Background of the Song of Solomon – The book is an oriental [Jewish] love song between King Solomon and the Shulamite woman – Both Jews and Christians have put forth the idea that the book is an allegory about God’s love for Israel [and] or the Church

Interpretation: Students of the Song of Solomon differ widely as to the interpretation of the book. -- Allegory: Both Jews and Christians have put forth the idea that the book is an allegory about God's love for Israel or the Church. In the Christian Church this was first held by Origen (A.D. 185-254). According to this interpretation the events which are described never actually took place but are a picture of God's love for Israel or Christ's dealings with the Church. But the book does have a strong historical reference to fifteen or more geographical locations. While the book certainly points to Christ and the Church this is no justification for denying its historicity and treating it simply as an allegory. -- Drama: The naturalistic school of interpretation handles the book as a simple poem of human love, with no typical or figurative reference to the Church whatsoever. The emphasis according to this interpretation is on the purity and beauty of love expressed within the context of marriage and that it should not be despised. This view is supported from the frank descriptions of the physical side of love found in the book. However the expressions of love are never described in a lewd and cheap way but always with dignity and purity. This view suffers from the fact that Jesus said that He is found in all of the Old Testament Scriptures (Luke 24:44). -- Wisdom Literature: To view this book simply as a love drama is to miss the connection with the wisdom style of Solomon's day. The major characteristic of wisdom literature is its emphasis on common, everyday human experiences. Proverbs speaks of human love in a similar way (Proverbs 5:15-19). The Song of Solomon is a wisdom song which celebrates the beauty and glory of marital love. It teaches the blessing of purity and faithfulness in the God given institution of marriage (Genesis 2:19-25). It reveals the dignity of sexual love and reinforces that it is God ordained and not evil. The fact that humanity is created in the image of God is central to the worth and dignity of sexual love between men and women (Genesis 1:27). But the fact that the Song of Solomon is found in the Scriptures points to the purpose of wisdom literature, this love must be understood in the larger sphere of God's love for us. While the book does not appear to be an [strictly] allegory or typology, it cannot help but turn our eye to the love of Christ for his Church as a bridegroom for His bride (Jeremiah 2:2; Hosea 2:14-20; Ephesians 5:22-23). One greater than Solomon has come in the Lord Jesus Christ and will again return for His bride (Revelation 21:2-17). [link]

Ray Stedman – Adventuring Through the Bible – SONG OF SOLOMON: A LOVE SONG AND A HYMN – She [Shulammite] was a simple country [girl] lass of unusual loveliness who fell in love with the King [Solomon] *when he was disguised as a shepherd lad working in one of his own vineyards in the north of Israel {Note: The Song of Solomon is about love, life and a relationship between a common girl and an uncommon King. Most of all the Song of Solomon is about opportunity, the once in all creation opportunity to fellowship on an intimate one to one level with God the True King Jesus Christ.} (Mp3s)

The book comes to us in what we would call musical play form. The characters in this play are Solomon, the young king of Israel -- this was written in the beginning of his reign [while Solomon was multiplying wives unto himself], in all the beauty and manliness of his youth -- and the Shulammite. She was a simple country lass of unusual loveliness who fell in love with the king when he was disguised as a shepherd lad working in one of his own vineyards in the north of Israel. In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon tells us that he undertook expeditions to discover what life was like on various levels. Once he disguised himself as a simple country shepherd lad, and in that state he had met this young lady. They fell in love, and after they had promised themselves to each other, he went away and was gone for some time. The Shulammite girl cries out for him in her loneliness. Then comes the announcement that the king in all his glory is coming to visit the valley. While the girl is interested in this, she is not really concerned because her heart longs for her lover. But suddenly she receives word that the king wants to see her. She doesn't know why until she goes to see him, and discovers that he is her shepherd lad. He takes her away and they are married in the palace. The play is set in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, and a chorus of singers, referred to as the daughters of Jerusalem, asks certain leading questions from time to time during the account of the events leading up to the courtship, betrothal and marriage. The Shulammite girl addresses them on three occasions [reprimanding the other woman not to stir up and arouse her sexual urges before she is married]. It is interesting to note that the word "Shulammite" is the feminine form of Solomon. Therefore we would call this lady Mrs. Solomon. She is the bride, and we read of her encounter with this young man their courtship and the strength and the methods and the delights of love. The language of the book is highly poetical and figurative and there may also be some difficulty determining who is speaking at any one time. But you can distinguish the different speakers in this way: the bridegroom always refers to her as "my love," and the bride calls him "my beloved." And as each describes the other you can see the passion and the rapture of love. Here is the language of love as she describes him: [link]

