Song of Songs 1:1-7
Bernard of Clairvaux said of this song,
It is not a melody that resounds abroad but [is] the very music of the heart; not a trilling on the lips but an inward pulsing of delight; a harmony not of voices but of wills. It is a tune you will not hear in the streets; these notes do not sound where crowds assemble; only the singer hears it and the one to whom he sings—the lover and the beloved. (Griffiths, Song, xxi)
The second-century rabbi Akiba ben Joseph said, "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" (Danby, Mishnah, 782). The rabbi was talking about a book we find in the Bible called "The Song of Solomon" or "The Song of Songs," an eight-chapter, 117-verse love song.
The Song of Songs is a love story between Solomon and one of his wives, but more than that it is a story of Jesus and the bride, for Jesus is also the Son of David. The book can be studied as relating to a passion for one’s spouse to help marriages stay strong. While I may bring that up occasionally, I will be applying it to our relationship to Jesus. We will constantly be reminded that Jews saw physical things as a picture of a spiritual parallel (Romans 1:20).
Commentators often mention that it has been said that this Song is one book in the Bible for which we have lost the key. I beg to differ. Jesus gave us the key when He said all the Scriptures were about Him (Luke 24:27,44).
The book opens with the words of the Shulammite woman and closes with her words as well. In fact, she does 53% of the speaking and Solomon does only 34%. I think the ratio of woman speaking to men is more like 70/30, but we can be glad that Solomon, typologically representing Jesus, has a higher ratio than most men. Maybe that is telling us men we need to communicate with our wives with more words, especially loving ones.
The word Shulammite is the feminine form of Solomon. We’ll see later in the book that her identity becomes blended with his. That is the bride of Christ resembling her Savior, changed into His likeness, not in physical appearance but in nature. This goes all the way back to Exodus and even earlier to God’s choice of Israel as his bride. Idolatry was always seen as spiritual adultery. See Ezekiel 16. Rabbi teach that the marriage with Israel was consummated when the covenant was ratified at the foot of Sinai when the Law was received. Israel was to be God’s helpmeet, the faithful bride, always moving with Him, just as Israel was led by the cloud in the wilderness and camped facing the tabernacle in which was God’s presence.
But we see in the Torah and prophets, especially Hosea, that the bride was unfaithful. Ten tribes went into idolatry, were taken captives, and ending up blending with the world. In this we can see that as Paul said, “Not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel – not the flesh and blood children but the children of promise” (Romans 11:6-9). The people of faith are the heirs of the promises to Abraham. They aren’t perfected yet, but they have faith in God to save them from their condition and that one day He will finish the work He started in us.
The bride Jesus chose is a mess and desperately needs His process of sanctification. Jesus came to purchase His bride, and His blood is the bride-price. He came to make her pure and holy, spotless and without blemish (Ephesians 5:25-32), fit to be vessels of the Holy Spirit. The illustration He gives to demonstrate that is marriage. Luke’s sermons in Hosea will go right along with this study. Song of Songs is God’s view of us in Christ (positional) while the book of Hosea is the hard reality of our working out our salvation (experiential) and God’s patience with the process.
We can see in Scripture that the bride is also called brother or sister. That is because we are also sons and daughters of God, adopted into the family of God. Only an adopted child could marry their brother or sister. We are also called the body of Christ. The two shall be one flesh. All these metaphors are difficult to put together because in the physical world it rarely is exemplified, but each has a way of helping us understand our unique relationship to Jesus.
Song of Songs 1:1 (ESV) The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.
Of the 1005 songs of Solomon, this is his song of songs. Indeed, there are so many interpretations that the book has been set beside Revelation as one of the most difficult books in the Bible. I should not call it a book but rather a song, for the entire thing is a song listed with the books of wisdom literature. The questions are: who is the song referring to; who is the man; is he a shepherd or a king; was it written about Solomon or about a fictitious couple and the perfect love; how could Solomon write like this when he had a thousand wives; is it written in his youth or his old age; could it be his song of repentance describing what should have been (Proverbs 5:18)?
Song of Songs 1:2 (ESV) Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!For your love is better than wine;
Some people read verse 2-4 as the woman’s fantasy and that the marriage does not take place until the second section of the book. You can decide. But let me ask you, do you long for the Lord's kisses? And how does He kiss us? It is with His lips and tongue for from them come His words of love, the Scriptures. We will read them in this book and should receive them as kisses from His mouth.
Lately I keep hearing people talking about relaxing with a good glass of wine. Children of God, we have something much better. Wine can lead to excess, but the more the better with the love of Jesus. We will see in this song that our lack of the experience of this love is simply our unwillingness to receive it. It is not only better than wine; it is better than anything!
Song of Songs 1:3 (ESV) your anointing oils are fragrant; your name is oil poured out; therefore virgins love you.
No wonder Paul speaks of the fragrance of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14, 16; Ephesians 5:2). Paul calls it the fragrance of the knowledge of Him and of life unto life. When Mary anointed Jesus, was she thinking of this verse in SoS (John 12:3). Anointing oils were given by the wisemen to Jesus at His birth.
