Song of Solomon Commentary

 

 

Home
Site Index
Inductive Bible Study
Greek Word Studies
Commentaries by Verse
Area Precept Classes
Reference Search
Bible Dictionaries
Bible Maps
It's Greek to Me
Bible Commentaries
Discipline Yourself
Christian Biography
Western Wall
Bible Prophecy

Search chap/verse
Search word: Retrieve verses, illustrations, etc

 


 

SONG OF SOLOMON COMMENTARIES
Song of Songs 2 Commentary >

 

Follow preceptaustin on...
Facebook - Preceptaustin
Twitter - Preceptaustin
Blog - Preceptaustin

 

Search Preceptaustin

 

COLLECTIONS
Commentaries, Word Studies, Devotionals, Sermons, Illustrations
Old and New Testament

   
  

   

 

SONG OF SOLOMON
COMMENTARY NOTES
This is a work in progress - please use "as is"
or as they say in business "Caveat Emptor"!
Updated Sept 25, 2013

Introduction:
Song of Solomon

Song of Songs - Introduction
Song of Songs - Interpretative Approach
Song of Songs - The Speakers
Song of Songs - The Timing
Song of Songs - An Outline
Song of Songs - Subtitles
Song of Songs - The Language
Song of Songs - Key Images and Key Words
Song of Songs - The Setting
Song of Songs - The Hebrew Language

 

Song of Songs 1 Commentary
Song of Songs 2 Commentary
Song of Songs 3 Commentary
Song of Songs 4 Commentary

Song of Songs 5 Commentary
Song of Songs 6 Commentary
Song of Songs 7 Commentary
Song of Songs 8 Commentary

These commentary notes are not intended to be in depth or as exhaustive as most of the verse by verse notes on this website (see available verse by verse commentaries). The intent instead is to give an overview because there are probably more unusual interpretations of the Song of Solomon than for any other book in the Bible, and it would be easy for a sincere student of the Word to totally avoid this book out of frustration, as so often occurs when studying the book of the Revelation (the veritable plethora of prophetic commentaries overwhelming many to exclaim "No one can understand the Revelation!" I beg to strongly disagree, but see Revelation commentaries for more discussion).

As discussed below, the reader should be aware that the interpretative approach adopted in these notes is to take the text in its literal, natural, normal meaning and not to seek hidden, "spiritual" or mystical meanings. Such a literal approach does not mean that there are not many practical applications, but only that such applications be based upon an accurate interpretation, lest one suffers the consequences inherent in misapplication of the Word of Truth.

In addition to the brief explanatory comments, the notes include the devotional and applicational comments from Today in the Word's month long series on the Song of Solomon (June, 2004).

It has been said that

Nowhere in Scripture does the unspiritual mind tread upon ground so mysterious and incomprehensible as in this book, while the saintliest men and women of the ages have found it a source of pure and exquisite delight.  (Quoted by J. Sidlow Baxter. Explore the Book)

Baxter goes on to add...

There is no book of Scripture on which more commentaries have been written and more diversities of opinion expressed than this short poem of eight chapters" - so says a learned expositor. We shall be wise, therefore, to avoid adding unprofitably to an already liberally discussed subject. Fortunately, in the process of the long-continued discussion certain broad facts have gradually emerged with increasing clearness, all converging toward the same result; so that we are now in a position to sum up and draw fairly mature conclusions.

Irving Jensen offers an interesting introduction noting that...

A healthy balance in Bible study is maintained when the Song of Solomon is studied along with Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes focuses on the intellect of man -- his mental outlook on life. The Song of Solomon  is a book about the emotions of man -- in particular the emotion of love.

It is a recognized fact that man's total experience is directed by these three responses: intellect, emotions and will. Actually, all three responses are involved in a full experience of genuine love, just as this is true of genuine faith. To say that the Song of Solomon is a book about the emotion of life is not to rule out intellect and will. (E.g., a person in love exercises his will in choosing whom to love.) It is just that the emotion aspect is prominent in te story.

But the Song of Solomon is more that a human love story. It is a picture of the love between the Lord God and His people. If your study of the Song of Solomon  will arouse in you a more genuine love for your Lord, as well as a deeper gratitude for His love to you, then it will not surprise you that God chose to include such a love story in His Holy Scriptures. (Jensen's Survey of the Old Testament. Moody Press. 1978)

Interpretative Approach
Song of Solomon

Song of Solomon is one of the most controversial and difficult books in the Bible to interpret, with a wide range of approaches summarized in the following synopsis (very brief - see introduction in the commentary by Keil and Delitzsch for elaboration although they interpret the Song as a play or drama, not as a literal discourse. As an aside  Delitzsch wrote that “The Song is the most obscure book in the Old Testament").

G. Lloyd Carr observed that...

Among the books of the Bible, the Song of Solomon is one of the smallest, most difficult, yet one of the most popular with both Jews and Christians. Over the centuries hundreds of books and commentaries have been written and unnumbered sermons preached on these 117 verses. (The Song of Solomon)

The commentator Pope writes that no other composition of comparable size in world literature...

has provoked or inspired such a volume and variety of comment and interpretation"

Recommended Resource concerning introductory comments on the Song of Solomon - Although an Mp3, Steve Kreloff gives an excellent, well reasoned introduction to this somewhat controversial and too often misinterpreted book - Invest 46' to listen to Kreloff's Introduction to the Song of Solomon. (Recommended)

Here are the major interpretative approaches to the Song of Solomon...

(1) Allegorical: Sadly, the majority of interpreters (who seem to not want to believe that God could actually speak on the subject of intimacy between a husband and wife) favor the Song as an allegory which conveys hidden, mystical and/or "spiritual" meanings. Jewish interpreters favored this approach picturing Yahweh as the lover and the woman as Israel. The NT church (early church fathers, later commentators including the reformers, and many modern scholars) see the lover as the Bridegroom Christ and the woman as His bride, the Church, some to the point of absurdity.

A major problem with the allegorical approach is that it normally ignores the intended meaning of the text and degenerates into eisegesis (reading into the text whatever the reader wishes).

For example, the Early Church Father Origen wrote 12 volumes allegorically explaining the Song! Bernhard of Clairvaux was not much better, actually dying (1153AD) after he had delivered 86 sermons and only reaching the end of Chapter 2! Clairvaux's disciple Gilbert Porretanus carried forward the allegorical absurdity for 48 sermons only to reach Chapter 5:10 before he died! The most serious flaw of the allegorical approach in interpretation of the Song of Solomon (or other Biblical books, this caution applying especially to commentaries on the Revelation! See related discussion of  the interpretative approaches to the Revelation; see also the rise of allegorical interpretation) is that this approach is predominantly subjective with no way to verify or discount the commentator's interpretation.

See also a historical summary of Bible interpretation by Dr Robert Lewis in his course on hermeneutics (Hermeneutics - Study of Interpretation of Scriptures - especially the overview of the history of Bible interpretation - beginning on page 22). (See also Dr Anthony Garland's discussion on Interpreting Symbols which includes an interesting section entitled The Rise of Allegorical Interpretation)

As Roy Zuck explains that...

Allegorizing is searching for a hidden or secret meaning underlying but remote from and unrelated in reality to the more obvious meaning of a text. In other words the literal reading is a sort of code (Ed note: Does this sound familiar? cp The Bible Code, which preceptaustin.org thoroughly rejects as unfounded, without merit and very misleading!), which needs to be deciphered to determine the more significant and hidden meaning. In this approach the literal is superficial, the allegorical is the true meaning. (Roy B. Zuck, Basic Bible Interpretation (Colorado Springs, CO: Cook Communications, 1991) (Bolding added)

Criswell rightly comments that the allegorical...

approach often finds as many interpretations as interpreters, which shows its dubious value. Genuine allegory will usually yield basically the same interpretation to its varied interpreters (Ed comment: As a corollary thought, keep in mind that even figurative language always has a literal meaning, but as with all Scripture may have multiple valid applications). (Criswell, W A. Believer's Study Bible: New King James Version. 1991. Thomas Nelson)

Warren Wiersbe comments that...

While the Song of Solomon illustrates the deepening love we can have with Christ, we must be careful not to turn the story into an allegory and make everything mean something.

All things are possible to those who allegorize—
and what they come up with is usually heretical.

It's almost laughable to read some of the ancient commentaries (and their modern imitators) and see how interpreters have made Solomon say what they want him to say. The language of love is imaginative and piles one image on top of another to convey its message. But to make the bride's breasts represent the two ordinances, or the garden stand for the local church, or the voice of the turtledove mean the Holy Spirit speaking, is to obscure if not destroy the message of the book. Other texts in the Bible may support the ideas expressed by these fanciful interpreters, but their ideas didn't come from what Solomon wrote. (Bible Exposition Commentary - Old Testament) (Bolding added)

(2) Typological (See discussion of Study of Biblical types): This approach admits to the the historical reality of the Song but goes on to envision Solomon as typifying Christ and the Shulammite woman as a type of the church, thus picturing Christ's the Bridegroom's love for His Bride, the Church. You may be thinking that this sounds like an allegorical approach, but it differs in interpreting Solomon as a literal, historical person and by not seeking "hidden" or mystical meanings as in the allegorical approach.  Scripture does in fact sanction the use  of types, Adam for example being "a type of Him Who was to come" (see note Romans 5:14), but the Song of Solomon contains no verses that can be interpreted as indicating the various aspects of Solomon’s life are divinely intended to represent a type of Christ. Therefore this interpretative approach is to be as assiduously avoided as the allegorical approach.

In summary, both of the previous interpretative approaches (1 & 2) invoke the church as vital to their respective interpretative schemes (allegorical or typological), but the careful student of Scripture will note that neither approach can be the primary interpretation since the doctrine of the church was a mystery, a truth previously hidden in the Old Testament and only revealed in the New Testament. Paul wrote that...

by referring to this (the mystery), when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit...and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery (of the church) which for ages has been hidden in God, Who created all things (See notes Ephesians 3:4; 3:5; 3:9)

(3) Literal, Historical and Grammatical: (discussion of literal approach) This approach is the only objective mode of interpretation, and seeks to attach the normal meaning to the words thus taking them at "face value".

