Wooing, waiting and winning (Song of Songs #2a)

In the introduction to Song of Songs I explained that the book is a story, set in six scenes that describe the development of the relationship between Solomon and his unnamed lover – the Shulammite woman (6:13).

The first scene I’ve described as wooing, waiting and winning. Here is the Shulammite woman in her quest to win her man. It’s the longest of the seven scenes in the book – three chapters (1:1-3:5). So rather than try and cover everything in one post, I’ll split this first scene up.

All I’m going to do in this and future posts is to retell the story in the text, and make a few applications as I go along. It would be good for you to have a Bible handy.

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
for your love is more delightful than wine.
Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
your name is like perfume poured out.
No wonder the maidens love you!
Take me away with you—let us hurry!
Let the king bring me into his chambers. (1:1-4)

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Song of Songs: Introduction

Over the next few weeks I plan to provide an overview of Song of Songs. The aim is a practical exposition which helps with the sticky questions of courtships and relationships before and during marriage. I guess in my mind that it’s aimed specifically at young people (after all, most of the events described seem to happen when Solomon and the Shulamite woman were quite young). Today, I’ll just give you an introduction.

For those not familiar with it, Song of Songs is a series of poems that tell the story of two lovers: Solomon, and a lady we call the Shulamite woman. The book is almost entirely their own words, though just occassionally a few others add their own thoughts. It was written by Solomon, and the events described took place around 965BC, nearly 3,000 years ago.

If you have an old translation of the Bible (particularly an AV), then Song of Songs is going to be very hard to read. Not because of the old-fashioned language, but because it will be very hard to work out who is saying what to whom. When the text said “Let him kiss me”, then we know that it must be the woman who is speaking (because she says ‘him’). But what about the next verse? “Your name is like perfume poured out”. In English it’s impossible to tell (though we can guess). But because the Hebrew language is more precise when it comes to gender, the original readers would be able to tell. That’s how modern translations are able to add these nice headings that explain who is speaking and make everything much clearer. The headings are not inspired though, so occassionally they could be wrong.
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