Have you ever read The Song of Solomon before?
It’s a unique and often-overlooked book in our Bibles. It’s a song, or a collection of songs. Some Bibles call it ‘Song of Solomon (NET, KJV, ESV)’ and others ‘Song of Songs’ (HCSB). Others even call it ‘Canticles’ (DR, after the Latin word for songs). However we refer to it, it’s unique.
Its uniqueness presents us with an interpretative challenge: how do we read this short but strong part of our Bible? No matter how allegorically, speculatively, or literally we choose to read it, we need to confirm and affirm that it’s a book of our Bibles and therefore inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…(2 Timothy 3.16).
Some, however, see the uniqueness and the challenge and avoid it altogether (an early church father named Origen, c.185-c.254 A.D.,being one).
Others view it totally as allegory: a story with a hidden meaning, describing something else (early Jewish rabbis fall into this group, as did English commentator John Trapp).
The simplest way to read Song of Solomon is the same way we read all of our Bible: plainly and literally unless such reading produces an impossibility or an absurdity. So, we’ll do just that day by day.
We will read snapshots of a romantic relationship between a man and a woman (1.2). It is not set out for us in perfect chronology, but we will see different points in their relationship. The plain and simple meaning of the text is one of a loving relationship, but in reading of such we will certainly see truths about God and His church, about Christ and the believer. Therein lies the beauty of the book: we learn about life but we also learn about the Lord. G.Campbell Morgan wrote that
“There are those who treat this Book as a song of human love.
There are those who consider its only value is that of its mystical suggestiveness.
Personally, I believe that both values are here.”
This is sure to be a great journey to take day by day, and I hope you will join us as we walk through The Song of Solomon.