The earliest of the so called Early Church Fathers interpreted Scripture literally for the most part. Regarding the meaning of literal interpretation, Peter Lange writes...

Literal is not opposed to spiritual but to figurative; spiritual is an antithesis on the one hand to material, and on the other to carnal (in a bad sense). The Literalist is not one who denies that figurative language, that symbols are used in prophecy, nor does he deny that great spiritual truths are set forth therein; his position is simply, that the prophecies (Ed note: and the Song of Solomon) are to be normally interpreted (i.e., according to the received laws of language) as any other utterances are interpreted-that which is manifestly literal being regarded as literal, and that which is manifestly figuratively being so regarded. The position of the Spiritualist (Ed note: AKA "allegorist") is not that which is properly indicated by the term. He is one who holds that certain portions are to be normally interpreted, other portions are to be regarded as having a mystical sense. The terms properly expressive of the schools are normal and mystical. (John Peter Lange, A Commentary on the Holy Scripture: Revelation, p. 98)

Sidlow Baxter observes that those who take the literal approach...

rightly understand the book to be an historical record of the romance of Solomon with a Shulammite woman. The “snapshots” in the book portray the joys of love in courtship and marriage and counteract both the extremes of asceticism and of lust. The rightful place of physical love, within marriage only, is clearly established and honored. Within the historical framework, some also see illustrations of the love of God (and Christ) for His people. Obviously Solomon does not furnish the best example of marital devotion, for he had many wives and concubines (140 at this time, Song 6:8; many more later, 1 Kings 11:3). The experiences recorded in this book may reflect the only (or virtually the only) pure romance he had. (J. Sidlow Baxter. Explore the Book)

Criswell notes that some who take the literal approach go a bit too far and...

maintain that the poem is therefore merely a secular love song expressing human romantic love at its best without spiritual lesson or theological content. They value the Song only as a divine sanction upon marital love and a timely warning against perversions of marriage popular in Solomon's time. However, there is also the option that the poem is a vital expression in frank but pure language of the divine theology of marriage as expressed in the love between husband and wife in the physical area, setting forth the ideal love relationship in monogamous marriage. Even the most intimate and personal human love is according to divine plan and as such is bestowed by God Himself (cf. Ge 2:18-25; Mt 19:4-6). The richest and best of human love is only a foretaste of the matchless, greater love of God. In this book, the scarlet thread of redemption is revealed, as man, through seeing and experiencing the purity and holiness of earthly love in marriage, gains a better and clearer understanding of the eternal, heavenly love of Christ for His church. (Ibid)

Morris makes an interesting comment noting that

Although there have been a number of interpretations of this book, the most obvious interpretation is no interpretation at all. That is, it is simply what it purports to be--a romantic love poem describing the love of young Solomon and a Shulammite maiden who became his first bride. There is nothing unseemly, of course, about a book of the Bible depicting the beauties of pure courtship and marital love. The union of male and female in holy matrimony is intrinsic to the creation itself (Genesis 2:24-25). In this sense, the narrative of the Song can be considered as an idyllic picture of courtship and marriage that might apply, with varying details, to all true love and marriage as ordained by God. (Morris, Henry: Defenders Study Bible Online)

Clearly Morris' "non-interpretation" approach is a plea for us to interpret this beautiful love poem in its natural, literal sense.

The highly respected evangelical theologian Roy Zuck notes that...

Some Bible teachers view the Song of Songs as an extended allegory to depict God's relationship to Israel or Christ's relationship to the church. However, since there is no indication in the book that this is the case, it is preferable to view the book as extolling human love and marriage.—Basic Bible Interpretation (Roy B. Zuck, Basic Bible Interpretation (Colorado Springs, CO: Cook Communications, 1991) (Bolding added)

Jensen adds that...

The literal purpose of the book has often been twisted by those not prepared to read frank and intimate expressions of love. Asceticism and lust--two perversions of the holiness of marriage-- are slain by the message of this book. If the reader is licentiously excited when he reads the Song of Solomon, he is out of tune with its purpose. The book's literal message is perverted only by those who do not see the purity and true beauty of all of God's creative acts. (Ibid)

Farrar summarizes such a long list (some 19 different ideas - see list below) of interpretations of the Song of Solomon one wonders how anyone could hope to glean any divine truth from the text. Farrar laments...

Can anything be more grotesque and more melancholy than the vast mass of hypotheses about the latter (the Song of Solomon)—hypotheses which can make anything of anything? Like Esther (Song of Solomon) never mentions the name of God and it narrowly escaped exclusion from the canon (The Jews forbade any one to read it before the age of thirty, and anathematized its literal interpretation. Sanhedrin, iii. 1. and Sanhedrin, f. 101, i. … “Whoever recites a verse of the Song of Solomon as a secular song … causes evil to come upon the world.”).

It represents, say the Commentators,

(1) the love of the Lord for the congregation of Israel (Targum)

(2) it relates the history of the Jews from the Exodus to the Messiah (R. Saadia Gaon)

(3) it is a consolation to afflicted Israel (Rashi)

(4)  it is an occult history (Ibn Ezra)

(5) it represents the union of the divine soul with the earthly body (Joseph Ibn Caspe)

(6) or of the material with the active intellect (Ibn Tibbon)

(7) it is the conversation of Solomon and Wisdom (Abravanel)

(8) it describes the love of Christ to His Church (Origen, and the mass of Christian expositors, except Theodore of Mopsuestia [Ed note: he has been called "the prince of ancient exegetes"], the school of Antioch [Ed note: AKA, "The Antiochene Fathers" who otherwise generally emphasized a return to historical/literal interpretation], and most modern scholars [Ed note: This was published in 1886])

(9)  it is historico-prophetical (Nicolas of Lyra)

(10) it is Solomon’s thanksgiving for a happy reign (Luther, Brenz)

(11) it is a love-song unworthy of any place in the sacred canon (Castellio, Dr Noyes)

(12) it treats of man’s reconciliation to God (Ainsworth)

(13) it is a prophecy of the Church from the Crucifixion till after the Reformation (Cocceius)

(14) it is an anticipation of the Apocalypse (Hennischius)

(15) it is the seven days epithalamium on the marriage of Solomon with the daughter of Pharaoh (Bossuet)

(16) it is a magazine for direction and consolation under every condition (Durham)

(17) it treats in hieroglyphics of the sepulchre of the Saviour, His death, and the Old Testament saints (Puffendorf)

(18) it refers to Hezekiah and the ten tribes (Hug)

(19) it is written in glorification of the Virgin Mary. (Many Roman Catholic commentators)

Such were the impossible and divergent interpretations of what many regarded as the very Word of God! A few only till the beginning of this century saw the clear truth—which is so obvious to all who go to the Bible with the humble desire to read what it says and not to import into it their own baseless fancies—that it is the exquisite celebration of a pure love in humble life; of a love which no splendor can dazzle and no flattery seduce. (Farrar, F. W. History of Interpretation (32). London: Macmillan and Co. 1886)

Osborne in his work The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation quotes from Childs who notes five different ways the Song of Solomon has been interpreted throughout history...

(1) Judaism and the early church (as well as Watchman Nee, among others, in modern times) allegorized it as picturing the mystical love of God or Christ for his people.

(2) Some modern scholars have seen it as a postexilic midrash on divine love (similar to the first option).

(3) A common view sees it as drama, either of a maiden with her lover (the traditional view) or with three characters (as the king seeks to entice the maiden away from her lover).

(4) Most modern critics see no structural development but believe it is a collection of secular love songs, perhaps modeled on praise hymns.

(5) A few believe the book uses love imagery for purposes of cultic ritual and was used in the festivals of Israel.

Of these the third and fourth have the greatest likelihood; my personal preference is to see it as a lyric poem describing the love relationship between the beautiful maiden and her lover, described both as a rustic shepherd and as a king... The poem has only a slight plot structure, and the love relationship is as strong at the beginning as at the end. Therefore whichever of the three major views we take, it is preeminently a love song and would be excellent in a marriage seminar.

Tremper Longman writes that...

The Song of Songs, then, describes a lover and his beloved rejoicing in each other's sexuality in a garden. They feel no shame. The Song is as the story of sexuality redeemed.

Nonetheless, this reading does not exhaust the theological meaning of the Song. When read in the context of the canon as a whole, the book forcefully communicates the intensely intimate relationship that Israel enjoys with God. In many Old Testament Scriptures, marriage is an underlying metaphor for Israel's relationship with God. Unfortunately, due to Israel's lack of trust, the metaphor often appears in a negative context, and Israel is pictured as a whore in its relationship with God (Jer 2:2; 3:14; Jer 31:32 Is 54:5, Hos 2:19). One of the most memorable scenes in the Old Testament is when God commands his prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute to symbolize his love for a faithless Israel. In spite of the predominantly negative use of the image, we must not lose sight of the fact that Israel was the bride of God, and so as the Song celebrates the intimacy between human lovers, we learn about our relationship with God.

So we come full circle, reaching similar conclusions to the early allegorical approaches to the Song. The difference, though, is obvious. We do not deny the primary and natural reading of the book, which highlights human love, and we do not arbitrarily posit the analogy between the Song's lovers and God and Israel. Rather, we read it in the light of the pervasive marriage metaphor of the Old Testament.

From a New Testament Perspective. The New Testament also uses human relationships as metaphors of the divine-human relationship, and none clearer than marriage. According to Ephesians 5:22-23, the church is the bride of Christ (see also Re 19:7; Re 21:2, 9; Re 22:17). So Christians should read the Song in the light of Ephesians and rejoice in the intimate relationship that they enjoy with Jesus Christ. (Song of Solomon, Theology of - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology)

The Speakers
Song of Solomon

The Song of Solomon is a dialogue which includes 5 different sets of speakers...

(1) The Shulammite woman (Song 1:2-4a, 1:4c-7, 1:12-14, 1:16-2:1, 2:3-13, 2:15-3:11, 4:16, 5:2-8, 5:10-16, 6:2-3, 6:11-12, 7:9b-8:4, 8:5b-7, 8:10-12, 8:14),

(2) Friends of the Shulammite (Daughters of Jerusalem) (Song 1:4b, 1:8, 1:11, 5:9, 6:1, 6:10, 6:13a, 8:5a)

(3) King Solomon (Song 1:9-10, 1:15, 2:2, 2:14, 4:1-15, 5:1, 6:4-9, 6:13b-7:9a, 8:13),

(4) God (Song 5:1e "Eat friends, drink and imbibe deeply O lovers")

(5) Shulammite's brothers (Song 8:8-9)

Solomon's abrupt change of speakers and settings can make the dialogue and plot difficult to follow. For this reason the Biblical text is supplemented with bold green annotations in an attempt to identify the specific speaker(s).

