December 10, 2015.
Daily Reading: Song of Songs 1-3.
Background: Traditionally attributed to Solomon, the Song of Songs is very unique amongst the Hebrew scriptures as it is, in its base form, a celebration of romantic love between a husband and wife as we travel through their courtship and subsequent marriage. The courtship is described in chapters 1-3, the marriage ceremony in chapters 3-4 and their love beyond the ceremony for the remainder of the book. Commonly known as ‘Song of Solomon’ because of the opening verse, the title ‘Song of Songs’ is a superlative indicating that it was by some thought of as the greatest of all songs. Scholarship doubts that the song was actually written by King Solomon, but it if was, it likely would have been composed during his reign (970-930 B.C.), perhaps earlier on. The strong has played an important role in Judaism and further in Christianity as it has often been interpreted allegorically as a symbol of the relationship between Christ and His church. At its base, however, the song does provide insight into the theology of marriage and sexual love, upholding the sanctity of marriage.
Concepts and Connections.
The bride and the bridegroom: The book of the Song of Songs is a extended poetic dialog between a bride and bridegroom, intermixed with a chorus that connects the audience and helps with the flow of the overall poem. Different translations (such as the ESV and NIV) will show suggested divisions of who is speaking based on word gender and Hebrew setting. The song begins with the bride singing of the love and desire she has for her groom to be, extolling his characteristics and speaking of her confidence in her own self image. We find that she is very dark, unlike they Hebrew women she is likely around, yet she knows that she is lovely. She asks her love where he pastures his flock, that she might go out to him, and he tells her to follow the tracks of the flock. In his response, we see his adoration of her, praising her beauty and comparing his love to a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots. The bride comes back in speaking of her love and devotion to her groom, and the bridegroom praises her beauty once again, a sentiment she returns in the end. Here we see the adoration that each party has for the other.
The bride: This chapter mostly contains the words of the bride, with only the bridegroom speaking to affirm her beauty among the lilies in the second verse. She praises her beloved and delights in his shadow. She speaks of his love for her and is given to him wholly. Note the adoration here, bursting with excitement even at his voice. There is much joy and devotion found here as she meditates on her beloved, his characteristics and what he does for her. As this story has been interpreted as an allegory for Christ and the church, we find many phrases here that have appear in hymns and songs throughout the ages such as “Rose of Sharon,” “lily of the valley,” “his banner over me was love,” and “cleft of the rock.” She says that her beloved is hers and she is his, showing the good, intimate relationship they had with one another.
The bride’s dream and the beginning of the wedding ceremony: This chapter is divided into two parts. The first half tells of a dream that the bride has one night where she is frantically searching for her beloved. She looks for him without finding him and then rises to go into the streets seeking her love. She desperately searches, asking the watchmen if they had seen him. Finally she finds her love and clings to him without letting go. The second half of the chapter describes the opening of the wedding ceremony with Solomon’s arrival. He arrives with pomp, surrounded by his mighty men of war. The scene is beautiful and royal, filled with joy and gladness. She describes a barrage that was made from the wood of Lebanon, the interior purple and said to be inlaid with love. Solomon arrives with the crown that his mother had crowned him with for the day of his wedding. The day they had been waiting for had finally come, and there was gladness of heart.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Zechariah 1-7.
Rose of Sharon, shine on us.