KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” (Song of Solomon 2:4)
The Song of Solomon is a poetic work with romantic love as its theme. Perhaps the most enigmatic book in the Bible, it contains no direct reference to God or religion. However, since we know that all Scripture is given by the inspiration of God and is profitable for us (see 2 Timothy 3:16), this book’s inclusion in the Word of God is no accident.
Commentators offer a wide variety of interpretations of the Song of Solomon. It has been viewed as an allegory, a typification of the love of Christ for the Church, a collection of Hebrew love lyrics, and a factual narrative. (See the Song of Solomon Overview for a more detailed description of the various interpretations.)
Along with many holiness scholars, we have chosen to regard the book as a factual narrative. Adam Clarke suggests that the plot concerns Solomon and his bride, who was the daughter of Pharoah; this interpretation provides a framework for the passages which present intimate details of the physical relationship between a husband and his wife. Another prominent holiness commentary views the narrative as a description of Solomon’s love for a Shulamite maiden who had already given her heart to a young shepherd. In this approach, the intimate passages are part of the Shulamite’s dreams of her beloved. This approach is the one used in the outline presented in Daybreak and Discovery. However, in view of the wide range of explanations of this book, we do not take a fixed position as to its interpretation.
Understanding the book is made even more complex due to the absence of indicators within the text as to who is speaking. Depending upon whom the passage is ascribed to, the interpretation of many passages can be quite diverse. In addition, the extravagant language and imagery within the Song of Solomon comes from another culture and era, and agricultural and botanical comparisons are frequent. Overall, ancient Eastern phraseology can be challenging for contemporary minds to grasp.
Difficulties notwithstanding, the Song of Solomon offers a beautifully descriptive celebration of love, marriage, and the physical relationship between a man and a woman. In our society, human sexuality frequently is exploited in books, movies, and advertising. Sexual relationships are regarded as temporary and are often based on personal gratification. By contrast, the relationship portrayed in the Song of Solomon is one of fidelity, self-giving, and bonding. There is much to be learned and understood in a study of this book.
The Song of Solomon is a beautiful picture of love, and it can teach us much about the fulfillment and joy that marriage can bring.