The Timing
Song of Solomon

John MacArthur has an interesting note regarding the time span of this story explaining that...

The first spring appears in Song 2:11-13 and the second in Song 7:12. Assuming a chronology without gaps, the Song of Solomon took place over a period of time at least one year in length, but probably no longer than two years. (MacArthur, J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word or Logos)

Thomas Constable has a helpful note regarding when in Solomon's life this book was likely written, as he answers the relevant question...

How could Solomon, who had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3, read the tragic story in 1Kings 11:1-8), be the same faithful lover this book presents? He could be if he became polygamous after the events in this book took place. That seems a more likely explanation than that he was polygamous when these events occurred but just omitted reference to his other loves. Probably he wrote the book before he became polygamous. We do not know how old Solomon was when he married the second time. The history recorded in Kings and Chronicles is not in strict chronological order. The Shulammite was probably not Pharaoh’s daughter (1 Kings 3:1; cf. Song of Sol. 4:8). (Expository Notes)

An Outline:
Song of Solomon

Song 1:1 - Title and authorship

Song 1:2-3:5 - Courtship: Sexual desire expressed but restrained (Anticipation)

Song 3:6-11 - Procession for the Marriage

Song 4:1-5:1 - Marriage consummated: Sexual desires not restrained (Consummation)

Song 5:2-8:4 - Maturation in marriage (Celebration) or ("The Honeymoon is Over!")

Song 8:5-7 - Conclusion

Song 8:8-14 - Epilogue

Subtitles for
the Song of Solomon:

A Simple Love Song
Exalting Marital Romance
 or
"When A Husband Loves His Wife"
or
"The Blessedness of Conjugal Love"

William MacDonald notes that...

the Song of Songs has been widely, and we believe rightly, used by believing couples on their wedding night and to enhance their marriage. (MacDonald, W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson or Logos)

Myer Pearlman...

Other titles given: "Song of Songs" (Hebrew) meaning the best of Solomon's 1005 songs (I
Kings 4:32), "Canticles" meaning song of songs (Latin).

Regarding the practical application of the literal truth in the Song of Solomon Constable writes that...

When Solomon originally wrote this book it was a poem about the love of two people, a man and a woman, for each other. Consequently what it reveals about love is applicable to human love. However since God revealed and inspired it as part of Scripture He also intended us to apply it to our spiritual lives, our relationship with God. That is the purpose of every other book of the Bible, and this was God’s purpose in giving us this book as well. In Ephesians, Paul wrote that we should learn about Christ’s love for the church from marriage (see note Ephesians 5:32).

The Language
of the Song of Solomon

Solomon makes repeated use of comparisons (see discussion of terms of comparison - simile and metaphor) to vividly highlight his portrayal of the idyllic love that should exist between a husband and his wife, his beloved. Note the the repetition of like or as (see simile from Latin = something similar) in some 43 verses (out of a total of 117 verses, although some uses are added by the translators of the NASB and are therefore more properly metaphors)! Similes using like are found in - Song 1:3, 1:5, 1:7, 1:9, 1:15, 2:2, 2:3, 2:9, 2:17, 3:6, 4:1, 4:2, 4:3, 4:4, 4:5, 4:11, 5:11, 5:12, 5:13, 5:15, 6:5, 6:6, 6:7, 6:10, 7:1, 7:2, 7:3, 7:4, 7:5, 7:7, 7:8, 7:9, 8:1, 8:6, 8:10, 8:14. Similes using as are found in - Song 5:11, 5:15, 6:4, 6:10, 6:13, 8:6, 8:10. There are also numerous metaphors (figures of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to something that it does not literally denote in order to imply a resemblance) such as Song 5:15 "His legs are pillars of alabaster....", Song 5:16 "His mouth is full of sweetness....", etc. Read though in one sitting specifically looking to discover the metaphors.

As you read this love poem ponderously and meditatively (see also Primer on Biblical Meditation), allow the Spirit to teach you so that each time you encounter a simile or metaphor, you ask "What picture is Solomon painting with this simile or metaphor? How can I apply this truth in my marriage?" I can assure you that you will have quite an "adventure" and it cannot help but significantly impact your relationship with your spouse (but have them read it also or even better, set aside some time to read it over and over as a couple.) Your marriage will never be quite the same! God stands behind His promise that the Word which goes forth from His mouth will not return empty without accomplishing that which He desires (see Ge 2:24-25, see a Spirit filled relationship - Ephesians 5:18; 19; 20; 21; 22; 23; 24; 25; 26; 27; 28; 29; 30; 31; 32; 33 [see notes Eph 5:18; 19; 20; 21; 22; 23; 24; 25; 26; 27; 28; 29; 30; 31; 32; 33) and without succeeding in the matter for which He sent it (Isaiah 55:11)!

Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. (see note 1Thessalonians 5:24) (See related topic Covenant: As It Relates to Marriage)

Jensen adds that

the phraseology of the poetry is strictly Oriental, and must be read in that light (e.g., Chapter 4). (Ibid)

Myer Pearlman...

Like Hebrew poetry, this Song passes suddenly from speaker to speaker and from scene to scene. The identification is usually by the pronouns used.

Song of Solomon like other Hebrew poetry, is characterized by by a literary feature known as parallelism, which is simply the stating and restating of an idea in close context. This may involve repetition of identical phrases or the building of one idea upon another. An example of this technique is seen in Song 1:15...

How beautiful you are, my darling,
How beautiful you
are! Your eyes are like doves.

Larry Richards - Debate concerning Song of Songs focuses on two questions: What is this poem really about? and, What is the role of Solomon? Some have been uncomfortable with the erotic elements in this poem, and have sought to “sanctify” them with a typical or allegorical interpretation. Commentators have suggested the poem is actually about the relationship between God, as Lover, and His Old Testament or New Testament people as His beloved. It is best, however, to take the book in its plain sense as love poetry, celebrating the joys of desire and intimacy experienced by a man and woman who become husband and wife. In this view there is nothing vulgar or “unspiritual” in the experience of sex, which God created to deepen the bond of commitment in marriage. The text identifies this love poem as “Solomon’s.” Many characteristics of the Hebrew text suggest an ancient origin, and there is no good reason to doubt that it does date from the 10th century G.p. Still, Solomon’s role is not clear. Some believe that this love poem was not composed by him, but was dedicated to him on the occasion of one of his weddings. However we understand Solomon’s role, Song itself remains one of the world’s most sensitive and beautiful poems; a joyous and moving celebration of married love.

KEY IMAGES
KEY WORDS
Song of Solomon

Key images in the book include wine, the garden, the kiss, various spices and fruits, and countryside or pastoral metaphors.

Key words (based on the NASB 1977 unless otherwise noted) in the Song of Solomon include:

beloved (31 uses in 26 verses - Song 1:13; 1:14; 1:16; 2:3; 2:8; 2:9; 2:10; 2:16; 2:17; 4:16; 5:2; 5:4; 5:5; 5:6; 5:8; 5:9; 5:10; 5:16; 6:1; 6:2; 6:3; 7:9; 7:11; 7:13; 8:5; 8:14)

beautiful (15 uses in 13 verses - Song 1:8; 1:15; 2:10; 2:13; 4:1; 4:7; 4:10; 5:9; 6:1; 6:4; 6:10; 7:1; 7:6)

come (14 times in 9 verses - Song 2:10; 2:13; 4:2; 4:8;  4:16;  5:1; 6:6; 6:13; 7:11)

darling (9 uses in 9 verses - Song 1:9; 1:15; 2:2; 2:10; 2:13; 4:1; 4:7; 5:2; 6:4)

fair (in KJV) (11 times in 9 verses - Song 1:15; 1:16; 2:10; 2:13; 4:1; 4:7; 4:10; 6:10; 7:6)

find (4 uses - Song 3:1; 3:2; 5:6; 5:8)

fruit (4 uses in 4 verses - Song 2:3; 7:8; 8:11; 8:12),

king (5 times in 5 verses - Song 1:4; 1:12; 3:9; 3:11; 7:5)

love (28 times in 25 verses {in every chapter!} - Song 1:2; 1:3; 1:4; 1:5; 1:7; 1:10; 2:4; 2:5; 2:7; 2:14; 3:1; 3:2; 3:3; 3:4; 3:5; 4:3; 4:10; 5:1; 5:8; 6:4; 7:6; 7:12; 8:4; 8:6; 8:7)

Solomon (5 times in 5 verses - Song 1:5; 3:9; 3:11; 8:11; 8:12)

vineyard (9 times in 6 verses - Song 1:6; 1:14; 2:15; 7:12; 8:11; 8:12)

wine (7 times in 7 verses - Song 1:2; 1:4; 4:10; 5:1; 7:2; 7:9; 8:2)

The Setting
Song of Solomon

Harry Ironside in his Addresses on the Song of Solomon gives the following background based on the book...

King Solomon had a vineyard in the hill country of Ephraim, about 50 miles N of Jerusalem, Song 8:11. He let it out to keepers, Song 8:11, consisting of a mother, two sons, Song 1:6, and two daughters—the Shulamite, Song 6:13, and a little sister, Song 8:8. The Shulamite was "the Cinderella" of the family, Song 1:5, naturally beautiful but unnoticed. Her brothers were likely half brothers, Song 1:6. They made her work very hard tending the vineyards, so that she had little opportunity to care for her personal appearance, Song 1:6. She pruned the vines and set traps for the little foxes, Song 2:15. She also kept the flocks, Song 1:8. Being out in the open so much, she became sunburned, Song 1:5.

