“The Song of Songs”

The book in the bible which we call “The Song of Solomon” opens with the words, “The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s”.  when we consider the huge number of songs that have been written since the beginning of the world, surely the title, “The Song of Songs” is rather ‘over the top’. I do not agree. For me, there is nothing like this song among all songs ever written. It is not an easy song to ‘get into’, but perseverance will be rewarded. What is it all about?

It is about the relationship between Christ and the believer, who, in the Song, is a lowly woman from Shunem. It is particularly about Christ’s love for the believer, his intense interest in her, and the various ways that he uses to intensify the love of the believer for Himself. He does this with great success. This is shown by the strange words in 2:5 and 5:8, “I am sick of love”, meaning, of course, ‘I have a sickness, and the cause is love’. I consider that this small statement is very important in understanding the Song. It tells us so much about the christian life: it is an intense longing for Christ’s company. Not that that longing is ever enough, it is not, but it is a longing which yearns for more longing. Hence the christian life is a sickness: the sickness of love. Yet it is not a sickness without hope of satisfaction. We read about  that in the New Testament: 1 John 3:2, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is”. Christ is represented in the Song by King Solomon. There is also a third party, the “daughters of Jerusalem” who, by their questions represent interested outsiders, so bewildered by the intensity of the love of this woman for a Christ she had never seen; they just cannot understand it.  Yet their questions bring out the intensity of the believer’s love.

I would recommend to anyone who seeks some entry into the Song of Solomon,  that they take a good straightforward conservative commentary, such as that by Burrowes, and go through it, making light pencil notes in the margin of bible such as ‘She’, ‘He’ or ‘Doj’,  to indicate who is speaking at any point. These notes will become invaluable for many years to come whenever one is reading through the Song.

It helps, when we are reading the Song, to keep before us that there are differences between eastern logic and sensitivities, and those of the western  world. An example of  this is the mutual descriptions of their respective appearances.  These differences are very difficult for us to understand. Personally I think it may have something to do with what we end up with when we try to describe the indescribable.

We should have no problem with the fact that there is a sickness involved in being a christian. This is because  the sickness of the christian is no ordinary sickness. In normal life sickness is not something that one desires; but this sickness is not like any other sickness. This sickness is a delight to have, and the more intense the sickness, the more the delight;  and the  more Christ delights in us. Why does the believer say during her frantic search for her Beloved in chapter 5, verse 8, “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that  ye tell Him, that I am sick with love”? Because she knew that that was what He wanted to hear.

 

 

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