After reading Song of Songs, I realized that this text was made for the Bible so that we all could know what real love looks like. Knowing what real love is like in a faithful marriage is the second greatest example of God’s love for us. It’s vital that we are faithful in marriage because it’s a representation of Christ’s love for the Church, His Bride (Ephesians 5:21-33). Christ dying on the cross for us in obedience to the Father is the first greatest expression of love (John 3:16).
“Rabbi Aqiba objected strongly from the Song of Songs and he implied that the book be interpreted allegorically of God’s love for Israel…An allegory is a piece of writing in which the author intends readers to take the surface meaning as symbolic of another level of meaning” (Lucas, 2008, p. 192). “Christian interpretation since Hippolytus (ca. 170-235 C.E.) and Origen (ca. 185-254 C.E.) follows in Jewish footsteps and reads the Song allegorically. Here we find two main interpretative strands: the first is an ecclesiological reading of the Song where the poem describes the love relationship between Christ and his church. The second reading is mystagogical, in which the poem describes the relationship of an individual soul to Christ as bridegroom” (Hagedorn, 2019).
“The Song of Songs was originally a carefully crafted anthology of secular love poems celebrating the sensual, sexual, and erotic love between man and woman. Later, Jewish and Christian tradition transformed it into a sublime document of religious belief” (Hagedorn, 2019). Because there is no mention of God in this book, religious critics were skeptical of why it was in the Bible, so they came up with theological doctrines to relate it to God. For example, in Song 8:6, the last line that read “a raging flame” was translated to a name of God (‘esh shalhebetya) meaning “the flame of Yah.” “In the Jewish tradition, the rabbis silenced such a discussion by affirming that “Song of Songs is holy because it was said [under the influence] of the holy Spirit.” The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that allscripture is inspired by God, so it doesn’t matter how we spiritualize things. Marriage is a perfect idea of God that is used to glorify Him.
The message of the book for us today is the same as when it was written. “The Song of Songs is a frank celebration of the joys of human love and sexuality” (Lucas, 2008, p. 197). Love in marriage is committed, romantic, beautiful, pleasurable, and intimate. When we read this book today, we are supposed to gain wisdom to apply to our own marriages so that we may experience God’s best in marriage and realize how God loves us even more than our spouses.
“During the period of the Enlightenment the Song of Songs was read as an ethical appeal for marital fidelity” (Hagedorn, 2019). Up until recent times, many Christians applied the fundamental principles of the Bible to their marriages and everyday life. Today, we are bombarded by millions of lies from the enemy through social media, tv, radio, and foolish people who try to teach us their definitions of love. However, there’s no love in anything outside the Word of God concerning love and marriage.
Through the Song of Songs, we can learn how much God loves us because of His desire for us to experience intimate love with a significant other that reflects our relationships with Him. “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame” (Song of Songs 8:6, New International Version). “The wording here is important. The woman in the Song does not ask the man, however, to set his seal on her, as if marking her as his own, his commodity to do with as he pleases. She envisions herself as the seal she wants him to impress on his heart and arm” (Spencer, F.Scott, et al, p. 212, 2016). She wants to become one with him as God wants with us.
God desires a committed relationship with everyone that never ends. This verse (8:6) talks about “a love that cannot be extinguished” (Spencer, F.Scott, et al, p. 210, 2016). We can also learn about God’s personal love for everyone and realize that we are called to love all of God’s people because we’re all created in His image and deserve to be loved deeply and unconditionally.
“There is the foundational wisdom that ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom [or knowledge in some texts]’ (Prov. 1:7). On this basis the Song of Songs’ reflection on the nature of love must be taken to assume that the appropriate context for the fulfilment of love is marriage” (Lucas, 2008, p. 198). For the modern reader, wisdom for God’s design for marriage and intimacy with Jesus Christ, should be gained from reading this text.
Hagedorn, A. C. (2019, April 03). Jewish and Christian Interpretation of the Song of Songs. Retrieved from http://www.bibleodyssey.org/passages/related-articles/jewish-and-christian-interpretation-of-the-song-of-songs
Lucas, E. C. (2008). Exploring the Old Testament, Volume 3: A guide to the Psalms & Wisdom Literature.Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Spencer, F. S., Lawrence, L. W., & Reid, B. E. (2016). Wisdom commentary: song of songs. Collegeville, Minnesota: Michael Glazier: Liturgical Press.