One day a handsome stranger came to the vineyard. It was Solomon disguised. He showed an interest in her, and she became embarrassed concerning her personal appearance, Song 1:6. She took him for a shepherd and asked about his flocks, Song 1:7. He answered evasively, Song 1:8, but also spoke loving words to her, 1:8-10, and promised rich gifts for the future, Song 1:11. He won her heart and left with the promise that some day he would return. She dreamed of him at night and sometimes thought he was near, Song 3:1. Finally he did return in all his kingly splendor to make her his bride, Song 3:6-7.3 (H. A. Ironside, Addresses on the Song of Solomon, pp. 17-21, summarized by Merrill Unger, Unger's Bible Handbook, pp. 299-300)

Sidlow Baxter describes the Song of Solomon as...

A lyric poem in dialogue form, the book describes Solomon’s love for a Shulammite girl. The king comes in disguise to her family’s vineyard, wins her heart, and ultimately makes her his bride. (J. Sidlow Baxter. Explore the Book)

The Hebrew Language
Song of Solomon

Dennis Kinlaw has a helpful discussion of language issues which contribute to the difficulty modern commentators have in discerning the meaning of this love poem...

Several problems confront the modern reader in the study of the text of the Song of Songs that make certainty in understanding and interpretation difficult to achieve. One of these is the matter of language.

Ancient Hebrew is a primitive tongue. The syntax is quite different from ours. Verb tenses are different so that time sequences are more difficult to establish. Word order can raise problems. There is an economy of language that can be tantalizing. And then it is poetry. There is a succinctness of style that makes it almost telegraphic. The result is that the text is often more suggestive than delineative, more impressionistic than really pictorial. Much is left to the imagination of the reader rather than spelled out for the curious modern, who wants to know the specific meaning of every detail.

Added to the preceding problems is that of vocabulary. In 117 verses there is an amazing number of rare words, words that occur only in the Song of Songs, many only once there, or else that occur only a handful of times in all the rest of the corpus of the OT. There are about 470 different words in the whole Song. Some 50 of these are hapax legomena. Since use is a major way of determining the meaning of words in another language, the result is that we are often uncertain as to the exact meaning of key terms and phrases.

Another problem is that the imagery used was a normal part of a culture that is very different from our modern world. The scene is pastoral and Middle Eastern. So the references to nature, birds, animals, spices, perfumes, jewelry, and places are not the normal vocabulary of the modern love story. The associations that an ancient culture gives to its vocabulary are difficult, if not impossible, for us to recapture. The list of plants and animals is illustrative: figs, apples, lilies, pomegranates, raisins, wheat, brambles, nuts, cedar, palms, vines, doves, ravens, ewes, sheep, fawns, gazelles, goats, lions, and leopards. So is that of spices and perfumes: oils, saffron, myrrh, nard, cinnamon, henna, frankincense, and aloes. The place names carried connotations some of which are undoubtedly lost to us: Jerusalem, Damascus, Tirzah, En Gedi, Carmel, Sharon, Gilead, Senir, and Heshbon. We understand the overtones of "bedroom," but when the lover refers to "the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside" (Song 2:14), to gardens, parks, fields, orchards, vineyards, or valleys, we are aware that the places of rendezvous were different for lovers in that world than in ours.

The terms of endearment cause us problems. The metaphors used are often alien. When the lover likens his beloved to a mare in the chariot of Pharaoh (Song 1:9), we are surprised. "Darling among the maidens" (Song 2:2) or even "dove" (Song 2:14; 5:2; 6:9) is understandable, or "a rose of Sharon" (Song 2:1). "A garden locked up" (Song 4:12), "a sealed fountain" (Song 4:12), "a wall" (Song 8:9, 10), "a door" (Song 8:9), "beautiful … as Tirzah" (Song 6:4), and "lovely as Jerusalem" (Song 6:4) are not our normal metaphors of love. Nor are our heroine's references to her lover as "an apple tree" (Song 2:3), "a gazelle" (Song 2:9, 17), "a young stag" (Song 2:9, 17), or "a cluster of henna" (Song 1:14).

To further complicate matters, it is not always certain who is speaking. One of the most difficult tasks is to determine who the speaker is in each verse. It is not even completely clear as to how many speakers there are. Our best clues are grammatical. Fortunately, pronominal references in Hebrew commonly reflect gender and number. In some cases, however, the masculine and the feminine forms are the same. (Gaebelein, F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary OT 7 Volume Set: Books: Zondervan Publishing)

><> ><> ><>

TODAY IN THE WORD: King Edward VIII of England shocked the world when he abdicated from the throne in order to marry the divorced American socialite Wallis Warfield Simpson. Some years later he gave marital advice to a group of his close friends about how to stay on good terms with one’s spouse. “Of course, I do have a slight advantage over the rest of you,” he admitted. “It does help in a pinch to be able to remind your bride that you gave up a throne for her.”

Believers also have a vivid reminder of what it cost Jesus Christ to make the church His bride. He did not give up His throne forever, but He did lay aside the prerogatives of divinity and took upon Himself a human nature (Phil 2:5; 2:6; 2:7; 2:8-notes Ph 2:5; 6; 7; 8). Being fully human and fully God, He submitted to a brutal death on the cross in order to purify the church and present it to Himself as a spotless bride (Titus 2:14-note).

In many ways, this is also the drama played out in the biblical book Song of Songs, also called the Song of Solomon. One of the most mysterious and controversial books of the Bible, its message has something to say about both human marriage and the divine love God has for His church. (Ed note: This comment highlights the caution needed in reading commentaries on the Song. The diligent Berean must remember that God spoke literal words through the human author Solomon and these words have one specific meaning, but they can have a number of valid applications, which is how I would categorize the comments regarding God/Christ and the Church or Christ's Bride. Application of the truth in the Song is important but must still represent a valid reflection of God's literal words!)

Its frank description of the delights of human love has caused some people to wonder why it was included in the Bible. However, the Jewish writings known as the Mishnah quote the second-century Jewish rabbi Aquiba as saying, “All the ages are not worth the day on which the Song of Songs was given to Israel; for all the Writings are holy, but the Song of Songs is the Holy of Holies.”

Application: Do you know a couple who reflect the biblical picture of a loving relationship? Ask them to tell you their story. How did they meet? What was it like to fall in love? What kinds of challenges have they had to overcome in order to keep their love for one another strong?

><> ><> ><>

O happy love! - Where love like this is found!
O heart-felt raptures! bliss beyond compare!
I've paced much this weary, mortal round,
And sage experience bids me this declare
"If Heaven a draught of heavenly pleasure spare,
One cordial in this melancholy vale,
'Tis when a youthful, loving, modest pair,
In either's arms breathe out the tender tale,
Beneath the milk-white thorn that scents the evening gale."
Robert Burns in "The Cotter's Saturday Night."

 

SONG OF SOLOMON
COMMENTARY NOTES

Introduction...
Song 1:1
The Song of Songs, which is Solomon's.

Shulammite (see **Note)...
2 "May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine. (Song 5:16, 8:1) (Your love - Song 1:4 2:4 4:10 7:6,9,12 8:2)
3 "Your oils have a pleasing fragrance, Your name is like purified oil; Therefore the maidens love you. (fragrance -  Song 3:6 4:10 5:5,13)(maidens - Song 6:8)
4 "
Draw (imperative = command) me after you and let us run together! The king has brought me into his chambers." (King - Song 2:3-5 3:4)

Daughters of Jerusalem to the Shulammite...
"We will rejoice in you and be glad; We will extol your love more than wine. Rightly do they love you.

**Note: Solomon's abrupt change of speakers and settings can make the dialogue and plot difficult to follow. For this reason the Biblical text is supplemented with bold green annotations in an attempt to identify the specific speaker(s). The student is strongly advised to make his or her own assessment as some of these designations are subjective and therefore may not be accurate! As always the diligent student should Be a Berean.

Hint:  Because the Song of Solomon makes liberal use of terms of comparison // similes // metaphors. it would be worthwhile read the discussion so that you are better able to interpret the many, often quite striking word pictures in the form of terms of comparison.

OTHER RESOURCES THAT ARE GENERALLY LITERAL:

SONG OF SOLOMON COMMENTARIES - Multiple resource links listed

Dr Gene Getz short videos (3-12 minutes) -  Click Here and enter Song 1 in search queue. Click on Video Player Tool in right column (at bottom). First video is "Intimate Love" = Song 1:1-4 followed by  Song 1:4-17 = Intimate Conversations. Click arrow to go through the videos. The vary in length from 3-12 minutes.

Dr Henry Morris' comments on select verses (Defender's Study Bible):

Song of Solomon 1

HCSB Notes: Enter "Song 1" Click "Study Bible Notes" Click "Read".
Also Click "Video Player Tool" for short lectures by Dr Gene Getz for emphasis on marital (sexual) intimacy

Holman Christian Study Bible Notes

Net Bible Notes synchronized with Thomas Constable's (click tab on right) generally conservative notes

Song of Solomon 1 - Net Bible Notes + Constable's Notes

David Guzik's Comments (generally literal, but with occasional allegorical interpretation - be a Berean)

Song of Solomon 1 Commentary

><>><>><>

This ancient love song reminds us to rejoice in God’s gift of marital intimacy, and to welcome that gift without hesitation or shame. (Richards)

Song 1:1 Song of Songs - This verse gives the book its title (NIV = "Solomon's Song of Songs"). This book is also frequently referred to in older literature as "Canticles" (Latin canticle = song). This is a Hebrew idiom meaning "The Most Exquisite Song". This phrase is a grammatical way of expressing the superlative degree (in comparison this denotes a level surpassing all others) and thus says this is the best, the greatest or the most beautiful of all of Solomon's 1005 songs (compare more familiar superlative phrases like  "Holy of Holies" = the holiest place, "King of kings" = the highest of all kings). The Jewish Midrash (ancient commentary on Hebrew scriptures, attached to the biblical text) calls Song of Solomon “the most praiseworthy, most excellent, most highly treasured among the songs.”

As an aside, the Song of Songs in our English Bibles is the fifth of the poetical books (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon). However, in the Hebrew Bible the Son is the first of the "five rolls" or "five scrolls" (along with Ruth, Esther, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations) which are together known as the Megilloth and which were read by the Jews on their feast days.  The Jews saw their nation "married to Jehovah" (Isa 50:1; 54:4, 5; Jer. 3; Ezek. 16, 23; Hosea 1-3), and for this reason read portions of the Song of Solomon annually on the eighth day of Passover. Reading the Song of Solomon reminded them to love the Lord their God with all their heart (Deut 6:4-5).