Secular Website: Solomon & the “Song of Songs” – Solomon’s inspired masterpiece, the true meaning of which has long been regarded as the greatest puzzle in all literature, now forms the basis of this short course in creative genius and personal success which makes those powerful yet deceptively simple principles once again available to any person interested in discovering and developing their creative potential and achieving excellence in their chosen field (Part 1) {Note: Apparently this article is somewhat advocating the use of sexual energy, tensions and sexual urges as a means for creativity and advancement but the huge danger in this is coming under the influence and control of physical urges. A Christian would not use urges, sexual or otherwise to direct our life instead we seek God’s will in prayer, in fellowship, through devotions and in righteousness.}

The Key to the Meaning of the Song: Although the true significance of the "Song of Songs" is still regarded by most scholars as a complete and complex mystery, the simple clue to its meaning is in fact to be found in the title, which makes up the first line of the Hebrew text. That title, like much of the rest of the text, is deliberately susceptible to different meanings. It can of course simply be a superlative, meaning the most beautiful of all songs, which is how it come to be regarded. On the other hand, however, it can also imply a song about songs, and the way they are created - which is its real purpose. Because songs can deal with any subject and convey both meaning and emotion and because every single note and word has to be a perfect fit, Solomon is in fact using the song as a metaphor for all creative works of excellence in all fields. It is interesting also that a song is actually a detailed plan of action - a sequence of notes and words that trained musicians can readily produce in order to create a desired effect. A song also demonstrates other principles of creativity - first the creation of something new by arranging known elements, notes, into a pleasing new pattern; and second the combining of music with appropriate words, a creative act of synthesis. Modern technology and invention rely heavily on these two principles. -- Multiple Meanings: Such was the depth of Solomon's wisdom and genius that each metaphor, it seems, is capable of sparkling forth a variety of insights, like a carefully cut diamond held up to the light of experience, with the result that numerous insights into a very complex subject were able to be condensed into eight short chapters of poetry. Although I have attempted to point out what I see as the key principles in each section, I hope that you, the reader, will perceive additional insights that are particularly relevant and useful to you, with your unique viewpoint, experience and aspirations. Amazingly, it seems also that the original Hebrew text, which is composed only of consonants, is framed in such an inspired manner that different but complementary insights can often be generated from the same phrases by the insertion of different vowels, which is why different translators often offer radically different, but complementary, renderings of the same verses. As a result, the insights I have attempted to draw out in each section, constitute, I am sure, simply the tips of metaphorical ice-bergs of understanding, and the efforts of those who take the time to meditate more deeply, will without doubt be richly rewarded. Additional insights also will appear as your experience prepares you to perceive and apply them. -- Lost Knowledge: Although the knowledge of the principles of creativity originally revealed to the first human beings somehow became lost, they were rediscovered some three thousand years ago by Solomon, famously the wisest person who ever lived, and preserved by him for posterity in the eight short chapters of intricately woven and often erotic poetry that makes up the "Song of Songs", acknowledged by many as the most beautiful - but misunderstood - work in all literature. Although that poetry, also known as the "Song of Solomon", was preserved by divine fiat as part of the sacred Hebrew Scriptures because of its immense potential importance, both artistically and commercially, the knowledge of its true significance soon became lost - if indeed it was ever made commonly known - most probably when the kingdom of Israel was destroyed and its people carried off into captivity and scattered far and wide after Solomon's death. In their captivity the people of Israel all but lost contact with their language, with the result that some of the language in the "Song" is extremely obscure, and a number of words occurring there are not used anywhere else in the Bible, a situation made even more difficult for the scholars by the fact that the Hebrew text consists only of consonants, as already noted, leaving the reader to supply the vowels and draw out the meaning, based on an understanding of the context. -- A Short Course in Creativity: As a result of these events, Solomon's much admired masterpiece soon came to be regarded as an impenetrable mystery, described by scholars as holding "without question the first place among the puzzles of literature". Happily, that ancient puzzle has now been solved and Solomon's true intention rediscovered, showing the "Song" to be in reality a short course