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the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Song of Solomon 1

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-17

Tonight we want to look at the Song of Songs which is Solomon's. By the title it indicates that Solomon felt that this was the finest of the one thousand and five songs that he wrote. This is the excellency of the songs that he has written. Of the thousand and five songs, this one is it as far as Solomon is concerned.

In Ecclesiastes, we had a theme: vanity of vanities. In this we have, song of songs. The vanity or the emptiness of the world apart from God. The emptiness of the world in achievement, any achievement that is apart from God. Now he speaks of the song of songs which is Solomon's and the song of songs is a song of love.

Now there are some people who consider the Song of Solomon no more than just an erotic, oriental love song and feel that it has no place in the scriptures. But others have found tremendous inspiration in the Song of Solomon by looking at a spiritual allegory, seeing it as a spiritual allegory. Now to the Jews, it became a spiritual allegory of God's special relationship to the nation Israel. As God is seen in the figure of Solomon the king, and Israel as the favorite choice wife, and as they express their love of each other, so God's expressions of His love for Israel and Israel's expressions of their love for God.

And of course, through a lot of the prophets we find the same theme as God addresses Israel as His wife. And God tells of His love, His deep love for His people. And the espousals of the youth. "When you first discover Me. Where is that love that we had in the beginning?" God said. "Why have you turned away from the love? Who has drawn you away?" And as Israel turned their hearts from God and began to worship Molech and Mammon and Baal and some of the gods of the Canaanites, God spoke out against it as having forsaken Me, your first love, the true love. And you've taken up with these other paramours that are going to leave you desolate. And so to the Jew it became a beautiful spiritual picture of the relationship of the nation Israel, the special relationship the nation Israel experienced with God.

To the church, because the church is often seen in the New Testament as the bride of Christ, it became a picture to the church of the bride of the church, her relationship to Jesus Christ, her bridegroom, her coming King who we look forward to. And so the spiritual allegories are then made applicable to Christ and His love for the church and the church's response to His love.

John Gill, one of the great Puritan preachers, preached to his congregation a hundred and twenty-two sermons out of the Song of Solomon. So for those that are looking for sermon material, seeking to find it in the spiritual allegories, there's just a lot of material here. He preached a hundred and twenty-two sermons out of this book. Bernard of Clairvaux preached sixty-two sermons to his congregation just out of chapter 1. So the book is filled with imagery and possible allegorical applications.

Now, I am not one who really goes into the mystic allegorical applications of the scripture. Though I do see here many beautiful allegories, and you can take the text and spiritualize upon them, that just hasn't been my method of ministry of taking a text and seeking to spiritualize the text. Because different people can see different things in an allegory. And even in the Song of Solomon, there have been various interpretations of the Song of Solomon.

The basic interpretation of the Song of Solomon is that this is a young Shulamite girl that Solomon has fallen deeply in love with. And she is in love with him. And he addresses himself to her declaring his love and declaring her beauty, and she responding to him. While the daughters of Jerusalem are there asking questions of the young girl concerning her love for him, asking Solomon of his love for her, and so the... Actually, again, it's a song, so you see it's set up in a dramatic kind of an opera. You have Solomon standing there singing in his rich baritone voice of his love for his bride. And she with her high soprano answering him and singing, "Come, my beloved into my garden and drink. Taste of its fruits," and so forth. And then you have the chorus over here, the women's chorus, the female chorus. And they every once in a while sing in, "Tell us of thy beloved. Where is he grazing his flocks and so forth at this time?" And they are interjecting.

Now there is another interpretation of the Song of Solomon, basic overall interpretation. And this one is followed in the Amplified Bible and suggested in the Amplified Bible. And that is, that here is the same beautiful young Shulamite girl that Solomon has fallen madly in love with. And he is seeking to make her a part of his harem, for Solomon had a harem second to none. And he is seeking by his wealth, by his grandeur, by all of the gifts and the wealth to cause her to become a part of his vast harem. Seeking to woo her and to seduce her. And she is brought in with the other virgins and she is telling them, they wonder why she isn't responding to his love and she is telling them that she has a true love, a shepherd. And she doesn't respond really to Solomon's love because her heart is after another, her shepherd lover who she longs for, who she seeks after.

And in the spiritual allegories to this other way of looking at the Song of Solomon, Solomon in this other allegory represents the world. The Shulamite woman, the Christian, and how the world is seeking to allure the Christian away from her love for her Shepherd, Jesus Christ. And she has this deep fervent commitment to her shepherd, even Jesus Christ, and cannot be allured by all of the wealth and the glory and the grandeur of Solomon as he seeks to seduce her and draw her into his harem and all.

And so this is another possible interpretation. But this is the problem, the basic problem of spiritualizing the text and seeing it in an allegorical sense, because as you go through the book, either one fits. But surely they are diametrically opposed to each other as far as an interpretation goes. And yet, you can see and you can read it so that either way it fits. Solomon is the one she loves and they are expressing their love for each other. Or, she is sort of rejecting the love of Solomon because of her true love for her shepherd lover.

The Song of songs, which is Solomon's ( Song of Solomon 1:1 ).

It begins with the first singer who is this young Shulamite, beautiful girl, and she sings.

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine. Because of the savor of your good ointments [or your perfume] thy name is as ointment [or perfume] poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee. 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 1:2-4 ).

Now speaking of herself, she said,

I am black, yet beautiful, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, and as the curtains of Solomon. Look not upon me, because I am black ( Song of Solomon 1:5-6 ),

It doesn't mean that she was an Ethiopian, but she says,

because the sun hath looked upon me ( Song of Solomon 1:6 ):

She was well tanned.

my mother's children [my step brothers, actually] were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but my own vineyard [or my own complexion and so forth] I have not kept ( Song of Solomon 1:6 ).

I'm ruddy and tan and so forth.

Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where you make your flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions? ( Song of Solomon 1:7 )

So her opening declaration of having been brought into the king's chambers. Her addressing the daughters of Jerusalem concerning her own unkept condition because of being outside, keeping vineyards. Sort of a Cinderella kind of a story, the wicked sisters made her do all of the work and she wasn't able to keep up her own cosmetics and all.

Now the king responds to her.

If thou know not, O thou fairest among women ( Song of Solomon 1:8 ),

And the question is where you feed your flocks. "If you know not, O fairest among women,"

go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents. I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots. Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold. We will make thee borders ( Song of Solomon 1:8-11 )

Now these are the daughters of Jerusalem, the virgins, the chorus responds. "We will make thee borders,"

of gold with studs of silver ( Song of Solomon 1:11 ).

And the bride responds.

While the King sits at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof. A bundle of myrrh is my wellbeloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts. My beloved is to me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi ( Song of Solomon 1:12-14 ).

The camphire trees or cypress trees, and just that beautiful smell of the out of doors and trees in blossom there in Engedi.

Behold, thou art fair, [the king answers] my love; behold, thou art fair; you have doves' eyes ( Song of Solomon 1:15 ).

She responds to him.

Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green. The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir ( Song of Solomon 1:16-17 ).

So you have the opening of this love drama, the Song of Songs of Solomon.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 1". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/song-of-solomon-1.html. 2014.
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