Jensen adds that...

In ancient times the Jews revered Canticles as uniquely sublime. They likened Proverbs to the outer court of the Temple; Ecclesiastes to the holy place; and Song of Solomon to the most holy place. (Ibid)

Song 1:1 Which is Solomon's - if taken literally (which is the natural and "safest" mode of interpretation) King Solomon is the author  (mentioned in Song 1:1, 1:5; 3:7, 3:9, 3:11; 8:11, 8:12), an interpretation which finds agreement among most evangelical scholars. There is naturally some question as to how a "polygamist" (cp 1Ki 11:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13) such as Solomon could pen such a beautiful story of intimacy in a monogamous relationship between a husband and wife. While there is no absolute answer to this legitimate question, the best supposition is that Solomon penned this work as a younger man, before the events of 1Kings began to unravel. One simply cannot be dogmatic.

Further support that this was King Solomon, is the Shulammite's acknowledgement that he is king in Song 1:4 (also 4 other times - Song 1:12; 3:9, 11; 7:5), which would date this book at sometime during his reign (971-931BC).

In Kings we read of Solomon's literary prowess...

He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. (1Ki 4:32) (Comment: And to reiterate, this "song" was the "song of songs", the top of the proverbial "hit parade" so to speak!)

Song 1:2 May he kiss me...for your love - Love often begins with a sudden intensity, an anticipation and an air of excitement. Clearly this opening indicates they have already "fallen in love." Some feel that she is in the palace in Jerusalem and is recalling her meeting with the shepherd who she came to understand was King Solomon.

HCSB - The abrupt beginning artistically weds style to content, signaling to the reader that the Song will move at a quick and entrancing pace. The speaker is unidentified at this point. Later we learn that she is "the Shulammite" (Song 6:13).

Note also that in the first part of the verse she speaks of him in the third person ("may he kiss me") and in the second part changes to the second person ("your love") seemingly speaking to him!

Constable offers this explanation for the change in person from third to first writing that...

The use of both third and second person address (“he” and “you”) is a bit confusing. Is she speaking about him or to him? This feature of ancient oriental poetry is common in other Near Eastern love poems that archaeologists have discovered. It was a device that ancient writers evidently employed to strengthen the emotional impact of what they wrote. Here the girl appears to be speaking about her love, not to him. (Expository Notes)

EBC adds that

It is as if she begins with the wish in her mind and then shifts almost unwittingly to speaking directly to him.

Hubbard writes that although the Scripture has much to say about marriage...

the Song of Songs is different. Here sex is for joy, for union, for relationship, for celebration. Its lyrics contain no aspirations to pregnancy, no anticipations of parenthood. The focus is not on progeny to assure the continuity of the line but on passion to express the commitment to covenant between husband and wife. (Hubbard, David A. Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon. Communicator’s Commentary series. Dallas: Word Books, 1991)

Song 1:2 Your love is better than wine - Love is the Hebrew word dodim (in the plural) which refers to physical love.

Why is Solomon's love for her better than wine? The effects of wine are temporarily exhilarating, while the effects of Solomon's love are lasting.

Notice also that in verses 2 and 3 she mentions the senses of touch (kiss), taste (wine) and smell (pleasing fragrance).

EBC notes that the Hebrew = dod - Strong's = 1730  is used here in the plural form (plural in Song 1:2, 1:4; 4:10; 7:12) ...

In each case (Song 1:2, 1:4; 4:10; 7:12) it seems best, as Carr suggests, to translate the plural form as "love-making." (Gaebelein, F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary OT 7 Volume Set: Books: Zondervan Publishing)

Love (01730) (dod) means beloved, loved one. 32 of 53 OT uses are found in the Song of Solomon. Dod  conveys three thoughts (1) the name or address given by one lover to another (Song 5:4, 6:3, 7:9); (2) Love, where it speaks of the adulteress (Pr 7:18) and in a positive sense of the love between Solomon and the Shulammite (Song 1:2, 4:10). Love is used symbolically of Jerusalem reaching the "age for love" (Ezek 16:8). Dod speaks of the adultery of Jerusalem in Ezek 23:17. (3) Dod in some contexts means "uncle" (Lev 10:4, 1Sa 10:14-16, Esther 2:15).

Dod - 53v - Lev 10:4; 20:20; 25:49; Num 36:11; 1 Sam 10:14ff; 14:50; 2 Kgs 24:17; 1 Chr 27:32; Esth 2:7, 15; Pr 7:18; Song 1:2, 4, 13f, 16; 2:3, 8ff, 16f; 4:10, 16; 5:1f, 4ff, 8ff, 16; 6:1ff; 7:9ff; 8:5, 14; Isa 5:1; Jer 32:7ff, 12; Ezek 16:8; 23:17; Amos 6:10. Dod is translated in NAS as beloved(31), beloved's(1), beloved's and my beloved(1), love(8), lovers(1), uncle(11), uncle's(6), uncles'(1).

Song 1:3 Your name is like purified oil ("your name is perfume")- In the OT times, one's name represented one's character, indicating her attraction to Solomon was not just external and physical, but also to his inner person.

Like purified oil - Song of Solomon makes liberal use of terms of comparison // similes // metaphors. A simile is easily identified by a preceding "as" or "like." As is used in 9v - Song 5:6, 8, 11, 15; 6:4, 10, 13; 8:6, 10. Like is used 47x in 36v - Song 1:3, 5, 7, 9, 15; 2:2, 3, 9, 17; 3:6; 4:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 11; 5:11, 12, 13, 15; 6:5, 6, 7, 10; 7:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9; 8:1, 6, 10, 14. Ask the Spirit, your Teacher to guide you in the correct interpretation of these terms of comparison and this should greatly assist your understanding of this great love letter.

HCSB - Name (Heb shem) and perfume (Heb shemen) are similar in Hebrew, so the Song presents here the first of its frequent wordplays. Since names were thought to capture essence, the praise also begins an important theme—that desire arises out of delight.

Dummelow - Orientals have always been passionately fond of perfumes. The literatures of Egypt, Greece, and Rome abound in references to them: in the Bible see Psalms 23:5; Psalms 45:7-8; Proverbs 7:17; Proverbs 27:9; Luke 7:46; John 12:3. A modern traveler writes: 'Arabs are delighted with perfumes; the nomad housewives make treasure of any they have, with their medicines; they often asked me, "Hast thou no perfumes to sell?" The 'poured-out' unguent gives forth its fragrance: even so is the beloved's name praised of many.

Song 1:4 Draw me after you - Her description of his love brings forth this cry to take her with him. The heart of the bride-to-be is filled with intense longing for the absent bridegroom.

Song 1:4 The king has brought me into his chambers - This can also be phrased as a request such as "May the king bring me into his chambers." The allusion to king indicates that is a royal romance. Also note that considering the meaning of chambers,  she is clearly expressing a normal, healthy desire for intimacy with Solomon (cf Pr 5:18-19).

Song 1:4 Chambers - Hebrew word heder (2315) is translated in the Lxx with the Greek noun tamieion = hidden, secret room, innermost, the place Joseph entered to weep in Ge 43:30. Heder is used in Joel 2:16...

Bring everyone--the elders, the children, and even the babies. Call the bridegroom from his quarters (KJV = chamber) and the bride from her private room. (cf 2Ki 11:2 heder = "bedroom")

Song 1:4b We will rejoice and be glad - "We" is interpreted by most as the daughters of Jerusalem who were friends with the Shulammite. The women express their approval of Solomon and the romance. By way of application, although our friends do not generally choose our mates for us, their approval can be a source of encouragement.

><> ><> ><>

TODAY IN THE WORD: For several years, Tedd would propose to Jane on every Valentine’s Day. Each time she would reply, “Not yet.” Tedd finished college, began his career, and still continued to propose. And Janet continued to refuse. Finally, Tedd reached the end of his patience and determined that this Valentine’s Day would be the last. Janet would either agree to marry him or he would move on. As Tedd was about to propose for the last time, Janet told him that she had a gift for him. Curious, Ted unwrapped the package and looked inside to find a beautiful embroidery that Janet had made for him. It had a single word on it: “Yes.”

The first few verses of the Song of Solomon express the same sentiment. The book opens with a description of the bride’s longing for her lover. As she paints a portrait of the one she loves, she also draws back the veil on her own heart.

The effect of her lover’s presence is intoxicating. His love is compared to wine. His name is like perfume. Her opening request is that the one she loves will kiss her with “the kisses of his mouth.” Although it was not unusual for people to greet one another with a kiss in the ancient world, this was usually only a formality, something like what is often called an “air kiss” today. In the opening verses of this book, however, the bride asks for much more. She does not want a mere peck on the cheek or friendly hug. She longs for an intimate sign of her lover’s affection.

The bride also longs to be in her lover’s presence. She invites the groom to take her away and bring her into his chambers.

Her plea reflects a common desire we all share. We may not all marry, but we all long for a love so powerful that it will “sweep us off our feet.” Human love is important and a wonderful gift from God, but in the end it will still fail to meet our most secret longings. In the end, our ultimate “yes” must be reserved for God. It is His love alone that can satisfy our deepest desire.

><>><>><>

Finding True Love - Song 1:2 - In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon described his search for the meaning of life. Many of us can relate to that frustration and the desire to understand life’s purpose. But there is another side to our search, and it is centered on our hearts. We long to be loved. For the rest of the month we’ll turn our attention to the Song of Songs, also attributed to Solomon.

Many have said the key purpose to life is to love and be loved. In Matthew 22:37–39, when asked what was the greatest commandment, Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. . . . And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” His answer featured heart language: Love. We want to experience the satisfaction of loving and of being loved. This is the central subject of the Song of Songs.

Chapter 1 sets the scene as a conversation between several parties. Verse 1 identifies Solomon as the author; verse 2 lets us hear the voice of his beloved. The book lets us listen in on the romance between a young woman and the man she adores. The book is filled with deep passion and yearning for physical love: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—for your love is more delightful than wine.”

