Some have wondered if the book “The Song of Solomon” should be a part of the Holy Scriptures. The reason given is because of its “explicit” contents.
Ever since the famous king of Israel wrote it, it has been a part of the Holy Scriptures. Even when our Lord was on earth this book was an integral part of the Hebrew canon. If at all it was a mistake in having it included, wouldn’t the Messiah inform us about it when He came?
In fact the Jews considered this book as one of the most important pages of the Holy Writ.
The theme of this Song is about the love relationship that Solomon the author had with his Shulamite bride. In beautiful poetry the wise man pens down many details about their love for each other. Only if all married couples had such intimate love for each other, what a world of blessing it would be!
This love song is also a parable. Its meaning goes beyond the physical realm to the spiritual realm. If it meant only what it appears to be, then God would not have included it as Scripture.
In any parable one cannot take all the details and allegorize it. That will then give us a wrong meaning, and the intent of the author would be lost. For example, consider the parable of the lost sheep told by Jesus as recorded in Luke chapter 15. We know that the lost sheep symbolizes a sinner who is lost in sin.
Going into all the details and trying to compare all the aspects of a sheep to a person is not what Jesus intended us to do. For example, the sheep has four legs but man has two; the sheep has no reasoning power but man has; the sheep is most submissive, but man is not. And talking about the numbers, we cannot take it as it is and bring out a percentage figure, and declare that 99% of the people are safe, and only 1% is lost! It is only a parable. The theme of it has to be captured. Only those details which can be supported from other parts of Scripture have to be taken keeping in view that the interpretation of it should not contradict the plain teachings of Scripture elsewhere.
Let us now explore the spiritual message of this classic inspired work of literature. Who does King Solomon symbolize? And whom does the Shulamite bride represent?
Throughout Scripture God has adopted the symbol of marriage to portray His intimate relationship that He has with His people, the church. Since marriage is the closest bond of love that man knows, God chose this to be the figure of His love for us, most of the time. In Isaiah, God said:
For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. For the LORD hath called thee as a woman. (Isaiah 54:5, 6)
God is the husband, and His people on earth, His church, His woman.
In Jeremiah the Lord pleads with His bride. He said:
Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you. (Jeremiah 3:14)
In the New Testament too this language is carried forth as seen in many passages. To the Corinthian church Paul wrote:
For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:2)
John the revelator, in the visions of Patmos, recorded what he heard in heaven. Notice the language of the heavenly host. It is the same language—the marriage language.
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. (Revelation 19:7)
Solomon represents Christ in this passionate book.
a) Solomon was the son of the greatest king of Israel—King David. Jesus is the Son of the greatest King of the universe—God the Father. From the human side Jesus is also called the son of David in the Bible. In fact that is how Jesus is introduced in the first verse of the New Testament:
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David. (Matthew 1:1)
On one occasion, when talking to the Jews, Christ compared the Wisdom of Solomon to His own Wisdom. He said:
Behold, a greater than Solomon is here. (Matthew 12:42)
b) Solomon, the great king, loved an ordinary girl and married her. Christ, the King of kings, loved ordinary people who constitute the church, and becomes one with her in marriage.
c) At the beginning of the song, the Shulamite bride told Solomon:
I am black. (Song 1:5)
But Solomon declared:
Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair. (Song 4:1)
Isn’t this the beautiful truth of the gospel? On our own, we, the church members, are stained with sin. But when we come to Christ He washes us, clothes us and makes us white. John recorded what the heavenly messenger told him about God’s people:
These are they which... have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:14)
It is the blood of the Lamb that gives us a different color, a color of purity and holiness.
d) Solomon told his bride:
Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee. (Song 4:7)
How beautifully it portrays what Christ will do to His church finally! Paul used nearly the same language when describing the church that Christ will come to take home:
That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:27)
e) Describing his beautiful wife, Solomon tells her:
Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue. (Song 4:11)
How fitting it is to what David, the father of Solomon, wrote, regarding the Word of God in our mouths:
How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:103)
Solomon mentioned, “Milk and honey”. O yes! That phrase is familiar too. Moses recorded about the land that God was to give His bride:
A land that floweth with milk and honey; as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee. (Deuteronomy 27:3)
f) In describing the movements of the feet of his bride, Solomon wrote:
How beautiful are thy feet with shoes, O prince's daughter! (Song 7:1)
How similar it is to the words that describe the outreach work of the church. In portraying the work of the church, Paul quoting prophet Isaiah, wrote:
How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! (Romans 10:15)
g) The work of the Shulamite bride was to feed the flock as a shepherd:
O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents. (Song 1:8)
Didn’t Jesus bid Peter, and all his church members, to do the same?
He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. (John 21:16)
h) The sense of belongingness is so precious in their relationship:
My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies. (Songs 2:16)
God too wants us to know how special and dear we are to Him. He said to His bride:
O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. (Isaiah 43:1)
i) Solomon uses a lot of nature picture to describe his love and the relationship. And much of these are employed even in describing the relationship between the church and Christ throughout the Bible.
Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth: there will I give thee my loves. (Song 7:12)
And Christ said to His church:
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:5)
j) The Shulamite describing Solomon says:
Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke…? (Songs 3:6)
Didn’t God too lead His bride out of the wilderness in pillars of smoke or pillars of cloud during the time of Moses? Nehemiah wrote:
Yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day. (Nehemiah 9:9)
k) Though the Shulamite was the bride of Solomon, they addressed each other with different family terminologies at times. Solomon said:
How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices! (Song 4:10)
O that thou wert as my brother. (Songs 8:1)
Even though the Bible uses the husband-wife relationship between Christ and the church, often even other family terminologies have been used too. Christ is also called the brother of the church! Paul wrote:
For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. (Hebrews 2:11, 12)
l) King Solomon says of his bride:
Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies. (Songs 4:5)
Isaiah the prophet sheds light on this:
Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts…But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little. (Isaiah 28:9, 13)
The Word of God is the milk “drawn from the breasts”. Didn’t Peter too compare the Word of God to milk? He wrote:
As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby. (1 Peter 2:2)
“Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins”, Solomon wrote. The church feeds on, and feeds others with, the two breasts that are twins—The Old and the New Testament—which constitute the complete Word of God. We have to “desire the sincere milk of the word”, Peter wrote.
m) Look at how Solomon describes his bride:
Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners? (Song 6:10)
John the Revelator too described the church in nearly the same language:
A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. (Revelation 12:1)
n) The Shulamite bride said about Solomon’s love:
He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. (Song 2:4)
Hasn’t God’s love too thrilled His people? John wrote:
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God. (1 John 3:1)
o) The bride of Solomon said to her husband:
Draw me, we will run after thee. (Song 1:4)
God also draws us with His cords of love:
The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. (Jeremiah 31:3)
More than any other book of the Bible, the Jews loved this book a lot because it showed them constantly their intimate relationship they had with the King of the universe. Many times they proved unfaithful to their heavenly Bridegroom, and through many of the prophets God communicated His displeasure. He said:
How is the faithful city become an harlot! (Isaiah 1:21)
The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot. (Jeremiah 3:6)
Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the LORD. (Ezekiel 16:35)
By constantly reading the divine love story in the book, ‘The Song of Solomon’, the Jews reminded themselves about their standing with God.
Yes, the story of “The Song of Solomon” is a story of love. And the story of the Bible too is the same story! “God is love”—that is the central theme of the Bible; and in the heart of the Old Testament Scripture God placed this book of love!