Filled with mystery and delight, the Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon), is all about love. Here’s my summary of this exquisite book.
Human attraction (Song. 1:16), romantic love (Song. 7:11-13), pursuit (Song. 3:1-4), sexual desire and expression (Song. 5:3-5; Song. 7:1-9) are a wonderful and dynamic part of God’s design for marital relationships.
Explanation of Main Idea
This is a love poem. There are two main characters portrayed in the Song of Songs: a woman and a man. They are deeply and passionately in love with each other. The woman craves to be kissed by him (Song. 1:2) and the man considers her the “most beautiful of women” (Song. 1:8). She, as well, proclaims, “How handsome you are, my love” (Song. 1:16). Their relationship is filled with anticipation of being together (Song. 2:8, 11, 14), although there is an element of elusiveness as the woman seeks the man, unsuccessfully at first (Song. 3:1-2).
The man lavishes praises upon his lover using descriptive detail about her body (Song. 4:1-5; 7:1-5) and calling her “my perfect one” (Song. 5:2), “absolutely beautiful” (Song. 4:7), “lovely… (and) awe-inspiring” (Song. 6:4). He desires to be intimate with her (Song. 7:7-8) and invites her to come away with him (Song. 2:10; 4:8).
The woman has her share of compliments as well, referring to him as “fit and strong, notable among ten thousand” (Song. 5:10) with arms compared to “rods of gold”, his body to ivory, and his legs as “alabaster pillars set on pedestals of pure gold” (Song. 5:14-15). “His mouth is sweetness. He is absolutely desirable. This is my love, and this is my friend” (Song. 5:16). She sensually invites him to be with her (Song. 7:11-12; 8:2, 14), wanting to kiss him in public (Song. 8:1) and be embraced by him (Song. 8:3).
All of this, though, comes with a warning. This type of passionate love is not to be awakened until the appropriate time (Song. 2:7; 3:5, 8:4). The charge is given to a third character in the poem, the “young women”. The implication is that the intensity of what is being described in these pages is reserved for the marriage relationship. Those who are young, and not yet ready for marriage should be protected by those who are older and more mature (Song. 8:8-9).
The purpose of the book of Song of Songs is to celebrate marital love. The descriptions in the book, both of the characters, and of their desire for each other, are filled with passionate and creative language. It portrays love and desire as something that is good and fulfilling, without guilt and shame. It gently displays the emotion involved in losing love (Song. 5:6-8), and provides a strong, repeated warning to not enter into this love before the proper time (Song. 2:7; 3:5, 8:4).
- Love is powerful, fun, and good; but can also be dangerous and painful.
This is a book about romantic love. The man and woman are enthralled with each other, caught up in each other’s life. It is an enjoyable, even fun experience (Song. 5:2), comparable to being in a private paradise (See Song. 4:12-15). But love is also as dangerous as “fiery flames” (Song. 8:6) and, just like it is found, it can be lost (Song. 3:1-3; 6:1).
- Don’t awaken love before the appropriate time.
Three times the woman admonishes the young women “do not stir up or awaken love until the appropriate time” (Song. 2:7; 3:5, 8:4). This warning can be lost amid all of the flowery love language, yet it is a vital and important message, which, if disregarded can bring ruin into a life.
- Be generous in complimenting your spouse.
Song of Songs reads like a list of spousal compliments. From the general “you are beautiful” (Song. 1:15), to the specific “his hair is wavy and black as a raven” (Song. 5:11), to the creative “like a lily among thorns, so is my darling among the young women” (Song. 2:2), expressions of flattery and admiration abound.
Song of Songs is a book of communication. Two lovers engage in dialogue about their relationship. While much of it is expressing desire to be together, there are also several sections where they talk about their love both with each other (Song. 2:15-17) and with others (Song. 6:11-12).
How Does This Relate To Us?
Because the Song of Songs is in the Bible, we can conclude that romantic love, attraction, desire, and physical intimacy are God-ordained and to be celebrated in their proper context, namely marriage. In today’s society, both Christian and secular, marriages are in trouble. Everyone is busy, pornography is rampant, and people are hurting.
The Song of Songs calls those of us who are married back to an evocative relationship with our spouse. It beckons us to dive into a renewed romance with our spouse. It teaches us to lavish compliments and to invite one another into a deeper time together. This is especially applicable to the couple who, because of the busy-ness of life, or for whatever reason, has strayed from the joy of this part of marriage.
For the single person, Song of Songs teaches us not to arouse this love until the appropriate time, namely when God brings a spouse. It also calls us to protect the innocence of younger people who are not yet ready for this (Song. 8:8-9).
We live in a very sexually saturated culture. “Hooking up” or “friends with benefits” has become the status quo. While many engage in casual sex, they assume that the Bible does not have much to say about this aspect of our lives, or that it’s instruction is archaic and prude. Nothing could be further from the truth! Song of Songs tells all! It reveals that God is pro-love and pro-intimacy. It is a off-the-charts, heart-pounding, palm-sweating discourse for intimate love, within marriage.
- The phrase “lily among thorns” is used in Song. 2:2 to describe the woman. Explain this expression. What is the author trying to say? How does the man feel about the woman?
- Compare Song. 2:2 with Song. 5:10. How do they feel about each other?
- Read Song. 2:15. What do you think the foxes represent? What about the vineyard?
- Read Song. 8:6-7. What metaphors are used to compare to love? In what way is love like a flame? In what manner is love stronger than a river?
Life Application Questions
- Song. 2:7; 3:5, 8:4 all speak of not stirring up or awakening love until the appropriate time. How does love, in your opinion, get “stirred up” or “awakened”? When do you know is an appropriate time?
- This book is filled with compliments. If you are married, how often do you compliment your spouse? How creative are your compliments?
- In Song. 2:15, the author talks about “foxes that ruin the vineyards”. Are there any “foxes” in your significant relationships that need to be “caught”?
- Read Song. 5:16 out loud. If you are married, is your spouse your friend? What could you do to improve your relationship?