Song of Solomon is a wedding song honoring marriage. The most explicit statements on sex in the Bible can be found in this book. It has often been criticized through the centuries because of its sensuous language. The purity and sacredness of love represented here, however, are greatly needed in our day where distorted attitudes about love and marriage are commonplace. God created sex and intimacy, and they are holy and good when enjoyed within the bonds of marriage. A husband and wife honor God when they love and enjoy each other.
A moving story, drama, and poem. Song of Solomon features the love dialogue between a simple Jewish maiden (the Shulammite woman) and her lover (Solomon, the king). They describe in intimate detail their feelings for each other and their longings to be together. Throughout the dialogue, sex and marriage are put in their proper, God-given perspective.
There has been much debate over the meaning of this song. Some say it is an allegory of God’s love for Israel and/or for the church. Others say it is a literal story about married love. But in reality, it is both – a historical story with two layers of meaning. On one level we learn about love, marriage, and sex; and on the other level, we see God’s overwhelming love for his people. As you read Song of Solomon, remember that you are loved by God, and commit yourself to see life, sex, and marriage from his point of view.
Writer of Song of Solomon
Solomon’s authorship is disputed, but the glory of Solomonic symbolism is essential to the Song. Jesus referred twice to Solomon’s glory and wisdom (Matthew 6:29; 12:42). As David’s royal son, Solomon had a unique place in covenant history (2 Samuel 7:12-13). His two birth names, which symbolize peace (Solomon) and love (Jedidiah), readily apply to the Song (2 Samuel 12:24-25; 1 Chronicles 22:9). Solomon’s glorious kingdom was like a restoration of the Garden of Eden (1 Kings 6-7). Solomon is perfectly cast as the personified blessings of covenant love since he appears in the Song with all of his regal perfection (1:2-4; 5:10-16).
Though the Song does not supply precise background information, Solomon reigned over Israel from 971 to 931 B.C. Similar language and ideals are also found in David’s temple prayer for Solomon and for the people at Solomon’s enthronement (1 Chronicles 29).
Setting of Song of Solomon
“Love” is the keyword in the Song. This love, presenting the passionate desire between a man and a woman, King Solomon and the Shulamite woman, celebrates the joyous potential of marriage in light of sworn covenant principles. The basis for all human love should be covenant love, the master metaphor of the Bible. This covenant love is also the basis of the relationship between God and man; therefore, the Song applies properly to both marriage and to covenant history. The Shulamite, therefore, personifies the wife in an ideal marriage and the covenant people and their history in the Promised Land under the blessings of royal Solomonic love.
The great message of the Song of Solomon is the beauty of love between a man and a woman as experienced in the relationship of marriage. In its frank but beautiful language, the song praises the sexual and physical side of marriage as a natural and proper part of God’s plan, reflecting His purposes and desire for the human race (Genesis 2:24). Like Genesis, the Song of Solomon says a bold YES! To the beauty and sanctity of married love.
But this book also points beyond human love to the great Author of love. Authentic love is possible in the world because God brought love into being and planted that emotion in the hearts of HIs people. Even husbands and wives should remember that the love which they share for one another is not a product of their human goodness but the love of God working in our lives.
The symbols and images that the groom uses to describe the beauty of his Shulamite bride may seem strange to modern readers. He portrays her hair as “a flock of goats” (4:1). Her neck, he says, is like “the tower of David, built for an armory, on which to hang a thousand bucklers” (4:4). Such compliments today would certainly not be flattering to most women!
In his use of symbols, the groom is reflecting the cultural patterns of the ancient world. To those who lived in Solomon’s time, the rippling effect of a flock of goats moving down a hillside was, indeed, a thing of beauty. And a stately tower atop a city wall reflected an aura of stability and nobility. The Shulamite woman would have been very pleased with such creative compliments from her poetic groom.
Click here to download or print the Bible Outline “Song of Solomon – Human Intimacy and the Kingdom“.