If there ever was a book of the Bible that was inappropriate for younger audiences it would be the Song of Solomon (or the Song of Songs). In some traditions, the Song of Solomon is not permitted to be read until adulthood. That should tell you something, indeed.
It definitely dances around avoiding certain specifics. On the other hand, it is quite open about the intimacy between the male and female main characters.
This is one of those books that both Jewish and Christian interpreters actually interpret mostly the same thing…this is about the intimacy between God and God’s people. Some people struggle with this (self included). It seems a little odd to think of our relationship with God in this manner.
The gift that both Jewish and Christian interpreters think the same allows us to strip (pun intended) us of our American Puritanism. American Puritanism isn’t all bad, but when it conflicts with the plain reading and even allegorical reading of the Scriptures, it needs to be confronted and removed. Wrestling with the Scriptures is not a bad thing. Often we Christians look at the words of Jesus as challenging and life-changing (they are). We will dismiss (unwisely) the books that discuss the violent mess that birthed the Promised Land. We will also avoid the books of Law and Purity, even though they provide insight into the heart of God once we look beyond the words of the Law.
What does this have to do with the Song of Solomon? A lot. The Jews view this book as the love story of God for his people (the Jews). Christians view it as the love story of Jesus and his bride (the church). The intimacy of husband and wife should be embraced as the view of God’s love for us. We, on the other hand, seem to be more of the wandering away type.
What would our Christian lives be like if this described us…
I will rise now and go all around the city, through the streets and the squares. I will look for the one whom I love with all my heart… I held on to him and now I won’t let him go,
On the Evangelical side, we’ve largely dismissed a whole group of people whose life is defined by being “married” to God, the monks, and (more often) nuns of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. It seems that we evangelicals are finally maturing to the point where we are able to honor those who walk this path willingly or not.
One of the side-effects of this is that we can remove the pressure to “get married” (for solely getting married, not talking about other moral issues). This means we can open our concept of a faithful and fulfilling Christian life. Married and single life both provide valuable reflections on this loving God that called the Jewish people his wife, and the self-sacrificing Son who calls his church his bride.
- What do these verses in the Song of Solomon tell us about God? How do the words from Psalm 118 affect your thoughts in comparison to the Song of Solomon?
- What have you learned about love from Christian singles in your life? What have you learned about love from Christian married couples in your life? If the same questions are asked in regards to non-Christians, do any answers change?
- The Song of Solomon isn’t the only Scripture that challenges our remote/separate/pure view of God. Which other verses or stories in the Scriptures do that? How do they affect your view of and relationship with God?
O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in the fullness of his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen [Wednesday of Easter Week Collect, Book of Common Prayer 2019]