Song of Songs 1:1, 15–2:3, 7; 6:1–3; 8:6–7comment (0)
August 24, 2006
By Doug Wilson
Related Scripture: Song of Solomon 1:1, 15–2:3, 7; 6:1–3; 8:6–7
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Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
Singing of Love
Song of Songs 1:1, 15–2:3, 7; 6:1–3; 8:6–7
Song of Songs is also known as Song of Solomon. Many Christians prefer to interpret the song as allegory, with the husband representing Christ and the wife understood to be the Church. While the analogy of Christian marriage is used by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 5 to describe Christ and the Church, the nature of the song itself may suggest a simpler interpretation.
A natural reading of the text shows this is a song about the love between a man and his wife. God gives a man and woman to each other and they become one flesh. Descriptions of physical love in the song are expressed in poetic language. This love is a gift from God.
Expressed Love (1:1, 15–2:3)
Communication is essential to any relationship. Poor communication can escalate into dangerous situations.
Failure to communicate about icebergs sank the “unsinkable” Titanic. In marriage, there may also be damaging issues just below the surface.
A healthy marriage requires expressed, verbal love. Spouses often fail to express their love and commitment to each other. Expressions of anger, frustration, disappointment and dissatisfaction are readily verbalized but not love.
During pastoral counseling, I often heard husbands and wives speak of their love for each other, only to see their spouse look dumbfounded. What a difference it makes when husband and wife communicate their love for each other.
Appropriate Love (2:7)
“Young women of Jerusalem, learn from the animals; don’t awaken love before its time.” Be careful about your expressions of affection with men, for they are prone to sensual stimulation (sight, smell, hearing, taste or touch).
Jesus taught about mental adultery, in part, because of the temptation of men to entertain inappropriate thoughts (Matt. 5:28). Women, be careful not to give false impressions. Save your love for your husband. The only appropriate sexual interaction is between a husband and his wife. Even in this relationship, there are right and wrong times for stirring up love. Three times in the Song of Songs the warning is given not to awaken love before its time (2:7; 3:5; 8:4).
Exclusive Love (6:1–3)
Ani ledodi vedodi li — “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” A portion of some wedding vows reads, “keeping yourself only unto her for as long as you both shall live.” My wife belongs to me and I belong to her (1 Cor. 7:4–5). Solomon would have done well to appropriate his knowledge of exclusivity. Instead he ended up with a thousand women at his beck and call. As a result, he turned his heart away from serving the one, true God and turned to idols.
Enduring Love (8:6–7)
Solomon uses powerful language to describe the strength of love. The love he describes is as strong as death, with a grip like that of the grave. Note that this love is not based on emotion alone; we are committed to one another. Enduring love is not for sale, but it comes at a price.
Here is the application both to physical and spiritual love for the Christian. Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Christian love is patient, kind, not easily provoked and not apt to keep a record of wrongs (1 Cor. 13). Love for enemies includes prayer and forgiveness (Matt. 5:43–47). How much greater must the love of a husband be for his wife?
Paul wrote that a husband’s love must reflect Christ’s love for the Church. Jesus left heaven for her. He suffered deprivation for her. He washed the Church’s feet in the Upper Room. He was beaten, mocked, ridiculed, spat upon, falsely accused, tried, convicted, sentenced and executed for the Church. “Husbands, love your wives, just as also Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for her” (Eph. 5:25). Jesus demonstrated enduring love.