His name is oil poured out, that is, His reputation is great. His good words and actions have given Him a good name among people. Even those who use His name in vain say that He was a good person. What virgin does not want to be loved by a man with such a great reputation. His name's honor is from the greatness of His attributes, steadfast love, mercy, grace, faithfulness, justice and all the rest in perfect harmony. He is a most honorable man. In fact, His name is above every name (Philippians 2:9-11).
Song of Songs 1:4 (ESV) Draw me after you; let us run. The king has brought me into his chambers.
We will exult and rejoice in you;we will extol your love more than wine;rightly do they love you.
While all the others love Him, what a dream come true to know He will answer when we ask Him to draw us to Himself. We run from the crowd to be alone together. What follows is marital language. The king has chosen her as his bride, so he brings her into his chambers to be intimate with her. This is our prayer closet. It is our special time of uninterrupted love, sharing our hearts with Him and He with us. It is the making of an unbreakable covenant.
The others (daughters of Jerusalem) sing, "We will exult - to be under the influence of a violent emotion- and rejoice in You!" Everyone else is overcome with the excellencies of our King and His goodness. They agree that His love is more memorable than the best wine. It is only right to love such an excellent One.
Song of Songs 1:5-6 (ESV) I am very dark, but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon.
Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has looked upon me. My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept!
Mrs. Solomon was critical of her own appearance. She felt the darkness of her skin from being in the sun made her unattractive. Yet she knew she had lovely features, like the black goat hair tents contrasted with Solomon's beautifully embroidered curtains. Her brothers had her out in the sun working their vineyards, to the point that she had neglected her own, her physical beauty. Were they jealous because the king was interested in her?
Women, no one is the perfect inner and outer beauty. Even the Miss Universes have what they perceive as flaws. That is why plastic surgeons are so wealthy and cosmetics are a billion-dollar industry. But there is One who finds you lovely, and if you are blessed with a loving husband, then there are two. We'll see that in verses later in this chapter.
We tend to think the Lord is overly critical of us. We can be too hard on ourselves, like women tend to be overly critical of their appearance. When we are sensitive to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we sometimes think that our imperfections cause us to be unattractive to our Lord. But He sees His own righteousness (positional) when He looks on us. He knows we are a work in progress, but He can see past that to the finished work - a spotless radiant bride.
It is the enemy of your soul who wants you to think He loves you less because you have stumbled and are still struggling with issues in your life. Just as Solomon with the Shulammite woman, He has already entered into a covenant with you. Believe in His wonderful name and gracious character. Believe He is speaking only truth when He says He couldn't love you more and will never love you any less (John 15:13).
Song of Songs 1:7 (ESV) Tell me, you whom my soul loves, where you pasture your flock,where you make it lie down at noon;for why should I be like one who veils herselfbeside the flocks of your companions?
Is Solomon out shepherding a flock in his youth? Probably not. Therefore, I think we should take this as poetic language. She is asking where she can meet up with him during the day while he goes about his business. The nation is his flock. Sheep rest in the heat of the day so the shepherd can turn all his attention to her. She wants undistracted time with him. She doesn't want to go around asking all his underlings as she tries to find him.
Oh, that we were so eager to meet up with the Lord during the day and have quiet communion with Him (Daniel 6:10). The wonderful difference is that He is never too busy, and we never need to search for Him. As the following verses show us, He longs to meet with us at any time. He is always with us. We just need to be still from all our busyness and behold Him (2 Corinthians 3:18). That is where we are transformed.
I want to stop here and save Solomon’s exciting response for next week. Feel free to read ahead and hear Jesus speak to your heart. It has been said that the book of Proverbs is for men. It calls out to sons to listen and learn wisdom. It warns them against lust and alcohol. It tells them of the ideal bride. Song of Songs seems to be written to women. Solomon is her Prince Charming, only much better. But that does not mean that men can’t relate. There is no male of female when it comes to salvation (Galatians 3:28). We are one body. It may be a little more difficult for us to relate than it is for women, but love is love. The song addresses the spiritual through the physical shadow. We are talking about a spiritual intimacy with Christ. Ephesians 5 tells us that women long for love. As the bride of Christ, we all long to know we are unconditionally loved. The groom is told he must love His wife as Christ loves the church. If that is God’s command for earthly husbands, how perfectly must Christ exemplify that with His bride the church!
That chapter also tells us the wife must respect her husband. The Shulammite women obviously loves Solomon and has the greatest respect for Him. That means she would do anything he asked and longs to hear his guidance. That is the love and respect we should allow the Holy Spirit to develop in us toward Jesus. I hope our study of this song will help us see our relationship with Jesus in an exciting new light.
1 Why is this song so special?
2 What is the song’s theme?
3 What is the origin of the spiritual husband wife concept?
4 What can we learn from the woman’s name?
5 Should we think of the Word as kisses from Jesus?
6 Why does she want to be alone with him? Do you have that desire?
7 What is the deepest desire of your heart?