Studying Song of Songs, the ultimate song, one of the more ‘skipped’ books of the bible. In simple, it blew me away. Our God is sensational! In all meanings of the word that I can think of!
For those of you who may not have read Song of Songs as yet, I really believe it is worth the read. There are images of such beauty that I have never read before. Beautiful images of love between a man and a woman, between God and ourselves all in one book.
To truly understand the beauty of these images, I really believe we need to understand the context of the book, for which there has been great debate. I will give you the perspective that I read it with after studying a number of people’s views. (As an aside be sure to check out my earlier post on perspective for more on this).
Firstly, the author is King Solomon. The setting is his country estate on the slopes of Mount Herman. On his retreat from his Kingly duties, there he would relax, hunt, and lead the sheep to green pastures and water. This is why some commentaries believe it might have been two authors, but I believe it is only Solomon. Now on his estate a tenant farmer dies, leaving his the farm to his sons and daughters. The sons however make the daughter do all the field work, hence her dark skin, a not so attractive feature during those times. So she never thought she would find a man. Then she meets a young man in the fields, and overtime they build a friendship and after a fortnight they are deeply in love. At this point she still does not know that he is actually a king. He leaves to return to work, but promises to return to marry her. Skipping a bit, she has a few nightmares that her love is never going to return and nightmares that she will forever more be looking for him. After these she awakes, later to find that horses and chariots are approaching through the fields, the brothers declare it is the king. She comes to see all the excitement only to find that it is her love, the one she is to marry. She becomes wife number 61, and is seated amongst royalty. A strange environment to her, she ask her husband if they can return to the fields where they met, as she is intimidated by the light-skinned beautiful wives that she now has to compete with, but Solomon reassures her that she is the most beautiful and says he has duties to fulfil, thus they can’t leave. This then is an outline of the story and context of everything in the Song of Solomon.
Now I know many of you skipped the last paragraph as it was too long 😉 I would have done the same. Anyway I will try reveal seven of the images of this love story I find to be beautiful.
1) The image of loves ability to feed us.
“Oh feed me with your love – your ‘raisins’ and your ‘apples’ – for I am utterly lovesick” 2v5
Lovesick, the teenage word I never expected to be in the bible to be honest! The image however is strengthened by the concept of love apples. For those of you who don’t know, a soldier would wipe an apple with his sweat and leave it for his love. A reminder for her of him, for the times when she felt lovesick. I can just image this daughter feeding off the scent of her love’s scent as she waits for his return. Some of you may be saying that is absolutely disgusting! In todays terms, she was the a girl who kept her boyfriend’s jersey and didn’t wash it so that she could be reminded of his scent and be reminded of the memories. Some of you are now saying that’s actually rather romantic hey? 😉
2) The image of joyous love
“Ah, I hear him – my lover! Here he comes, leaping on the mountains and bounding over the hills.” 2v8
A king so in love, he forgets what he looks like and jumps like a kid over hills, can you picture this!
3) The image of love’s protection
“Quick! Catch all the little foxes before they ruin the vineyard of your love, for the grapevines are all in blossom.” 1v15
You know that one little thing that irritates you about the person you love so much? (Think of someone in your family if you aren’t in a romantic relationship) I believe theses things are the little foxes in our vineyards. We need to catch them before they get out of hand. Learn to love the imperfect, protect your relationship from the devil’s ‘little foxes.’ Don’t let the little things destroy that which God has created to bloom!
4) The image of the precious value of one’s love
“You have ravished my heart, my treasure, my bride. I am overcome by one glance of your eyes, by a single bead of your necklace. How sweet is your love, my treasure, my bride! How much better it is than wine! Your perfume is more fragrant than the richest spices.” 4v9-10
My precious one, most special one, my treasure; I think any woman would love to hear these words from her lover! I just imagine butterflies in one’s stomach as one awaits to see their matric dance date or bride/groom at the end of the ile. A ravished heart, overcome by one glance. Powerful love.
5) The image of love’s responsibility
“O queenly maiden” 7v1
A queen! Responsibility. We all have a responsibility to represent our partner well. What I love about Solomon is that he wants to ‘show off’ his bride, not in the sense of saying she is mine, see what I can make her do, but rather in the sense of wow, you all need to see how good God is to me, to bless me with such a woman! “I would still choose my dove, my perfect one, the only beloved daughter of her mother! The young women are delighted when they see her; even queens and concubines sing her praises!” 6v9 This tells me he wasn’t afraid to ‘show her off’ in public at all.
This image however is two-fold as we too are responsible for representing Christ. We are His bride. Thus the image above is clearly applicable to us all as Christians.
6) The image of love’s ability to go beyond.
He went beyond all that was around him to find the beauty of his wife. King Solomon called her a “lily among thorns.” 2v2 We can often skip over this without realising its significance. She calls herself, “the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valley.” 2v1 I love how one commentary puts it ” We assume that these are beautiful flowers, but in Israel they are tiny little flowers which you would walk on like daisies in a lawn. The lilies of the valley grow in the shadows, and the rose of Sharon is a tiny little crocus that grows on the flat plain next to the Mediterranean Sea. The King’s reply, that she is a lily among thorns, delights her, for lilies among thorns, by contrast are the most beautiful flowers in Israel. This lily is white with a graceful form, and this is how her beloved sees her.” He saw beyond all the other flowers, he saw her. Love takes us beyond the obvious, places value on others.
7) The image of love’s strength.
“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave.
Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly despised.” 8v6-7 Love cannot be stopped!
So after all of this, I guess I just had to share these beautiful images of love! Hopefully you see the beauty in them too!Image credit: http://www.bridgewaychristian.org