the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible Barnes' Notes
- Song of Solomon
by Albert Barnes
Introduction to Song of Solomon
Song of Solomon 8:5-14, containing three very brief sections.
The scene changes to the bride’s birthplace, to which she has now returned with the king. The bride commends her brothers to the good graces of the king, and ends, at his request, by charming his ear with one last song, recalling to his memory a strain of other days (see Song of Solomon 8:14 note).
The history, which forms its groundwork is, however, throughout the poem, contemplated from an ideal point of view; and the fundamental idea expressed and illustrated is the awful all-constraining, the at once leveling and elevating power of the mightiest and most universal of human affections. The refrains and phrases, to which allusion has been already made, give expression at regular intervals to this idea.
The ideal character of the whole poem is further evidenced by the way in which the chief points whereon the action turns are indicated; and it will be found that the two halves, or main divisions of the Song have numerous well-balanced contrasts and correspondences throughout.
These and other peculiarities, which impart to the Song of Songs its unique and enigmatical character, seem chiefly due to its idealizing treatment of an actual history felt at the time, and especially by the writer, to be profoundly interesting and significant.
Further, that the history thus idealized and the form in which it is presented have meanings beyond themselves and point to something higher, has ever been a deep-seated conviction in the mind both of the church and of the synagogue.
The two axes, so to speak, on which the main action of the poem appears alternately to revolve, may be found in the king’s invitation to the bride on bringing her to Jerusalem Song of Solomon 4:8, and in the bride’s to the king in recalling him to Shunem Song of Solomon 7:11-13; Song of Solomon 8:2; in these two invitations and their immediate consequences - the willing obedience of the bride and the ready condescension of the king, the first surrender on her part and the final vow on his - the writer of the Song seems to have intended to exhibit the two-fold energy, both for elevation and abasement, of that affection, to the delineation of which his work is dedicated. The omnipotent, transforming, and yet conserving power of faithful love is here seen in like yet diverse operation in the two personalities through whom it is exhibited. In the case of the bride we see the lowly rejoicing in unforeseen elevation without loss of virginal simplicity, in that of the beloved the highest is made happy through self-abasement without compromise of kingly honor.
It is then no mere fancy, which for so many ages past has been accustomed to find in the pictures and melodies of the Song of Songs types and echoes of the actings and emotions of the highest love - of Love Divine - in its relations to humanity. Christians may trace in the noble and gentle history thus presented foreshadowings of the infinite condescensions of Incarnate Love; - that Love which, first stooping in human form to visit us in our low estate in order to seek out and win its object Psalms 136:23, and then raising along with itself a sanctified humanity to the heavenly places Ephesians 2:6, is finally awaiting there an invitation from the mystic Bride to return to earth once more and seal the union for eternity Revelation 22:17.