The Song of Solomon
“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine; your anointing oils are fragrant; your name is oil poured out; therefore virgins love you” (Song 1:2–3).- Song of Solomon 1–2
Shechem’s rape of Dinah was an instance of love and physical desire gone horribly wrong. Sin continues to pervert the Lord’s good gift of sexual intimacy in our day, even if the perversion is not always violent. It will therefore do us well to devote the rest of this month to understanding what God has to say about romance and human sexuality, beginning with a concise survey of the Song of Solomon.
Some people might find it strange to use the Song of Solomon in order to help teach the biblical sexual ethic. After all, most theologians have read Solomon’s song as an allegory of the love Christ has for the church and the love that the church should have for her Savior. Certainly, the Song of Solomon, along with every other book of the Bible, points us to Jesus (Luke 24:13–27). However, interpreters have often found fanciful meanings in the Song of Solomon through allegorizing the text and disregarding the context of the original biblical passages. To give an egregious example, many Roman Catholics have said the woman in Solomon’s song is Mary in order to justify venerating her beyond what is appropriate as the mother of Jesus. But we have no right to say this is reading something into the text that is not there (eisegesis) if we also ignore its original intent.
In his teaching series Wisdom, Dr. Sproul says the church was embarrassed by the sensuous imagery of the Song of Solomon and read it allegorically to get around its approval of marital intimacy. This reflects Greek philosophical assumptions that matter and physical relations are evil. Yet Scripture does not say the spirit is good and the body is bad; our Father commands us to multiply and fill a world that was originally “very good” (Gen. 1:26–31). Sex within marriage is good and holy; thus, Solomon’s song need not embarrass us.
Nevertheless, Dr. Sproul says we may rightly apply the Song of Solomon “illustratively” to Christ and the church. Solomon’s song can indeed lead us to Jesus without violating the book’s content. But Dr. Sproul reminds us this is possible only if we first read it in its plainest, literal sense: “A spirit-inspired expression of love between a bride and her groom. A love that is not to be ashamed.”
Take time today to read the Song of Solomon in preparation for our four-day study. If you are married, consider reading the book with your spouse. Consider God’s intent for human sexuality in the expression of love and the filling of the earth. Meditate on how human beings, in some small way, imitate the creative work of the Lord when they create new life. Thank our Creator for the unspeakable privilege of being able to reflect, however dimly, His glory.
Passages for Further Study
1 Cor. 7:1–5