Wedding night bliss (Song of Songs #4)

We’re slowly working our way through Song of Songs, a poem describing six scenes in the lives of two lovers (Solomon and the Shulammite woman). Scene one (1:1-3:5) was their courtship (part a, part b). Scene two was Wedding day glory (3:6-11). We’re now reading for Wedding Night Bliss (4:1-5:1).

New Explorations

Remember that Song of Songs is a story, and you can see it unfolding in front of you. “How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes behind your veil are doves.” (4:1). Now he’s said that before – do you remember (1:15)? But now he goes further. Now he’s married, he enjoys more of her than he enjoyed before. So he doesn’t just describe her eyes, he describes her hair. As you go through the verses, you can see Solomon in your mind’s eye, studying her face, being intimate in a way he’s not been before. “Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn, coming up from the washing. Each has its twin; not one of them is alone.” Try saying, “Hey girl, you’ve got all your teeth left – great!”

“Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon; your mouth is lovely.” Do you see his eyes moving around? “Your temples behind your veil are like the halves of a pomegranate.” He’s on his way down from her face now: “Your neck is like the tower of David”. She doesn’t look like a giraffe, but she is elegant. “Your two breasts are like two fawns,” he’s moving to parts of the body that he wouldn’t look at before. And that’s as far as he gets. The excitement of that is too much for him, I think – he doesn’t go any further.
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Wooing, waiting and winning (Song of Songs #2b)

Over the past few days we’ve been looking at Song of Songs. In the introduction I explained there were six scenes in the song, and we have started to go through the first scene. I described this first scene as wooing, waiting and winning which describes the Shulammite woman and her quest to win Solomon’s heart. Last time around we left them on their first date, lying in the verdant grass, staring up at the fir trees above them.

2:1-2: And what does this do for the woman? It fills her with confidence: She was “darkened by the sun”, but now she is “a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys”. Men, we have a real responsibility for our girls. Because Solomon has accepted her for who she is, she has confidence in herself. And it gets better, because Solomon disagrees with her. You’re not a lily, he says to her. You’re the lily, “a lily among thorns”. Not very fair on the groupies, but he wants her to be confident that it’s only her. Even on this first date, and this very early stage, he wants her to know that she’s the only one for him. Remember: if your girl or boy is only a lily among lilies – then don’t go out together. Wait. A lily among thorns – that’s the right time.
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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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