Love, at its inception, is intense and overwhelming. She uses sensory details here, like wine and perfume, to describe the heady feeling of being drawn to another person (vv. 2–4). We also learn a bit more about who this woman is. She works in the fields (v. 5) and her skin is darkened from the sun (v. 6). She feels neglected by family and longs, most of all, to be loved by her suitor.

Apply the Word - Have you ever fallen in love? Remember those first moments of seeing that special person? Remember those first words of conversation? Those first glances? The heart has an ability and a need to feel love—both earthly and eternal. It is a good gift from God to remember the pleasure of loving and being loved and to tell our love stories to one another. (Today in the Word)

><>><>><>

R C Sproul - Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—for your love is more delightful than wine. [Song of Songs 1:1–2] The Song of Songs, also called “Canticles” or the “Song of Solomon,” has a history of controversy. It is clearly a song about love between a man and a woman, including the physical dimension. Indeed, it celebrates the joys of the marital relationship. Some have questioned whether it belongs in the Bible. It does not seem to be spiritual enough to be included in the canon of Scripture; indeed, some of its intimate language seems downright embarrassing. Early Jewish expositors decided that the Song was really applying romantic love to the relationship between Yahweh and Israel. According to them, the marriage of the Lord and his people was set forth in the book as an allegory. Early Christian expositors continued to look at the book allegorically, seeing in it a symbolic description of Christ’s love for his church, and hers for him. But, while certainly the Song can be applied in a general way to the relationship of Christ to his bride, there is no reason to believe that such a symbolic application is the book’s primary focus. One of the worst influences of pagan philosophy on the early church was the idea that sexual love is always tainted with evil. Perpetual virginity came to be prized more than marriage. This departs from the Bible, where virginity is a gift to be given to the beloved on the wedding night. Many in the church came to believe that sexual expression, even in marriage, is sinful and should be endured only for the sake of having children. Naturally, the Song of Songs, which celebrates the joy of physical love, had to be reinterpreted by those whose view of sexuality was so narrow. According to the Bible, however, the marital relationship in all of its aspects, including the physical, is a great gift of God. It is not to be despised, but enjoyed. Genesis 2 explicitly says that it was “not good” for the man to be without a wife. From the biblical perspective, marriage is good, including sexual union within marriage. Therefore, we should not be surprised to find a book in the Bible that celebrates this benefit of God’s grace to his children.

Coram Deo - The Song of Songs can help us have a healthy view of the goodness of romance in courtship and marriage. If you are married, consider doing a study of the book with your spouse. If you are single, read it with the view of preparing to commit yourself totally to the one God might give to you in marriage. Has Western culture’s abuse of human sexuality affected your perception of the good relationship between a man and a woman? (Tabletalk )

Shulammite...
Song
1:5 "I am black but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem (picture), Like the tents of Kedar (note), Like the curtains of Solomon.
6 "Do not stare at me because I am swarthy (of a dark color, complexion), for the sun has burned me. My mother's sons were angry with me; They made me caretaker of the vineyards (picture), but I have not taken care of my own vineyard. (Caretaker - Song 8:11,12)

NLT - Don't look down on me, you fair city girls, just because my complexion is so dark. The sun has burned my skin. My brothers were angry with me and sent me out to tend the vineyards in the hot sun. Now see what it has done to me!

7 "Tell (imperative = command) me, O you whom my soul loves, Where do you pasture (feed) your flock, Where do you make it lie down at noon? For why should I be like one who veils herself (see note below) Beside the flocks of your companions?" (O you - Song 2:3 3:1-4 5:8,10,16) (You - Song 1:15 2:10 4:1,7,10 5:9 6:1,4-10 7:1-13)

Daughters of Jerusalem to the Shulammite (alternatively others favor this as Solomon speaking)...
8 "If you yourself do not know, Most beautiful among women, Go forth (imperative) on the trail of the flock, And pasture (feed) (imperative = command) your young goats by the tents of the shepherds.

Song 1:5 Black but lovely...like the tents of Kedar (note) - Here she seems self conscious as she describes her dark complexion which is the result of exposure to the sun during the days in which she worked in her family vineyard under the supervision of her brothers (in contrast to the typical lady of the court). Nevertheless, she remains confident about her own loveliness.

The Kedar describes a territory SE of Damascus (cf. Ge 25:13; Isa. 60:7) where the nomadic Bedouin roamed and made tents out of the hair of black goats.

The Early Church Father, Origen, demonstrates the ludicrous nature of the allegorical approach which borders on nonsense spiritualizing that the Shulammite's reference to her being dark means the Church is ugly with sin, but when she says she is lovely she is referring to her spiritual beauty after conversion! This type of comment shows allegorical commentaries are only limited by one's imagination.

Song 1:5 not taken care of my own vineyard - (cf vineyard in Song 7:12, 8:11). Although this could refer to a literal vineyard, more likely it is a metaphorical way of describing her inability to care for her personal appearance (my own vineyard) by virtue of the fact that she was caretaker of the vineyards. Her brothers kept her so busy tending the vineyard, that she had no time to go to the beauty salon!

Song 1:5 Daughters of Jerusalem - This is a common refrain found some 6 times in this book (Song 1:5; 2:7; 3:5; 5:8, 16; 8:4). The identity of these women is not disclosed. Options include friends and companions of the bride, attendants of the King's palace or interested onlookers.

HCSB - Shulammite explained her darkened appearance as the consequence of her brothers' (my mother's sons) assignment to work outside in vineyards. We later discover they had leased this vineyard from Solomon (Song 8:10-12).

Song 1:7 Where do you pasture your flock - Here the Shulammite turns her attention from herself and addresses Solomon. Not only was Solomon a King, he was also a shepherd (Song 1:7-8, 2:16; 6:2-3). In the OT times rulers were also called "shepherds" (Jer 23:4; Ezek 34:23 "My servant David...will...be their shepherd"). Historically Solomon did have many flocks and herds (Eccl. 2:7).

Song 1:7 Whom my soul loves - This phrase conveys  her deep sense of emotional involvement (cf our modern term "soul mates").

NAB Marginal Note - Here and elsewhere in the Song (Song 3:1; 5:8; 6:1), the bride expresses her desire to be in the company of her lover. These verses point to a certain tension in the poem. Only at the end (Song 8:5-14) does mutual possession of the lovers become final.

Song 1:7 One who veils herself - This phrase has two possible interpretations:

(1) It could refer to what  a prostitute would do, chasing a man for his favor. (cf Tamar with Judah in Ge 38:14-15) (NLT translates it "For why should I wander like a prostitute among the flocks of your companions?"). If this is the picture, she is saying she is not a loose woman looking for love in all the wrong places. She clearly wants to find the one to whom she is committed.

(2) Alternatively, this picture could describe the Shulammite woman who veiled herself in mourning because she is missing her beloved.

Song 1:8 Most beautiful of women (cf most beautiful, Song 5:9, 6:1) - The NLT introduces this verse as "Young Man", NAS as "bridegroom", while other expositors feel this is not Solomon's response but the daughters of Jerusalem. In short, the intent of this verse is not absolutely clear, some seeing it as a disdainful, sarcastic or ironic comment by the women. On the other hand calling her the most beautiful of women is hardly a harsh statement and favors this statement as coming from Solomon.

Beautiful (03303) (yapheh) is an adjective meaning lovely, beautiful, describing beauty of women (Ge 12:11, 14, 2Sa 13:1, Esther 2:7). Good looking or handsome men (2Sa 14:25).  Jerusalem was described as "beautiful in elevation." A beautiful voice (Ezek 33:32). And one of my favorite verses...

He has made everything appropriate (beautiful) in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end. (Eccl 3:11) (Listen to this great song In His Time)

Lxx translates yapheh with the Greek adjective kalos (word study) which means good; beautiful, applied by the Greeks to everything so distinguished in form, excellence, goodness, usefulness, as to be pleasing; hence (according to the context) equivalent to "beautiful, handsome, excellent, eminent, choice, surpassing, precious, useful, suitable, commendable, admirable"; a. beautiful to look at, shapely, magnificent.

Yapheh - 38x/38v (Note 11/38 uses are in Song of Solomon) - Gen 12:11, 14; 29:17; 39:6; 41:2, 4, 18; Deut 21:11; 1 Sa 16:12; 17:42; 25:3; 2Sa 13:1; 14:25, 27; 1Kgs 1:3, 4; Esther 2:7; Job 42:15; Ps 48:2; Pr 11:22; Eccl 3:11; 5:18; Song 1:8, 15, 16; 2:10, 13; 4:1, 7; 5:9; 6:1, 4, 10; Jer 11:16; Ezek 31:3, 9; 33:32; Amos 8:13. Translated in NAS as - appropriate(1), beautiful(28), beautiful one(2), fair(1), fitting(1), handsome(4), sleek(3).

><> ><> ><>

TODAY IN THE WORD: In its July 1, 2003, issue, Harper’s Bazaar asked supermodel Iman what aging meant to her. “Wisdom. Knowledge. And gravity! Working against you!” she replied. “Since I wasn’t raised in the West, I don’t have that deep-rooted fear of getting old. But age is more accepted here today. Women over 35, 40, 50, 60 are considered beautiful. It wasn’t that way when I arrived. People were so worried about wrinkles, and I couldn’t understand what this obsession with age was.”

Is age the enemy of beauty? The answer depends upon what you understand beauty to be. Physical beauty, the writer of Proverbs warns, is fleeting (Pr. 31:30). Lasting beauty is reflected in character and wisdom. It is a matter of the “inner self” (1 Peter 3:4). True beauty is created when character and life experience meet. To paraphrase Iman, it is the result of the combination of wisdom, knowledge, and gravity. Not the force of gravity that causes our bodies to sag and our muscles to droop, but the gravity that comes from many years of applying faith to life’s challenges.

We are like the bride in today’s reading, who has been marked by the things she has suffered. Forced by her brothers to work in their vineyard, her skin was darkened by the sun. Yet these experiences have only contributed to her beauty. Likewise, God uses suffering to enhance the beauty of Christ’s bride. Suffering, according to the apostle Paul, can teach us to persist in our faith. Persisting in faith and obedience produces Christlike character within us (Ro 5:3–5).

