The Song of Solomon is a very different kind of literature for the Bible. Not only is it a little racy for a religious book, but it doesn’t have a readily apparent spiritual purpose. On it’s surface, it looks to be no more than a love poem complete with a little hinted eroticism evident. To get the meaning of the book, it’s important to read it front to end, rather than a piece at a time; so I’m asking you, dear reader, to plow through the whole book at one sitting. Don’t worry, it’s not that long.
There are, you should also know, several parts in this romantic poem: the maiden, the king, the chorus, and the maiden’s servants. They each contribute to the story, even though they are not clearly marked in the text.
But what is the point to this religious book? There at least two: 1) to manifest the beauty of human, erotic love and 2) to point to a greater and higher relationship between God and His people. Both are more important than you might think.
Despite the fact that sexuality was dirtied in the first two or three centuries of Christianity, it was not always this way. The European conversion to Christianity came with difficulty. The Greeks and Romans and everyone they influenced had descended in their sexual morality to the point of deep depravity. As a more than casual student of ancient history, I don’t think that it would be too much of a stretch to say that many a European was a sexual addict without anything like a sexual moral compass. But as Christianity changed the world with Jesus’ teachings and salvation, many found themselves having to exercise a kind of self control that they had never exercised before over their sexual drives. Like most other addicts, they found total abstinence the best way to control themselves. From that monastery life emerged, and celibacy became considered the more pious lifestyle to choose. Before too long sex itself was considered impious and somewhat dirty, in fact, from this the idea of original sin was developed. Anyway, parents from that.day forward tried to dissuade their kids from sexuality by labeling it dirty. This is a world away from the original biblical idea. And Song of Solomon helps us reclaim the beauty married sexuality.
Secondly, however, there is a greater and higher meaning in this poem of the marriage of the King, and it is that it is a metaphor for God and His people. God has a wife. It is the meaning of Hosea’s prophecy, it is the meaning of Ephesians 5:22-33, and it is the meaning of “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,’” Revelation 21:2, 3, NAS95. Israel at one time, the church in this age, we are the bride of Christ. God seeks relationship with us and wants to know us. Regarding Israel, the LORD said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” Hosea 4:6, NAS95. The very same could apply to the church; and it’s not just about knowing the Bible, or knowing about God; it’s about knowing Him. Do you?
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.