in creativity - the most powerful but neglected inspirational/self-help work every written. By studying his book of "Proverbs", said Solomon, the simple would be made wise, and even the those already counted wise could increase their learning. Likewise, by studying the "Song of Songs", those who are not yet creative can become creative, and those who are already creative - even professionally so - can enhance their creativity. Such is the subtlety and depth of the inspired writings of Solomon which now form the basis of this short course in the technology of creativity. - It has long intrigued me that all the principles of personal and businesses success promoted by popular inspirational books, from Samuel Smiles' Victorian classic "Self Help" down to Steven Covey's recent blockbuster, "The Seven Habits of Successful People", are in fact to be found in the wisdom writings of Solomon, and readily available therefore in any copy of the world's perennial best seller, the Bible - confirmation perhaps that Solomon was indeed the wisest person who ever lived. I was not unduly surprised, therefore, to discover that the principles of creative excellence already mentioned are also to be found in the writings of Solomon, also in the Bible, but this time tucked away in the enigmatic passages of erotic love poetry of the "Song of Songs". -- Discover and Develop Your Creative Potential: The inspired intent of the "Song of Songs" is for you, the reader, to discover and develop the creative potential you already possess. What Solomon describes, you can experience, and what highly creative people do you can do too, because you already possess the psychological wherewithal to do so. The first step is to discover your potential, to become enlightened to the simple fact that the magical, productive thinking of the greatest creators who ever lived is simply a more patient and persistent extension the way you have been informally thinking all your life. The second step is to deliberately develop that potential by applying the principles Solomon identifies and describes in your own life, in your own unique manner, for your own unique purposes. -- Multifaceted Metaphors: In explaining the principles of creativity, Solomon makes use of a range of metaphors, based on what at first appears to be a bewildering miscellany of natural subjects, including foxes, lions, horses, gazelles, sheep, a garden and a vineyard, a king and a virgin, and even a young flat-chested girl. This metaphorical method of teaching and learning is of course the approach of the modern quantum physicist who attempts to understand and describe the weird complexity of ultimate physical reality, such as the behaviour of light and electrons, for example, by comparison with familiar everyday phenomena such as the motion of waves on water or the movement of balls rebounding from the cushions of a snooker table. Each of the thirty multi-faceted metaphors which comprise the "Song" is designed, when made the focus of quiet meditation and held up to the light of personal experience, to sparkle forth a variety of complementary insights into the creative process, just as the facets of a diamond refract the myriad subtle shades of colour of the rainbow when viewed from different angles. -- The Levites: The significance of the "Song" is not immediately obvious to the casual reader, or even to the scholar, who is unaware of Solomon's purpose, and I suspect that it was intended to be studied by mature students, under the guidance of wise and learned teachers called Levites, probably over a period of weeks or months, being read and discussed, in question and answer fashion, in a manner similar to that of the famous Oxford tutorial system. In the absence of Levites, this book is offered as a substitute - a distant learning package, if you will, designed to encourage and enable interested individuals to discover, develop, and maximise their creativity. It is interesting that although some Levites, members of the specially gifted family of Levi, were assigned to live and work in Jerusalem, supporting the work of the priests in the Temple and making music, most of them were located, by divine decree, in 48 "cities of refuge", which were spread throughout the whole land of Israel. Although the stated function of those cities, initially, was to provide safe legal sanctuary for any person who had killed someone accidentally, there seems little doubt that they were also intended to become centres of educational and cultural excellence, constituting what we would today describe as a university system of education. From the scriptural accounts, it seems probable also that every town and village in the land had its own resident Levite, a kind of village schoolmaster cum priest whose function was to provide academic and religious instruction for all, completing a complex legal, spiritual, educational, and administrative network that extended like a nervous system from Jerusalem on out to every corner of the land. Sadly the world leadership - socially, culturally, scientifically, and economically - that this sophisticated system, was intended bestow on Israel, making it a model for other nations to follow, was never attained, although important progress did begin to be made during the glorious reign of Solomon. [link]

Secular Website: Solomon & the “Song of Songs” (Part 2)

