Song of songs is an incredibly important and needed book. I believe the book describes a young woman’s process to grown and maturity as she navigates the complexity of love, culture and who she is. The book helps us navigate the unquenchable fire of love.
Song of Songs is an incredibly hard book to interpret. There are many ways to view the book. The common evangelical view is the book is about Solomon and one of his brides. I struggle accepting that view. Regardless of view, certain things hold true about the book:
1- It celebrates sex and love!
2- It describes sex and love as more than just procreation.
3- It demonstrates a potent respect for the love between a man and a woman.
Regardless of view on the Song, these things stay true. However there are certain things that always bothered me by the popular view that Solomon was the groom.
1- The picture of Solomon does not follow Deuteronomy 17:14-20. I find it a significant contradiction to use Solomon as the standard of romantic love. If anything, the book is a criticism of Solomon and the direction he lead Israel. The Bible celebrates love between one man and one woman. Solomon started well, but he failed miserably.
2- The book’s plot seems to follow a time-line. The common view that the wedding takes place in chapter 3 doesn’t seem to fit with the often repeated phrase “do not wake my love until he pleases.” The plot I would describe as the growth of the bride throughout the book.
3- The Bible celebrates modesty and quietness. There are two distinct descriptions in the book One of natural comparison and one of a flashy more urbanized comparison. The juxtaposition doesn’t seem to be more contrast than analogous. For instance, if Solomon is the groom verse 2:8-9 doesn’t fit well with 3:7. The contrast is too stark- a free running animal followed by a man being carried around.
The best handling of the book I’ve heard is by the late Dr. Colin Smith. He handles the book exceptionally well and gives clear direction on how to use it in our modern culture. Taking the time to listen to them would be fruitful.
Song of Solomon I
Song of Solomon II
Song of Solomon III
The Bottom line: Study the book, its part of the Bible and a helpful part on that!