Song of Solomon 1 (NIV)
The best way to see this book is as a literal, powerful description of the romantic and sensual love between a man and a woman, observing both their courtship and their marriage. It does not give us a smooth chronological story, beginning with the introduction of the couple to one another and ending with their married life together. Instead, it is a collection of “snapshots” of their courting and married life, with the pictures not necessarily in order.
Yet, because God deliberately uses the marriage relationship as an illustration of the relationship that He has with His people, we find that this great song of songs illustrates the love, the intensity, and the beauty of relationship that should exist between God and the believer. This is clearly a secondary meaning, sublimated to the plain literal meaning, yet nevertheless valid and important.
“There are those who treat this Book as a song of human love. There are those who consider its only value is that of its mystical suggestiveness. Personally, I believe that both values are here.” (Morgan)
1 Solomon’s Song of Songs.
LOVE IS . . . a song.
Attempting to translate music’s meaning into words always fails, yet we can say:
- Love is not only subjective feeling but also objective truth;
- Love is both mysterious and meaningful; and
- Love is never reducible to mere words.
God has been singing a love song to us for a very long time — at Creation, he told Job, the morning stars sang together!
And who ever speaks of “love speeches”? It is always “love songs”!
–from Three Philosophies of Life, by Peter Kreeft
2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
for your love is more delightful than wine.
3 Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
your name is like perfume poured out.
No wonder the young women love you!
4 Take me away with you—let us hurry!
Let the king bring me into his chambers.
“The Bible does not see marriage as an inferior state, a concession to human weakness. Nor does it see the normal physical love within that relationship as necessarily impure. Marriage was instituted before the Fall by God with the command that the first couple become one flesh. Therefore physical love within that conjugal union is good, is God’s will, and should be a delight to both partners (see Proverbs 5:15-19 and 1 Corinthians 7:3).”
–Dennis F. Kinlaw
We rejoice and delight in you;
we will praise your love more than wine.
How right they are to adore you!
Priest: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Priest: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Priest: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give him thanks and praise.
5 Dark am I, yet lovely,
daughters of Jerusalem,
dark like the tents of Kedar,
like the tent curtains of Solomon.
6 Do not stare at me because I am dark,
because I am darkened by the sun.
My mother’s sons were angry with me
and made me take care of the vineyards;
my own vineyard I had to neglect.
7 Tell me, you whom I love,
where you graze your flock
and where you rest your sheep at midday.
Why should I be like a veiled woman
beside the flocks of your friends?
8 If you do not know, most beautiful of women,
follow the tracks of the sheep
and graze your young goats
by the tents of the shepherds.
9 I liken you, my darling, to a mare
among Pharaoh’s chariot horses.
10 Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings,
your neck with strings of jewels.
11 We will make you earrings of gold,
studded with silver.
12 While the king was at his table,
my perfume spread its fragrance.
13 My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh
resting between my breasts.
14 My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms
from the vineyards of En Gedi.
LOVE IS . . . dialogue.
The poem is in dialogue form, bride and groom singing to each other antiphonally, because love is essentially dialogue, and the form of a perfect poem manifests the content; the medium manifests the message.
There are only three ultimate messages, three possible philosophies of life. According to atheism, there is only the human monologue with no God to dialogue with. According to pantheism, there is only divine monologue with no created world of free souls for god to dialogue with. All in One. Only according to theism is there dialogue between Creator and creature. Only in theism does mankind confront an Other, the eternal life of the Trinity.
Thus the dialogue between lovers manifests a whole philosophy of life. The simplest conversation manifests the highest mystery.
–from Three Philosophies of Life, by Peter Kreeft
15 How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes are doves.
16 How handsome you are, my beloved!
from Morning and Evening,
by Charles Haddon Spurgeon
“Behold, thou art fair, my Beloved.”
Song of Solomon 1:16
From every point our Well-beloved is most fair. Our various experiences are meant by our heavenly Father to furnish fresh standpoints from which we may view the loveliness of Jesus; how amiable are our trials when they carry us aloft where we may gain clearer views of Jesus than ordinary life could afford us! We have seen him from the top of Hermon, and he has shone upon us as the sun in his strength; but we have seen him also “from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards,” and he has lost none of his loveliness. From the languishing of a sick bed, from the borders of the grave, have we turned our eyes to our soul’s spouse, and he has never been otherwise than “all fair.” Many of his saints have looked upon him from the gloom of dungeons, and from the red flames of the stake, yet have they never uttered an ill word of him, but have died extolling his surpassing charms. Oh, noble and pleasant employment to be forever gazing at our sweet Lord Jesus!
Is it not unspeakably delightful to view the Saviour in all his offices, and to perceive him matchless in each?–to shift the kaleidoscope, as it were, and to find fresh combinations of peerless graces? In the manger and in eternity, on the cross and on his throne, in the garden and in his kingdom, among thieves or in the midst of cherubim, he is everywhere “altogether lovely.” Examine carefully every little act of his life, and every trait of his character, and he is as lovely in the minute as in the majestic. Judge him as you will, you cannot censure; weigh him as you please, and he will not be found wanting. Eternity shall not discover the shadow of a spot in our Beloved, but rather, as ages revolve, his hidden glories shall shine forth with yet more inconceivable splendour, and his unutterable loveliness shall more and more ravish all celestial minds.
Oh, how charming!
And our bed is verdant.
17 The beams of our house are cedars;
our rafters are firs.
For chapter 1 of Solomon’s Song: HERE is “Just an Old-Fashioned Love Song,” written by Paul Williams and performed by Three Dog Night, released in 1971, the year I graduated from high school. I remember it well!
And the pictures in this video are of (old) television and movie couples — how many can you place? List follows —
1. Julie Andrews & James Garner in Victor Victoria
2. Judi Dench & Michael Gambon in Cranford
3. Katharine Hepburn & Henry Fonda in On Golden Pond
4. Helen Mirren & John Voight in National Treasure II
5. William Shatner & Catherine Hicks in Star Trek IV
6. Jane Fonda & Robert Redford in The Electric Horseman
7. Tom Hanks & Kathleen Quinlan in Apollo 13
8. Judi Dench & Billy Connolly in Her Majesty Mrs. Brown
9. Shirley MacLaine & Peter Sellers in Being There
10. June Carter & Johnny Cash in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
11. Meryl Streep & Clint Eastwood in The Bridges of Madison County
12. Helen Mirren & Robert Redford in The Clearing
13. Glenn Close & Christopher Walken in Sarah Plain and Tall
14. Johnathan Frakes & Mirina Sirtis in Star Trexk TNG
15. Tyne Daly & John Karlen in Cagney & Lacey
16. Meryl Streep & Robert Redford in Out of Africa
17. Ellen Pompeo & Patrick Dempsey in Grey’s Anatomy
18. Bea Arthur & Leslie Nielson in The Golden Girls
19. Barbara Babcock & Orson Bean in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
20. Mary McDonnell & Kevin Costner in Dances With Wolves
21. Dixie Carter & Hal Holbrook in Designing Women
22. Shirley MaClaine & Jack Nicholson in Terms of Endearment
23. Kristin Scott Thomas & Robert Redford in The Horse Whisperer
24. Judi Dench & Michael Williams in A Fine Romance
25. Helen Mirren & Jeremy Irons in Elizabeth I
26. Mel Gibson & ? in Braveheart
27. Diane Keaton & Jack Nicholson in Something’s Gotta Give
28. Mary McDonnell & Edward James Olmos in Battlestar Galactica
29. Tyne Daly & Richard Crenna in Judging Amy
30. Julie Andrews & James Garner in One Special Night