Is the Song a Religious Book? Before looking at the "Song", perhaps we should dispel any notion that Solomon's mysterious masterpiece is a "religious" work, despite its inclusion in the Bible. According to the editor of the "Jerusalem Bible": "People have found it surprising that a book that makes no mention of God and whose vocabulary is so passionate should figure in the sacred canon". Scholar Charles Ellicott says that: "From the beginning to the end there is not a single word in it which suggests any connection with religion. The whole theme, he says, is one of "folly, vanity and looseness." He concludes, perhaps with a shake of the head, by asking: "How did the vigilance of those who watched the formation of the Canon allow it?" How indeed - and why? Such has been the confusion over the significance of the "Song" that when Jewish scholars in the first century sought to have it removed from the canon of scripture we are told that the Rabbi Akiba retorted that: "All the ages are not worth the day on which the 'Song of Songs' was given to Israel, for all the Writings are holy, but the 'Song of Songs' is the Holy of Holies". Commenting its literary merits, John Bowker, in his "Bible Handbook" offers the following opinion: "The book is full of exquisite poems that use almost every device available to the Hebrew poet. It is a rhapsody of the thoughts and feelings of a young woman and her beloved as they journey towards the consummation of their love. Rarely has a book been interpreted so diversely over the millennia." As we shall see, it is that kind of passionate love for a purpose or subject that engages our creativity. -- Is the Song Pornographic? In "The Song of Fourteen Songs", Michael Goulder rejects any spiritual meaning and focuses instead on the implicit sexuality of certain sections of the "Song". Lifting the lid on some of Solomon's seemingly innocent similes - but missing the creative message being conveyed - he concludes that "titillation is the key note". The girl in the "Song", he says, is portrayed "from the first verse as a nymphomaniac", and the whole book could well be regarded as "nothing else than a piece of high-class pornography". Virtuous readers, he warns, may well "emerge from such a study feeling soiled and disgusted". God, however, who created the male and female form and also inspired the poetry Goulder is referring to, is not prudish. It is easy to understand, however, why certain more sensuous sections of the "Song" were bawdily sung in the taverns of ancient Israel, much to the chagrin of rabbis, by revellers who were totally unaware of their true significance. -- Scholars Obscure the Meaning: Although some of metaphors selected by Solomon are obscured by the opacity of the ancient Hebrew, the full meaning of some sections of the "Song" has sometimes been deliberately denied modern readers by the prudishness of translators who have shrunk from conveying into English the literal meaning of many phrases. The great Adam Clarke, for example, writing over a century ago, says in his "Commentary and Critical Notes on the Bible": "There are many passages in it which should not be explained, if taken literally, the references being too delicate; and Eastern phraseology on such subjects too vivid for European imaginations. Let any sensible pious medical man read over this Book: and, if at all acquainted with Asiatic phraseology, say whether it would be proper, even in medical language, to explain all the descriptions and allusions in this Poem." Virtuous readers beware! -- The Song Baffles the Scholars: Commenting on its enigmatic literary structure, Cohen, in "The Five Megilloth" says: "The various sections succeed one another without logical sequence, giving the appearance of incongruous fragments." Not surprisingly then, the "Song" has remained a puzzle throughout the centuries, and its erotic poetry greatly disturbed the celibate scholars of the Early Christian Church, prompting Origen, who considered it dangerously suggestive, to say: "These things seem to me to afford no profit to the reader . . . It is necessary therefore rather to give them a spiritual meaning." This he did, devoting a massive ten-volume commentary to the task, seeking to show that the metaphorical language was referring in reality to the relationship between Jesus Christ and Christian Church. Origen, however, was wrong, as were the equally baffled Jewish scholars vied with him to give the Song a non-Christian spiritual meaning, asserting that it referred to the loving relationship between the nation of Israel and God. -- The Pyramid of Wisdom: One basic clue to understanding the purpose of the "Song of Songs" is the fact that God revealed to Solomon the principles of successful living, making him the wisest person who had ever lived, and very significantly, who would ever live. Under the guidance of that inspiration, Solomon wrote three books which are not religious at all, in the normal sense of the word, but secular, because their intended purpose was, and is, to teach the principles of health, wealth and happiness. The "Song" simply complements his other two books - Proverbs, Ecclesiastes - to complete a wisdom trilogy or pyramid. "Proverbs", the base of the pyramid, deals with wisdom, the fundamental principles of successful living. It was understood by Jewish scholars to have been designed to interpret the law of God and the Ten Commandments, as revealed to Moses, into practical detail to provide guidance for successful secular daily living in a manner harmonious with that law - and that it was intended for all people, everywhere not just he people of Israel. Without this sound foundation of eternal principles of success such as self-discipline, control of the tongue, caution, courage, persistence, honesty, generosity, self-analysis and general "righteousness" our creative efforts may well crumble to dust. "Ecclesiastes", the second level of the pyramid, focuses on the crucial importance of sound values and realistic goals in life. In it, Solomon reflects on his own experiences and the experiments in living he carried out in search of the truly good and satisfying life. Without this harmonising dimension of balance, moderation in things, including work, and an appreciation of the ultimate futility of riches for their own sake, our creative efforts will never bring real satisfaction. -- Creativity the Apex of the Pyramid: Finally, the "Song of Songs", which is the apex of the pyramid of wisdom, completes Solomon's trilogy by offering, to those ready and willing to learn, the secrets of creative excellence and success, even genius - principles which find application in any and every field of human endeavor. As already noted, for some reason, the true significance of the "Song" was lost, somewhere along the dusty paths of Palestinian history, most probably when Solomon's empire was destroyed and his people carried away into captivity and all but lost contact with the Hebrew language of the ancient scriptures. By studying his book of Proverbs, said Solomon, the simple could become wise, and those already accounted wise could increase their learning. Similarly, by studying his "Song of Songs" those who are not yet creative can discover and develop their creative potential - and those already accounted creative, even professionally so, can enhance the quality of their work. -- A Personal Exodus? I suspect that significant corroboration of Solomon's intent in the "Song" is afforded by the fact that some now unknown person or persons of authority, at some time in the distant past, saw fit to assign sections to be read to the congregations of Israel on the eighth day of the Passover festival, at the end of the days of unleavened bread. The Passover, which was instituted under Moses, commemorates Israel's exodus from Egypt - a glorious deliverance from slavery - and their entry into the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey. Deliverance, I believe, is also the message of the "Song of Songs". Personal development gurus such as Anthony Robbins and many psychologists now recognize that most of mankind - even in the so-called civilized world - remains in a kind of mental bondage to mediocrity, fear and failure, unknowingly enslaved by negative attitudes, ignorance, and illusion. Through the inspired writings of Solomon, they are offered the opportunity to escape, and encouraged to undertake a personal exodus into a new and more satisfying life of creative excellence and enduring achievement. [link]