This is why James 1:2 tells us that we should consider it “pure joy” when we face trials. It is not because we enjoy trouble. No one enjoys suffering, not even Jesus (cf. Matt. 26:39). The joy that James describes springs from our knowledge of what such trials will produce.

Think of a time when God helped you to face a trial with faith and obedience. How did the experience change you? Can you think of any specific dimensions of “spiritual beauty” that were added to your character as a result of your suffering?

Solomon speaks...
Song 1:9
"To me, my darling, you are like My mare among the chariots of Pharaoh (picture) (picture -2) . (my - Song 2:2,10,13 4:1,7 5:2 6:4)
10 "Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, Your neck with strings of beads." (Neck - Song 4:9)

Daughters of Jerusalem to the Shulammite...
Song 1:
11 "We will make for you ornaments of gold With beads of silver." (Song 8:9)

Shulammite speaks...
Song 1:12 "While the king was at his table, my perfume gave forth its fragrance. (King - Song 7:5, Song 4:13-16)
13 "My beloved is to me a pouch of myrrh (note) (aka. "spikenard") Which lies all night between my breasts.
14 "My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms In the vineyards of En Gedi (note)
." (Picture of)

Song 1:9 My darling - As discussed in the notes on 1:8, there is some question about the identity of the speaker in that verse, but such is not the case in the present passage, for now Solomon praises his beloved. The Hebrew word ra'yah is translated darling (dearest, love) and occurs nine times in the Song of Solomon (Song 1:9; 1:15; 2:2; 2:10; 2:13; 4:1; 4:7; 5:2; 6:4), every use being by Solomon to address the Shulammite woman. The root meaning of ra'yah is associate, companion or friend.

Song 1:9 My mare - Now Solomon inserts a surprising simile, comparing the Shulammite to a mare which was a reference to her strength, graceful movement, and beauty, which was a "positive" comment from Solomon who loved horses (cf 1Kings 4:26). Furthermore, a horse in the Near Eastern culture was a cherished companion and not a beast of burden. In addition, stallions and not mares would pull a chariot of Pharaoh ("among the chariots..."). The presence of a mare among stallions in fact would be the ultimate distraction, and so in an indirect way Solomon pays the Shulammite an ultimate compliment regarding her sexual attractiveness!

HCSB (on Song 1:10) -Archaeological drawings show jewels decorating bridles of horses, so the imagery of jewels on the cheeks and in necklaces likely extends the metaphor of the mare.

Ryrie - My mare. The height of flattery for Solomon, a lover of horses (1 Kings 4:26).

Song 1:12 the king was at his table - Up to this point the context has been predominantly pastoral (flocks, vineyards, etc) but not it moves to a royal setting, presumably in Solomon's palace. Solomon the "shepherd" is also Solomon the king. Indeed this is not at all unusual as in this day, kings were not uncommonly referred to as shepherds (cf Jehovah's designation of Cyrus of Persia as "My shepherd").

HCSB - One may also translate on his couch ("at his table" NAS) as "in his realm," similar to its meaning in 1Ki 6:29 and 2Ki 23:5 ("surrounding"), the only other times this phrase appears in the OT.

Song 1:13 A pouch of myrrh (nard, "spikenard")...between my breasts - Notice again the appeal to the senses of both sight and smell, as the Shulammite depicts the impact of her beloved upon her person.

Myrrh a resinous gum from trees in Arabia, Abyssinia and India, was very fragrant and quite expensive (highly prized in the ancient world and thus a valuable article for trading) and was even used as a "love charm" in the ancient Near East (cf Pr 7:17), as incense in the worship of Jehovah (Ex 30:23), for perfuming garments of special people (Ps 45:8), for preparing girls for visits with Oriental kings (Esther 2:12), and for embalming corpses (John 19:39).

Song 1:13 which lies all night between my breasts - Here the Shulammite alludes to the common practice in which women wore a scent bag or pouch of perfume suspended from their neck on a silk thread.

The UBS Handbook on the Song of Songs has an interesting note writing that...

TEV (The English Version) suggests “My lover has the scent of myrrh as he lies upon my breasts,” but this is slightly misleading. The point of the metaphor does not seem to be how pleasant the lover smells, but rather that he is “lodged between” her breasts, like her sachet, staying close to her all night. We can translate as:

• My beloved, like a sachet of perfume, sleeps the night on my breast.

If a reference to the breasts must be avoided, we can say:

• My lover spends the night close to me like a sachet of sweet-smelling perfume [on my chest].

• My lover is like a sweet sachet sleeping close to me all the night.

Song 1:13 My beloved - The Shulammite calls Solomon "my beloved" (Hebrew = dod/dowd - Strong's = 1730, first use in Song 1:2 "your love" -- click for all 32 uses). These verses and the entire book for that matter are among other things a divine testimonial to God's approval on the physical--as well as the emotional and spiritual--aspects of marital love. God created Adam and Eve for each other, and Christ endorsed the lifelong union of husband and wife (Genesis 2:18, 21-24; Matthew 19:3-6).

EBC adds that...

In this section the maiden's pet name for her lover—dodi—appears for the first time (v.13). This is translated variously (NIV, "my lover"; NEB, "my love"; RSV and JB, "my beloved"). Apparently this word best expressed her joy in him. She uses it twenty-seven times as she speaks to him or about him. Five times it is used by the women of Jerusalem as they speak of him.

Four additional occurrences are in the plural (Song 1:2, 1:4; 4:10; 7:12). In each case it seems best, as Carr suggests, to translate the plural form as "love-making." (Gaebelein, F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary OT 7 Volume Set: Books: Zondervan Publishing)

My beloved - 24x in 23v - Song 1:13, 14, 16; 2:3, 8, 9, 10, 16, 17; 4:16; 5:2, 4, 5, 6 (twice), Song 5:8, 10, 16; 6:2, 3; 7:9, 11, 13; 8:14. (There are only 2 other uses in the OT - Isaiah 5:1, Jeremiah 11:15).

Song 1:14 cluster of henna blossoms in the vineyards of Engedi - Engedi (picture) is a lush, lovely oasis district of gardens and vineyards located below a plateau just west of and overlooking the Dead Sea. Archaeological explorations indicate that a significant perfume business was located at Engedi.

HCSB - While Solomon was away and about his realm, Shulamith's thoughts about him were as evocative as myrrh. En-gedi was an oasis in the desert.

The Shulammite's beloved is like the beautiful, fragrant henna blossoms which were beautiful yellow-white blossoms that gave off a delightful odor and thus were often used for their fragrance or even as an ornament. The Shulammite's picture was of her beloved Solomon as one who is vibrant, alive and refreshing like an oasis in a desert.

EBC comments that...

The impact of the girl's lover on her is encompassing and inescapable. Her consciousness of him sweetens her life the way the aroma of a sachet of perfume placed between the breasts makes a girl move in a cloud of fragrance. The thought or sight of him is as pleasant as the aroma wafted from a field of henna blossoms. Love has its own hallowing touch on all of life. (Ibid)

><> ><> ><>

TODAY IN THE WORD: Actress Elizabeth Taylor is known for her love of diamond jewelry. On one occasion she was attending a social event where one of the guests pointed out the large diamond she was wearing. “That’s a bit vulgar,” the woman remarked. Taylor offered to let the woman try the ring on. As the woman gazed at the diamond on her own finger, Taylor commented, “There, it’s not so vulgar now, is it?”

Is it wrong for us to use cosmetics and jewelry to enhance our appearance? Christians disagree on this point. Several New Testament passages warn believers not to make outward appearance the primary focus of their beauty. In 1 Timothy 2:9–10, for example, the apostle Paul says that he wants women to “dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.”

The apostle Peter makes a similar point, reminding his readers that the primary source of their beauty does not lie in expensive jewelry or fine clothing, but in character. This was how the holy women of the past made themselves beautiful (1 Peter 3:4–5).

The primary point in these passages is positive rather than negative. We can see that it’s appropriate to take steps to enhance our physical appearance–the groom in today’s reading expresses his appreciation for the bride’s efforts to beautify herself. In particular, he mentions earrings of gold studded with silver and a necklace of fine jewelry. In her response, the bride adds perfume to the list of items.

It is clear from today’s passage that the bride has taken time and effort to beautify herself for her groom. (Today in the Word)

Solomon speaks...
Song 1:15 "How beautiful you are, my darling, How beautiful you are! Your eyes are like doves."

Shulammite speaks...
Song 1:16 "How handsome you are, my beloved, And so pleasant! Indeed, our couch is luxuriant!
1:17 "The beams of our houses are cedars, Our rafters, cypresses.

Song 1:15 beautiful...beautiful - Note that Solomon doesn't just say she is beautiful once but twice, indicating his ardor for her!

Beautiful (03303) (yapheh) is an adjective meaning lovely, beautiful, describing beauty of women (Ge 12:11, 14, 2Sa 13:1, Esther 2:7). Good looking or handsome men (2Sa 14:25).  Jerusalem was described as "beautiful in elevation." A beautiful voice (Ezek 33:32). And one of my favorite verses...

He has made everything appropriate (beautiful) in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end. (Eccl 3:11) (Listen to this great song In His Time)

Lxx translates yapheh with the Greek adjective kalos (word study) which means good; beautiful, applied by the Greeks to everything so distinguished in form, excellence, goodness, usefulness, as to be pleasing; hence (according to the context) equivalent to "beautiful, handsome, excellent, eminent, choice, surpassing, precious, useful, suitable, commendable, admirable"; a. beautiful to look at, shapely, magnificent.

Yapheh - 38x/38v (Note 11/38 uses are in Song of Solomon) - Gen 12:11, 14; 29:17; 39:6; 41:2, 4, 18; Deut 21:11; 1 Sa 16:12; 17:42; 25:3; 2Sa 13:1; 14:25, 27; 1Kgs 1:3, 4; Esther 2:7; Job 42:15; Ps 48:2; Pr 11:22; Eccl 3:11; 5:18; Song 1:8, 15, 16; 2:10, 13; 4:1, 7; 5:9; 6:1, 4, 10; Jer 11:16; Ezek 31:3, 9; 33:32; Amos 8:13. Translated in NAS as - appropriate(1), beautiful(28), beautiful one(2), fair(1), fitting(1), handsome(4), sleek(3).

