Song of Songs 1-8
A Devotional Journey
led by Dr. Gene Pearson
Thru the Bible in a Year
The title could be translated literally the greatest of songs. It is attributed to Solomon in verse 1, and, although many scholars have differed in their evaluation, there seems to be no compelling reason to insist otherwise (see 1 Kings 4:32, which says Solomon wrote 1,005 songs).
Two differing views are held regarding the nature of this song: 1) one group maintains that this is wisdom's description of ideal love between married people; 2) another group sees the poem as allegorical, referring to Israel's relationship with God (partially because it was often read at Passover) or Christ's relationship to (His bride) the Church. As the allegorical method poses some unique dangers in biblical interpretation (one may find almost anything in a text!), we will consider this work as wisdom's commentary on amorous love.
The poem reflects the interaction between the one loved, the lover, and their friends. The two lovers address each other in a mood of self-reflection while the friends (often identified as young women from Jerusalem) listen and respond briefly at points.
The sexual relationship of marriage is both described and blessed in this poem, and the consecutive elements of commitment, marriage and sexual intimacy are each described. It is possible that this is a wedding song.
Various passages offer insight into effective relationships: (1) commitment in 2:16; 4:12; 8:6-7; (2) marriage in 2:16; 5:16; (3) pleasure in 1:4; 4:1-5; 6:5; (4) trust and vulnerability in 5:8; 7:10; 8:2-3; 8:6.
What do you understand God's view of sex to be? Unlike the pagan thinkers of Old Testament times who saw sex as a reflection of the earth's fertility and a suitable focus of their religious ceremonies, or the Greek Gnostic thinkers of New Testament times who saw sex as an evil to be avoided, the biblical view is that human beings were created to become one and multiply taking their sexuality as a gift from God to be enjoyed in the context of a legitimate marriage commitment.
If you are married, could you read this poem to your husband or wife? Consider the nature of mature and lasting commitments. There is delight in the other person, joy in pleasing him/her and anticipation of time together. If you are married, ask yourself: Have I developed (or maintained) the kind of devotion and love as described in this book?
If you are not married, ask yourself if you have the kind of devotion to God which would cause you to delight in the LORD (see Psalm 43:4 & Isaiah 61:10).
8 A. Eugene Pearson 2011