Song of Solomon 1-2 – The Song of Solomon and the love story it encompasses helps us to understand better our relationship with God – Our relationship with God is intended to be a close, personal, individual, highly Spiritual and a deeply, intimately involved relationship with God — ‘Song of Solomon 1:1 The song of songs, which is Solomon’s.’

Song of Solomon 1:4 Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee. -- Song of Solomon 2:1-4 I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. - Note: God's banner over us is His love for us.

Song of Solomon 3-4 – A theme in the Song of Solomon is that of missed opportunity and of the reality of hardships and work that sustain and drive a true meaningful love — ‘Song of Solomon 3:1 By night on my bed **I sought him whom my soul loveth: **I sought him, but I found him not [at that moment].’

Song of Solomon 3:2-4 I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him [in the bars and in the low places], but I found him not. The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth? It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him [conducting legitimate business] whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me. -- Acts 17:27 That they [mankind] should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him [Jesus Christ], and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us:'

Song of Solomon 5-6 – The ‘beloved’ had withdrawn himself from her not because he was angry with her but just because he wanted to spend some time alone in his own private garden — ‘Song of Solomon 5:6 I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.’

Song of Solomon 5:7-9 7 The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love. What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? what is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us? - Note: The perils of being in a high profile, highly visible relationship with a prominent person the King and the envy and jealousy that it provokes from others even from those who it should not provoke envy from. As soon as they had opportunity the 'watchmen' who worked for the King instead of helping her this second time they abused her taking advantage of the opportunity of her wandering in the streets and being alone and not in the direct company and fellowship of the King. - Now she finds her 'beloved' doing his pleasure in his own private garden where he belongs and where he should be spending some of his own alone time. It was her that was needlessly wandering the dangerous streets in peril looking in areas where her 'beloved' would not be found. - Song of Solomon 6:1-3 Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee. My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies. I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.

Song of Solomon 7-8 – The Song of Solomon concludes with the husband and the wife going together hand in hand and in love with one another to see their various gardens of life flourish — ‘Song of Solomon 7:12-13 12 Let us get up early [together] to the [garden] 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. The mandrakes give a smell, and at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved.’

Song of Solomon 8:6-14 Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned. We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for? If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver: and if she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar. I am a wall, and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one that found favour. Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon; he let out the vineyard unto keepers; every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver. My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred. Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice: cause me to hear it. Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.

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