Monday, February 17, 2014

CCXXXV - Song of Solomon

We have just finished the book of Ecclesiastes, which I have suggested that Solomon wrote during his later years.  I believe Solomon also wrote the book we are beginning today, “Song of Solomon”, but in an entirely different time of his life.  Instead of being life-weary and depressed as he was when he wrote Ecclesiastes, we will see him as young and in love.  This book is unique, not because it is written as a poem or song, as other parts of the Bible share that distinction. But rather, it is unique because it contains the most human emotion and it provokes the most challenges of interpretation (with the possible exception of Revelation).  But the challenges to interpretations is not within the text itself like Revelation, but rather the book as a whole.  There have been serious challenges as to its having a rightful place in the Bible, which is caused by the difficulties of interpreting who or what the main characters represent.  For example, Bible scholars have disagreed about the meaning of this poem:  Some think it is written about one’s love for God.  Some think it is a prophetic poem written about Christ and His church.  Some think it is a poem about two young people in love.  Some think it is a poem about Solomon and one of his wives.  Some think it is simply a beautiful poem written about fictitious characters with the intention of being put to music.  I’ve read this book and I must conclude that it is a beautiful poem about a young Solomon and his true love.  And that is the way I have chosen to teach it.  It seems to me that Solomon and the young girl wrote it together, telling their love story, perhaps involving the assistance of someone perhaps with more of a flair for poetry.  And we must keep in mind that this person, as does all writers, takes some liberties in the name of poetic license which always causes some confusion to one who is trying to gain a complete understanding.  {Maybe I’m just getting older, but it seems God has been working a change in me in recent years.  This book serves as a reminder of that feeling.  I never cared much for poetry.  I just wasn’t wired that way.  However, when I read this book today I found it to be absolutely lovely.  The KJV is a bit more poetically lovely than the NIV.}
This book, using bold imagery and amorous language reveals the innermost emotions of these two people in love.  It seems to me that it was written mostly from the standpoint of the lady, but includes the words of the man (Solomon), plus the words of a group of the lady’s friends, to whom I believe she was telling the story of her thoughts and experiences.  So, we will study this book as we have the others, but while we do that, try to sit back and enjoy the story.
Chapter 1
After verse 1 states its title and/or dedication, verses 2-4 tell of the lady’s desire for her beloved.  I picture her at this time in the harem, speaking to the other ladies.  I say this because of her statement in verse 4, “Let the king bring me into his chambers”.  She was truly in love as she says his kisses are more intoxicating than wine.  And she acknowledges that all of the women wanted him.  The harem women respond in the last part of the verse.  
She abruptly changes subjects in verse 5.  She speaks of the dark color of her skin and that it makes no difference because she is beautiful anyway.  {For centuries, darker skin was not considered to be feminine because it meant that the darker woman was forced to work in the fields, being exposed to the sun, thus unable to spend the time to beautify herself, as the wealthier women were able to do.}
I see verse 7 as her searching for him.  It has the connotation of him being a shepherd, but this was a metaphor for whatever activity occupied a person throughout a normal day.
1:9 to 2:7 is a dialogue between the two lovers.  He likens her to a mare from among the chariot horses of Egypt, considered the most eloquent and beautiful animals in the world.  {I do not recommend that you tell any lady she looks like a horse.  That would not sit well.  But it was a compliment of beauty back then.}  Verses 10 and 11 are describing the way the Pharaoh’s horse is ornamented.
In 12 to 14 she tells him how wonderful his fragrance is.  They continue to compliment and flatter one another, as young lovers do.
In 2:2, he tells her that she is “a lily among thorns, and a darling among the women”.  This is telling her that she is more beautiful than all of the other women in the harem.  I also noticed that she likes to watch him sleep in her arms, as she often mentions, and does not want the other ladies to awaken him because he is sleeping so peacefully.
Now it seems to divert to a different event in time.  It was not during a time she was a member of his harem, but rather earlier when she was living in the country with her mother.  It was springtime and it seems they had not seen each other all winter.  These verses (8-17) are pretty verses as they tell each other how strong their love is.
Then starting in chapter 3, she seems to be describing a dream she has had.  She cannot find him and searches the streets of Jerusalem for him.  She asks everybody she sees, if they have seen her love.  When she finally finds him she will not let him go.  She holds him in her arms until he falls asleep, at which time she quiets those around her so as not to awaken him.
Then, starting in verse 6 the scene changes to a royal procession in which Solomon is riding in his royal chariot, surrounded by his royal guard.  {This might be the actual wedding day of these two.  I’m not certain, but it seems right.}

Next Post – Concluding Song of Solomon

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