters her own description of herself by more flatteringly comparing his betrothed to a lily among the brambles. The lesson for us among these and the previous verses of the last chapter are the public display and declaration of affection, in an appropriate manner, with which Solomon comforts and elevates his bride (verse 6). Speaking now more pointedly of lilies in verse 16, she declares their love for each other – “My beloved is mine, and I am his; he grazes among the lilies,” while likening her beloved to “a gazelle or a young stag on cleft mountains.” Still, she desires to not to give herself over completely until the time is appropriate (“that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases”).

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
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.  

Song of Solomon 1 – Solomon and His Bride

The poem, the “Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s” (verse 1) opens with the bride professing her love for him, saying that his kisses are sweeter than wine. She speaks fondly of the fragrance of his anointing oils, and the charm with which he commands the other women. The “others” in verse four are the women of the kingdom who would rather be in her place. They counter that they value his love even more than wine, and press forth more flattery hoping to gain favor.

English: The Song of Songs (1853) by Gustave M...

English: The Song of Songs (1853) by Gustave Moreau, Oil on canvas, 319 x 300 cm, Musee des Beaux-Arts de Dijon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The bride says that she is dark of skin from her days in the sun working the vineyard and tending the flocks. She knows that she has beauty, but she is concerned that it will go unnoticed because of her weathered appearance – perhaps that she will even be taken as a foreigner. She is a common girl of meager means, but does not apologize for being unsheltered (“why should I be like the one who veils herself”).

We are not given the details of their courtship as the girl comes before the king. It is enough that he recognizes her beauty and speaks openly about it. The compliment he pays her – “I compare you, my love, to a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots” may not seem very flattering to us, but would be a true recognition of beauty in such a time and place. He also pictures her with strings of jewels. The “nard” of verse 12 is a herb that gives forth a pleasing fragrance. This is the fragrant oil with which the woman in John 12:3 anointed Jesus’ feet.

She refers to him as her beloved. The myrrh between her breasts to which she refers is a fragrant sachet used by women of the time. Her description of him as an ornament of beauty (“a cluster of henna-flowers in the vineyards of Engedi”) perhaps has more of the sound of flattery to us.

Though a powerful king, she has stood out in his sight, and now she pictures their life together in the future (verse 16).

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
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.  

The Song of Solomon on Sexuality and Marriage

This week, as we finish Ecclesiastes, we will begin reading the Song of Solomon.

Shunem002Solomon 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).

wedding ringsAnything, 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).

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
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.  

Sneak Preview of 2013! \ Week 49 summary posted

What a year it’s been pointing to the cross!  We started this blog in January with a Bible reading plan that caught our interest, and went from the creation in Genesis all the way to the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus the Christ – one chapter a day, five days per week.  As we finish the year with the Scriptures pointing the way to His return and our salvation, we hope you have grown and benefited as much as we have from God’s word this year!

Cross-003But, alas the year is soon ending; and the question of what this blog will be focused on in 2013 must now be answered.  Well, fortunately, we recently figured that out.  A very different reading plan has come to our attention that is just too hard to resist.  As of this writing, the designers of this plan (again, not us) are working on the finishing touches of the schedule – which will be ready by the end of the year.  What we can tell you right now is that next year’s reading schedule for this blog will be focused on what is commonly called “The Wisdom Literature,” or sometimes “The Poetry and Wisdom Books of the Bible!”

More details to come before January, but we are excited about a year of an in-depth look into Psalms, Proverbs, the Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, the Book of Job and, as an added bonus, the Book of James!  The latter is not included in the list of “Wisdom books” normally, but it is often called the “Proverbs of the New Testament;” and we think it is a fabulous choice to end the year with in 2013!

So that brings us to the subject of the approaching date of December 21, 2012 and that pesky Mayan calendar.  We were recently treated to a very well-written article on that very subject.  Please enjoy it at the following link in its title – “What does the Bible say about the Mayan Calendar and Doomsday on December 21?”

Summing Up

Each weekend, I am now posting a small PDF of one week of chapter summaries (on the website’s “Summaries” page), current to the beginning of the previous week.  I have posted the summary for Week 49 (December Week 1) of the schedule I am following.  This short PDF document contains condensed comments about Ephesians 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, with hyperlinks to the ESV version of each chapter for listening or reading, and joins the summaries for other weeks already posted there.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
image © 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.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.