Song 1:15 eyes are like doves - Another simile (comparison). Doves in Scripture speak of innocence (cf Jesus' exhortation in Mt 10:16 to be "innocent as doves"), without mixture of deceit. Doves are  small birds characterized by a tranquil character and symbolic of gentleness or softness.

Lehrman adds that...

According to Rabbinic teaching, a bride who has beautiful eyes possesses a beautiful character; they are an index to her character. (Lehrman, S. M. “The Song of Songs.” In The Five Megilloth. London: Soncino Press)

The Hebrew word for dove (yownah - Strong's = 3123) is found 6 times in Song of Solomon (two other times referring to her eyes)...

Song 1:15 - "How beautiful you are, my darling, How beautiful you are! Your eyes are like doves ."

Song 2:14 - "O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, In the secret place of the steep pathway, Let me see your form, Let me hear your voice; For your voice is sweet, And your form is lovely ."

Song 4:1 - "How beautiful you are, my darling, How beautiful you are! Your eyes are like doves behind your veil; Your hair is like a flock of goats That have descended from Mount Gilead.

Song 5:2 - "I was asleep but my heart was awake. A voice! My beloved was knocking: 'Open to me, my sister, my darling, My dove, my perfect one! For my head is drenched with dew, My locks with the damp of the night .'

Song 5:12 - "His eyes are like doves Beside streams of water, Bathed in milk, And reposed in their setting.

Song 6:9 - But my dove, my perfect one, is unique: She is her mother's only daughter; She is the pure child of the one who bore her. The maidens saw her and called her blessed, The queens and the concubines also, and they praised her, saying,

Song 1:16 our couch is luxuriant - Our divan is verdant, new, prosperous, flourishing.

Note the rapid fire exchange between the lovers (Solomon - Song 1:15 "beautiful", Shulamite - Song 1:16-17 "handsome", 2:1; Solomon - Song 2:2; Shulamite - 2:3-7) as their expressions of love take on a increasing intensity.

Handsome (03303) (yapheh - see more complete definition) is an adjective and is the same Hebrew word translated beautiful (yapheh), except that here it is the masculine form. Dear husband. Dear wife. Can we not learn something from their interchange? Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder and real beauty is an inner beauty. What would happen to our marriages if husbands and wives told each other (not in a patronizing way but with sincerity of heart) more often they were beautiful or handsome?!

This adjective yapeh is used more in Song of Solomon than any other book...

Song 1:8 -"If you yourself do not know, Most beautiful among women, Go forth on the trail of the flock And pasture your young goats By the tents of the shepherds.

Song 1:15 -"How beautiful you are, my darling, How beautiful you are! Your eyes are like doves ."

Song 1:16 - "How handsome you are, my beloved, And so pleasant! Indeed, our couch is luxuriant!

Song 2:10 - "My beloved responded and said to me, 'Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, And come along.

Song 2:13 - 'The fig tree has ripened its figs, And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance. Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, And come along!'"

Song 4:1 - "How beautiful you are, my darling, How beautiful you are! Your eyes are like doves behind your veil; Your hair is like a flock of goats That have descended from Mount Gilead.

Song 4:7 - "You are altogether beautiful, my darling, And there is no blemish in you.

Song 5:9 - "What kind of beloved is your beloved, O most beautiful among women? What kind of beloved is your beloved, That thus you adjure us?"

Song 6:1 - "Where has your beloved gone, O most beautiful among women? Where has your beloved turned, That we may seek him with you?"

Song 6:4 -"You are as beautiful as Tirzah, my darling, As lovely as Jerusalem, As awesome as an army with banners.

Song 6:10 -'Who is this that grows like the dawn, As beautiful as the full moon, As pure as the sun, As awesome as an army with banners ?'

Song 1:16 pleasant - Is a Hebrew word that pertains to being acceptable and favorable is used of persons who are pleasing and a joy to be around. Solomon had a charming manner about him. This same word is used to describe David...

Now these are the last words of David. David the son of Jesse declares, And the man who was raised on high declares, The anointed of the God of Jacob, And the sweet (pleasant) psalmist of Israel (2Sa 23:1)

My beloved - This specific phrase is found 24x in 23v in the Song of Solomon -  Song 1:13, 14, 16; 2:3, 8, 9, 10, 16, 17; 4:16; 5:2, 4, 5, 6 (twice), Song 5:8, 10, 16; 6:2, 3; 7:9, 11, 13; 8:14. (There are only 2 other uses in the OT - Isaiah 5:1, Jeremiah 11:15).

Beloved (01730) (dod) means beloved, loved one. 32 of 53 OT uses are found in the Song of Solomon. Dod  conveys three thoughts (1) the name or address given by one lover to another (Song 5:4, 6:3, 7:9); (2) Love, where it speaks of the adulteress (Pr 7:18) and in a positive sense of the love between Solomon and the Shulammite (Song 1:2, 4:10). Love is used symbolically of Jerusalem reaching the "age for love" (Ezek 16:8). Dod speaks of the adultery of Jerusalem in Ezek 23:17. (3) Dod in some contexts means "uncle" (Lev 10:4, 1Sa 10:14-16, Esther 2:15).

Dod - 53v - Lev 10:4; 20:20; 25:49; Num 36:11; 1 Sam 10:14ff; 14:50; 2 Kgs 24:17; 1 Chr 27:32; Esth 2:7, 15; Pr 7:18; Song 1:2, 4, 13f, 16; 2:3, 8ff, 16f; 4:10, 16; 5:1f, 4ff, 8ff, 16; 6:1ff; 7:9ff; 8:5, 14; Isa 5:1; Jer 32:7ff, 12; Ezek 16:8; 23:17; Amos 6:10. Dod is translated in NAS as beloved(31), beloved's(1), beloved's and my beloved(1), love(8), lovers(1), uncle(11), uncle's(6), uncles'(1).

The Lxx uses agapao to translate dod in Song 1:4. In most of the other uses in the Song of Solomon, the Greek noun adelphidos is used (Song 2:3, et al) and is a term of endearment meaning beloved one. It can also mean kinsman.

Song 1:17 beams of our houses are cedars - The NIV note says this is spoken by Solomon but more likely it is a continuation of the Shulammite's discourse. Most commentators interpret verses 16-17 as referring to an outdoor, natural venue, a romantic setting that is pastoral not palatial.

><>><>><>

Today in the Word - Song 1:15 - In the movie Shrek, Fiona is a princess who has been the victim of an evil spell that removes her beauty at sunset and turns her into an ogre. When the sun goes down, she loses her slim figure and attractive face and is transformed into a monster. Only when she finds true love is the curse finally broken and she turns into . . . an ogre? Permanently? This twist on a traditional fairy tale suggests that Fiona wanted to be loved not merely for her beautiful exterior but for the beauty she possessed within.

In our text today the man speaks to the woman, this young field worker whose skin is darkened from a life of toil. To him, she is beautiful, and his words must have been thrilling to her heart. Here is someone who adored her, inside and out. He uses vivid metaphors, word pictures, to describe her beauty in detail, “I liken you, my darling, to . . .” (v. 9).

While modern readers may find it unappealing to be compared to a “mare” (v. 9) or doves (v. 15), these were compliments of beauty for that day. The greater point is that the man takes time and care to describe his beloved in such detail. He sees her completely and loves every part of her: “How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful!” (v. 15). She responds likewise, “How handsome you are, my beloved! Oh, how charming!” (v. 16).

The beginnings of love are filled with words of adoration. While the Song of Songs describes a love affair between two people, for centuries many interpreters have seen reminders of God’s love for His people. He sees us completely and finds us each uniquely beautiful. With God, we are fully known and fully loved.

Apply the Word - Look in a mirror. Do you love what you see? Few of us feel completely enamored with our appearance. Yet what you see is God’s unique creation. Listen today to the way you speak about yourself. Be careful not to mock or put down your own looks. After all, you are wonderfully and beautifully made by God. And you are fully and completely loved.

><>><>><>

TODAY IN THE WORD: In his book The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman explains that every person uses a favorite “language” when expressing love to another person. Some people may use physical touch, in the form of a hug or a kiss. Others communicate love through action, by performing acts of service for others. To some a gift is the best way to show love, while others simply prefer to spend time with someone they love.

In today’s passage the bride and groom use words to express their love for one another. The groom speaks first and compliments the appearance of his bride. In particular, he singles out her eyes. The point of comparing them to doves is not entirely clear. Some have suggested that the comparison reflects an Egyptian custom of painting eyes in the shape that resembled a bird. Others believe it was the beauty of the dove, or even the fact that doves are often found in pairs, that prompted the comparison.

Similarly, the bride compliments the groom’s appearance. He is handsome and “charming.” This latter term could refer to his physical appearance or to his manner. The Hebrew word is used elsewhere in the Old Testament to refer to both goodness and charm.

The mutuality of their love is reflected in the fact that both the groom and the bride use the same language to refer to one another. The groom declares that the bride is “beautiful.” The bride uses a masculine form of the same word when she declares that the groom is “handsome.” It is the same word used in the Old Testament to characterize Joseph and David.

One of the keys to keeping the romance kindled in a relationship is to express love to one another. The couple in today’s passage made an effort to express love to one another verbally. The groom used an additional love language by taking steps to create a romantic atmosphere.

Go To Song of Songs 2 Commentary

DOWNLOAD InstaVerse for free. It is an easy to install and simple to use Bible Verse pop up tool that allows you to read cross references in context and in the Version you prefer. Only the  KJV is free with this download but you can also download a free copy of Bible Explorer which in turn offers free Bibles that work with InstaVerse, including  the excellent, literal translation, the English Standard Version (ESV). Other popular versions are available for purchase. When you hold the mouse pointer over a Scripture reference anywhere on the Web (as well as offline in Word for Windows, email, etc) the passage pops up immediately. InstaVerse can be disabled if the popups become distractive. This utility really does work and makes it easy to read the actual passage in context and not just the chapter and verse reference.


Home | Site Index | Inductive Bible Study | Greek Word Studies | Commentaries by Verse | Area Precept Classes | Reference Search | Bible Dictionaries | Bible Maps | It's Greek to Me | Bible Commentaries | Discipline Yourself | Christian Biography | Wailing Wall | Bible Prophecy
Last Updated July, 2013

E-Mail