This beautiful 8 chapter love song known as the Song of Solomon or the Song of Songs can be interpreted in many ways. Many of these views hold great value. No single approach captures all that the Song has to offer. Since the song’s writing about 3,000 years ago there have been more commentaries written about the Song that any other book of the Bible save Romans. So there are a great number of ways to approach this book and they vary greatly.
Here are a few possibilities.
An actual account based on a historical relationship. For instance:
- A Shulamite maiden and King Solomon (perhaps his first love)
- A Shulamite maiden, her shepherd lover and King Solomon (in this case Solomon is a villainous character.)
Here the characters in the story are fictional representatives of real persons and places. This is by far the more common way to interpret the song historically. The Allegorical view can be broken down further.
In Hebrew thought historically the Song has been approached in many ways:
- God and the Messiah
- God and Israel
- Messiah and Israel
- Torah and Messiah
- Torah and Israel
In the Church there have been various ways of looking at this as well.
- God and the Church
- Jesus and the Corporate Church
- Jesus and Mary
- Jesus and the individual believer
- Jesus and a select group of believes – this can be dangerous, and even cultic.
There are some hybrid approaches as well suggesting that the Song contains actual accounts that are written (as Paul says of all Old Testament stories) for our example that we may learn from them.
My approach will be allegorical. and I will assume the Shepherd King is Jesus and the Shulamite is every individual believer.
As we approach scripture with allegory in mind, it is important to lay down a couple rules. Much of the Bible is not intended as allegory, and it can be dangerous to go this way without some important hand rails to hold onto.
The first of these hand rails is the red letters. As you can read in the article “Why the Red Letters” Jesus’ word’s become the plumb line by which we compare all scripture to ensure we are not jumping into lines of thought that will lead us astray. Jesus says this:
You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me. (John 5:349 NASB)
My approach will be predominantly looking at the 4 option in the last set – Jesus and the individual believer.
All you women who are sick and tired of being called “sons of God” in the New Testament, take heart. All you men – get ready to learn to be a bride and wife!
One other thing to note about our approach, while the Song is for the most part sequential, it is not entirely so. I have been born and raised in North America, and so I tend to think in a linear way, but from what I have observed, much of Middle Eastern thought runs more like spokes and hubs. So there may be times when things seem a bit out of order, but stick with it. All will come together eventually.
It may take me some time, but if you dig into this little book, I promise you will get more out of it than you ever expected.
Come back next week and look with me at how unique this song is in so many ways.
Thanks for reading today. Come back next week. If this is your first SOS Saturday, check out the Why page for this theme above.