Wednesday, February 19, 2014

CCXXXVI - Concluding Song of Solomon

This rather short post will conclude Song of Solomon, starting with chapter 4.  This entire book is a love poem written to be put to music.  I am commenting on this book from the standpoint of the two main characters being Solomon and his love when he was at a very young age.
In chapter 4 Solomon describes her appearance in the most flattering way poetry will allow.  For a few examples, he describes her hair as a flock of black goats descending a mountain, which means it was long and flowing, moving in the breeze.  In verse 2, none of her teeth were missing and all were straight and pretty.  In verse 7 he says she was flawless in her entire physical being.  In verse 9 he says that she steals his heart with just one glance of her eyes.  Notice the references to Lebanon.  Lebanon grew the most fragrant of trees and flowers.  This was well known in these times, and only the most beautiful fragrances could be compared with Lebanon.  In keeping with the amorous language, she responds to his flattering words by inviting him to make love to her in the very last verse of this chapter.

In chapter 5 she tells of another dream.  This time, they had fallen asleep in each others’ arms.  But she was awakened by the knocking on the door.  It was him wanting back in to the house.  But by the time she could open the door, he was gone.  She desperately searches for him in the streets, only to suffer abuse by the hands of the watchmen that she had hoped would help her find him.  A dream that turned into a nightmare.  The remainder of chapter 5 is her praising her lover.  The term “ruddy” in verse 10 describes skin tone as youthful and reddish in color.  She considers him in a class by himself, seeing him as perfectly handsome from head to toe.

Chapter 6 begins with her friends offering to help her search for him.  Then she finds him.  She says in verse 3 that “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine…”.  This is her assertion that they are exclusive to one another.  He begins in verse 4 to describe her beauty again.  He compares her beauty to the city of Jerusalem which was considered a beautiful city back then.  He tells her to look away from him because her eyes are overwhelming, and again praises her beauty as beyond compare.

Chapter 7 has him to continue to describe her physical beauty, from head to toe in eloquent poetic language.
In chapter 8, the first four verses she wishes they could have intimacy both privately and in public.  She dreamed that he might be like a brother whom she could embrace in public without judgment being cast on them.  As a brother she could take him into her home without suspicion or criticism.  She ended this thought by saying she longed to be held in his arms, and would not be happy until then.

Then, beginning in verse 5, the writer concludes with a moving passage on the difficulties of love.  She described the power of jealousy in verse 6 and that it burned like fire.  Verse 7 has much to say in that love is so powerful that it cannot be quenched by “many waters”.  And that it was worth giving up all of one’s possessions to obtain.  In the remainder of chapter 8 they tell of their commitment to faithfulness.

This concludes the book of Song of Solomon.  This book is beautiful literature, but I found it frustratingly difficult to teach in a way that made any sense.  I attribute that to the poetic license taken by the writer, as his intent was for the reader to simply enjoy the beauty of it rather than seek understanding.

In the next post we shall begin our study of the Major Prophets with the book of Isaiah.

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